Animal Therapy is an Effective Treatment for Children with Autism

by 04/11/14   filed under: green kids, health & body, news

farm therapy, autism, children with autism, parenting

A child with autism who has trouble connecting with his peers and the world at large, may find himself learning from and making a meaningful connection with… a cow? The image is awe-inspiring, poignant, and becoming more and more common as domesticated animals take their place in therapeutic forums, as reported in Modern Farmer. We’re strong believers in the idea that the animal-human bond, if cultivated carefully and respectfully, can reap amazing benefits to both sides. Author, engineer, and activist Temple Grandin’s life is a prime example of how this bond can help people with autism function better in the often-changing and socially complex world. So it’s heartening to know that there are now more than 3,000 Animal Assisted Interaction Programs across the country, designed to help humans heal and create a natural relationship with animals while simultaneously strengthening their own social and emotional skills.

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The Nature Conservancy Relays Worldwide Parental Concern Over the Lack of Time Children Spend Outdoors

by 04/11/14   filed under: green family, green rant, health & body

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The Nature Conservancy recently released the results of the first global survey that shows how much time kids spend outside and parents’ perspectives on the importance and benefits of time spent in nature. The results of this research are less than reassuring. The survey, funded by Disney, included parents of children between the ages of three and 18 in the U.S., Brazil, China, France and Hong Kong and revealed that 65% of U.S. parents think it’s a “very serious” problem that kids are not spending more time outdoors. This is actually equal to parent concerns about bullying, the quality of education and obesity. Yet, despite parental concern, kids are spending almost zero time outside. The study shows that time spent outdoors varies by age, and almost always declines as kids get older. Preschoolers spend about 12 hours a week outside and once a U.S. teen turns 16, they’re spending less than seven hours a week in nature. These U.S. trends ring true worldwide, with the exception of Brazil. And the study shows that in Hong Kong, for instance, teens spend as little as 1.8 hours per week outside.

Stephanie Wear, a scientist for The Nature Conservancy says, “Most parents in each of the markets we surveyed say that they would like their children to spend more time outdoors than they currently do. This is really encouraging because it tells us that to parents, nature is not just ‘something to do’ but a crucial part of childhood.” However, for a nation of parents who claim to worry about outside time, some truly lame issues are keeping kids inside. The surveyed parents cite homework as the number one reason kids are inside so often, along with crime and gangs, and cuts in recess time as accessory reasons. Astoundingly, U.S. parents said something no other parents in the world said however: U.S. parents cited their child’s discomfort with being outdoors (too hot, rainy, the presence of bugs, etc.) as the second-biggest obstacle to getting outside. “The realization that there are kids who are growing up reluctant to go outside is a serious problem,” says Wear, who is also a mother of two. Agreed… although that’s putting it lightly. I’d simply say it’s time for parents to man up. Big time.

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When Park Benches are Removed, Parents Become More Active on the Playground with Their Kids

by 04/10/14   filed under: green family, health & body

Parks, active parents, Playgrounds, Physical activity, Micro-environment, Built environment, free play, playground time, active kids, playground design, park design

Recently a group of researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture decided to see what would happen if they removed seating structures from a playground in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Not surprisingly, once the benches were taken away, adults hanging out with their kids at the park became more active and played more with their kiddos. Plus, though you might think so, removing seating did not shorten the length of time that adults were willing to let children stay at the park and play. Now, just in case your local park has benches, you can adjust on your own. When taking kids to the park, don’t take a book or surf your phone. You can pretend the park is seating-free and make it a goal to keep active while your kids do. If kids are engaged with other kids (that’s a good thing) it’s not necessary to interrupt their fun, but you can swing (pump those legs), jog around or try pull-ups on the bars. Remember too, parks aren’t the only place to go. You can have a nature adventure with your child, go geocaching or hiking, all of which helps keep your whole family active and healthy.

RELATED | ‘The Land’ is an Adventure Playground Where Kids Can Run Wild, Light Fires, Explore Independence and Take Risks

+ A Microenvironment Approach to Reducing Sedentary Time and Increasing Physical Activity of Children and Adults at a Playground

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Lead Image via Shutterstock

OLLA Kidsfurniture Fits Together Like Giant LEGO Blocks to Create Multiple Furniture Pieces!

by 04/10/14   filed under: green design, green kids, kids furniture

green design, eco design, sustainable design, Kids furniture, modular furniture LEGO furniture, Olla Kids Furniture, Jens Otterstedt

OLLA Kidsfurniture system lets you treat your child’s room like a giant LEGO set! The colorful LEGO-like pieces can be arranged to create a host of kids’ furniture pieces, from miniature desks to loft beds. The modular line has just launched an Indiegogo campaign, giving budding furniture designers a chance to grab a set before they go retail. Read on to learn about the KIDS who invented this super cool furniture after being inspired while playing with their LEGO set!

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New Study Says Severe Forms of Childhood Obesity are on the Rise

by 04/09/14   filed under: health & body, news

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Various studies over the past two years have noted that childhood obesity may be on the decline, but newer research says those studies may be inaccurate. The latest childhood obesity study, published in JAMA Pediatrics uses obesity statistics gathered over 14 years (1999 to 2012) by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and examines differences in obesity trends by age, race/ethnicity and gender. After looking at data based on more than 26,000 children ages 2 to 19 in the United States, the researchers found that rates of overweight and obese children have been trending upward, not down since 1999, and there’s been recent significant rises in the rates of severely obese children. According to the researchers, prevalence of obesity may be stabilizing, but the problem is no one knows why. The study notes that further research is needed to determine which, if any, public health interventions are creating obesity stability, however, because severe forms of obesity are on the rise, more investigations into why and possible solutions are also critical. As a parent, you can make sure you’re feeding your child healthy food and encouraging activity so that your kids don’t end up falling under the obesity statistic umbrella.

RELATED | Childhood Obesity Is A Weightier, More Immediate Problem For Youth Than Previously Thought

+ Prevalence and Trends in Obesity and Severe Obesity Among Children in the United States, 1999-2012

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Lead Image via Shutterstock

HOW TO: Make Zucchini Noodles with Peas and Onion Pesto

by 04/09/14   filed under: how-to, recipe, vegan cooking

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Why I Think Parents Should Experience the Magic of Childhood Alongside Their Kids

by 04/09/14   filed under: eco play, education, green family, kids entertainment, parenting

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HOW TO: Make Scrumptious Vegan Matzah Toffee for Passover

by 04/08/14   filed under: baking, cooking, food, how-to, recipe, snack, vegan cooking, vegetarian

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Bring on the April Showers With Non-Toxic Rain Gear for Kids

Bring on the April Showers With Non-Toxic Rain Gear for Kids

Umbrellas Umbrellas are a handy piece of rain gear to stash in the car or carry on a walk, but you don’t want to tote around an umbrella made from toxic PVC! The advocacy group…

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LAST CHANCE TO ENTER TO WIN an Easter Art Kit & Eco-friendly Art Supplies Worth $100 from Glob Colors!

LAST CHANCE TO ENTER TO WIN an Easter Art Kit & Eco-friendly Art Supplies Worth $100 from Glob Colors!

We’re excited to announce a super crafty giveaway from an excellent eco-art company, Glob Colors. This wonderful prize package is packed with all-natural, safe and eco-friendly art…

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New Study Says 4 out of 10 Infants in the U.S. Lack Strong Attachments to Their Parents

New Study Says 4 out of 10 Infants in the U.S. Lack Strong Attachments to Their Parents

TweetEmail Don’t be fooled by the fact that babies can’t really talk back to you, sometimes fall asleep when you are hanging out with them, and are oblivious to how…

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5 Great Tents Make the Outdoors Tent-alizing!

5 Great Tents Make the Outdoors Tent-alizing!

TweetEmail 1. Get Native with ReForm School’s Backyard Tipi This backyard tipi is great for kids who won’t venture too far from the main house. While it may not…

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6 Sweet Handmade Gifts for Baby's Easter Basket

6 Sweet Handmade Gifts for Baby's Easter Basket

TweetEmailOrganic Teething Toy Crochet Bunny This teething toy is made of natural, unfinished wooden beads, 2 wooden rings and a cute rabbit’s head in your choice of…

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Wool Felted Honey Bee Mobile Will Make Quite a Buzz in the Nursery

Wool Felted Honey Bee Mobile Will Make Quite a Buzz in the Nursery

While this sweet mobile may be a little unnerving if you’ve got a bumblebee phobia, it’s so cute that you may not want it to buzz off. Perfectly adorable hanging above a…

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13 Eco-Friendly Easter Crafts for Kids

13 Eco-Friendly Easter Crafts for Kids

Washcloth Bunnies With some slightly used or new washcloths in festive spring colors you and your child can bring some cute bunnies to life! These washcloth bunnies are a fun surprise…

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PlanToys Debuts Their Redesigned Play Kitchen & Play Sink & Fridge Sets

PlanToys Debuts Their Redesigned Play Kitchen & Play Sink & Fridge Sets

PlanToys recently redesigned some of their kitchen sets. The new and beautifully crafted Kitchen Stove Set and Mini Sink & Fridge Set (sold separately) are made from sustainable…

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Adorable Waldorf Trio of Spring Critters Nestles Nicely into Easter Baskets

Adorable Waldorf Trio of Spring Critters Nestles Nicely into Easter Baskets

This adorable trio of spring critters is sure to liven up any Easter basket and enchant your little one. Each little animal is hand-knit with a luxury 50% wool/50% llama fiber and…

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5 Reasons You Should NOT Give Your Kids Real Bunnies, Chicks & Ducks for Easter

5 Reasons You Should NOT Give Your Kids Real Bunnies, Chicks & Ducks for Easter

Photo by Shutterstock It Teaches Cruelty Taking in an animal for pure amusement is unfair and cruel to the animal in question. Many states even allow appalling practices such as dyeing…

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