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Inspiring Ideas for Getting Back to Nature with the Kids

Posted May 09 2011 7:16pm

As parents and grandparents we all realize the importance of helping children connect with nature.  It seems that the default activity for many modern kids is interacting with a screen of some type.  This has become so prevalent that it has a name, nature deficit disorder.  This term was first used by Richard Louv in his book, Last Child in the Woods .   Louv suggests that kids and adults have become out of touch with nature because they spend so little time outdoors anymore.  If they do go outside, it is for an organized event like a sports game.  As a result, when it comes to nature,kids are afraid or ambivalent.  I fear that kids will not grown up to care for the environment if they are not taught to love nature.
It’s up to us adults to nurture a healthy respect for nature in kids.  These can be our own kids or the neighbor’s.  They can be friends kids or nieces and nephews.   We do not need to make a big deal of it, like a trip to Yellowstone, although that would be great.  It’s as easy as going to a park or playing in the back yard.  Nature includes plants, fungi, bugs, worms, not only dramatic animals like giraffes and elephants.
Reading nature books is another way to raise kids that love nature and want to take care of it.  They are easy to find and are written for a variety of ages.  A great one that I recently found is Patti Pelican and The Gulf Oil Spill written by Lynda Wurster Deniger and illustrated by Paulette Ferguson.  
This book is an inspiring and informative story of three animal friends, Patti Pelican, Dottie Dolphin, and Sammy Seagull.  These friends spend their time hanging around the Salty Seas, a shrimp boat operated by Captain Charlie. The story begins with the explosions on the Deep Water Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.  Patti and Sammy eventually become coated with crude oil and cannot fly.  They end up at a rescue center - and you can read the rest of the story.
The beautiful illustrations in this book will captivate a child who loves picture books.  The story will inspire a child to care about the earth and the creatures that share it with us.  Most important of all, the story teaches children that the activities of humans can have a terrible impact on nature.  
The epilogue tells examples of children who have been touched by this ordeal and who have thought of ways to help the wildlife on the Louisiana coast.  There is contact information for the IBRRC (International Bird Rescue Research Center) plus a portion of sales from this book are donated to the IBRRC.
A bonus comes with this book, a CD with a song about Patti and her friends that children with love.  
Reading nature books is a great addition to being in the outdoors.  If a child is house bound, it can be a good way to get to know nature.  This is my contribution to the Green Mom’s Carnival whose topic is “Inspiring Ideas for Getting Back to Nature with the Kids”.  It is hosted by the Green Phone Booth .  
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