Rediscover nature during 6th annual Take A Child Outside Week, Sept. 24-30
RALEIGH — Take A Child Outside Week, a national initiative spearheaded by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, kicks off Monday, September 24 and runs through Sunday, September 30. Designed to help break down obstacles that keep children from exploring the natural world, the program encourages children and adults to spend time together outdoors. It was inspired by Richard Louv’s book “Last Child in the Woods,” which identifies the benefits of outdoor experiences for children and addresses some of the problems of what he terms “Nature Deficit Disorder,” such as increased feelings of stress, trouble paying attention and feelings of being disconnected from the world.
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“I was pleased to be a part of the kick-off for the first Take A Child Outside week six years ago,” Louv says. “North Carolina has been one of the epicenters of the movement to connect children and nature, and is helping increase the awareness that we all, children and adults, need nature in our increasingly technological lives.” Louv’s new book, The Nature Principle, identifies seven basic concepts that help identify and tap into the restorative power of nature.
On the Take A Child Outside web site (www.takeachildoutside.org), adults are encouraged to make a pledge to take a child outside during the week and chart their location on a digital map. The website also offers a link to interesting outdoor activities, a list of participating organizations in your area, and a portal for partner organizations to post information and add links to their website. “Free time in nature has been shown to improve every area of a child’s life, from having healthier, stronger bodies, to being more successful in school, to having better relationships in their community,” says Liz Baird, director of education for the Museum and the program’s founder. “Time outside every day should be part of your regular routine.”
Currently, all 50 US states and four foreign countries actively participate in Take A Child Outside Week. More than 400 organizations participate nationwide, including all 35 North Carolina State Parks and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Prairie Ridge Activity
Visitors can also venture outside with Museum educators to explore a variety of habitats — including a Piedmont prairie, woodlands, a lowland forest and a pond — on Friday, September 28 at the Museum’s Prairie Ridge Ecostation in west Raleigh. Come any time between 3 to 6pm and visit sites throughout the Ecostation and learn about nature activities that you can enjoy year-round. Learn about bug sounds, sample aquatic invertebrates, investigate ways to attract wildlife to your yard, and more. There will also be a nature scavenger hunt. Each family will receive some take-home items to start building their own explorer’s kit. All ages are welcome; children 15 or younger must be accompanied by an adult. Please wear comfortable clothes and closed-toe shoes. No registration required. For information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, call 919.707.8878 or visitnaturalsciences.org/prairie-ridge-ecostation .
Examples of Take A Child Outside activities
· Make a Date with the Moon - A monthly journey outside to look at the full moon.
· Spritzing spider webs – Discover the architecture behind spider webs by using spritz bottles.
· Leaf number search – Find and identify leaves with one to ten points and beyond.
· Shadow search – Use chalk to trace a shadow on the sidewalk, come back later to see how the shadow has moved and learn why.
· Animal tracks – Locate animal tracks in the dirt and cast them in plaster.
· Outdoor sculpture – Follow sculptor Andy Goldsworthy’s lead and create sculptures using only tools found in nature.
· Shape search – Find common shapes (square, circle, triangle etc.) in nature
Color search – Identify colors of the rainbow found in nature.
· Bird song – Listen for a bird call and attempt your own imitation.
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, 11 West Jones St., Raleigh, documents and interprets the natural history of the state through exhibits, research, collections, publications and educational programming. Hours: Mon. –Sat., 9am–5pm and Sun., Noon–5pm. Admission is free. Find more information online at www.naturalsciences.org. The Museum is an agency of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dee Freeman, Secretary.