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According to the Children’s Nature Network,* children are smarter, more
cooperative, happier, and healthier when they have frequent and varied opportunities for free and unstructured play in the outdoors. The No Child Left Inside movement is working to promote outdoor play and environmental literacy in children.
When you read “children are smarter, more cooperative, happier, and healthier,” just by being outside, you may change your mind on how you look to fill long summer days with enriching activities. Studies show that while our children may know words like ‘global warming’ and ‘deforestation,’ very few have the personal experience needed to appreciate the natural world. Playing in nature can actually change the way a child thinks about himself and the world around him.
June is “Leave No Child Inside Month,” a perfect time to explore the best Lake County has to offer by checking out one of our amazing Forest Preserves. If you’ve never visited the Lake County Forest Preserves, you are missing out! More than 29,300 acres of peaceful, natural settings make up the district. The preserves offer activities like horseback riding, biking, hiking, fishing, boating, swimming, bird watching, geocaching, stroller-pushing, and more that appeals to kids (and adults!) of all ages. Most preserves are free and open from 6:30 a.m. until sunset. You can find detailed information on activities and locations, including maps of biking/hiking trails in each of the preserves, at the Lake County Forest Preserve website.
Even if heading to the preserves is not your cup of tea, you can embrace the
outdoors this month in other ways:
- Invest $5 in a box of sidewalk chalk and help the kids create a whole new world just outside the front door.
- Make a “walking stick”: Find a long, thick stick suitable for supporting hikers on their journey. Use it to collect “treasures” from nature hikes by attaching feathers, leaves, and other cool finds with rubber bands.
- Tell your iPhone to take a hike! New apps like iBird make bird identification easy and interesting. Pocket Universe makes it possible to identify stars, planets, and constellations in the night sky. And treasure hunters love www.geocaching.com for the coordinates of sites throughout Lake County.
Nature exploration is brain food for children and refreshment for mom and dad. It is the opportunity to explore together the paths not taken. As William Shakespeare once said, “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”
How will you enjoy the outside this month?
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