"Sociologists point out that American kids today can identify a thousand corporate logos but less than ten native plants and animals that live around their homes." -- William Powers in 12x12I'm waist high in 12x12 at the moment. This quote stuck out to me because our family had recently piled on the couch together and played The Logo Quiz. Even our three year old would say, "Dat place you get coffee" when we pointed to the Starbucks logo or "Dat place wif duh fwench fwies" when we pointed to McDonalds. This may gain me some instant haters and eye rollers, but to our knowledge Hudson has never eaten at McDonalds. I say "to our knowledge" because he's awfully agile and brilliant. It would shock me none for the doorbell to ring during his naptime, me answer the door, and find a grown up standing there holding Hudson's hand. "We found him down the street at McDonalds ordering a milkshake and some fries. He tried to pay with some pink, Sponge Bob LIFE money. That's when knew something was up."
It could totally happen. I wish I was exaggerating.
This child has most likely never eaten at McDonalds and thanks to Netflix and DVR - has only seen a handful of commercials in his life. Yet he held his own in the corporate logo game. Our older boys? They dominated it. We were surprised how well they all did. We were impressed and disturbed all at the same time.
Because I'm nothing if not a reactive freak, I went straight to the library and checked out a pile of Texas Tree books. McDonalds and Chanel can kiss my grits. I was determined to beat the statistic and teach our boys about the trees in the backyard. I conveniently picked one of the hottest days of the year to undertake this task. In case you're wondering - yes. Absolutely. This makes my family love me and not grumble at all. They practically beg me to be a little bit more insane and unpredictable.
We decided to declare this species the "run for your life" tree.
We found a Pecan Tree, a White Mulberry, a Winged Elm, a Yaupon, a Cypress, and a Japanese Privet.
I can't quit rolling this thought around in my mind: "What if this disconnect with the earth is also a disconnect from the one who created it? What if our ignorance of the natural world seeps over into the spiritual?"
After we identified each tree, the kids would make a simple rubbing and label their leaf.
“If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.” ― Rachel CarsonIf you decide to explore your own backyard or a nearby park and identify the trees you find, here are some great art ideas that incorporate the natural world (and some added nature links). Got any other links, books, or activities that have inspired you to connect with nature? Please share the nature love!
Elephant Leaf Art
Deer Leaf Art
Fish Leaf Art
Leaf Art for Grownups
Dinosaur Leaf Art
Watercolor Leaf Rubbings
Fancy Leaf Art
The Yarney Stone
Want to get outside and go on a nature hunt? Get a free, nature scavenger hunt printable HERE.
If you live in the Northeast, check out this new app called Leaf Snap. You can take a picture of a leaf on your phone and instantly have information about each species! Leaf Snap will eventually contain information for all trees in the US. Isn't that exciting?
Favorite Reads that Inspire Families to Get Outdoors
Roxaboxen (children's book that will get your kids outside) Check out how this beautiful book inspired weeks of outdoor play for our kids.
Marian called it Roxaboxen. (She always knew the name of everything.) There across the road, it looked like any rocky hill -- nothing but sand and rocks, some old wooden boxes, cactus and greasewood and thorny ocotillo -- but it was a special place: a sparkling world of jeweled homes, streets edged with the whitest stones, and two ice cream shops. Come with us there, where all you need to gallop fast and free is a long stick and a soaring imagination. In glowing desert hues, artist Barbara Cooney has caught the magic of Alice McLerran's treasured land of Roxaboxen -- a place that really was, and, once you've been there, always is.
The Nature Principle - Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age.
This New Nature Movement taps into the restorative powers of the natural world to boost mental acuity and creativity; promote health and wellness; build smarter and more sustainable businesses, communities, and economies; and ultimately strengthen human bonds. Supported by groundbreaking research, anecdotal evidence, and compelling personal stories, Louv offers renewed optimism while challenging us to rethink the way we live.
Last Child in the Woods - Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder
Richard Louv was the first to identify a phenomenon we all knew existed but couldn't quite articulate: nature-deficit disorder. His book Last Child in the Woods created a national conversation about the disconnection between children and nature, and his message has galvanized an international movement. Now, three years after its initial publication, we have reached a tipping point, with Leave No Child Inside initiatives adopted in at least 30 regions within 21 states, and in Canada, Holland, Australia, and Great Britain.
12x12 - a one-room cabin off the grid and beyond the American dream.
Why would a successful American physician choose to live in a twelve-foot-by-twelve-foot cabin without running water or electricity? To find out, writer and activist William Powers visited Dr. Jackie Benton in rural North Carolina. No Name Creek gurgled through Benton’s permaculture farm, and she stroked honeybees’ wings as she shared her wildcrafter philosophy of living on a planet in crisis. Powers, just back from a decade of international aid work, then accepted Benton’s offer to stay at the cabin for a season while she traveled. There, he befriended her eclectic neighbors — organic farmers, biofuel brewers, eco-developers — and discovered a sustainable but imperiled way of life.
Whether you’re a first-time camper or a veteran backpacker befuddled by the challenges of carting a brood—and all the requisite gear—into the great outdoors, here you’ll find all the tips and tools you need to plan the perfect nature adventure with your family. Humorous and irreverent, yet always authoritative, this guide to camping with kids, from babies through pre-teens, is filled with checklists, smart tips, recipes, games, activities, and art projects. Helen Olsson, a seasoned camper and mother of three, shares lessons learned over the years of nature outings with her own family. Learn the basics of family camping, from choosing a destination and packing gear to setting up a campsite and keeping little ones safe. Create the perfect camp menu with simple and tasty recipe ideas. Discover foolproof tips and tactics for keeping kids happy and entertained while hiking. Explore nature through clever and creative camp arts and craft projects. This guide is your game plan to unplugging from the digital world and connecting your kids to nature. Whether it’s roasting marshmallows around a crackling campfire or stretching out on a camp mat to gaze at the stars, the memories you’ll be making will last a lifetime.