7 Nature Days Challenge - Day 7
Aim: 30 Minutes Outdoors
Activity: Outdoor Nature Art
Congratulations, it’s the final day of your 7 Nature Days Challenge!
You and your family have come a long way in just one week and will already be many times more tuned into Nature and the outdoors than on Day 1. I hope you see signs that your kids are beginning to play spontaneously outdoors on their own, having rediscovered the fun there is to be had out there.
For this final day, your challenge will take you further afield - preferably somewhere unexplored in a nearby park. Bring paper and crayons/pencils. After the kids have blown off some steam, head for the trees and find a quiet spot to settle down.
Part 1: Tune In & compare to Day 1
To start today, revisit the Tune In Game from Day 1 and play Sounds Around. Find a quiet place to settle down together. Afterwards, discuss what you found:
First, how does today compare with Day 1? Is the time of day, location or the weather having an impact on what you are hearing, seeing or experiencing? Are there different activities going on nearby that are making a difference? Are you noticing more or less Nature noises now compared to when you started this on Monday? Are you more connected with Nature today?
Now Tune In to your kids - Chat with your kids about the week they have just had. Ask them their opinions, what they learned, what they enjoyed/disliked, what they would like to do more of etc. Use this chance when the connection and mood is positive to harvest tips from them about their likes & interests. This knowledge can be useful in keeping their interest in the outdoors going in future. You might see a side to your child, or yourself, which you had not noticed before or had thought was long gone.
Part 2: Outdoor Nature Art challenge - Make Nature Art
Gather materials from around you like twigs, seeds, nuts, leaves, stones and challenge everyone to make some art with it. It could be a picture of themselves, or someone else in the family, a stickman or whatever comes to mind.
When you have all made your Nature Art, have the kids clear the space around them all carefully and frame it all with leaves, twigs or whatever is around. The kids (or you) may come over all Picasso and make a caption, or other great addition for your masterpiece.
Finally, take a photograph of the creation. This picture captures how far you have come as a family! Yes it may look like something Storm Ophelia threw up to other people, but to your family it is a master class in connecting with Nature.
I recommend you print this picture and stick it on your
fridge as a reminder of the fabulous memories you have
all made together as a family this week. You could also
give each child their own picture for their treasure box,
as a reminder of how proud you are of their efforts this
week too. If we can't bottle good feelings, we can certainly
trap them in time, so cherish the memories you make
together today - they will last a lifetime!
When back indoors, challenge your kids to finish their nature journals for this week. They might start by drawing a picture of the family creation today. You can encourage them to write down the things they liked to do, the things they learned and draw some pictures of their activities. If you have old papers or magazines around the house, let them cut out nature pictures they find to add in or they could run out to collect some bits and pieces from the garden or green space to decorate the pages.
Step 3: Celebrate the feeling
You have reached the end of the 7 Nature Days Challenge. Congratulations! This is no small feat as it marks the beginning of a new way of seeing the world and a new way of living your lives. So make sure to reward yourself and your family for getting this far.
Bring everyone together to congratulate your family on finishing the challenge and passing with flying colours. Let everyone know, kids and adults, that you are proud of their effort and how far they’ve come.
Your kids will be grateful for the time you have spent with them and the safe, secure feeling that gives them. And they will have absolutely relished seeing the fun and easy going side of you, so keep that alive. If you were to ask your kids what side of you they would most want to see; the serious adult side or the fun childlike side, I think it is safe to guess which one they will choose.
Now, without dampening this feeling, begin to manage their expectations for the future: Explain that this Week Long Challenge is a great achievement but it's different to everyday life. Let them know you loved seeing them outdoors and you hope they will continue to have fun playing themselves in Nature like they did all this week.
Set out clearly your intention to continue to spend time outdoors in Nature together most days (but sometimes things will come up which can’t be avoided) and this will be a great accountability for you too. Remind them that their imagination and curiosity will work just as well for creating fun for themselves outdoors as the things you suggested this week. Explain you look forward to going outdoors to them and seeing what they are up to and you are there to help them with ideas.
So they can expect that you will continue to give them time and attention, you will continue to spend time with them outdoors (even if it's just 15 minutes most days), and you still intend to bring the fun every now and again with fun activities and challenges from the Activity Finder. But then it’s over to them!
Because our kids must learn to rely on themselves, entertain themselves and explore on their own without an adult taking the lead all the time(once the environment is safe). That is when they will really grow and you can walk away having shown them how to explore, have fun and use Nature as a playground on their own.
If I show you one thing this week it’s that you CAN teach your kids about Nature. It doesn’t take a Masters in Education or Biology to be a teacher to your own kids. You are constantly teaching them every day, whether you realise it or not. As they soak up life lessons from you like sponges, it is you and their trusted adult family that they are drawn to for guidance - watching and learning from your attitude, your words, and the values you pass onto them. You ARE already doing it, and with just a little intention on your part, you can continue to nurture the growing connection all your family have with Nature and enjoy the wonderful health benefits that will bring.