Communing with nature is good for a child's psychological and physical well-being. It can help reduce stress, improve concentration and increase time spent being physically active, according to the American Psychological Association. School nature clubs are one way to encourage children to spend more time outside; and there are numerous opportunities to make that time spent in nature entertaining and educational.
Many children welcome a chance to help make the world a better place, and students who join school nature clubs can make the environment their platform for community service. Organize a community trash pickup day, for example. Club members can recruit volunteers to clean up a corner of the community. Taking care of animals is another option. Students can clean up open spaces that are home to animals or invite younger students to a meeting and teach them about caring for wildlife. Planting trees, flowers and community gardens are other ways nature club members can give back to the cities and towns where they live.
Nature club members can learn about native plants and animals by visiting local nature preserves. A visit to a museum or sanctuary that keeps live insects is another way for students to get up close and personal with nature. Exploring the outdoors is an essential part of any nature club, so going on a hike in a state park, taking overnight camping trips or going fishing are all ways to encourage students to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Before planning a field trip, look into your school or district's policy on taking field trips as a student club to be sure you're following proper protocol.
Nature-Based Arts and Crafts
Nature crafts allow children to explore outside areas around their homes and schools, which can teach them a wealth of information, according to the American Psychological Association. For example, students might learn what types of trees live are them or what kinds of insects, birds and other animals make the areas their homes. Younger children can draw pictures of the bugs they see, make collages using nature items they find outside or craft birds' nests with sticks and twigs. Older children can collect wildflowers, press them between two heavy books and then seal the dried flowers between two sheets of contact paper to make nature-themed bookmarks. Middle and high school students can take photographs of what they see in nature, download the photos to a computer and create a slide show to share with other club members.
Planting a garden teaches children of any age about the life cycle of plants, what plants need to survive and how to tend and cultivate plants to promote growth and production of fruit. Planting a jack-o'-lantern garden is one idea. In late spring or early summer, students can each plant a pumpkin seed and then tend to the plants all summer and into the fall. In October, club members can have a jack-o'-lantern carving party. The club could also plant a vegetable garden and then donate the produce to a soup kitchen or day care center, or use the produce as they learn to cook.
- American Psychological Association: Getting Back to the Great Outdoors
- Bombay Natural History Society: Hornbill Nature Club
- Education.com: Middle School Nature Activities
- Scholastic: Hands-On Gardening and Nature Projects
- Oregon State University Extension: 4H Nature Clubs
- Education.com: Third Grade Nature Activities
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