I have a new blog dedicated to connecting children with nature through sharing activities with parents and scout leaders. Below is the first post I wrote. I hope you will read it and let me know what you think. Thank you!

My blog can be found at: http://letsconnectwithnature.blogspot.com

If you want to get the kids outside more...to appreciate nature, get some fresh air, and for some plain old fun, here's where to start.

Get out there! The best way to experience nature and all that it offers is to get outside. You won't get all the great benefits of connecting with nature through any book or movie.

Keep it simple! You don't need to plan anything elaborate, or spend a bunch of money. Some of our best "finds" have been from our own yard. Last summer we found our first salamander in our yard. We had never seen one in our area before and it was really cool. We watched its behavior, looked it up on the internet to find out what kind it was, what it ate and where it spent its time (so we could release it somewhere better than in the window-well we found it in). My son even took a printout of its picture to school for show and tell. He got so much more involved in finding out more about it because we actually had found a real live one in our yard. What a great teachable moment!

Slow down! You'll find there are hidden gems all around if you slow things down when you're outdoors. Sit quietly in one spot for at least a few minutes and look around. This could be the most important thing you ever do in nature with a child.

Don't be intimidated with what you don't know! You can teach a child to appreciate nature by exploring WITH them...it's not about naming everything you come across. No matter how many years of study I've had in the science and environmental field, there will always be things I don't know. It's actually what I like best about nature. There's always something interesting to learn. If you come across something you can't identify...just say "I don't know, let's look it up together". Or, you might want to get a field guide. We have one on birds, trees and butterflies...that way we can identify things on hikes if we want to.

Get excited about their discoveries. Yes, even the bugs, worms and dirt. The more excitement you show, the more likely they are to head out and explore more. Fostering a sense of curiosity in a child in one of the greatest gifts you can give them!

Address any fears. If your child, or the children you are working with, are afraid of something they're going to experience, address it before you get outside. You could even relate a fear that you have and show them how you've tried to overcome it. Also, try to be comfortable with any of their "finds". Admire them, even make an effort to touch them. (Of course that's IF their not dangerous).

Happy exploring!

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Comment by Suz Lipman on January 29, 2010 at 6:13pm
Hi Chris! Welcome to C&NN. Thanks so much for jumping in with this great blog post. It's full of joy, as well as simple and practical things anyone can do to bring themselves and their families closer with nature. Wonderful! Congrats on your blog launch. I'm sure you'll find many like-minded people to connect with here, and I look forward to many more ideas and explorations from you.

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