Nature Connection Made Easy For Families
Director of Life Rocks
NATURE CONNECTION Made Easy for Families, parents, carers and teachers of children What is Nature Connection? Nature Connection is any practice that connects us to the Natural world. We are a part of the Natural world, yet modern humans can go a whole day, month, or year without ever really thinking about or acting upon this connection. Depending upon where you live, it may be harder to access Nature or feel connected to Nature – but that’s okay! We are going to talk about some easy ways that parents and teachers alike can bring more Nature into the Why is Nature Connection so important for children? From the ages of 0 – 7 are the most rapid years of development in a human’s life. During this phase, the senses are central to learning for children who learn about the world they are in and how to use their bodies through experience and interactive play. Before modern buildings with aircon, toys, computers, baby cribs and televisions – Nature was the place in which children developed. The textures, sights, sounds, smells and sensations of an outdoor environment far exceed the sensations found in a modern indoor environment. Uneven surfaces, infinitely small things, infinitely large things, wind, textures, animals and more consist of the infinite inputs that a natural environment provides. These inputs into a child's sensory network build their awareness and abilities. The development of a child during the early learning phase is the most crucial time of development for the body, brain and senses. Modern environments and modern teaching concepts for early learners prefer a focus on maths and language, starving children of crucial movement, sensory stimulation, experiential learning, creative play, risk analysis and other crucial developmental categories that are easily nourished in a Natural environment. The bottom line is that Nature connection is so important for children because of the multifaceted development that it easily provides children who all need vast amounts of stimulation to develop healthy, happy bodies, brains, and personalities.
10 tips to bring more Nature and Interactive learning into your Children’s lives:
1 - Create a mandala on the ground from natural materials.
Awesome art can be created through repeating different Earth materials in different patterns on the ground. Finding different coloured sands, using reeds or grasses to create borders, stones to do dots around, nuts and seeds, or anything that is available - even plain old sticks. If you don’t have a backyard, head down to a local park and see if there are any trees generous enough to be dropping seed pods, gum nuts or leaves. If parks are off-limits due to local restrictions, see if you can collect some shells, rocks, leaves, seeds or flowers from somewhere and bring them home. Include your children in the harvest of the materials. Make sure the Nature around has enough bounty to harvest from. If you really cannot find any suitable materials close by, head to
All of this can be arranged into fantastic art that can be impermanent and done in the park and does not even have to be taken home.
Children may also want to take seeds, nuts, flowers, grasses rocks etc. and glue them to some board, or fabric to make a more permanent piece.
2 - Cook a meal from whole foods.
Sounds simple, doesn't it? Children love big, colourful produce, steam, smells, chopping (carefully), and doing the dishes. OK, well maybe not the last part but get them young and make it normal or fun, not a chore.
Cooking with whole foods simply means, the foods haven't been overly processed nor are they coming from packets or out of a can.
Maybe you already cook everything with whole foods.
If takeaway or packet foods dominate your kitchen, a great small step is to integrate some whole-food meals.
See it as a way to teach children about Nature, chemistry, measurements, communication and loads more.
Use a cookbook and ask the children what they want to pick, or use your intuition and experiment. Show children what the plants looked like before they produce food. It is important for children to know where their food comes from!
3 - Making ferments, pickling, sprouting and cultures.
The revival of the ancient methods of fermentation is gaining popularity nowadays, as the health benefits of such foods have come into focus in recent years.
These often simple, time-dependent, environment-dependent preparations can create very tasty condiments and foodstuffs that last a long time.
The specifics of the preparations teach patience, microbiology, timing, amounts and much more.
Expand your culture, with cultures. The internet has abundant fermenting resources. Pickling lemons, cucumbers, or onions. Making sauerkraut, kim chi, or home made ketchup. Show your kids some recipes and see what ignites their interest.
4 - Raising Seedlings
Whether you germinate seedlings for edible microgreens, raise flowers, germinate seedlings to plant and raise into vegetables or simply sprout avocado seeds for the sake of interest and experimentation – raising seeds is fun, simple, informative and can ensure you get some food from your garden.
Seed-raising trays can be purchased or made from recycled materials. Once again, resources are bountiful on the internet for beginning this process, so choose some tutorials that seem like your style.
Choose plants you wish to eat or see grow, and allow your children to choose the plants.
Pick plants that are climate-specific and season-specific, or unnecessary disappointment may ensue.
Use some of the compost you have made, buy some potting mix, or obtain some soil.
Use pots or garden beds once the seedlings are big enough and plant them in.
5 - When teaching Maths or Language, teach it using Nature.
Counting can be made more fun for early learners when using physical things to count. Seashells, rocks, crystals, etc. Children remember better ( and adults) when all the senses are activated. Use plant and species identification for children to get excited about learning new words and discovering the names of animals, birds, insects and plants that are near the house or in the local environment.
6 - Learn alongside your children
Adults leading by example is the biggest teacher for our children. If Adults are engaged and connected to Nature, it is more than likely that their children will also be. If time in Nature, curiosity for the Natural world, or time spent engaging with the elements of Nature is dwindling in your own life, then it may be time to re-assess how you to can reignite this relationship – for your own health and the health of your children. | What hobbies or activities did you like to engage in when you were young that involved Nature? Re-engaging with childhood interests is a great way to boost happiness, health and life satisfaction. Not only that, but even engaging with a Nature-based hobby for some time every day is a way in which you can inspire children to start their own hobbies or engage with yours. Research shows that it is not the amount of time we spend with our children that forms good bonds, but the quality of the time spent – so doing things that you enjoy will form strong bonds because you are demonstrating your own connection to Nature.
7 - Utilise Nature shows, documentaries and games for the screen time
Some amount of screen time is a nearly unavoidable activity for most modern humans. With the recent events of 2020, even classrooms are now digital. Whilst we can celebrate the flexibility that screens give us in connection to other people, they lack warmth and physicality, which is so needed by children. Therefore, reducing screen time whenever possible is the best strategy overall. But, when we children are accessing devices – what are they watching? Selecting Nature-based or science-based materials in advance of your child viewing them is a great way to stimulate a love of Nature and a connection to Nature using technology. Nature documentaries, science shows on YouTube, shows about animals, crystals, volcanoes, ocean life, birds, insects or space! These are great ways to bring Nature into the home. Research shows that engaging with your child as much as possible during screen time is also very helpful in developing childrens social skills. Outcomes for learning on screens improve dramatically when the screen time is fused with time spent from the teacher engaging with the material that the child is accessing.
8 - Using red light, candles and blue light-blocking glasses in the evening.
Whilst this might sound like more of a health tip than a nature tip, it is both. Studies show that children are more sensitive to blue light emitted from LEDs and screens, which can negatively impact their circadian rhythms. This leads to emotional, stressed kids, which is not what we want. (Higuchi et al. 2014) When we use blue-blocking glasses, warm low-blue-light lighting and ban screen time 2 hours before bedtime, we demonstrate as parents that we are in touch with the Natural world, and that we care about the rhythms and cycles of life and Nature. Teaching this to children will give them a healthy respect for blue light, screens as potentially harmful and a healthy understanding of how important sleep and rhythms are.
9 - Celebrate and signify the equinoxes and solstices.
To the ancient peoples of the Earth, before modernity ( some of the ancestors we have) – the equinoxes and solstices were significant. Solstices and equinoxes signified the change in season and the peak points of seasonality and changes in life. Changes in light, temperature, and weather patterns were all carefully noted around these times. We can make these days special again by marking the days and exploring the aspects of the season as they arrive. This will build the children’s literacy of Nature symbols as it relates to time and space.
Autumn festivals may involve harvest, letting go, preparation for winter and a salute to our past and fallen ancestors.
Winter festivals recognise the darkest point in the cycles, both of light and of warmth. This is a time to go within, to reserve and conserve energy. When Nature is at its most still.
Spring festivals are about birth and the new. Fresh buds, shoots and baby animals take centre stage on the scene. Planting new things, new beginnings and the release from the cold winter.
Summer festivals include gratitude and celebration of the abundance of our lives and the peak energy of the sun, the great provider of life.
Rituals, songs, dances, foods and artwork have all been inspired by the changes in seasons. Work with your community or even just in your family to forge events that are of meaning to you, create culture and connect your family or children in your care to the natural world.
10 - Create a Nature shrine for each season.
To be gathered by the children. Ask the children to gather things from Nature that remind them of the season at hand. It may be a flower in Spring, fallen leaves in Autumn, a leafless twig in the Winter, or some amazing fruits of the Summer. This can be added to as the season goes on. Keep it in a central place of the house. Children love to take ownership of art and spaces ( just like adults do). Give them some licence in creating it, but also – get involved! This process is rewarding, even for big kids like you. These are but a few ways, tips, and tricks that more Nature and, therefore, more harmony can be brought into your home, family or classroom setting to nourish the lives of the children in your lives ( and your own life). Nature is for everyone, because we are all Nature, and getting connected to it is one of the most meaningful and healthy things that we can do in our modern lives to counterbalance the screen time, indoor time and time spent in abstract modern learning. Children learn best through interactive, experiential play – so think of Nature as your biggest ally in educating the children of today. Remember – LIFE ROCKS!