Richard Louv is credited with coining the term “nature deficit disorder” and the world became familiar with it in his bestselling book Last Child in the Woods. This month, Louv released a new book meant to serve as a guide for parents and teachers who want to get children and adolescents engaged with nature. Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life includes 500 activities to inspire adults and children alike.
Unlike Louv’s other books, this one is meant to be approached from any angle. You can pick up the book, flip to a page, and choose a random activity to try. Alternately, you can read it from cover to cover, picking and choosing the activities you want to use. Some of the most valuable activities are those aimed at children with sensory dysfunctions. While the activities in that section would be fun for any child (or adult!), Louv cites research that shows that playing in mud puddles, rolling in the grass, and climbing trees can help children learn to regulate play and stimulation.
Looking at my own students I can see how stressful it is to be a teen today. Their lives are scheduled down to the minute, more micromanaged than mine ever was. Spending even a few minutes outside can help students destress and decompress while also building environmental knowledge and values. Louv’s Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life can help teachers and parents find ways to get kids outside and having fun. It’s a quick read but keep a pen or some post-its nearby because this is one you will want to mark up! I have a list of activities I want to try in my classroom and most of them only take a few minutes (which is great for busy teachers who may not be science teachers). Teachers will be particularly interested in Part 7 which focuses on how to be a Natural Teacher at school.
Highly recommended for parents and teachers. Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life is a great guide for non-science teachers who want to find ways to incorporate nature into their classes.