Originally appeared in the August 2023 issue of What's On Magazine
As the world becomes more aware of the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation, a new phenomenon is emerging: eco-anxiety. This term describes the feeling of anxiety, fear, and despair that can arise in response to any environmental crisis. Unfortunately, it's not just adults who are experiencing it - children are also feeling the effects of eco-anxiety.
It's understandable why children might be feeling anxious about the state of the environment. They see images of natural disasters, hear stories about species going extinct, and are told that the planet is in trouble. It's a lot for them to take in, and it can be overwhelming.
So, what can parents, carers, and educators do to help children cope with eco-anxiety?
Listen: Listen to children’s’ concerns. Let them express their feelings, and then validate their emotions. Don't dismiss their worries or tell them that they're overreacting....
Following on from my last blog post about hands-on Maths and Numbers, here are some tips for busy, bouncy kids to get them involved in reading and writing activities...
play – games, letter dice, story dice, magnetic letters & words, board games, matching games, wordsearch
create – get them to tell you stories & poems and record these, make books, cards for loved ones, get a penpal, collage letters, paint letters (sprinkle sand on wet paint), use chalk on paths, tracing in sand or paint
label – your favourite things around the house, label your body parts, label your garden - label everything! If you use sticky labels, it's most fun.
worksheet creator – use your favourite words to create worksheets: names, address, pets, places. Wordsearches are worksheets in disguise.
read – audio books, read aloud (while they use playdough or eat is good), go to the library, read to yourself and aloud to other adults while children are around, and just...
Something that comes up a lot in my sessions and conversations with other parents is - how do we 'teach' kids who just want to touch, squash, bang, run, jump, yell and are basically very IN their own bodies a lot of the time?
There are so many ways to learn the same concepts. That we expect busy little bodies to sit, hold a pencil, and listen for great lengths of time is plain crazy. It's the worst part of our modern education system, I think. (And there's loads of research behind that opinion, but I don't think I need to convince you!)
Here are some of the ways we've discovered numbers in the early learning years with tactile learners:
manipulatives – buttons, coins, counters, Cuisenaire rods, MAB (Multibase Arithmetic Blocks), rocks, abacus, dominoes, sticker spots & stars, anything they have multiple of (favourite toys), lego, blocks
play – games, building, count as you hop, jump & skip, collect, bounce, measure, run, using timers, shops,...
Most kids love painting and drawing! Children are naturally curious, creative, and imaginative, and these traits are often expressed through their artwork. Painting and drawing allows children to express their emotions in a fun and engaging way. Art can help children develop important cognitive and motor skills that are critical to their overall development.
When it comes to art & craft, one of the most popular subjects among children is rainbows. Rainbows are vibrant, colourful, and full of energy, and they hold a special fascination for people of all ages.
Photo credit: Taylor Heery (Unsplash)
One reason why children enjoy painting rainbows is that they are visually stunning. By attempting to paint a rainbow, children are able to explore different colour combinations and learn about the colour spectrum in a fun and engaging way.
Another reason why children like to paint rainbows is that they represent hope and positivity. Rainbows are often associated with...
For many children, playing in mud is a natural and instinctual activity that brings joy and excitement. Unfortunately, in today's world, children are often discouraged from playing in the mud due to concerns about hygiene and cleanliness. However, research has shown that playing in mud can have numerous benefits for children, both in terms of their physical and mental health. Below are some of the reasons why children should be encouraged to play in mud.
Photo credit: Ellie Storms (Unsplash)
Playing in mud is a great way for children to get some exercise and develop their gross motor skills. Mud is an unstable surface, which means that children have to use their muscles to balance and move around. This can help to develop their coordination, strength, and overall physical fitness. Additionally, playing in mud can help to improve their sensory skills, as they learn to use their senses to navigate the environment.
Mental Health Benefits
Playing in mud can also...
When we had a bunch of children close in age, the school holidays were a welcome chance to drop everything and just play! If we weren't going away anywhere, fun was had at home with friends or family visiting, and we avoided going out as a welcome relief from our daily driving commitments. As a large, rural-living family, there was something on almost every day during school terms!
Now I have only one young child at home, so when we're not going away during the holidays I often look for opportunities to keep her entertained. Sometimes we have playdates with local friends, but other ideas I use include:
the library - our local libraries offer a wide variety of activities during each school holidays. We have six libraries within 30 minutes of our home, so there are different days and times to choose from. The activities are free, and booking online is simple. Of course the library is great for books, story CDs, DVDs and other...
Spring brings us longer days and an awakening world outdoors.
The arrival of colour and new life fills our spirits with a sense of hope.
Acknowledging seasonal changes is one way for humans to experience the rhythm of life. As our children witness the unfolding of each season, they grow a little and appreciate the wonders of nature. To know each season through walks, observation, activities, and games helps our children to develop a more intense relationship with planet earth. In most of Australia, the seasons are not as marked as in other climes… There may not be snow-capped rooftops or dazzling autumn leaves, but there are many less obvious signs that we are a part of the cycle of nature known as the seasons.
A seasonal table or shelf is one way to reflect the changes we witness through displaying items from nature, art and craft and dioramas. The table can also reflect festivals and other events that mark the cycle of our year. For ideas on creating a seasonal table...
Winter warmth comes from within…
Winter is a beautiful season for connecting with our loved ones and taking time to acknowledge the wonder of Earth’s cycles. While there may not be blooms of colour, scuttling wildlife, or lazy afternoon picnics to enjoy, there are many meaningful activities to acknowledge the turning of the wheel with your little ones.
If you have a seasonal table or shelf, you’ll be packing away your Autumn items to make way for some winter seedpod fairies, perhaps on a white or palest blue cloth with some favourite candles for lighting in the evenings… Sprigs of evergreens, refreshed often, will bring some life and colour to your home and brighten up the seasonal display as well. As time passes, this seasonal tableau can become an important means of bonding the family with nature, and with each other. Like all celebrations, festivals and rituals, it serves as a conscious recognition of time passing.
Nature walks can still be enjoyed in...
Autumn is harvest time. Embrace nature’s abundance...
Immersing children in the rhythm of the seasons assists their unfolding as spiritual beings in a physical world. Recognising rhythms – night and day, the seasons, lunar cycles, festivals and traditions – have become less important to us as humans. For our ancestors, these were the essence of life.
If you have not yet set up your own seasonal table or shelf, as described in previous Seasonal Fun columns, it is a wonderful way to explore the ways that our environment changes through the year; and to display works of art, items from nature and books. If you have a table, it is now time to pack some of your summer items away (don’t forget to photograph the display first) and gather items for autumn. Our world abounds with gifts in autumn, take a walk with your child to gather a variety of seeds and coloured leaves for your display and craft activities.
Nature walks can be enjoyed from babyhood. Usually,...
I appreciate art & craft for kids inspired by nature, using natural and recycled ingredients. I prefer my children not be exposed to art & craft products which contain ingredients they shouldn’t be putting on their skin (or in their mouths, as they do!). I don’t want to add to landfill once the fun is over, so ideally what we consume when being creative will return to the Earth.
We don’t need to buy expensive natural kits or products to choose nature craft. Instead of looking in a discount store at the over-packaged foam, plastic and glitter items, head outdoors to find treasures you can use.
There are books in the library, and many websites dedicated to creating from nature, but it’s great to be inspired by the items you find, and your child’s imagination. Ephemeral art is a creation that happens once, not with the intention of creating something to keep. It might be a mandala created from leaves during a picnic, or a funny face made from...