Linking up with my friend Nicole over at Frontier Dream's KCCO this week!
This is the third part of a series that I started writing about this past summer. The first part, about bringing nature into your child's play and playroom, is going to make its way into the Autumn/Winter edition of Rhythm of the Home Magazine - so I apologize about not being able to view it right now due to publishing rights. The second part was on bringing nature into your child's bedroom, or more specifically how we did it on our little ones' rooms (which I now- four months into the new room- can attest to its benefits!). And finally, I am on to this third part about bringing flora and fauna into your home, for your child's sake and your own.
|Our grumpy box turtle named "Toodles"|
There's quite a few ways that you can bring flora and fauna in. One of the first ways we did it was by getting a few little critters. If you're like me at first you might be a bit iffy about this. I was. But any good naturalist will tell you- as well as Richard Louv who wrote "Last Child In The Woods"- that to be closer to nature you have to study and observe it. You have to have a personal connection with it. And one of the rites of passage of childhood and first connections for children come when they bring little critter indoors for a bit to watch them. They learn about them and learn to love them. That love will last them a lifetime. It will spark an interest in them the continue to grow and grow. They will start to see more fauna outdoors than before once they start bringing in critters. Now let me say that we don't allow in dangerous critters. No spiders or anything that we can't identify. No large critters. But we have adopted and released a baby bunny, a duckling, a gosling, a few baby birds- not fledglings, turtles, tadpoles, frogs, toads, lizards, and a myriad of bugs and butterflies.
|Little Ribbit- our fire bellied toad|
Currently we have a plestiodon- a skink with a blue tail, a itty bitty baby snapping turtle, and our permanent store bought pet toad- who eats live crickets so we also have a few dozen of those. We also have about 10-12 wood toads in our backyard and one grumpy box turtle who meanders about in my compost. Richard Louv related in his book how some of his earliest experiences with fauna shaped his love of nature inextricably later in life. He retells a funny story about saving turtles in the spring from being run over with his family in their pick-up and then keeping them all summer long in his backyard and then releasing them.
Another way you can bring flora and fauna into your home is by keeping a nature tray or table. We keep a Waldorf nature table that reflects our month and season in the corner of our dining room. On it I have a small tray for our favorite bits of nature we collect. But now that the kids are older and we're learning about trees and their outdoor world in much more detail, lots of nature comes into the house. I need a place to put it all so we could touch it, identify it, draw it.
|Our nature table mini tray|
So I opted for an old ruined roasting pan on a low bench next to our Atelier. The kids have corners for related pieces of nature that they find and divided up on their own. They love to just sit with this tray in their lap and their field guide in their hands trying to find which nut came from which tree. Does it look a little unkempt? Is it maybe an eyesore? Possibly. But the way I see it is that there is a finite time in my life that I will have 'eyesores' about. One day my house will be clean and consequently empty. I don't mind the clutter now, especially if the kids are relishing the experience and learning about their world. I am positive it will stay with them throughout theirs lives as it did with me. (So thanks Mom and Dad for buying me safety goggles and a hammer to cracks open rocks with!)
Lastly this is another big one here for us. I love to grow our own food and garden. At every house I have lived at with a yard in the past 5 years, I have kept a garden- even when I still lived in an apartment/town house complex. That equals...4 gardens (as well as string of berry bushes). Also at the one place I lived at with no yard at all, I had a window herb garden! At first I wasn't used to gardening with kids. I remember in horror when a little toddler Deirdre (my oldest who is now almost 6) pulled up a tomato plant when I was weeding- she was trying to help! Kids love to garden. The gravitate to my garden. The love to eat the food they pick- even when they usually dislike it otherwise. It's crazy really. So making gardens kid friendly is a big deal for me. It makes my life easier and the kids have tons of fun. Plus all that yummy and beautiful goodness makes its way back into your home! It's another great way to bring nature in.
Currently we're only growing broccoli and cabbage- as well as our herbs. The kids each have their own special garden in a box, all to themselves since it's part of their school work. They water it, weed it, prune it. and decorate it. I have my big garden with the bulk of our plants in it. But it is also kid friendly. I have a path through it that is wide to they can walk on it and not be too caught up in stepping on something. I use hay mulch in the garden so they can clearly see what's a plant or a weed. They can sit in it and explore- or just relax. Right now they have been using it to hunt for trolls. They think trolls like cabbage :)
I hope this gives you a few good ideas on how to bring more nature into your home. I cannot recommend Richard Louv's book enough. It's another one of those game changer books for me. It's right up there with Rahima Baldwin Dancy's, "You Are Your Child's First Teacher". Go read it!
How do you already bring nature in? What critters do you have? How do you garden with the kids? I'd love to you, so please share!
Also if you could please be thinking about my family and praying for us over the next few weeks, I'd be very grateful. A lot of changes are have happened at Craig's work and it's effected us quite a bit. So many things are uncertain. We all could use lots of wisdom, strength, and provision.
PS: I am linking up with Linda at Natural Suburbia Nicole S at Frontier Dreams, and Carrie at Crafty Moms Share. These are also some of my favorite blogs so hop over for a look!
Love and Light,