Earth Matters by Jacqueline Milner – Returning Children to the Outdoors – July 20, 2011

CFN – According to a recent article by Bruce Grierson there is a global movement to reconnect children to the outdoors.  It has been concluded that doing this will result in happier, healthier and smarter children.  If we do not, our earth, our environment and eventually mankind will feel the consequences.
It so happens that unplugging from the television set and computer screen to spend face time with the snails, birds, trees along with floating homemade stick boats down the river awakens the brain that no artificial environment can match. According to Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson there is a powerful bond between people and other living systems.
We sever these connections at our own peril.  According to Wilson and writer Richard Louv the more children are connected to the natural world the more they feel obliged to respect and preserve the earth that sustains us.  Building natural spaces into school playgrounds which include flowers, trees and rocks seem to promote calm and civility in their demeanor.
They have found that playing outside for a while promotes concentration and better performance in children.  Grierson also mentions how spending time outdoors can diminish the symptoms of a child with attention deficit disorder.The mental health benefits of spending time outdoors in natural environments has been verified by a study conducted by University of Michigan researchers proving a 45 minute walk in the forest (a natural environment) increased cognitive performance compared to a 45 minute walk in a downtown city environment which does not. The resurgence of returning children to the outdoors is gaining ground in the U.S. and some “forest kindergartens” based on the European model of “wild kindergartens” are emerging where children beginning school spend all day outdoors, rain or shine. This forest-school model has yet to take hold in Canada.

According to Brierson’s article “early memorable experiences” in natural spaces with a counselor to help children understand the natural going’s on is the incubator for developing an environmental consciousness.  Whether you live in the city or a rural area, there are various Associations and Organizations who can offer fun filled outdoor adventures (should you not have the inclination or time to do so yourself) with enthusiastic instructors who can help build your children’s confidence and peace .  Just another good reason to look into what organizations such as Scouts, Girl Guides and your Conservation Associations have to offer.

A walk in the woods.

On a walk with my niece over the week-end we discovered the banded wood snail (Cepaea nemoralis)
There seemed to be a lively population of this mollusk in the area that we walked as we sited several on the bark of trees on the trail we traveled.  Its habitat ranges from woods to dunes.
This snail originated in Central Europe and was introduced and is now naturalized in many U.S. states and in Southern Canada. It grows to about 25 mm is size and feeds on dead plant material, worms and snails.  All the snails we saw were hiding in their shells.  Further reading on this species indicated that they like a temperature of about 69-75 F degrees. Above 80 F they “estivate” which is a summer hibernation.  As it was very, very hot over the week-end we can conclude that they were in summer hibernation mode.  If the air temperature is not suitable they will enclose themselves in their shells with a mucus membrane until the temperatures are to their liking.  The snails are a food source for wild birds.  We did find empty shells around the trees with large holes in the shells. Likely the remains of a bird meal.Your commentary is encouraged and welcome below or to

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  1. Excuse the view of a foodie hunter-gatherer, do the snails go well with garlic butter or are they strictly food for the birds?

  2. mmmmmmmmm escargot……

  3. The species of snail raised for human consumption are twice as large.

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