Back in the day, or at least when I was young, we spent hours out of doors. I remember walking over dirt fields looking for rocks; catching butterflies; collecting bees and lightening bugs. I think it was then that my love for the outdoors was born. There was never a dull moment with or without companionship. My sisters and I made rafts from old logs and floated them across ponds, caught frogs and ran through fields. Sadly, the same is not true for many children today. In fact, there is a whole group of youngsters who are outdoor impoverished. Instead of fresh air and personal creativity, these kids are stuck behind computers or surrounded with high tech toys. Worst of all, they are missing the vitamin D of the sun, the wonders of nature and the joy of creating games for entertainment with other friends. So here is my challange for the week.
How about you and the kids drawing a square in the yard, or the woods. 12x12. In fact, give each kid his/her personal square. Have each kid collect as much stuff from their square as possible and sort it out....bugs, plants, rocks... See who saw the most and what they know about each of their specimens. For those things they know nothing about use the computer. I am a fan of Google but there are some other wonderful sites you might appreciate.
http://bugguide.net/node/view/3/bgpage This is a great one for identifying bugs. Just start with the shape of the bug and work your way through the various options. Or, if you think you know what the insect is, do a search and see if you are right.
http://uswildflowers.com/wfquery.php?State=GA This site is great if you have a flower you want to identify. At the very least it will give you a head start on the possible family in which your flower resides.
http://www.rockhounds.com/rockshop/rockkey/index.html Finally, there are rocks to consider. This site has great information on rock identification plus it has a rock key which helps your "student" to identify his/her rock.
The success of taking a kid outdoors is measured by their involvement. If they forget that you are there -- if you can't take them away from their spot -- if they start to invent games and want to include you or, if they just want to wade in a stream.... you've created a winning opportunity for future excitement and learning. What a great combination. Painfree learning and fun. There really isn't a much better package.