Guest Author: Lisa Herrmann, Co-Chair Million Women Mentors-Arizona
Think of Earth Day as a time to get up close and personal with earth – as in soil and dirt! A report from the National Wildlife Federation, “The Dirt on Dirt: How Getting Dirty Outdoors Benefits Kids” provides some compelling data on how playing in the dirt actually makes kids more healthy. Studies show children’s stress levels are significantly reduced when in natural spaces, and playing in dirt can help develop healthy immune functions. And certainly investigations with dirt and the natural environment stimulate scientific thinking!
Unfortunately, we often discourage youth, especially girls, from the joys of this naturally dirty world. But here are some fun ideas for enjoying the earth this Earth Day and any day:
Sprinkle some water on the ground and watch how it moves. Does it soak in? Run along pathways? Try changing where water flows along the ground by blocking it with sticks or stones. Try carving new pathways in the ground for water to flow.
Find or introduce earthworms in a garden area and watch how they move through the soil. You can gently handle the worms to see how they feel as they move.
Explore the ground under plants and trees to see what might be living in the leaves and plant ‘litter’.
And there’s always the making of good old mud ‘pies’ and shapes from wet dirt. Here in the Phoenix Metro area, we’re fortunate that much of our soils contain clay that can be molded in creative ways!