I have a new favorite picture book. Finding Wild, written by Megan Wagner Lloyd and illustrated by Abigail Halpin, is the perfect book to introduce children of all ages to nature. I plan to share it with my high schoolers and can’t wait to do so!
Filled with gorgeous illustrations, Finding Wild is about the wonders of nature that surround us, whether we are in a city or the country. Even if it looks like we are surrounded by concrete and steel we can find nature if we look hard enough. Megan Wagner Lloyd’s text encourages the reader to spend time outside appreciating the wonder of nature, whether that is a forest or a vacant lot.
I plan to use Finding Wild as an entrance into our nature writing unit of study because the text is rich with imagery. The illustrations are magical, with branches turning into snakes that feel like they might crawl off the page and greens and blues and yellows and reds poking out of sidewalks and forests. It’s a must-have book for any teacher who wants to inspire students to “find wild” in their own lives.
A recent post on The New York Times Well blog focused on the benefits of nature and greenery for children and adolescents. Spending time outside can make teens less stressed, help them better retain information, and improve their mood.
Now look around your classroom. When I look around mine I see cinder block walls, fluorescent lighting, and tiny windows (I’m in a basement classroom). Teachers frequently lament how students struggle to pay attention in class but their environment, despite our best decorating efforts, is often dull and boring. What if we took students outside to read? To journal? To work on collaborative projects? I have a cart of Chromebooks in my classroom and the wifi reaches our courtyard. My new goal, now that spring has finally arrived in NJ, is to bring my students outside more often.
Scientists may not know all the answers yet- how long should we spend in nature to reap the benefits? Is there a difference between urban, suburban, and rural areas? What are the implications of doing schoolwork outside? But there is enough evidence at this point to push us out of our comfort zone. Bring those students outside!
In addition, spending time in nature can help kids with attention-deficit problems. According to a recent study, spending time in “green” areas can help students cut their attention-deficit symptom. While the sample size was small, the results are astounding. A “dose” of nature may help almost at much as a dose of medication for students who struggle with ADHD! Yet those students spend hours everyday inside. They are also the students most likely to have recess taken away as a punishment. We need to do better.
A few of the op-eds, stories, and articles that have caught my attention this week.