Ten Ways to Help Your Kids Connect with Nature
By Shehnaz Toorawa
Writer, teacher - U.S.A.
Amid the buzz of busy schedules and beeping gizmos, how often do our kids get a chance to experience nature? When was the last time your children demanded a trip to the farm or the forest?
Allah tells us many times in the Qur'an to reflect on his signs. For example:
(Verily, in the alternation of the night and the day, and in all that Allah has created, in the heavens and the earth, are signs for those who fear Him) (Al-Yunus 10:6).
A connection to the environment and an awareness of Allah’s role in creating it is supposed to strengthen our faith.
So how can we make Allah’s creation more intriguing for our kids? Here are ten suggestions:
1. Visit a farm
– Most of us are disconnected from where our food is grown. Our food often travels thousands of miles to reach us. Most children can only imagine how a lemon grows on a tree or a chicken sits on her eggs. It is not surprising for a child to assume that food comes from the grocery store. Unless children see crops growing and cows grazing, they cannot understand the miracle and blessing of food. Allah mentions the growth and death of vegetation in the Qur'an as a sign of His Lordship and a means to strengthen our belief.
(See you not that Allah sends down rain from the sky, and leads it through springs in the earth? Then He causes to grow, therewith, produce of various colours: then it withers; you will see it grow yellow; then He makes it dry up and crumble away. Truly, in this, is a Message of remembrance to men of understanding) (Az-Zumar 39.21).
How can kids appreciate this sign of Allah’s existence if they have never seen vegetation grow and produce food?
2. Drive by a landfill
– Most of us will throw an item into the trash without thinking where it goes or what will happen to it. Visit a landfill site and show your kids where their garbage goes. Talk about the number of landfills in the city, and other places where our garbage is dumped. Your kids might be shocked by the extent of the waste we produce. Remind them that Allah tells us to…
(Eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters) (Al-Araf7:31).
– Plant a flower garden, grow your own vegetables or participate in tree planting. Nothing builds a connection to the earth better than digging in and getting dirty. Kids feel a sense of accomplishment, and amazement when they see their efforts result into something valuable. Remind your kids that despite our efforts, Allah is the only One who gives life and death to the things we plant, as He mentions in the Qur'an:
(Or, Who has created the heavens and the earth, and Who sends rain down from the sky for you? Yea, with it We cause to grow well-planted orchards full of beauty and delight: it is not in your power to cause the growth of the trees in them. (Can there be another) god besides Allah?) (An-Naml 27:60).
– Composting is the surest way to witness the cycle of life that Allah has created. Kids can easily see and experience that their waste goes into the ground to produce more food. Composting gives children a practical way to divert their waste, and protect the environment.
5. Walk in nature
– Go for a walk with your kids in a natural environment,
and observe closely. Watch a caterpillar as it moves or count the sections of a maple leaf. Talk and reflect on the miracle and beauty of Allah’s creation.
– In the bright lights of the city, the true night sky rarely appears. Travel outside the city with your kids and watch the stars shine at night. Most kids are intrigued by the twinkle of stars and fascinated by their distance. Talk about what stars are made of, how far the stars are and how vast the creation of Allah is.
7. Experience the Weather
– Step outdoors with your kids to feel the rain, snow or wind or watch a thunderstorm from your window. Recite the du'aa's for these occasions, and talk about the glory and power of Allah who produces these amazing phenomena. Allah reminds us in the Qur'an that:
(It is He Who shows you the lightning, by way both of fear and of hope: It is He Who raises up the clouds, heavy with (fertilising) rain!)(Ar-Ra'd 13:12).
8. Watch Water
– Observe a river or a waterfall, canoe, or dip your feet in the lake with your kids. The rhythm, coolness, and beauty of moving water creates the perfect mood to reflect on Allah’s creation. Talk to your children about how Allah cycles water from the land to the sky and back for our benefit.
9. View Fall Foliage
– When the leaves change colour in fall, go for a drive with your kids and view the breathtaking tree canopies. Challenge your kids to paint the scenes and discuss how no human being can create anything as beautiful as the scenes Allah has created in nature.
10. Camp Outdoors
– Living outdoors amid the bugs, birds and animals will give your kids a real sense of nature. Cooking, washing and sleeping outdoors will allow your kids a few days of quiet reflection on Allah and His creation without the distractions of technology and the hectic schedules of daily life. Remind them of the verse:
(Then contemplate (O man!) the memorials of Allah's Mercy! -- how He gives life to the earth after its death. Verily the same will give life to the men who are dead for He has power over all things) (Ar-Rum 30:50).
Use your creativity and your kids’ curiosity to show them the signs of Allah in their environment. When kids develop a connection with the earth, every aspect of nature will remind them of Allah and strengthens their belief in Him.