Recently, while sorting through one of my many “junk drawers” I came across an article I wrote for ACSI in 2009 titled “No Child Left Inside? Please Step Outside!” They asked me to write the article with young children in mind. I feel the article has greater application for adults today, as well as children, to “get unplugged and get outside.”
At the time I was writing the article, iPhone applications were just emerging. IPhones were typically in adult hands then. My, how things have changed!
As amazing as the technology is, it seems this device has moved us (and children) further from the “natural world.” Could this lead to our senses becoming “out of shape” or dulled in some way?
Martin Luther (1483-1546) put it well, “God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but in the trees, and flowers, and clouds, and stars.” In Luther’s time, it meant seeing things first hand, not a video or photograph.
I showed a colleague some pictures (with my iPhone) of fall sugar maple leaves from NY. She said she has never seen a real one up close! She quipped, “I buy artificial ones from craft stores.” I brought some home pressed in a magazine and made sure she saw her first “real” fall leaf.
I am always trying to figure out ways to have students see God’s Creation up close and personal. It could be grains of sand at 20x magnification, ladybugs in hand 2-way viewers, Monarch chrysalis on a twig in a salad cup, or the looking at the sun through solar safety glasses. I consider hearing “whoa” as a success.
Just today, I took third graders outside to take temperature measurements of natural and manmade surfaces in the sun and shade. We used thermometers to make quantitative measurements (90/82 degrees F) and their hands to make qualitative measurements (warm/cool). Being outside made it special.
As our temperature cools, I encourage you and your family to find time to get outside and really observe how amazing the natural world is. Getting off pavement can be a challenge…I have found a special nature niche in Lakeland, “Lakeland Highlands Scrub Preserve”…maybe try starting there!