Walking along the beach I see many people also walking or wading in the chilly water. I observe all those around me as they are all involved in different activities and experiencing this amazing beach in many ways.
I love seeing people (often in 2’s or 3’s) run into the water and jump in so they are fully immersed. It’s clearly a competition to see who is willing to jump in to the cold water first. Why do this? In short, it’s fun. I can also tell you first hand, as one who has been part of such a contest but one who has done this on my own (with only myself as my challenger). It’s a challenge whether you have opponents or not; it’s a risk and you think “it’s too cold!” and at the same time you know it’s really not too cold. Experience gives you the knowledge that once you jump in that your body will adjust to the temperature and it will feel actually quite comfortable after a few minutes.
Then I observe the collectors of shells, seaweed, sand and metal (or whatever they are looking for with those metal detectors, coins perhaps?). Exploring the natural properties of these materials encourage a child’s curiosity and appreciation for nature: I’ve seen children wrap the ribbon seaweed around their arms or stick on their parent’s back; all ages love searching and finding shells of different types, sizes and color, some pick just one special shell while others fill a whole pail full. This is time where the caregiver can share their knowledge and experience of the natural world with their little ones in a relevant way.
In addition to the beach there are many lakes, rivers, ponds, nature trails, parks, canyons, forests and reservoirs to take advantage of depending on your location.
Here are a few resources to get you started:
National Park locations: http://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm
Forest locations and resources: http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/
Beach locations and resources (you may need to do a little further digging to get actual location addresses): http://iaspub.epa.gov/waters10/beacon_national_page.main
Many people don’t have the availability or means to go the beach or to the pond or forest to discover such natural things. I am often reminded that there are many children today who don’t have the opportunity to pick up and feel the weight and texture of a real rock. I love the “Floating rocks” for the reason that children are given the possibility for this tactile-sensory experience to feel and move a real rock even in urban environments (the only thing missing is finding all kinds of beetles and worms under the rock).
There is a huge push for more “nature playgrounds”, partly in response to the issue of “nature deficit disorder”, where children may play with sand and water and other play elements which leave space for the imagination (nature playgrounds have been mentioned in previous blogs and will be discussed in more depth in future blogs).
What do you think?