Sharing nature at Lakenenland

Child-focused event to be held Friday in Chocolay Township

“Does it have big crawls?” Gunnar Schultz asks. Amanda Schulz and her two sons Gunnar, 4, center, and Axel, 3, play the guessing game “Wild Animal Scramble” at the 2018 “Sharing Nature With Children” event at the Lakenenland Sculpture Park. One person has a picture of an animal clipped to their back and then has to guess what it is by asking questions. This year’s event is scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday. (Journal file photo by Corey Kelly)

HARVEY — Can your child stay as “still as a stone”? You might have the chance to find out Friday.

The Marquette-Alger Great Start Collaborative is putting on its second annual “Sharing Nature With Children,” a nature-based family event scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday at Lakenenland Sculpture Park along M-28 in Chocolay Township.

Families will have the opportunity to find goodies in make-believe bird nests set up along a trail and play games, one of which is “Still As A Stone.”

In this mindfulness game, a parent or caregiver will put three brightly colored stones — found on the walk — on a child, who then has to stay still for a minute, absorbing the natural surroundings in the meantime.

Collaborative Director Angela Johnson said the first 40 families who come to the free event will receive a copy of Joseph Cornell’s book, “Sharing Nature: Nature Awareness Activities for All Ages,” which also is free.

That book details activities such as “Animal Clue Relay,” “Vertical Poem” and “Meet A Tree.”

On Cornell’s blog at sharingnature.com/josephs-blog, he wrote: “I remember an experience I had as a five-year-old boy that awakened in me a life-long fascination for marshes, birds, and for a life lived wild and free.”

Johnson agrees that engaging youngsters in nature is beneficial.

“I just want to educate people in early education, and just families in general, that playing outside is just good for a child’s overall health and well-being,” Johnson said. “Research now shows that kids perform better academically if they spend time playing in nature.

“They have better social skills because you have better creativity. You have to use your imagination and come up with things.”

There’s also exposure to Vitamin D and trying to overcome youngsters’ reliance on “screen time,” she said.

Singing songs, sitting around a campfire and eating s’mores, all of which are planned for Friday, could go a long way to the children’s better communing with nature.

The 2018 event, which took place in August, is being held this month so families have the better part of the summer to try out the activities in Cornell’s book, Johnson said.

“I’m just really happy to be able to offer something like this for the community, she said. “I thought it was a good first-time response last year. I think Lakenenland is just a cool place in general too.”

For more information, email ajohnson@maresa.org or call 906-226-5157.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.