The vision of San Diego Children and Nature is that all early childhood centers, schools, and not-in-school settings will have natural play areas, and children will spend 60 minutes of unstructured time outdoors in nature every day. Families will increase the amount of time they spend outdoors in nature, and every community in the county will have easy access to a family nature club. Parks will have natural play spaces and children will be encouraged to explore natural areas surrounding the more traditional play areas.
Nature at Home
How can we create the world in which all children play, learn, and grow with nature in their everyday lives? Start at home!
- Take time with your young children, starting with these ideas from Green Hearts.
- Create a Loose Parts Nature Play area with a collection of nature materials such as bamboo poles, sticks, tree cookies, pine cones, shells, and palm fronds. Loose Parts Nature Play encourages children to build anything—teepees, tunnels, fairy houses, art sculptures and other play structures. The only limit is the imagination!
- Put a piece of carpet or old non-rubberized bath mat on dirt, and keep it wet. After a few weeks, turn it over and see what lives there!
- Start a compost bin, as children love worms!
- Develop a backyard habitat with native plants. For more information about gardening with native plants, visit California Native Plant Society San Diego.
San Diego’s nature extends from the beaches and estuaries in the west to the desert in the east. In between are coastal sage scrub, chaparral, riparian woodlands, oak woodlands, and mixed conifer forests. Locate nearby natural areas to visit and enjoy San Diego’s nature. Choose nature programs offered by local nature educators and collaborative partners. Find community gardens. Plan your own field trip with your class or youth group with the Nearby Nature School Field Trip Guidebook. Enhance the nature in your daily lives.
The Pocket Naturalist Guide for Chaparral Shrublands of Southern California has 110 of San Diego’s most common animals and plants. Children and adults alike enjoy learning the names and recognizing what they see in nature. The Guide was developed by the SDCaN and can be purchased online at Acorn Naturalists.
- Natural Families Initiative from the Children & Nature Network (C&NN)
- Where Nature Meets Story by Sara St. Antoine, assembled for C&NN, with activities, relevant books, and stories for kids of every age.
- Green Hearts booklet outlines many activities for young children in nature.
- Family Nature Groups Pilot Project Report, survey of active families.
- Master Gardener Association of San Diego County, for gardening guides and workshops.