Explore the Outdoors: When Everyone Slows Down, Amazing Things Happen
by Kristin Mullen, Children’s Garden Educator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
For two years in a row, we’ve arrived at Explore the Outdoors with a van full of familiar, readily-available natural materials (sticks, stumps, moss, gum balls, grapevine, pine cones, etc.) and watched the creativity unfold as families spend un-structured time creating masterpieces of art and engineering out of underappreciated items. When everyone slows down, amazing things happen.
Kids start to notice details about the pine cones. Branches and raffia become rafts and forts. Families talk about the gum balls in their own yards. Parents and kids work together to balance sticks and stones. When something doesn’t balance, they try it again. And best of all? When we overhear parents promising the kids that they can do the same thing once they get home.
When children get excited about the natural world, they tend to care about the plants and animals in it. If the excitement level at Explore the Outdoors this year is any indication, the future’s in good hands!