Benefits for Children of Play in Nature
Playing games with your kids is a perfect way to spend time together — and build learning skills at the same time. What your child most wants — and needs — is to be with you with no goal in mind beyond the joy of spending time together. He wants you to take benefits for Children of Play in Nature in him, play with him, and listen to him.
Games don’t need to be overtly academic to be educational, however. Just by virtue of playing them, board games can teach important social skills, such as communicating verbally, sharing, waiting, taking turns, and enjoying interaction with others. Living in a complex society, children need clear limits to feel safe. By circumscribing the playing field — much as tennis courts and football fields will do later — board games can help your child weave her wild and erratic side into a more organized, mature, and socially acceptable personality. Children take game playing seriously, so it’s important that we help guide them through the contest.
Therefore, you need to help balance your child’s pleasure in playing the game with his very limited ability to manage frustration and deal with the idea of losing. For 3, 4, and even 5 year olds, winning is critical to a feeling of mastery. So generally, I think it’s okay to “help” them win. By about 6, kids should begin to internalize the rules of fair play, tenuous as they may seem to a child who is losing a game. So I am also fine with a 6 year old “amending” the rules to win if he feels she has to.
While in the long run we need to teach values, ethics, academic skills, and the importance of playing by the rules, in the early years the primary goals are helping your child become more self-confident and ambitious and to enjoy playing with others. As children approach 5, they have more sophisticated thinking skills and can begin to incorporate and exercise their number, letter, and word knowledge in literacy-based games. By 6, children may prefer more cognitively challenging games like checkers, which require and help develop planning, strategy, persistence, and critical thinking skills. Here are some of our favorite game picks for 5 and 6 year olds. This is the younger cousin of the tremendously educational and challenging Scrabble, which we all know and love. Using large yellow letter tiles, players match letters to words already written on one side of the board. The reverse side has an open grid where older children can create their own words.
Learning highlights: Fosters literacy and language skills. The prelude to Boggle — one of the best learning games for older kids — is Boggle Junior, in which players link pictures to letters and words. The game comes with 6-sided letter cubes and numerous picture cards that have the name of the object spelled below. Players place a card on a blue tray and use 3- or 4-letter cubes to copy the item’s spelling.
Older children can hide the written words and spell the word just using the picture. Learning highlights: Teaches letters, words, spelling, and matching skills. As in Bingo, the first one to finish a complete line of items wins. Learning Highlights: Encourages matching skills and quick thinking. As they do in its senior sibling, players roll dice to move around the game board and buy real estate. The game is shorter and uses smaller dollar denominations so kids can figure out winnings and penalties more quickly. Learning Highlights: Develops math, color recognition, reading, reasoning, and social skills.
Each player gets a large, easy-to-handle piece shaped like a ghost, which she moves through an extra-large maze in an attempt to reach a treasure. While the path may appear straight, the walls move and shift, so getting there is a challenge. This game imparts the idea of impermanence and change, since a path that was open just a moment ago might now be closed and vice versa. Learning highlights: Teaches spatial relations and relies on some manual dexterity. Get kids learning with these fun, themed activities!
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Nutritious breakfast and snack recipes—with food activities for kids! Reinforce your child’s time telling skills with this award-winning mobile app! Get expert advice on reading, homework help, learning activities, and more. Encourage your child to use her imagination — it’s not just fun, but builds learning skills too! Young children learn by imagining and doing. Have you ever watched your child pick up a stone and pretend it is a zooming car, or hop a Lego across the table as if it were a person or a bunny? Through cooperative play, he learns how to take turns, share responsibility, and creatively problem-solve.
When your child pretends to be different characters, he has the experience of “walking in someone else’s shoes,” which helps teach the important moral development skill of empathy. Have you ever listened in as your child engages in imaginary play with his toys or friends? You will probably hear some words and phrases you never thought he knew! In fact, we often hear our own words reflected in the play of children. Kids can do a perfect imitation of mom, dad, and the teacher! Pretend play helps your child understand the power of language. In addition, by pretend playing with others, he learns that words give him the means to reenact a story or organize play.
Pretend play provides your child with a variety of problems to solve. Whether it’s two children wanting to play the same role or searching for the just right material to make a roof for the playhouse, your child calls upon important cognitive thinking skills that he will use in every aspect of his life, now and forever. Does your child enjoy a bit of roughhousing? Not enough pretend play at your house? Consider creating a prop box or corner filled with objects to spark your preschooler’s fantasy world. Get kids learning with these fun, themed activities!
Nutritious breakfast and snack recipes—with food activities for kids! Reinforce your child’s time telling skills with this award-winning mobile app! Get expert advice on reading, homework help, learning activities, and more. Spending time in forests makes us healthier. Most of us sense that taking a walk in a forest is good for us. We take a break from the rush of our daily lives.
We enjoy the beauty and peace of being in a natural setting. Now, research is showing that visiting a forest has real, quantifiable health benefits, both mental and physical. Even five minutes around trees or in green spaces may improve health. Think of it as a prescription with no negative side effects that’s also free.
Health Benefits From Forests Refer to reference list below to see links to specific studies on these benefits. How Do Forests Make Us Healthier? Recognizing those benefits, in 1982, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries even coined a term for it: shinrin-yoku. Exposure to forests boosts our immune system. While we breathe in the fresh air, we breathe in phytoncides, airborne chemicals that plants give off to protect themselves from insects.
Phytoncides have antibacterial and antifungal qualities which help plants fight disease. When people breathe in these chemicals, our bodies respond by increasing the number and activity of a type of white blood cell called natural killer cells or NK. Spending time around trees and looking at trees reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and improves mood. Numerous studies show that both exercising in forests and simply sitting looking at trees reduce blood pressure as well as the stress-related hormones cortisol and adrenaline.
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Looking at pictures of trees has a similar, but less dramatic, effect. Studies examining the same activities in urban, unplanted areas showed no reduction of stress-related effects. Green spaces in urban areas are just as important as rural forests. US population lives in suburban and urban areas and may not have access to traditional rural forests. Gardens, parks and street trees make up what is called the urban and community forest.
These pockets of greenspace are vitally important because they are the sources of our daily access to trees. Spending time in nature helps you focus. Our lives are busier than ever with jobs, school, and family life. Trying to focus on many activities or even a single thing for long periods of time can mentally drain us, a phenomenon called Directed Attention Fatigue. Spending time in nature, looking at plants, water, birds and other aspects of nature gives the cognitive portion of our brain a break, allowing us to focus better and renew our ability to be patient.
In children, attention fatigue causes an inability to pay attention and control impulses. Studies show that children who spend time in natural outdoor environments have a reduction in attention fatigue and children diagnosed with ADHD show a reduction in related symptoms. Patients recover from surgery faster and better when they have a “green” view. Hospital patients may be stressed from a variety of factors, including pain, fear, and disruption of normal routine.
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Research found that patients with “green” views had shorter postoperative stays, took fewer painkillers, and had slightly fewer postsurgical complications compared to those who had no view or a view of a cement wall. What happens if we lose trees? 2002 has provided an unfortunate opportunity to look at the effect of tree-loss on human health. In some communities, entire streets lined with ash were left barren after the beetle arrived in their neighborhood. More Research is Needed While the research in Japan is groundbreaking, we need more research on trees growing in the Northeastern US. We share some of the same genera with Japan, like pine, birch and oak, which all give off different phytoncides, but we have different species.
Effects of the Intervention on Attention Performance.
The more we know about our local trees, the more applicable the science will be. References Please note: the following links leave the DEC website. Visual Color Perception in Green Exercise: Positive Effects on Mood and Perceived Exertion. The urban brain: analyzing outdoor physical activity with mobile EEG.
What is the Best Dose of Nature and Green Exercise for Improving Mental Health? The Cognitive Benefits of Interacting With Nature. The Relationship Between Trees and Human Health: Evidence from the Spread of the EAB. The Human Health and Social Benefits of Urban Forests. The experience of nature: A psychological perspective. Hyperactivity Disorder: Evidence From a National Study.
Restorative effects of viewing real forest landscapes, based on a comparison with urban landscapes. Effect of forest bathing on physiological and psychological responses in young Japanese male subjects. Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function. Healthy forest parks make healthy people: Forest environments enhance human immune function. Department of Hygiene and Public Health, Nippon Medical School, Tokyo, Japan. Cancers in all Prefectures in Japan. Li Q, Kobayashi M, Wakayama Y,Inagaki H, Katsumata M, Hirata Y, Hirata K, Shimizu T, Kawada T, Park BJ, Ohira T, Kagawa T, Miyazaki Y.
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Effect of phytoncide from trees on human natural killer cell function. International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology. Forest bathing enhances human natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins. Induce Human Natural Killer Cell Activity. Greenspace, urbanity, and health: how strong is the relation? Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. Healthy parks, healthy people: The health benefits of contact with nature in a park context.
Scroll to the bottom of the page for the document. Therapeutic effect of forest bathing on human hypertension in the elderly. Relationship between psychological responses and physical environments in forest settings. Children with attention deficits concentrate better after a walk in the park. More green space is linked to less stress in deprived communities: Evidence from salivary cortisol patterns. Physiological and psychological effects of viewing urban forest landscapes assessed by multiple measurements. View through a window may influence recovery from surgery.
Effects of gardens on health outcomes: Theory and research. Healing Gardens: Therapeutic Benefits and Design Recommendations. For help with PDFs on this page, please call 518-402-9405. What do you remember about your childhood nature play?