City Hall Blog (archived)

Explore the Outdoors During "Take a Child Outside Week", September 24 - 30

 
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences created Take a Child Outside Week, which is now observed by partners across the U.S. and Canada to help break down obstacles that keep children from discovering the natural world. By arming parents, teachers and other caregivers with resources on outdoor activities, the goal is to help children across the country develop a better understanding and appreciation of the environment in which they live, and a burgeoning enthusiasm for its exploration. Take a Child Outside Week 2012 is September 24th through September 30th.
 
According to the National Wildlife Federation, the average American child spends only 4 to 7 minutes per day engaged in unstructured, outdoor play as opposed to more than 7 hours in front of some type of screen (http://www.nwf.org/Get-Outside/Be-Out-There/Why-Be-Out-There/Benefits.aspx). Many believe this shift in leisure time is contributing to childhood obesity and an unhealthy disconnect with the natural world.  Research shows that increased time outdoors improves A.D.D. and A.D.H.D. symptoms, school performance, self-discipline and self-esteem.  Research also indicates that environmentally knowledgeable people are more likely to recycle, conserve electricity, purchase environmentally safe products and avoid using chemicals in yard care (http://www.neefusa.org/pdf/ELR2005.pdf).
 
The list below includes a few examples of activities that you can engage in during Take a Child Outside Week.
  •  Color search – Identify colors of the rainbow found in nature.
  •  Bird song - Listen for a bird call and attempt your own imitation.
  •  Make a Date with the Moon - A monthly journey outside to look at the full moon.
  •  Spritzing spider webs – Discover the architecture behind spider webs by using spritz bottles.
  •  Leaf number search - Find and identify leaves with one to ten points and beyond.
  •  Shadow search - Use chalk to trace a shadow on the sidewalk, come back later to see how the shadow has moved and learn why.
  • Animal tracks – Locate animal tracks in the dirt and cast them in plaster.
  •  Outdoor sculpture- Follow sculptor Andy Goldsworthy's lead and create sculptures using only tools found in nature
  •  Shape search - Find common shapes (square, circle, triangle etc.) in nature
Check out Nature Play at Home:  A Guide for Boosting Your Children's Healthy Development and Creativity for easy and affordable ideas on how you can turn your backyard or other types of domestic outdoor spaces into vibrant Nature Play Spaces™ for children so they can reap the physical and mental benefits of laying outside.
 
City of Concord "Take a Child Outside Week" Activities
The City of Concord will host two events. Staff will lead two outdoor scavenger hunts on Tuesday, September 25th at 4:00PM in Dorton Park and at 6:00PM on Thursday, September 27th in McGee Park.    

Spread the word! Tell everyone you know about these events and encourage them to enjoy spend time outdoors exploring the natural environment. Outdoor family time is good for everyone!  Do it often.  Flip over a rock and see what kinds of insects you can identify.  Climb a tree.  Catch (and release) lightning bugs.  Collect fallen leaves and try to identify which tree they came from.  Listen to bird sounds.  Camp out in the back yard.  Make mud pies.  Go for a walk; make use of Concord's beautiful parks and greenways! 

Visit www.takeachildoutside.org to learn more about Take a Child Outside Week, pledge to take a child outside, and to find a long list of fun things to do outdoors!