By Susan S. Linscott, Director of Outdoor and Environmental Programs
During these challenging times, stepping outside for a breath of fresh air can be really helpful. Taking a moment like this can clear our minds and ease our anxiety. We all know the physical benefits of going for a walk, working in our yards, or playing outside, but did you know that just going outside and observing nature can be beneficial? Looking at green things outside (even that big ol’ pine tree by your house or the grass slowly turning green as the snow melts) can have health benefits. Spending time outside and enjoying nature can relieve stress and lower blood pressure and for children, it can improve focus and the ability to learn.1
The goal of this blog is to help you find ways to go outside with your family and receive those benefits. I will be posting weekly activities and articles, with the help of some of our environmental science and outdoor education students. These activities will encourage children (and adults) to appreciate nature and have fun outdoors. We welcome you to share pictures and stories about your activities and we will post them in our blog and on the Lee Academy Facebook page. We are also working on a competition for area children, sponsored by the Lee Academy Envirothon Team and Community Service Club.
For our first outdoor activity, we challenge you to embrace this spring snow (that no one is really happy about). One possibility is to go for a short walk and find some animal tracks. You may be surprised by who is walking through your yard or the woods near your house. It might just be a squirrel or chickadee, or maybe you will be lucky and find some deer, bobcat, or fox tracks. If you need help identifying your tracks, check out this poster published by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife:
If you don’t want to go out and explore, build a snow creature! Of course, you could stick with the traditional snowman, but how about a woodland animal, or maybe the Easter Bunny? You can share photos of your snow sculptures or animal tracks with us at email@example.com or through the Lee Academy Facebook Page (#LeeAcademyNatureChallenge).
Whatever outdoor activity you choose, please remember to be safe. Keep an appropriate physical distance from your neighbors (greater than six feet). Children shouldn’t venture into the woods without adult supervision and photos should be shared with us by parents or guardians. As our executive director, Mr. Shorty, says: “be safe, wash your hands, cover your cough, and be kind to one another (from a distance)”.