We don’t want students climbing up the walls when they get home, so let’s tear down the walls of your classroom so kids can get wild through nature-based education! One of Wyoming’s most valuable resources is the rich environment in which we live. Diverse in its landscapes, flora and fauna, climates, and history- our state offers an incredible learning environment for our children to explore.
From improving mood to increasing activity levels, nature can nurture us! Research shows that there are many benefits for children who spend time outside. Nature-based education can increase prosocial development, physical activity, and language development in addition to increasing a child’s connection to and respect for nature.
What is nature-based education? It can be any form of learning where children are actively engaging with their natural environment. It can take place at home, in one of our beautiful state parks, at the big pine tree on the school playground, or anywhere outside.
The Get Wild Wyoming initiative is a partnership between WDE, Wyoming State Parks, Wyoming Game and Fish, and the Wyoming Department of Health. It focuses on supporting the overall mental and physical wellness of a child through nature-based education.
For more information contact Amy Reyes, Early Learning Specialist, at 307-777-7708 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can participate too!
Join us on Social Media
Follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for learning activities, healthy tips, and local events from our partners where you can get wild! Use the hashtag #GetWildWyo when sharing your outdoor adventures online.
Mental health benefits
Humans spend more time using electronic devices than connecting with family, friends, pets, and the natural world. Setting down the devices and going outdoors has been linked to increased attention and reduced stress levels. Time spent playing outdoors can help relieve stress and anxiety by reducing levels of the hormone cortisol in the brain. Exposure to natural light also stimulates the production of serotonin, which plays a key role in boosting mood.
Not all time spent outdoors is equal. Nature experiences have a special, restorative effect and connecting with sights, sounds, and smells outdoors can generate positive emotions and inspire creativity. There is even evidence showing that kids become more attentive and focused after playing in natural settings. Experimental studies suggest that nature walks can trigger short-term improvements in mood and stress recovery. Spending time in nature also helps minds rest by allowing presence in the moment.
Many schools are getting in on the act, with improved outdoor provision and after school clubs, and now you can too! If you have limited outdoor space at your facility, schools are a great place to host activities. These facilities are often offered to community groups for use outside of school hours.
For more information contact Dustin Brown, Wyoming Project AWARE Director at 307-631-5377 or email@example.com.
Supporting overall wellness
Spending time in nature can be a great way to feel better, both mentally and physically. Unstructured physical activity improves the total health of children and reduces the likelihood of obesity and weight-related health concerns. Children are spending more and more time sitting inside using electronic devices. Replacing at least some recreational screen time with outdoor play reduces the negative impacts of a sedentary lifestyle.
Time spent in natural settings also contributes to healthy sleep patterns, which positively impacts many other areas of health. Additionally, kids who spend time outdoors get sick less often. Stagnant, indoor environments are breeding grounds for germs and bacteria. The perception that you’ll catch a cold outside is wrong, and some studies show that the cold may even trigger the immune system.
Up to 35% of Americans don’t get enough vitamin D because of their limited exposure to sunlight. Our bodies naturally produce vitamin D when ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays hit our skin. Getting outside is a great way to get the recommended amount of vitamin D and support health functions in our bodies. Although sunlight is great, too much can be problematic. Make sure you find shady spots and use sunscreen when outdoors for prolonged periods. Reapply sunscreen at the recommended intervals to ensure appropriate protection throughout the day.
Hydration is also important to consider when spending time outdoors. There are a lot of beverage choices out there, but with zero calories and no sugar, water is the best option to ensure kids are staying properly hydrated. Make sure kids are drinking the recommended amount so they can stay active all day. It is also important to remain aware of the temperature and to take the appropriate precautions if the thermometer raises to unsafe levels. Heatstroke happens when a child’s internal temperature is too hot and can cause confusion, coma, shock and even death.
For more information contact Carla Bankes, Nutrition Programs Supervisor, at 307-777-6263 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take a look at the resources below for information about activities you can do to get wild learning outdoors. You will also find mental and physical health resources to support the overall wellness of Wyoming kids.
Nature-based learning activities for kids
- 75 Easy Outdoor Activities & Play Ideas For Preschoolers.
- Disability and Inclusion: Making Outdoor Play Accessible
- 100 Things to Do in Your Backyard.
- Activities to Inspire Creativity Outdoors.
- Natural Start Alliance Resources.
- Outdoor Classroom Resources
- Seven Outdoor Activities for the Whole Family.
- Wildlife Safety Guide E-book (Download)
- National Wildlife Federation ECHO Resources
- Nurturing All Children in Nature Resources
Improve mental wellness outside
- How to Start Meditating Outdoors.
- Managing Stress with Forest Bathing.
- Activities to Reduce Stress in Nature.
- 7 Spots for Outdoor Yoga.
- 10 Mental Health Benefits of Gardening.
- Spend Time Outdoors to Reduce ADHD Symptoms.
Tips for healthy outdoor behaviors
- How to Spot and Prevent Heatstroke.
- Tips for Choosing and Using Sunscreen.
- Keeping Children Hydrated and Healthy.
- Healthy Ways to Make Water Taste Better.
- Recommendations for Physical Activity, Sedentary Screen Time, and Quality Sleep.
- 9 Health Snack Ideas for Outdoor Activities.
Dive Into the Research
- 8 Mental Health Benefits of Getting Your Kids Outside.
- Childhood Development and Access to Nature.
- The wellness benefits of the great outdoors.
Outdoor Learning at Wyoming State Parks.
Our beautiful Wyoming State Parks and Historic Sites offer many opportunities for outdoor learning. View a list of state parks and historical sites or view upcoming events to help plan outdoor learning adventures that are close to you.
Nature WY Educational Series from Wyoming PBS
Wyoming PBS has partnered with Science Kids out of Sheridan, WY to create Nature WY, a digital educational series focused on outdoor science and nature and developed for children 6-8 years old. The eleven-part series helps bring discovery moments to young learners. Each episode has an activity guide for use at home and a lesson plan aligned to state and common core standards.