If you could design the perfect learning environment for children, what would it be like?” asks Todd Christopher, co-founder of the National Wildlife Federation’s Green Hour campaign and author of the new book The Green Hour: A Daily Dose of Nature for Happier, Healthier, Smarter Kids (Trumpeter – March 2010).
My vision of the perfect learning environment for my own kids is much like what Christopher goes on to describe:
“Certainly, it would need to be engaging – stoking the fires of fascination while at the same time extinguishing boredom. It would invigorate not just the intellect but the whole child – mind, body, and spirit. It would activate all of the senses and reward a child’s curiosity with discovery and wonder. And it would instruct intimately while conveying lessons at a grand scale.”
Sounds too good to be true, right?
“Such a place exists,” Christopher assures us, “and it can be found in a nearby park, on a local trail, or even in your own backyard. The tuition is quite reasonable – even free.”
The natural world is available to us as the ultimate learning environment. With more and more children becoming increasingly “plugged in” to technology and the idea of of children spending time outdoors becoming an archaic novelty of childhoods gone by, we can’t afford not to send our kids outdoors.
In his book, Mr. Christopher discusses star gazing, exploring ponds, rivers, and seashores, going on a “bug safari” and other ideas for taking advantage of all the lessons nature has to offer us. Getting started is as easy as stepping into your own backyard.
Catching fireflies, making wishes on dandelion clocks, leaf collecting, and chasing summer bugs are in danger of becoming lost arts. The Green Hour shows parents how to save those skills and introduce a new generation of kids to the wonders that stem from a childhood spent outdoors.
The Green Hour
The Green Hour’s aim is to get this generation of children away from their computer screens and mp3 players. Kids and their parents are encouraged to spend time learning about and appreciating the bugs, birds, butterflies, trees, and even the dirt of the natural world around them.
At the National Wildlife Federation website families can:
- learn how to take part in NWF’s Spring Wildlife Watch
- take steps to certify your backyard as a Wildlife Habitat
- register for the Great American Backyard Camp Out (June 26th this year)
- take the pledge to “Be Out There” and spend time outside together
Simple Kids is happy to join with Todd Christopher and The Green Hour in encouraging families to spend time outdoors together every day.
Turn off the TV, back away from the computer, “unplug” and get out there!
Green Hour Giveaway
My kids and I have been using our copy of The Green Hour this Spring to take full advantage of the perfect learning environment that lies right outside our back door. This book is like a lesson planner, activity book, and field guide rolled into one – and it is easy to stuff in your backpack, too. I know you’re going to love it!
I am so excited to announce that in honor of TV Free Week and Earth Day, Shambhala is very generously giving away a copy of The Green Hour to TWO Simple Kids Readers!
To enter, leave a comment below and answer one of the following questions: What do your kids like to do with their “green hours”? If you aren’t currently getting outside every day, how do you plan to incorporate a daily “green hour” time for your kids into your routine?
This giveaway will be open until Sunday, April 25th at midnight EST. Two winners will be chosen by Random.org and the winners will be announced on Monday, April 26th. Good luck! This giveaway is now closed. Thank you.