By Lisa Niver Rajna


Teaching your kids to love nature.

“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die Discover that I had not lived.” Henry David Thoreau

Not all of us can make a commitment to nature like Henry David Thoreau to go live on Walden Pond, but we do not have to go to such lengths to inspire our children to love nature. By creating wonder and a connection to the environment we can all protect our planet.

We can even share seeds and caterpillars with our children without even going very far outside! As Janine M. Benyus states in Biomimicry:

Bringing children back into nature and nature back into childhood is a job for teachers and parents and friends willing to take a child outside for a lark. There need not be an ‘official’ park involved; finding a place where green things grow, even if it’s a crack in the sidewalk, is enough.

You can order a kit with seeds and starter material, buy plants at your local nursery, or go to the supermarket and purchase a bag of lima beans. Soak the lima beans overnight, put them in a plastic baggie with a wet paper towel inside and tape it to a window—watch your child’s face as they starts to grow! If you have an onion with green shoots, you can put the end in water (use toothpicks to keep it half out of the water) and it will grow. This is also great to do with a sweet potato.

In A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, he says that after a science education based on stupefying, boring textbooks, he was surprised to find that there is so much to be amazed about on our planet: “Did you know there are more geysers and hot springs at Yellowstone than in all the rest of the world combined?” He talks also about the wonder of our own bodies. “Your heart must pump 75 gallons of blood an hour, 1,800 gallons every day, 657,000 gallons in a year—that’s enough to fill four Olympic-sized swimming pools—to keep all those cells freshly oxygenated.” How incredible is that?

We can learn to be inspired by the marvel of our bodies and try like Thoreau to live deliberately in taking care of our planet and ourselves. Water is everywhere and needs our protection.

“A potato is 80 percent water, a cow 74 percent, and a bacterium 75 percent. A tomato, at 95 percent, is little but water. Even humans are 65 percent water, making us more liquid than solid by a margin of almost two to one!” We are more liquid than solid and more capable of amazement than we realize.

Thomas Friedman, in his book, Hot Flat and Crowded, discusses the increasing need for green energy, clever solutions and how we need to inspire students to love science and be creative.
You might start by growing a lima bean or signing a petition to save sea turtles in Tonga, or maybe you will decide to go visit the orangutan sanctuaries in Borneo.

“The palm oil that fried your French fries today may have come from a chopped-down tropical forest in Indonesia, which in turn helps to contribute to climate change that is intensifying the drought in your backyard.” If we save the orangutan, we may save ourselves. The word ‘Orangutan’ does literally means “man of the forest” in the Indonesian language.

In Dr. Seuss’ children’s book, The Lorax, we hear:

“Mister,” he said with a sawdusty sneeze,
“I am the lorax! I speak for the trees! I speak for the trees,
for the trees have no tongues,
and I’m asking you sir at the top of my lungs!” The question is who will you speak for and
what do your actions teach your children?

Tonga petition:

Lisa Niver Rajna, M.A. Ed. has over 12 years of classroom teaching experience and an additional 11 years working in camps and on cruise ships.

This article first appeared in LA MOM Magazine.