This year, June was proclaimed Great Outdoors Month, and now, school is out and the weather is hot. We hear over and over in the news media that kids these days just want to stare at their devices instead of going outside and getting exercise and fresh air. And it's true that today's sedentary lifestyles have made it so this generation is the first to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. If that's not enough to get you and the kids in your life off your couches and into the wild, here are a few videos to make the case for the value of connecting kids to nature.
Video Playlist: The Great Outdoors
Watch the player below to see the whole playlist, or view it on YouTube.
- Take the Pledge to Be Out There! (01:04)
- Project Wild Thing (Official Film Trailer) (02:05)
Project Wild Thing is not just a powerful documentary about the growing disconnect between children and nature, it's also aiming to become a global movement. Find great activity ideas on their website.
- 10 Things You Should Know About Forest School (02:16)
Have you heard of waldkindergarten, or forest kindergarten in English? Pioneered in northern Europe in the 1970s, it's early childhood education that occurs entirely outdoors, no matter the season. A growing number of them are popping up in the US, like this one in Brooklyn's Prospect Park.
- The Importance of Playing With Fire (Literally) (03:08)
A recent article in The Atlantic, "The Overprotected Kid," discussed how parental anxiety can keep kids from taking the risks that help them learn. This is a trailer for an upcoming documentary about The Land, a Welsh playground featured in the article that prizes independent exploration.
- 5 Extra Years (01:47)
Designed to Move is a call-to-action to combat rising rates of physical inactivity, put out by a group of organizations spearheaded by Nike, American College of Sports Medicine, and the Council of Sport Science and Physical Education. Research and action toolkit available.
- For Inner-City Kids, Time Spent Outdoors Cultivates Confidence (02:18)
But what about the many, many kids who live in urban environments with no easy access to nature? Organizations like Sierra Club have programs like Inner City Outings to get city kids out into the wild, like these third graders from San Diego's City Heights.
- Nature Deficit Disorder: KQED Quest (12:06)
On the long side at 12 minutes and a little old, this segment from KQED Quest is nonetheless worth watching as a great overview on "nature deficit disorder," a term coined by author Richard Louv in 2006, and the "No Child Left Inside" movement that followed his book's publication.
- Sesame Street: Outdoors with Jason Mraz (02:58)
Just to wrap it up with a bit of fun, this toe-tapping spoof of "I'm Yours" from indie musician Jason Mraz is not only an earworm, it gets my pre-schooler excited to go play outside. Thank you, Sesame Street!
More Resources for Getting Kids Outdoors
Step One: Back away from the computer. It's terribly hard to unplug, and we're all guilty of going down the rabbit-hole of mindless internet entertainment. The organizations below have gathered a wealth of resources to help give you ideas for getting kids out into nature. Just don't spend too much time looking at nature education resources online when the very best advice is really to just turn it off and get out there!
- "Kick Nature-Deficit Disorder to the Curb: Celebrating Great Outdoors Month," by Jackie Ostfeld via Huffington Post
- Be Out There, National Wildlife Federation
- Let's Move
- Project Wild Thing
- No Child Left Inside
- Inner City Outdoors, Sierra Club
- Designed to Move
- Outdoors Alliance for Kids
- The Wilderness Society
- Children and Nature Network