Connecting Kids to Nature
In a blog posting on 4 August, 2016 (daynurseries.co.uk) Ellie Spanswick writes about two fathers from South East England, both of whom work in the construction industry and have no background in publishing, who became frustrated with the amount of screen time their children were having. They produced their own book, Hugly and the Missing Carrots, with a view to encouraging children to take an interest in nature and learn new skills in the process. One of the fathers commented: “I’m a child of the 70s and although we had games consoles, children nowadays are growing up in a very different world to when I grew up. I used to leave the house at eight o’clock in the morning during the school holidays and sometimes not come back until dinner. Often my parents didn’t always know where I was, but we were outside building dens, making kayaks and having fun. Now it seems as though there is a media frenzy around the risks associated with children going out and doing those things, and when you look back, those risks were always there, but now it seems that they’re always in the news.”
The book includes a packet of carrot seeds and advice for how to grow carrots in the garden or in a container, and also a recipe for a carrot cake that is almost completely vegan and free of refined sugar, eggs and dairy products.
Organizations such as “Children and Nature Network” in the US, and “The Wild Network” in the UK, are encouraging children to spend more time outside and give parents the opportunity to commit to how much time their children will spend in nature. The Wild Network was established by ex-BBC and Telegraph-newspaper journalist David Bond after he made a film designed to rebrand nature and sell it back to his children. To watch a trailer and learn more about his film, Project Wild Thing, visit www.thewildnetwork.com
Acknowledging that technology is part of children’s lives in today’s world, one of the hopes expressed by the dads who initiated the book project is to encourage children to re-engage with their outdoor surroundings in a positive way and use technology constructively. In the book, they encourage children to use phones to take photos of the things they grow, use iPads to learn about the bugs they may find in the garden, or to photograph the things they may find along the way in treasure hunts.
Check out the website at www.huglyandfriends.com and consider taking up the challenge of producing your own nature adventure book for your program, with potential for intergenerational engagement. The Vitamin N Challenge suggests: “Produce handmade books, possibly using found treasures from the natural world for illustrations, or use your own drawings or photos. A number of storefront or online services offer relatively easy print-on-demand self-publishing services.”