Tag Archives: rock creek park

Can This Really Be True?

The other day, while we were listening to Science Friday, someone cited a statistic that kids only spend an average of 6 minutes a day outside.  I went, whaaaa?  And BalletBoy actually laughed.  He said, probably about four times, because the more he thought about it, the crazier it seemed, that can’t be right.  It can’t be right.  It can’t be.  Six minutes?  Really?

Well, since BalletBoy’s (and my!) statistics suspicion was raised, I went to look it up and found a couple of studies.  In this one from 2003, the average time on “outdoor activities” was 50 minutes a week, so that’s a similar statistic.  But this one from 2009 found that the majority of kids spend a lot more time outside than that.  More than three fourths of the kids on that survey spent two hours or more outside on most weekend days and more than half spent two hours or more on most weekdays.

I'm always grateful for Rock Creek Park.  It's a wonderful oasis of nature in the middle of our fair city.
I’m always grateful for Rock Creek Park. It’s a wonderful oasis of nature in the middle of our fair city.

As I read more, I saw that some of the studies that counted such a low level of outdoor activity were only counting some number of designated outdoor activities.  So, presumably, running around in circles in the backyard wouldn’t count as an outdoor activity, and nor would collecting rocks by the river, playing pretend in a field, or chasing each other around a friend’s house with Nerf swords.  If your kids are like mine, those alone would knock out hours of weekly outside time from consideration.  This reminds me a little bit of the reading study from a few years ago that decried how little people read these days.  But then it turned out that newspapers, magazines, and even nonfiction books, regardless of literary quality or purpose of reading, weren’t considered in the survey.  Only fiction was considered.  This is not to say that reading or outside time aren’t declining, just that it’s not quite as dire as all that.

Looking up things like this is interesting.  BalletBoy looked very pleased that he was right that the statistic was suspicious.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted it to be true or not.  On the one hand, how depressing to think that only an average of six minutes is spent outside most days for children!  Assuming that time to transfer from place to place wasn’t counted (how could it have been with a number like that?) it would imply that the majority of kids have no recess, don’t play outdoor sports, don’t go into nature, and don’t ever play on playgrounds.  On the other hand, sometimes I worry that the kids and I don’t spend enough time outside and that would have certainly skewed my view of things in our favor.

Specimen Collecting

BalletBoy and I caught an awesome shiny green tiger beetle on our nature walk.  We examined him in the specimen jar then let him go.

photo (100)

We also collected one of each of the wildflowers we saw for a total of eight specimens, from buttercups to violets, and pressed them in the flower press when we got home.  We’ll see how they come out.

Overall, we’re having such a blast with biology this year.


The boys turn eight this month and I keep having these moments where I see them and they look old.  They look like proper big kids suddenly.  They say things that make sense on a regular basis – and not just make sense to me, but make sense to the world at large.  They can count their own money.  They read proper books.  They write clever stories.  They come in my room in the morning and instead of whispering that they need to me to come fix something, they whisper that they’re going to the playground before school starts.  And that school is technically third grade.  Third grade!

I know they’re really still little.  But this time of the year just before the birthday, I always have a stretch where I feel like their growth has sneaked up on me.

That’s right, we hike with our baby dolls. Whacha gonna make of it?

The Right Start to the Day

I know I have a better day if I start by moving around, especially with the kids.  It’s just so hard sometimes.  Plus we have so many days when we need to be somewhere before ten o’clock.  If we’re going to get in any school, going out for a hike seems impossible.

That’s the Husband out with us.  He may have a weird schedule, but sometimes it has its benefits.

Not Our Backyard

I know Rock Creek Park isn’t actually our backyard, but I think of it that way sometimes.  We’re at that one little corner, playing in the Melvin Hazen stream and hiking that little stretch of the Ridge Trail that leaves from Pierce Mill all the time.  I think of it as my national park and I’m sure the kids do as well.  What’s always surprising to me is how, in the winter, the leaf cover is so bare that you can see the city all around – the apartment buildings on Connecticut and the ritzy houses abutting the park.  Then spring explodes and hides it all again.

Not a bad way to start the year on a balmy New Year’s Day.