What is one of the easiest ways to increase a kid’s wellbeing? Get them outside. Many research studies show how important outdoor time is for mental and physical wellbeing, so a kid’s early love of nature will serve them very well throughout their life. We hope our POP-UP Mini Box this month helps the children in your life spend more time cherishing nature and the great outdoors.

Come see the nature mandalas from your POP-UP friends + share yours on Facebook or Instagram!

 
 
OUTDOOR MAKER’S STATION
 
Intro: 
The outdoors is a perfect place to become aware of the beauty all around. But we have to learn to slow down in order to really see the beauty. Once we realize the beauty, we can also make art with it! What helps us appreciate the little things that are around us every day? 
 
Goal: 
This exercise teaches kids different tools for becoming aware of their outdoor surroundings. Then, they will have fun creating art with nature.
 
Instructions: 
1. Choose a favorite spot to go outdoors. It can be a city park, a meadow, or a backyard– anywhere that you have access to the outdoors.
 
2. Lead a simple breathing + awareness exercise. First, close your eyes + take three deep breaths, filling up the belly and emptying the lungs completely. Then take a moment to take turns focusing on what you hear, feel, and smell. First, focus on the sounds you hear, then the sensations you feel, and finally the smells you smell.
 
3. After you finish this awareness exercise, maintain your silence as you walk around and appreciate the fresh air and nature around you.
 
4. As you walk, collect 5-10 pieces of nature that feel beautiful to you. They can be sticks, rocks, leaves, pieces of grass, berries, flowers… anything that comes from nature.
 
5. Come back together after 5-10 minutes to make a mandala with all of the beautiful pieces of nature everyone has found. (see example of a mandala below)
 
6. Take a picture of your mandala and share it with everyone on Facebook or Instagram!
 
Discuss:
How did being outside make you feel?
What did you notice more during your awareness exercise– the sounds, the sensations, or the smells?
What would you like to do in nature the next time you go outside?

 
Picture Books
 
by Laurie Lawlor
A motivational biography about the environmentalist and the challenges she went through to make a difference in the world. A great choice for the future change-makers of the world. Best for ages 7 and up.
 
 by Henry Cole
A perfect outdoor story book for young children. This interactive tale sits children near a quiet stream and encourages them to sit and listen to what nature has to tell.
 
 
Chapter Books
 
Wildwood
by Colin Meloy
A little bit of fantasy and a lot of bit of wilderness, Wildwood is a story of searching. Prue and her friend Curtis uncover a secret, wild world full of dark intentions and peaceful mystics. Wildwood captivates readers with the wonder and thrill of a secret world within the landscape of a modern city. It feels at once firmly steeped in the classics of children’s literature and completely fresh at the same time. The story is told from multiple points of view, and the book features more than eighty illustrations, including six in full-color.

Each month we will be featuring the story of a past POP-Up Festival host. Meet Mike, director of Learn with Dragonfly, a Six Seconds’ Preferred Partner whose mission is to get kids learning and exploring outside.

What are some obstacles for getting kids outside, and how can we overcome them? It can be a lot of effort to get kids outside. This leads to a reliance on technology as a diversion for kids because it is so much easier.  But we can model the love of outdoors for kids. Parents need to be the role models for the children– we can show them how fun it is to be outside, how to play safely, and show them that spending time together outside is special.

Can you share an experience you’ve had leading outdoor experiences with children? In November, I was sitting at the top of a cliff, overlooking a wooded valley talking with a boy. The conversation turned to his family life, specifically about his time together with his father. The boy shared with me how sad he was that he spent almost no time with his father. During he week, he would see him for five minutes as he walked out the door to work. On the weekends, groups of parents would get together and the kids were expected to play together with the maids. We talked about his hopes, fears, and goals, and the day ended far too soon.

In January, I saw the boy again, and as soon as he saw me, he ran up and hugged me.  Delighted, I asked how things were going since we had seen each other last. He told me that he had talked to his dad about spending time together, and now they spend every Saturday together just the two of them. The smallest interaction can have the biggest impact.

 

What are some fun ideas for getting kids outside? 
1. Set aside some time in the week, set an alarm on your phone, and when it goes of then stop whatever you are doing and get the family outside.

2. Keep it simple!  Outside could be the local park or even the garden!  Just lying down in the grass, feeling the wind across your body, hearing the trees rustle and the birds chirping.

3. Look at Tripadvisor, see what the local tourist walks are, and walk them!

4. Ask the kids what they want to do! 

5. Open a map, stick a pin or a dart in it and go there.

 
 
 
 Would you like your POP-UP Festival story to be shared here? E-mail Maria at [email protected]

“Shinrin-yoku” is the Japanese practice of spending time in the forest to increase wellbeing. In English, it translates to “forest bathing.”

Research shows that spending time in the forest lowers heart rate and blood pressure, reduces stress hormone production, boosts the immune system, and improves overall feelings of wellbeing.
 

Kitchen Table Question:

“What’s your favorite thing to do outside?”

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