Green Your Kids — By on July 2, 2008 12:20 PM

When my friend Miriam (who writes the “Yoga as Life” section for Yoga Bean Magazine) and I were little we used to play a game we made up called “I wish.” We didn’t realize that it would be such an important game to reflect back on when our lives get too materialistic, technical and idealistic. I Wish was a game in which the objective was to own a house, outside somewhere in my parents landscaping, and when we needed something to “cook” with we would walk by our “neighbors” house and say, “boy I wish I had a few fresh leaves from the big dogwood tree out front so that I can make some eggrolls for this evenings dinner.” And then the one in need of cooking materials would go for a walk around the house and by the time they arrived home there would be fresh dogwood leaves sitting at their “doorstep” waiting for them to stumble upon.

This type of play would go on all day and we would accumulate a lot of goodies for our entertaining. Then we would invite each other over to our flat for scrumptious eggrolls (dogwood leaves stuffed with flowers and mud) and chocolate chip cookies or scones for dessert (mud patties with pebbles for chips). We played for years. And we became very creative at using nature to decorate and cook.

Now a days, kids are not as connected with nature. I have many friends that are teachers or administrators in schools and they all agree that kids are not oriented to playing outside but to sitting in buildings, playing video games on the computer or becoming entranced by the television. They are not inclined to get dirty outside during a rainstorm or in a garden. They are disconnected as people to each other since the beginning of text messaging, instant messaging, and email began.

I was just reminded, by my Wednesday night yoga class, that kids don’t play games like Kick the Can or Red Light, Green Light anymore. They don’t pretend outside with games similar to I Wish and they don’t get dirty anymore. How is that generation, coined the “Millennium Generation,” going to help preserve our environment for future generations if they dont get to know it? How will animals and people fair in such a sterile environment where walking in the park and playing on your swing set is obsolete?

All of you moms, dads, and grandparents out there, get the kids in your life out in the mud and climbing trees, and playing with nature instead of getting carpal tunnel pain by age ten. Save their life and future generations by introducing them to how important the environment is to all of us and how precious life is. It is a priceless gift you can give.

Here are some ways you can get your kids connected:

Join a CSA that allows you to pick some of the crop and bring your kids along. Not only will they be connected to nature but they will eat more vegetables if THEY picked them. Trust me, it works every time! (www.localharvest.org/csa)

Another great idea is to play outside with your kids. Buy them a swing set, make a tree house together, or camp in your backyard.

Bring nature inside, get a weird pet! Maybe an iguana or a snake!

What about natural arts and crafts. Go to your local craft store and get a kit to make prints from the sun. It is really fun and exemplifies the meaning of how perfect nature is.

Take a class with your older kids at a local arboretum about edible plants.

Start a garden of your own in your backyard.

Or just veg out on the grass, at night, and look for shooting stars

Whatever you do outside, you are introducing your kids to little bits of nature at a time. They will remember the experience and hopefully share it with their friends and eventually their own kids.

Anyone have any other ideas that they have done with their children that connects them with nature? Let me know. Email me at tina@yogabeanmagazine.com

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