The National Wildlife Federation, which has strived to protect wild animals and their habitat for nearly 75 years, is encouraging educators and parents to send children outdoors through its Be Out There initiative.
On the site, you'll see a Where the Wild Things Are Guide for Educators and Parents, a resource tied into the film version of Where the Wild Things Are. (Download a PDF of the guide.) Also, check out an earlier NWF report, "Connecting Today's Kids with Nature: A Policy Action Plan," where you'll find a slew of ways to help advocate for environmental education and outdoor activities. (Download a PDF of the report.)
The NWF has been pushing for schools to receive federal funding for child-nutrition programs that incorporate green principles into their required wellness policies. The organization also advocates restoring or increasing recess time in schools that have been shortened or eliminated recess for children as a result of standardized-testing pressures. It also encourages organizing walk-to-school and bike-to-school programs as another way of getting kids outdoors.
To encourage kids to get outside during the school day, the NWF advises the following activities:
- Help them start leaf or rock collections.
- Organize a scavenger hunt, or suggest that kids set it up themselves. Have them walk around the school with paper and drawing implements and find designated (or random) objects or shapes to sketch.
- Bury or hide "treasure" somewhere on campus, and draw a map for children to follow, or write directions with clues that require them to use math skills and solve riddles or word puzzles.
Here are links to environmental-education information:
- The Educator's Reference Desk directory of environmental-education lesson plans
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's environmental-education page
- The North American Association for Environmental Education
- The Project Learning Tree environmental-education program
- The Sierra Club's environmental-education page and its Building Bridges to the Outdoors project