The Power Of Outdoor Free Play

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Unfortunately, the amount of time that children spend engaged in unstructured, child-directed outdoor play has diminished significantly in the past generation. Schools have opted out of recess and play time in favor of a more structured academic period. As many years of research has shown, that it causing more harm than good. Here are some of the amazing benefits that come with outdoor free play!

 

Cognitive Health

 

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Playing outdoors gives children the opportunity to make decisions and problem solve, it provides an environment for creative thinking, and makes children use a higher level of sequence, planning, and organizing.

 

Physical Health

 

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Outdoor play provides more opportunity for movement which in turn greatly decreases the likelihood of developing of developing obesity and disease. It also magnifies the use of fine and gross motor skills!

Mental health

 

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Overall, children who are active outdoors have much better moods, have a decrease in hyperactivity, and are less likely to have symptoms related to anxiety and depression.

Emotional Health

 

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The development in empathy, an increase in self-esteem, and the development of emotional intelligence is all part of getting outdoors to play! 🙂

Social Skills

 

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Research has also shown that playing outdoors provides increased social interactions, higher levels of sharing, cooperating, and helping!

Play Skills

 

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Play skills help develop creativity, and provide endless opportunities for imagination and engagement! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Old Trees, New Life- Camping Activity

When a tree falls, its life is over. But the tree can still give life to others. The dead tree becomes its own ecosystem, where plants, insects, and microorganisms thrive-from the mosses, ferns, and fungi that make the rotting tree their home to a whole host of bugs and bacteria that eat the tree and break it down into soil for new plants! Next time you see a dead log, take a close look and record your observations in your Field Journal. You just might be amazed by what you see.

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What You Do

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#1. Find a rotting log: Look for a tree that has fallen and that has wood breaking apart in pieces. It may be slightly damp.

 

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#2. Describe what the log looks like. What is growing on it? Can you see any mushrooms, ferns, mosses, or lichens? Are there baby trees or any other plants sprouting out of the wood?

 

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#3. Do you see any insects? What are they doing? Look for tiny piles of sawdust at the base of the log. This is evidence that insects have drilled into the wood, starting the decomposition process. The holes left behind create highways for fungi and bacteria to come in and break down the wood even further.

 

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#4.  Tap the log with your fingers. Is it hollow? Wet? Bone-dry? What does it smell like?

 

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#5. Put on your gloves and gently and carefully lift the log a few inches to see if you can take a peek underneath. What do you see? Are there insects underneath? What are they doing? What do they look like? When you’re done, put the log back.

 

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#6.  Use your magnifying glass to peek at the log itself. Do you see insects breaking it down? What do they look like under the magnifying glass? What about the plants growing on the tree? What do the mushrooms look like up close?

 

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#7. Draw and describe what you’ve seen in your field journal. Try to identify plants, animals, and insects by looking at your field guide or Nature Anatomy book! 

 

There is so much to learn! Head outdoors and explore! 🙂