Day 6: The benefits of unstructured, child-directed outdoor play and an animal riddle

Outdoor ideas and inspiration

We understand that this is a difficult time for many people, and we want to help. To that end, we will be posting daily outdoor ideas and inspiration (weekdays only). Being outdoors in nature is good for your health and emotional well-being!

For parents, we will frequently share simple activities to engage your children with the outdoors and keep them healthy and occupied. Check out other ideas on our engagement blog and on Facebook and Instagram.

For all ages, we will post reading material and inspiration to help you make healthful outdoor time and nature watching a part of your new normal. We also encourage you to check out our Harpswell Nature Watchers Facebook group and sign up for Harpswell Nature Watchers emails.

We would love to hear from you! Please share photos from your outdoor adventures and ideas and suggestions for others. Send photos and ideas to photos@hhltmaine.org and we’ll share some of them.

In this post you will find:

  • An animal riddle and link to a Nature Notes article
  • An outdoor activity for families: Unstructured play
  • Information about where to get outdoors in Harpswell and beyond

Animal riddle

Some of the wild birds you see regularly in Maine are capable of mimicking human speech. Can you name one? Click here for an article about one of these birds.

Outdoor activity for families: Unstructured play

Unstructured free play is good for kids’ brains and bodies. These days there is a sometimes overwhelming flood of resources available to parents who find themselves in the position of accidentally homeschooling, which makes this a good time to remind ourselves of the benefits of play.

As Richard Louv writes in a forward to the book, “In Balanced and Barefoot, Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist, makes a passionate case that nature play is necessary for a truly balanced childhood…Manageable risk and independent, imaginative play are essential not only to physical health but to the development of self-directed young minds.”

Sending the kids outdoors to play is good for them. Unstructured, child-directed play helps children develop problem-solving skills, a healthy relationship to risk-taking, imagination and social skills. It helps them build strong muscles, a sense of balance and an awareness of their bodies in the world. It helps them learn how to entertain themselves.

So on this snowy day, or on any day, send the kids outdoors into the backyard by themselves and enjoy some peace and quiet!

Click here to read a 2019 article written for our website about play.

Trails and Preserves in Harpswell and beyond

Your own backyard and neighborhood are great, safe places to spend some time outdoors.

For more information on where to get outdoors in Harpswell, click here.

For more information about where to get outdoors in the broader southern Midcoast region, click here.