All K-12 curricula are designed for kids. Educators and others who write curricula go to great lengths to assure that lessons are engaging, developmentally appropriate and teach the concepts that children must know to pass standardized tests and to move ahead in their academic lives. This curricula is no different. However, it goes much further than just helping children learn. It is also designed to help children lead healthier lives both mentally and physically.
Over the past ten years, a large body of research has coalesced to shed light on the benefits to children of outdoor play. Some studies have found that even having a tree in your front yard can provide health benefits to families and children. Research continues on why green space reduces stress, depression, anxiety and hyperactivity in children, but it is now clear that it does. At one time, fresh air and exercise were thought to be as important to a child’s well being as their ACT score and it turns out there is good reason for that. In addition to the mental health benefits of outdoor play, children who spend time outdoors are healthier physically, including having much healthier weight/height ratios.
Using the activities in this curriculum will help your students learn concepts such as population, ecosystems, supply and demand, how to graph, etc. but most of all, it will help you introduce them to the great outdoors and to the many benefits they will gain from spending time there.
-Jane Eller, Director (Retired)
Kentucky Environmental Education Council
Funding for this program was provided by The Steele-Reese Foundation.