Children in the habitat garden

Running along path in our front yard ©Janet AllenRunning along the path in our front yard

Our 2-year-old grandson loves our foresty front yard. Who says kids need huge lawns to have a good time?

Somehow, in these modern times, we've come to think that the only activity worth being outside for is sports, so we need to have large lawns.

We've also come to believe that "nature" must be risk-free—and that the natural world is full of dangers.

Digging in the garden ©Janet AllenDigging in the garden

Children love to do "real work"—especially if it involves dirt and mulch. This kept him engaged for quite a while in Our Edible Garden.

When our grandchildren are old enough to visit more often, we're looking forward to them exploring our yard and its creatures as well as helping us grow our food.

 ©Janet Allen
Our middle grandson exploring in our garden

There's always something to explore in the habitat garden in every season, here exploring a seedhead that was left for the birds.

Beyond the habitat garden

Grandson and pine ©Janet AllenExploring the feathery texture of a pine tree

Sometimes our own yards aren't enough. Children must experience nature in a larger setting. When we were visiting in North Carolina, we took our oldest grandson to a state park.

Sticks and water ©Janet AllenThrowing sticks into a puddle

How many children these days have a chance to indulge in the age-old favorite game of throwing sticks into water? It creates such a satisfying splash!

It was a challenge to convince him to leave this fascinating game and continue on our walk.

Grandpa and grandson ©Janet AllenGrandpa and grandson

Being out in nature is a wonderful way to bond and to experience life.

Exploring a patch of grass ©Janet Allen
Our middle grandson exploring a meadow

Even a patch of special grass in a meadow is interesting for kids.

Exploring ©Janet Allen
Our daughter exploring on a hike

Children learn a lot by exploring in nature.

As people learn more about the importance of nature to children's development, more resources for schools are becoming available.

Hiking in the Tetons  ©Janet Allen
Hiking in the Tetons

Kids can have a wide variety of enriching experiences in nature—every day at home, but also on extended trips, such as the month-long camping trip we took to visit most of the national parks in the western states (though we didn't reach the Pacific).