Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Outdoor Learning in our Urban Environment

Welcome to the June Carnival of Natural Parenting: Outdoor fun
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared their stories and tips for playing outside with kids. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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I grew up in New Hampshire, surrounded by trees and wildlife, with summers filled with grand adventures in the woods or at the lake shore, so when I dreamed of having a child I thought she would have a similar experience.  But here I am as a new mama, and my life has taken a different path, at least for now.  We live in a city, and though there are trees, there's also a lot of concrete.  And while I appreciate museums and public transportation, I'm not sure my baby feels the same. Personally, I feel that grass-between-the-toes is a developmentally necessary experience...so what's an urban mama to do?

Step 1: go outside
Step 2: get creative!!


Forest Preserves seem to be well-guarded secrets around here (that, or they are just so big, I hardly see anyone when we voyage out to one!)  At least twice a month, Ella and I take a day trip to walk through the woods, touch leaves, smell moss, and listen to the birds.  We forage for wild mushrooms and berries.  We sing so loud we can hear our own echos.  We play on rocks.


But sometimes it's cold or too hot out, or we are feeling bored and cranky, and we need to get out of the house NOW.  It's amazing all that can be accomplished in an eight-by-three foot space (otherwise known as our porch!)  In the winter I watched Ella mesmerized by snowflakes, marveling at how snow seemed to disappear each time I placed a bit into her hand.  In the summer we have moved the baby tub out from the bathroom as a makeshift deck pool for a new found skill (splashing!)


The best part about outdoor fun is that it's also outdoor learning.  Learning to crawl in the grass, learning colors, new sounds and smells, discovering gravity, textures, and even new tastes!  How else can you teach your child about wind without feeling it?  Watching bubbles float away.  Hearing leaves rustle.  Feeling sand blowing past.  Splashing in a lake that looks like an ocean.

I want my daughter to grow up with the same love of the outdoors as I did - with our daily excursions, big or small, I think we're on our way!

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

8 comments:

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

Your pictures are absolutely stunning! I love the way you framed them in the first place and then edited them. Lovely!

We're in a city, too, in a condo with no yard and a teeny balcony, and like you say, you get creative! You've proven that there's a lot of nature even in an urban setting if you just look for it.

Anonymous said...

I too am an urban mama. Sometimes you just have to look deeper to find green outdoor fun! Great post!

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

And while it's a learning experience for the kids, it's a priceless moment for the parent - I wish I had video of some of those firsts in nature you mention! I have a similar story to the one you share - I grew up in a much greener environment than what my son has now. I need to do more to seek out those hidden bits of nature in the city. I know they're available, it's just a shame I have to drive to find them :(

navelgazingbajan said...

This morning I thought about taking the baby tub outside onto our back patio. We're in urban environment too so I have to drive to the park.

Danielle said...

We don't have a baby tub anymore, but we did take a giant rubbermaid tub to our front lawn during that mini heat wave. OH the strange looks we got from passersby as our little one splish-splashed in his dipe.

Urban nature. It's out there, you just have to look for it and take advantage of what there is.

(btw...we'd love to join you on one of your forest preserve adventures if you're ever in the mood for company. ewan would love to hear his echo in a forest, he practices all the time in our entryway)

Kate, aka Guavalicious said...

I actually loved our porch when we lived in the Twin Cities. For one thing, the girls were contained. ;) There is something about making an ordinary place magical by just adding a few things and playing in it.

Deb Chitwood said...

I love your baby tub idea! It's great the way you're making the most of your environment to give your daughter a love of the outdoors.

Erin said...

I love how vibrant your photos are! I am beginning to wish that we had a baby tub to take out and use as a mini pool for Kairi. I'll be sure to pass that idea onto my other mama friends though: it's sheer brilliance!

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