Bonding with Nature During a Pandemic

From Grandma is a Slowpoke, written by Janet Halfmann and illustrated by Michele Coxon.

Amid the pandemic, you might be feeling cooped up and rubbing elbows with household members. To release all of that teeming energy, you may have found a special tree you like to sit under or a bird’s nest you like to check on. Perhaps even a brisk walk to the ocean to gather seashells with a little one?

 

The fall season brings colder weather, and for many who seek nature as an escape from the coronavirus pandemic, this shift in temperatures may be disheartening. But it’s still possible to be in harmony with nature, and we have included some fall activities below for children, teens, and adults to explore!

 

How going outside helps our mental and physical health

Regardless of age, spending time outside can lower feelings of stress or depression, anger or aggression, and obesity rates.

 

For kids, it also has learning advantages in the classroom. Children are more focused, experience an uptick in critical thinking skills, and develop motor skills.

 

What are some activities for kids ages 0-3?

  • Sculptures: Collect acorns, leaves, rocks, pine cones, or any nature item that is Children can construct sculptures with their items using play dough. You can also use old Tupperware or beach toys as a spot to stick the dough on to develop motor skills!

 

  • Outside Story Time: Grab a blanket, some favorite snacks, and find a cozy spot to read. It can be a nature book or one that encourages children to learn about the world around them.

 

  • Family Walk or Bike Ride: Use a stroller or bike trailer so you can get some exercise and point out different aspects of nature to your child along the way! Find out what fascinates them most.

 

What are some activities for kids ages 4 and up?

  • Bird Watching: Have kids identify types of birds and the trees they nest in. Bring a bird watcher’s guide if they are really into it.

 

  • Nature Hunt: Build a list of items you want to find on a walk (optional: set a goal for how many you want to find). It could be a stash of acorns, leaves, pine cones, or rocks that your child finds interesting!

 

  • Bring a Ball: Kick a ball around or play catch. Try to stay distanced from people outside your household. Playing catch is better for household members only; kicking a ball is good for people outside your circle.

 

What are some new ways for adults to bond with nature?

One of the best ways to bond with nature is to bond with your community. The master naturalists at Oregon State give some tips on this.

 

Volunteer to help a neighbor, a family member, or a friend improve their yard; invite one or two people and set up a mini gym in the yard where everyone brings their own exercise materials; or write some fun facts about nature on a whiteboard for your neighbors and change it weekly!

 

Consider making some giveaway bags for food banks and homeless shelters with bandages,

masks, non-perishable foods, and socks.

 

If you’re feeling daring and want to help the environment, take up beekeeping. (This may be more of a spring activity, but you must admit it sounds riveting to start preparing early!)

 

Other outdoor fall activities for all ages:

Apple picking, corn mazes, building bonfires, outdoor charades or homemade theatricals, and hiking through the woods are all fun socially distanced activities!

 

Have you considered looking to the stars? There is a full moon on Halloween and four upcoming meteor showers on November 11th, 12th, 16th, and 17th.

 

During the holidays, try Conkers! It is a tradition in Ireland, Canada, and the UK—even Queen Elizabeth herself enjoys a good game. Collect some chestnuts, string them on arm-length twine, and have kids smash them together to see who can break the most chestnuts. You can also offer a prize to the child who finds the most chestnuts.

 

Enjoy seeing what autumn has to offer. It may put a smile on your face to discover a funky

mushroom or to use chestnuts as game pieces. Most importantly, make sure you bundle up—with coats, gloves, hats, AND masks.

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