Have you heard of Nature-Deficit Disorder?
In his best-selling book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, Richard Louv explores research linking children’s health and well-being to direct exposure to nature.
Sadly, many of today’s children are better able to identify jungle and zoo animals than the animals living in their own backyards.
Today, I’m sharing tips, tricks, and resources for fighting Nature Deficit Disorder in your homeschool.
How to Fight Nature Deficit Disorder this Fall and Winter
What is Nature Deficit Disorder?
In this age of screens, our nation’s children are not getting out there and this has a direct impact on their health and happiness. And, lest you think nature only benefits children, Louv shares the benefits for adults in his book, The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age.
After reading Louv’s books, you won’t want to come inside.
Louv uses research to show the many benefits of time spent in nature, including:
- Increased health and happiness
- Increased attention, academic success, and creativity
- Decreased obesity
- Decreased rates of anxiety and depression
- Increased concern and care for the natural world
Learn more about Nature Deficit Disorder with these titles:
How to fight Nature Deficit Disorder at home
I don’t know who originally said this, but one of my favorite sayings is: Children cannot bounce off the walls when there are none.
As the mom to three very active youngsters, I notice a significant difference in our children’s happiness and behavior when we have had plenty of outdoor time.
(Heck, I notice a difference in my own happiness when I’ve been outdoors!)
I wish there was a way to make this book required reading for all parents because I feel quite certain that we would see a significant improvement in the happiness and health of our nation’s children.
Today, I’m sharing 50 ways that you can fight Nature-Deficit Disorder in your family. When you are finished reading, I’d love to hear your family’s favorite fall and winter outdoor activities.
But first, here is my go-to resource for super simple, super affordable, and super fun nature study
Years ago, my homeschool sister, Kara, introduced me to Exploring Nature with Children: A Complete Year-Long Curriculum.
Exploring Nature with Children is exactly what the title says- a complete, year-long curriculum. It contains 48 weeks of material, starting in September and continuing throughout the year, but you can jump into the curriculum at any point during the year.
The book is completely self-contained, housing all the information you need to make nature study a part of your family’s routine. It would work for both those comfortable in nature and those new to nature exploration.
We highly recommend this resource!
And now, without further ado…
How to fight Nature Deficit Disorder this fall and winter
- Resolve to get outside. Create a family challenge and resolve to spend a certain amount of time outdoors daily, whether it is for twenty minutes or two hours. Every little bit counts!
- Take time to enjoy the simplest of outdoor pleasures.
- Can you make an acorn cap or a blade of grass whistle?
- How many times can you make a stone skip?
- Is there anything more satisfying than the crunch of a fresh pine cone underfoot?
- When was the last time you did cartwheels across the lawn?
- Can you make a crown of flowers?
- Take time to smell those roses!
- Gather natural materials and make a fairy house.
- Stargaze. See if you can see a shooting star–or a bat–in the night sky!
- Grab a backpack, fill it with goodies for your little explorer, and go for a hike.
- Have a picnic.
- Get artsy! There’s nothing quite like painting al fresco.
- Care for the Earth by planting a tree or picking up garbage.
Get a dog. Nothing forces you to get out there more than that puppy dog stare.
- Create an obstacle course in your own backyard.
- Grab a soccer ball or baseball and head out in the backyard for a game.
- Catch a leaf before it hits the ground–it’s good luck!
- Pitch a tent and go camping.
- Learn about the trees in your own backyard. If you have maple trees, you have plenty of time to think about maple sugaring this winter.
- Invest in some child-sized rakes and other outdoor tools. Invite your children help you with yard work. Don’t forget to save one leaf pile for leaping!
- Get lost! Practice those map skills and let your child to take the lead. Explore the world of letterboxing and geocaching.
- Visit a natural playground.
- Enjoy a nature scavenger hunt! Be sure to save any leaves you collect for some nature crafts.
Fly a kite.
- Does your child love a good mystery? Grab a field guide and learn the art of animal tracking!
- Have you ever heard of a mud kitchen? Let your children cook up some delicious mud pies.
- Visit an outdoor museum, sculpture park, or botanical garden.
- Explore the world of birding. There is so much to be learned from a bird identification guide and some binoculars.
- When you are done observing the birds, why not use a pine cone to make a bird feeder, or try these bird cookies.
- Create a super-simple pond study. Grab your nets and see if you can catch butterflies, frogs, minnows, or salamanders.
- Visit your local farm and hit up the orchard or pumpkin patch. Get lost in a corn maze and then head home to cook up some pumpkin goodness.
- Set your children free, armed with cameras, and see what they capture!
- Get out there and use sidewalk chalk before the snow comes. Play hopscotch, or four-square, or hangman!
Make your own bubble juice and blow some gigantic bubbles.
- Make a scarecrow or a pumpkin person.
- Visit a National Park.
- Read a book. There’s nothing quite like reading a book in the great outdoors.
- Climb a tree.
- When you come down, grab a stick. Did you know that sticks are in the National Toy Hall of Fame?
- Go for a bike ride… either on the roads or on the trails.
- Study Native Americans and see if you can use that stick to make tools, weapons, or a fire.
- Speaking of fires, hit up the fire pit and enjoy some s’mores.
- While you’re outside at night, remember that you’re never too old for flashlight tag!
Visit your favorite Nature Conservation Center.
- Go hiking during a full moon.
- Build a fort! Fort building helps children to learn cooperation, STEM skills and encourages that imagination.
- When those snowflakes start to fall, make sure to get out there and catch the first one on your tongue.
- Make snow ice cream!
- Discuss the science of snowflakes.
- Sharpen those skates and find a pond.
- Build a snowman.
- Invest in some kid snowshoes and be the first to make tracks after a fresh snow.
- Teach those kids how to ski–cross-country or downhill!
- Hit up those sledding hills and end the day with a cup of hot cocoa.
- If winter has you in the doldrums, it’s a great time to research fantastic summer nature camps.
Amazing homeschool nature study books
I am continually amazed by the growth I see in my children when I add high-quality picture books to our existing curriculum… and we love nature books!
Here are a few of our favorite books for homeschool nature study:
- The Best Nature Journaling Books for Creativity and Inspiration
- Nature Lovers Will Adore This Jim Arnosky Author Study
- Gardening Books and Resources for Your Little Nature Lover
- Delight Animal Lovers With A Nicola Davies Author Study!
- Animal Helpers in History
- A Month of Animal Books
- Simple Summer Learning with “100 Backyard Activities”
Here are some fantastic homeschool nature study books:
Fight Nature Deficit Disorder with fantastic nature games
It wouldn’t be a Cait article without some awesome resources for gameschoolers!
These games would be perfect for homeschool nature study:
Don’t forget about nature documentaries!
CuriosityStream is the best $2.99 I spend each month.
Our family has access to high-quality on-demand educational documentaries without commercial interruption…for less than the cost of one of those fancy Starbucks beverages!
You can read more here:
But you don’t have to take my word for it. CuriosityStream offers a FREE 7-day trial.
Super-simple ideas to fight Nature Deficit Disorder in your homeschool
- Simple Bee Study with Candle Making & Honey
- Simple Pond Study
- Forts: The Original STEM Challenge
- Fairy House STEM
- Hands-On Animal Study with Spielgaben
Gifts for the nature lover in your life
Additional resources for fighting Nature Deficit Disorder in your homeschool
Do you want to see our homeschool in action?
I get a lot of questions about our curriculum choices. You can read more here:
- 2018-19 Homeschool Curriculum (2nd, 3rd, and 5th grade)
- Homeschool Curriculum: How to Ditch the Schedule and Embrace a Lifestyle
- Gameschooling 101: How to Homeschool with Fantastic Educational Games
- Homeschool Curriculum 2017-2018 (1st, 2nd, and 4th grade)
- Homeschool Curriculum 2016-2017 (K, 1st grade, and 3rd grade)
- Homeschooling Curriculum 2015-2016 (Pre-K, K, and 2nd grade)
Be sure to follow My Little Poppies because we share snapshots of our homeschool day… and all of our favorite resources!
Now, it’s your turn. Tell me: What are your family’s best tips and tricks for fighting Nature Deficit Disorder? Share here!
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, Scary Mommy, GeekMom, and many others. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram
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