The outdoors is one big playground and learning centre at any time of year. It’s easy to access (even in the heart of the city) and it’s free! Recent research shows that “nature deficit disorder” is something we should take seriously. We have become so removed from nature that it is having a negative effect on our health and our kids — physically, emotionally and mentally. Apparently, kids even do better on school test scores when they spend time in natural surroundings.

Here’s something you can do right in your own backyard.

 Take a nature walk to look for interesting stones, pebbles or rocks in your garden, a park or along a country lane.
 Collect a few specimens, wash them, add some paint to transform them into “pet rocks” or paperweight presents.
 For added features, use white glue to stick bits of fabric or googly eyes in place.
 For a shiny finish, add clear varnish or nail polish.


For these easy and inexpensive candles and holders, you will need:

 White glue or spray adhesive
 Recycled glass jars or glasses
 Paper lunch bags
 Ribbons, lace, glitter
 Votive or tea candles

Follow these links for directions:

Lunch Bag Luminaries
Lacy Lanterns
Jam Jar Votives

They make great gifts!

For Kids and Families

As a regular contributor to CTV Ottawa’s News at Noon, Janis brings parents and kids ideas for things to do, places to go, and ways to play, learn and grow together. If you have ideas to share with families, contact Janis at