In the modern times, the urban legends revolve around buildings, parking lots,balconies, windows or bedrooms.Our social gatherings take place in air-conditioned halls, hotels, malls or theme-based parks. After five busy week days, the weekends are spent relaxing at home, attending to all pending jobs, catching up with family and friends and buying groceries for the next weeks. For a change, we can think of some very interesting, easy-to-manage natural activities to bond with children. Here’s a list of very simple 06 natural activities to bond with children which I have undertaken with my daughter and thoroughly enjoyed doing them.
1. Make a bird house. Mother Earth needs more sparrows and birds so let the children make a small bird house in the balcony or the lawn with old cartons/ shoe boxes or wooden planks. Let them colour it themselves and keep/ hang it in a corner with some water and fodder for the birds. It is very interesting to watch birds flocking up to drink or sometimes take a dip in the water. You will love it as much as the kid. This is easier than letting them fall for a pet cat/dog which after sometime becomes the parents’ other baby. This way they observe the birds, sometimes play with them and then accept that they will fly away one day.
2. Grow a Plant. Children are taught to save Mother Earth through many ways in their schools. So it will be easy for you to convince the child to grow a plant, water it every day and record its growth through photos/ daily noting. This is a good way to teach the child about the growth of a plant in a holistic way. You improve his awareness about environment, mathematical calculations (counting its height/ shadow’s length) and presentation skills (pasting photos/ making entries in the diary). And the best thing I found about doing this activity was: My daughter’s first attempt at using the You-Tube happened to be here logs about her favourite plants. She tried to talk about her daily efforts on sowing the seed, watering the plant and plucking the fruits/veggies. I felt it was better than just letting her dress up and dance in front of the camera.Although, she likes doing that too, once in a while.
3. Composting. Once the children have started to grow a plant, the next step of feeding nutrients to it through compost becomes easier. You can motivate them to create compost at home in your kitchen gardens or in a container at home. Use all the peels of vegetables and fruits to put in layers on soil and keep mixing and checking it frequently. Children can visit any Zero Garbage / Compost manufacturing plant to see the process and repeat it in elders’ presence. Use this compost in your gardens as well as community parks. That’s the least you can assist them do to contribute in stopping unnecessary use of fertilizers and pesticides.
4. Splash Pool Party. Arrange for a small pool/tub at your terrace, balcony or in the bathroom itself on a sunny day and let them splash some water. Let all the friends pool in some fruity snacks like C-shaped water melons/ marsh melons, banana sundaes and definitely some mango dices. Play some music and let them dance to the music while they splash some water. After they have dried themselves, task them to think about using the same water for some other activities. Let me tell you, children will surprise you with their observation and bright ideas.
5. Camping/Star Gazing at night. Pitch a tent in the garden/on the terrace/in the balcony/corridor and let the children sleep in it for some time gazing stars and constellations at night. Young children love to hear words such as the Black Hole, the dwarf, the Polar Bear and the North Star. Relate some of the mythological stories about how stars are named after some gods/goddesses and so on. Tell them survival stories and interesting things like how to find directions at night, how to survive in the jungles/ enemy territories.
6. Trekking in the hills. This is one of the best natural activities to spend time with your children. Start a trek early in the morning to avoid facing direct sunlight on you. Keep yourself fully covered in light coloured, loose comfortable clothes and shoes. Most important, if you are trekking in and around Shillong, apply a lot of sunscreen/moisturiser to avoid sun burn/tanning. With your head covered with a cap or head-band and a stick in your hand, you can spin a story about how Indiana Jones goes on an exploration expedition to various places.
You can make the trek interesting by telling them stories about great adventures of people who found out about hidden caves, temples or complete cities (such as Ajanta/Ellora caves, Dwarka temple, Harappa and Mohenjodaro cities) while they went on a trek in the jungles. Treks are also a good opportunity to introduce children to the various geographical features such as soil, rocks, sources of water and flora and fauna. (types of trees, plants, leaves, fruits, birds and wild animals).
You can also tell them to listen to various sounds/calls that birds and animals make and encourage them to imitate some. Treks are also an appropriate occasion to share your childhood memories with your children:how you spent time with your siblings, your fears, joys and such things.
As responsible elders, it is our responsibility to educate our next generation about the importance of being natural. This can only happen when we introduce them to nature in its original form: as the one who created both the Lamb and the Tiger.
Hope you too try out these activities.
Happy Parenting in Nature…