Windows On The World
“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” Aristotle
Right now the media is full of what seems like endless bad news. Our ears and eyes are barraged with sights and sounds of war and crime and political strife until it seems as if there is little good or beauty in the world.
Most of the news programs have a segment that highlights something positive such as a good deed performed or a story with a happy ending; however, in a 30 minute newscast usually only a few minutes are dedicated to helping us remember there really is good in the world.
Not only is there an abundance of good, there is wonder and magic and beauty to be discovered! So I went searching.
Observe the World from Your Living Room
I can’t afford to travel too far from home, yet today I watched brown bears feast on salmon in Katmai National Park in Alaska (http://explore.org/live-cams/player/brown-bear-salmon-cam-brooks-falls). I also viewed a long-eared owl and her owlets in Missoula, Montana (http://explore.org/live-cams/player/long-eared-owl-cam).
In minutes, I went from Missoula to Kenya, Africa and watched elephants drinking at the edge of a river (http://explore.org/live-cams/player/african-safari-camera). It was amazing!
Live streaming web cams are windows on the world that we can enjoy from anywhere the Internet can be accessed! Check out some of the websites I’ve listed above and introduce them to your children.
I then stumbled upon a website called Stumbleupon.com. Once you sign up and log in, you can choose from a long list of things that might be of interest to you. Then, by clicking the “stumble” icon, you will be taken to random web pages you may never find any other way. The page gives you the option of giving each site a thumbs up or thumbs down. This allows Stumpleupon to learn what you like and dislike so you will be taken to web pages that more closely meet your interests.
There is so much to learn about our amazing world! Spark your imagination or that of your children by introducing them to websites that will inspire.
Of course, we don’t want our children glued to a computer screen all day. There are many ways to help our children appreciate nature right outside our doors.
When I lived in West Limestone, I would often drive along the Elk River with my granddaughters Ashley and Lexi. Each time I would instruct them to look for wildlife. It became a contest to see who could spot the most. They would get so excited when they saw turtles sunning on logs, herons standing in wait for a fish, or a hawk floating on wind currents. Before long, they would begin their search before I spoke a word. They became aware of nature.
At the house, we would sit by the window and watch the bird feeders with our bird identification book. My book still has the dates on which we saw each species for the first time. Sometimes we would sit very still next to the hummingbird feeder and watch the birds drink the nectar. They were so close we could hear the buzz of their wings.
Ashley and Lexi have grown, but they will always remember those experiences. I have two more young granddaughters and a grandson on the way with whom I will continue to make memories.
That is the key. However we accomplish it, the goal is to help our children (and ourselves) to become more aware of the natural world around us. Until we appreciate the beauty and wonders of nature, we can’t possibly care about conserving and protecting it.
Ways to Teach Children to Appreciate Nature
• Encourage children to play, dig, and plant their own garden areas. Let them get dirty!
• Plant trees together and watch them grow.
• Walk in your backyard together. Let them feel the grass under their feet or smell the air after a fresh rain.
• Take a hike in the woods, or put on boots or old tennis shoes and hike in a creek for a new experience!
• Observe a bird’s nest and watch the babies hatch and learn to fly.
• Build bird houses or bat houses with your children. Teach them why birds and bats are important to the environment.
• Install a sun dial and learn how to read it.
• Discover which insects are beneficial and why.
• Learn to recognize the sounds of birds together. There’s an app for that!
• Teach your children to be observers of nature.
Earthcam.com (has a list of web cams for kids, too)
By: Lynne Hart