Ever See a Crab in the Forest?

  NATURE MAKES US NICER.

A study done by the U. of Rochester, 370 people were shown either images of man-made or natural objects and worked in space with or without indoor plants. Images of nature and indoor plants made people feel more connected, more caring and charitable toward others. Man-made images made people place more value on wealth and fame. Other research tells us that exposure to nature reduces stress.
So, if you’re looking for a gift that keeps on giving, try plants and photos of natural settings to help you through the dreary days of winter. Visit parks and natural areas as often as you can.
To view beautiful photos of nature click on Travel + Nature at:   http://www.treehugger.com
Spring is just around the corner!

To get children interested in nature, take them            

Boston Arboretum

Boston Arboretum

outdoors. It doesn’t have to be a park or forest. A playground, back yard or grassy field will do nicely. Get down on your knees and look for things hiding in the grass and under leaves and rocks. Most children have a natural curiosity when it comes to bugs, birds, and wild creatures. If you’re a bit squeamish regarding members of the insect population, try not to project those feelings onto your child.  Most bugs and insects are harmless and fascinating to watch as they go about their business. A magnifying glass will add a level of “scientific authority” to the activity. It’s also fun to take along a camera or some paper and pencil to record what you discover. Have a contest for whoever can find the most different species.

Buds are springing up from the ground and on trees thanks to our mild winter.  How many can you and your child identify?  There are lots of field guides available to help you identify plants and insects.                             Triple oaks spiderWhat are some of your favorite natural spaces?

Remember: “Take only photos, leave only footprints

Listen to…Birdsongs.

For many people, birds create some of nature’s loveliest music. Between the songs, whistles, tweeting and chattering, it can be a symphony of sounds not only in spring and fall, but throughout the year. If you want to attract more birds into your yard, here are some tips for doing that.

Birds need a variety of plants and food sources. If your yard has grasses, shrubs, and trees, you’re off to a good start. A simple bird feeder will attract seed eating birds. Try adding nesting boxes for bluebirds, wrens and chickadees.  Provide seed-bearing plants such as sunflowers or cone flowers to attract sparrows and finches. Insect harboring shrubs and moving water will attract warblersMockingbirds and cat bids love fruiting shrubs, dense cover and unraked leaves.  The more variety you provide, the more species of birds you’ll attract.

For more ideas on bringing birds – and their songs – into your yard, check out this book: ATTRACTING SONGBIRDS TO YOUR BACKYARD:HUNDREDS OF EASY WAYS TO BRING MUSIC AND BEAUTY OF SONGBIRDS TO YOUR YARD by Sally Roth.  You can find it at:OrganicGardening.com

Once you have birds coming to visit, it is fun to keep a log of all the different ones you see. Children can draw pictures of them, try to capture them on camera and maybe even record some of their songs. I’d LOVE to hear how you do and what kind of birds come to visit your house.

Happy birding!

Backyard Olympics

There are many wonderful ways to enjoy physical activity.  As we wind down the days of summer, let the kids – and adults – in the neighborhood have a BACKYARD OLYMPICS.

You can set up an area with an obstacle course and see who can complete it.  Crawling through  a “tunnel”,  jumping over ropes of various heights, rolling, running, and crab walking are all fun ways to compete in events. Walking like various animals is also fun (especially if accompanied by animal sounds). Endurance activities  might include who can jump rope or keep a hula hoop going the longest. A fun spin on ball games might be a water balloon toss, or raw egg toss.  

Finish up the day’s fun with Popsicle eating or watermelon seed spitting contests. Give all children a chance to feel special.  You can award ribbons for the Best Sport, Purplest Tongue, Coolest Crab Walker, Awesome Hula Hooper, etc.  You can even name your team and paint T-shirts for the big day.

It’s even more fun if adults “act like kids” by: wearing  a swimsuit all day, being barefoot all day,  digging in the dirt, eating a Popsicle for breakfast, running under a sprinkler.

Enjoy these last few weeks of summer and get physical!