Monday, June 20, 2016

A to Z Nature Scavenger Hunt for Kids



It's the first day of summer and most children look forward to sharing special memories with friends and family. Today's children may tend to stay inside and play video games or on electronic devices. It's up to us as parents and therapists to encourage them to engage in outdoor activities. 

Let's talk research....The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is an excellent website for information on the importance of play in kids. Here's the link to a document specifically discussing recess. This article, The Investigation of Outdoor Play,' is from 2004, yet emphasizes the benefits of outdoor play. Doing a search of benefits of playing in nature or outdoors yields a significant number of articles and research on the subject. Here's a good read from a physician who actually PRESCRIBES NATURE!

As OTs we already know the direct connection between physical activity and building of brain connections. University of VA studied activity of children. The study and results are found in 'Is Kindergarten the New First Grade'? They found that schools (as we suspect) have become more academically focused, children spend less time moving, using imagination, and engaging in social play. Reading through the article is worth your time as I hadn't realized that there's not much empirical (research-based) evidence to show how and to what extent the classrooms have changed. One of my favorite articles is a blog post by occupational therapist, Angela Hanscom. Here's the link.

The added benefit of exploring in nature comes when we add stimulation of many more senses. The ground may be flat or un-even which engages our body and activates our vestibular and proprioceptive systems. Climbing on tree branches, swinging from ropes, and playing in puddles help to build brain-body connections which eventually help in the classroom and throughout life. 
Many sights, sounds, and scents waft by. Walking barefoot allows for sensation of textures. 

Out of the POCKET Activity:
                                     
In my books I provide thousands of 'Out of the POCKET Activities' to help children to develop key skills. Here's my A-Z Scavenger Hunt! Print out the simple form and hop to it!
I've found that doing this activity in a group or with a buddy adds to the fun. Encourage bare-feet, touching, and using a magnifying glass to study new objects or even re-look at old things. CLICK HERE for PDF DOWNLOAD,

Make copies of the handout or laminate it and use a dry-erase marker for repeated use. Take pictures or research each item and classify it.  The possibilities for fun are endless!

If you'd like more activities for kids of all ages, we offer BORED Card downloads. Activity ideas designed for B=Been Creative?
O=Outside Play
R=Read a Book
E=Exercise Ideas
D=Do Something Helpful.
Each page consists of four cards with awesome activities! Cut and laminate for your children. When they say, 'I'm BORED' hand them the cards.....automatic fun ideas.

I would love to know how your A-Z Scavenger Hunt went!

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