The modern environmental movement was launched with the help of Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring. Carson also spent many hours exploring the forests and rocky coast of Maine with her grandnephew. The National Wildlife magazine published an excerpt from a 1956 essay Carson wrote for Woman’s Home Companion magazine titled “Help Your Child to Wonder.” In her essay, Carson says, “if a child is to keep alive his sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”
We can be one of those adults who help our grandchildren discover the wonder of nature. You can find loads of resources from a program called Green Hour. The National Wildlife Fund promotes Green Hour to encourage parents and grandparents to get outdoors with their children and grandchildren and discover the wonders of nature. The Green Hour website provides inspiration and ideas for activities to explore nature and the outdoors.
On their “About Green Hour” page they state some bad news: “As a society, we are raising the first generation of Americans to grow up disconnected from nature. But the good news is that we can reverse that trend by giving our children a “green hour” a day — a bit of time for unstructured play and interaction with the natural world — to set them on the path toward physical, mental, and emotional well-being.”
The “Discovery Journal and Activities” page gives short activities accompanied by book suggestions, a list of what you’ll need for the activity, and a parents guide for getting the most out of the activity. Here are a few examples:
- Build a “fairy house” with twigs, pebbles, acorns and whatever else you find on the ground. Check back the next day to see whether any fairies have moved in!
- Make Sunprints. You just need water, sunshine, and a little imagination for hours of fun making photographic-type prints with the Sunprint Kit. To make a Sunprint, place an interesting object on a sheet of Sunprint paper, expose it to the sun for a few minutes, immerse the paper in water, and watch as a permanent image appears.
- Take a nature walk and just follow your nose. Stop and smell things in nature that have a scent, like lavender, pine needles, rosemary, or the musty smell of pollen. Take a basket with you and collect some items for a potpourri.
Under the “Parents Guide” you can find downloads for a Wildlife Observation Hike Checklist and a Nature Scavenger Hunt.
I hope these resources inspire you to share some fun in nature with your grandchildren.