Getting your child enthused about the outdoors

Here’s a tip – a great way to get your child more enthused about the outdoors is to begin explaining concepts to them which they can apply while they’re out and about. Children can get overwhelmed and confused about the (many) things they don’t understand, and this can lead to negativity, fear, and refusal to participate. The more you can empower them with knowledge, the more interested, positive, and enquiring they become.

It’s June, and that means winter here in New Zealand. We’ve had a few misty mornings lately, with the early fog sitting in close to the paddocks as we drive along the winding road into town. It makes me feel cold just looking at it! But it fascinates Nate, aged three,  and he’s been asking me lots of questions like “Is fog the same as mist, Mummy?” “why does it BE there?” and “where does it go?”

It took a while, but he has now mastered the five syllables E-VAP-O-RA-TION.

I explained to him that mist and fog are basically tiny water droplets suspended in the air – like a cloud, close to the ground. It usually happens when humid air comes into contact with a cooler surface, like a freezing muddy paddock early in the morning. The fog will sit around there until one of two things happen – the ground temperature warms up; or the sunshine from above works its heat on the fog, turning the water droplets into water vapour and eventually evaporating into the air.

We’ve had fun thinking of other places we see evaporation happening – the steam rising off a hot cup of tea, or from a bubbling saucepan on the stove. Breathing out into the cool air on a winter’s morning. The hot tap running into the bath. Sea mist hanging over the harbour, holding onto the water, with the sound of the foghorn vibrating through the air. The ‘whooosh’  as an Orca exhales at the surface, breath slowly dissipating away to nothing (we had a pod visit Tutukaka last week!)…you see how discussing outdoorsy themes like mist with your child and helping them to understand when and why they happen can really encourage enthusiasm for getting outdoorsy.

Oh yes, and Mummy’s wine glass. That seems to evaporate, too.

Here’s a truly beautiful 2 minute film showcasing San Francisco’s fog, which you could show to your child.  It’s called Hey Karl. The fog has been personified as a character called ‘Karl’ on Twitter and the clever parody account (@KarlTheFog) was one of the top 12 Twitter accounts of 2012. I love the simple soundtrack – it’s very spare, echoing the film’s subject and showing that what is not there is often just as important as what is.


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