Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ideas for getting your kids outside

It's a challenge but here are two great blogs to help.

Do it now, while they still listen to you.......

Green Exercise

At the University of Essex in the UK, Dr Jo Barton has been carrying out research for the Green Exercise program, analysing the health benefits of participating in physical activities whilst being exposed to nature and greenspace.

Their research shows that there are three broad health outcomes:
  1. Improvement of psychological well-being (by enhancing mood and self-esteem, whilst reducing feelings of anger, confusion, depression and tension);
  1. Generation of physical health benefits (by reducing blood pressure and burning calories);
  1. Facilitation of social networking and connectivity (by enhancing social capital).
They are now looking at the effect green exercise has on children during a school day.....

Yay Richard Louv

The man who started it all, with his book "Last Child in the Woods", for me anyway.... is down under. On SlowTV there's a great talk featuring Richard Louv, Stephen Coleman and Mardie Townsend.

Great question and answer section at the end as well.

Time to chase those butterflies

Great article over at the Independent about our disconnect with nature.

"To seek an example of how this alienation from nature is subtly encouraged, you need look no further than the Oxford Junior Dictionary. Designed to meet the needs of seven-to-nine-year-olds, the latest edition of the dictionary includes such modish words as blog, bullet point, biodegradable, Xbox, chatroom and MP3 player, all of which are deemed to play an important part in the lives of children today. But to make room for them, the editor has excised many of the most familiar objects of the countryside, words such as acorn, conker, dandelion, minnow and magpie."

Read it and then get outside and let your kids touch everything.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Teens Turning Green

Inspiring to hear.... teenagers are leading a movement called Teens Turning Green, to educate and advocate environmentally and socially responsible choices for individuals, schools and communities.

The next generation are taking matters into their own hands already...... wonderful.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Daniel Pink

I have blogged about him before but the RSA have a great new feature on their blog where they have animated certain speeches, the one above being one of them.

Fascinating stuff. I'm going to try it out on my kids.......

Risk and Childhood

The Royal Society for the Arts (RSA) in the UK hosted a talk by Tim Gill, author of the book "No Fear: Growing up in a Risk Averse Society", called Risk and Childhood.

It's over at teachers.tv, so check it out. It's 54 minutes long but Tim's speech covers the first 25 minutes and it's well worth it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hector and the Search for Happiness

We all want our children to be happy. Francois Lelord, a leading French psychiatrist is now the foremost happiness guru, thanks to the success of his book "Hector and the Search for Happiness". I haven't read the book yet but there's an interesting interview over at the Times where he talks about happiness and how to achieve it. Here's an excerpt where he mentions children:

“Some people are gifted for happiness, you can see it even in babies. But your upbringing, life events and education are influences, too. It is like being good at maths, music or sport — you are born with happiness abilities but after that your family has to encourage it; you need to practise it.”

So it’s all your parents’ fault if you don’t reach your happiness potential? “It’s not about trying to do everything to ensure that your child is happy. It’s much more important to teach your child how to be happy even in adverse circumstances. This isn’t about buying children computers, clothes or holidays but about showing them how to make the best of it, how to manage to be happy.”

But in the West parents are convinced that their children will be happy only if they are at the top of their class. “It’s not just the West. In Asia, too, parents push their children very hard. After 40 years of seeing clients I must stress that you shouldn’t have unrealistic expectations of your child — think of their positive psychology, not yours. It’s more important for them to learn how to adapt to situations, how to relate to people and take responsibility for their lives, than how to pass their maths exam."

Monday, April 19, 2010

The World Outside the Classroom

Learning through Landscapes are hosting an international conference called "The World Outside the Classroom" on the 29th, 30th June and 1st of July, offering a unique opportunity to visit schools that encourage lessons outdoors, gain hands-on practical experiences and share best practice with school grounds professionals from around the world.

Above is a video from The Coombes Primary School in Berkshire.

Time to throw away the twinkly and grab a glass of milk

Nina Planck, author of Real Food: What to Eat and Why, talks about why traditional food versus industrial food is so much better for you.

Another great video from Big Think.

Golf or Cows?

I'd go for the cows myself but then I don't play golf. Here's an article over at Good discussing rethinking development and planning suburban communities around farming rather than golf courses.

Kids would love it..... I'm in.

Australian article "Where the wild things went"

Read this article. I insist. Wonderful, funny and true.

Excerpt: "Something happens to you in the wild, in nature. It is as if a skin is peeled off, an extra lid slides off your eyes, and you feel, inexplicably, smaller yet part of something big all at once."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Howard Gardner

Here's a really thought provoking interview with Howard Gardner, Professor from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, from the Big Think website. He is best known in educational circles for his theory of multiple intelligences.

It's 29 minutes long, by the way, but sincerely worth watching....

(At around the 12-13 minute mark, one thought came to my mind, time to move to Denmark.....)

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Antipodeans are revolting

And by that I mean there is change afoot down under. In a good way.

The Antipodeans are revolting

And by that I mean there is change afoot down under. In a good way. Richard Louv, author of "Last Child in the Woods", has posted on the Children and Nature Network about the movement to connect children and nature in Australia. He states:

"That sense of aloneness, without kinship in the natural world, is central to the argument that many of us are making these days; that is, if we deny children direct experience with nature, we deny them access to a fundamental part of their humanity.

In Last Child in the Woods, I coined the term nature-deficit disorder to serve as a descriptor of the human costs of alienation from nature, not as a medical diagnosis."

(The kangaroo's a cheap shot I know, but cute...)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Jamie Oliver

I know I posted his speech on TED recently, but there is a great interview on the Times website, here. Also, please check out his Food Revolution and sign the petition.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The wonder of the arts

Good posted a video about this fantastic arts program in an inner city area of Los Angeles called Inner City Arts.

"Students who participate in the arts are 4x more likely to excel in academics."

(Here's hoping the type is loud enough for everyone to hear....)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Shameless self promotion

The ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects) has a professional practice network for Children's Outdoor Environments and their latest newsletter contains two articles I wrote. They focus on projects in the children, nature, play theme.

If you're interested, follow the link and check out "A Different Kind of Park" and "Alhambra Unified School Districts Elementary Schools". Check out the other articles as well.

The wonderful Finns.

Here's a great article and video on the BBC website about why the schools in Finland have the best results and yet the kids spend the least amount of time at school than any other developed nation.

Why is it so hard for other countries to learn from this and make changes?

Friday, April 2, 2010


I can't have a blog about children without posting this video by Adora Svitak, over at TED. She is 12 years old and in 8 minutes said more profound things than most adults do..... ever.....

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Manifesto for Children's Play

As the UK head towards election day (on or before June 3rd) Play England have put together a manifesto to call on the next government to make play a priority.

"The manifesto is calling for all political parties to make three simple pledges, so that all children and young people can have the freedom and space to play enjoyed by previous generations:

1. To make all residential neighbourhoods child-friendly places where children can play outside

2. To give all children the time and opportunity to play throughout childhood

3. To give all children somewhere to play - in freedom and safety - after school and in the holidays"

Please sign up to endorse it. Here.