Leave No Child Inside

Childhood has changed

Outdoor play helps children manage stress and become more resilient. Natural spaces stimulate children's limitless imaginations and nurture creativity. Children who connect with nature may be more inventive and better problem-solvers due to the hands-on learning that nature provides. Children who grow up spending time in nature are also more likely to be strong advocates for the environment when they reach adulthood, which is critical for the long-term protection of our natural heritage.

Yet, today, children are spending more and more time indoors, connected to electronics, rather than in nature. 

Chicago Wilderness members are working to change that.

June is Leave No Child Inside Month

This June, rediscover your connection to nature and spend quality family time at nature centers, in neighborhood parks, forest preserves, and at other sites across the region! Dozens of Chicago Wilderness alliance members will offer opportunities to hike, birdwatch, play with mud, fly a kite, catch-and-release fish, and explore our local nature in myriad other ways during June Leave No Child Inside Month. Visit our map of June programs on Pinterest to find an event near you:

Follow Chicago Wilderness Leave No Child Inside's board June Leave No Child Inside Month on Pinterest.

This year’s Leave No Child Inside Month's theme – Stick with Nature – highlights how a simple object found everywhere in nature can spark a wide range of outdoor activity ideas. In fact, in 2008, the humble stick was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame for its ability to cultivate children’s creativity, develop their imaginations, and promote free play.

Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest to share how you are using sticks, twigs, and stalks to make children laugh, build, imagine, and explore in the outdoors this June and beyond. Here are just a few family activity suggestions:

  • build forts, fairy houses, or play dens out of sticks of different shapes and sizes;
  • create and play with bows and arrows;
  • weave and bend sticks into dream-catchers, crowns, or other shapes;
  • create hiking sticks for nature tours;
  • combine sticks and mud to create mud figures;
  • cut and shape sticks to use as fishing rods or marshmallow roasting sticks;
  • create musical instruments out of sticks;
  • use a camera and stick figures to create a short, stop-motion animated film;
  • use sticks to fashion objects with a cultural or historical significance for your community.

Nature Play Areas Across Chicago Wilderness

You can also encourage children to play with objects found in nature and explore the outdoors at one of a growing number of nature play areas in our region. Environmental educators are available to answer questions and suggest activities at all of the play spaces listed on this regional map:

Follow Chicago Wilderness Leave No Child Inside's board Nature Play Areas on Pinterest.


Get Involved!

Be a part of the movement to reconnect children with nature: 

  • Go outside! Take your family outside and look, listen, touch, and smell! Let your kids take the lead  with their natural curiosity, they will quickly find something for the family to explore, in any season, at any time. Enjoy the simple activity suggestions inspired by our Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights
  • Call your local forest preserve or conservation district, nature center, zoo, or other nature-oriented organization and ask about programs that feature outdoor play, discovery, and exploration.
  • Subscribe to the Leave No Child Inside e-newsletter to stay informed about the latest programs, research, news, and grant opportunities.
  • Follow the Leave No Child Inside Twitter and Pinterest feeds, and the Chicago Wilderness Facebook page.
  • Spread the Leave No Child Inside message with free materials we make available for distribution to families and educators.
  • Contact Emilian Geczi, Chicago Wilderness Youth and Community Engagement Manager, with any questions.