Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Kid’s Take on Getting His 15 Minutes Outside

Today’s post is part of “Your Green Hour Survival Guide,” a series which I hope will provide inspiration to make getting outside every day a habit.

This blog is all about connecting kids to nature; about letting kids explore, discover, play and get dirty to their heart’s content. To date, I have based my posts on a blend of personal experiences, common sense and what I think is healthy and good for my kids (and by extension, for other kids).

But these days at least one of my little guys is speaking his own mind.

Since we started making time for a green hour every day (or getting our “outside time” as we call it) a little more than a month ago, the big explorer has come to count on it – even ask for it. This I didn’t expect.

I thought you might enjoy a little insight into the mind of a 6-year-old who thought today’s post should be about our wonderfully delicious romp in the mud last week.

Tell me about last week’s “mud day.”
Mommy put water on a spot of grass and it got muddy. We were really playing paint, but we wanted to play in the mud. There was a long strip of dirt and when mommy wanted to wash me off, she made that dirt into mud.

And so me and [the little explorer] played in the mud for a long time.

Why was it so fun?

I liked to get dirty. I like getting dirty from head to toe because I like to be dirty.

What do you like best about our time outside?
That I get to have a little time out and get cool, fresh air because usually I stay inside. And I get to see cool things like the birds. I can get up in one of our trees and I can look to see if there’s anything new going on.

What do you usually like to do when you’re outside?
I like to take my binoculars and camera, which are in my backpack, out and I explore because when I get bigger I want to be a biologist and a nature explorer. I’ll be a nature scientist, which is a biologist.

Do you think other kids should be playing outside and getting dirty, too?
Yes, but only if the kids like to get dirty. [Parents should] ask the kids if they like to get dirty. If they say “yes,” find some dirt and put some water on it and let them play until they say done. If your kids try it, they might say, “we want to do that again.”

These are the conversations I must remember when bad weather or foul moods make it seem like it’s just not worth the effort. Because clearly, it is.

For more from the big explorer, see our Q&A on strawberry picking last year.


  1. I love it! So nice to see that the kids appreciate the outdoor time as much as you appreciate them getting it. As soon as it warms up around here, we are going to make some mud per the Big Explorer's recommendation!

  2. I love this! It's always so great to see what kids are thinking. What a big impact getting outside every day has had!

  3. Loved hearing his perspective! We are in the process of setting up an outdoor mud kitchen for the girls and I just cannot wait to see how messy they get! Right now the ground has re-frozen which is such a bummer, so not mud yet.

  4. My favorite piece is about kids getting dirty. I started having to ask parents to bring extra sets of clothes to my house because they voluntarily always got mud on their clothes! You are absolutely right, "These are the conversations I must remember when bad weather or foul moods make it seem like it’s just not worth the effort. Because clearly, it is."

  5. @Mel: You must share pix of your kiddos enjoying some mud time!

    @backyardsafari: Conversations like this one definitely help keep me going on days when everyone's crabby!

    @Abbie: A mud kitchen sounds fun. I look forward to reading about it.

    @Rebecca: I wish every parent realized how important getting dirty is to kids. :)

  6. I love the part where he says: "let them play until they say done." He's so smart!

  7. So fun to hear your big boy's take on getting outside! I definitely notice how much smoother it is to put the kids to bed at night if we have taken a nice long walk and stopped to play at the park outdoors as opposed to days where we don't make time for nature. Maybe we'll have to brave the elements the next time it rains?!

  8. @Michele: He was very adamant about that, BTW! :)

    @Colleen: Kuddos to you for getting your kiddos outside more! Even something as simple as a quick walk around the block under cover of umbrella seems extra special when it's raining out. Baby steps ...


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