Last week, I wrote about the importance of getting kids outdoors for an hour or more each day to connect with the natural world. Giving kids a "green hour" each day not only helps protect the planet, but it helps kids relax, play, exercise and learn about the environment.
Still, I know that the green hour is hard to achieve, especially for urban families that don't have immediate access to a backyard or park facilities. So I wholeheartedly applaud the classroom efforts to help urban children understand and appreciate the natural world around them.
One such program is Science for All, an environmental science outreach program for elementary school children in grades 2-5. It's held in Brooklyn, New York's Prospect Park Audubon Center. Teacher naturalists at the center facilitate program activities for each students, focusing on one of three topic areas: pond life, forests and birds (the current year’s program is called “Bonkers for Birds”). The program stresses hands-on learning activities, utilizing the interactive exhibits of the Audubon Center and the forest, water features and varied natural settings of 585-acre Prospect Park.
The Audobon Center also offers daily nature crafts and classess (such as introductory birdwatching) each day that are free and open to the public. It's an amazing facility that brings nature into the lives of kids who might not normally be exposed to it. Check out the Prospect Park Alliance for info about the school and youth programs that are available each day.