Watching birds or tapping maple trees are not only fun things to do, they’re also activities that can help teach kids about nature. A growing number of schools are using the outdoors to educate students about their relationship to the world around them.

Nearly every state has plans to incorporate environmental literacy into their curriculums, the Utne Reader reports. There’s also a bill that Maryland Representative John Sarbanes and Rhode Island Senator Jack Reeds introduced in the last two legislative sessions that would allot $100 million each year to getting students out and about (the bill is called No Child Left Inside).

“The legislation intends to overcome the No Child Left Behind Act’s emphasis on testing in traditional areas such as reading and math that resulted in other subjects -- such as environmental education -- getting less attention, says Brian Day, head of the North American Association for Environmental Education,” according to an article in Governing.

Supporters say that teaching lessons outside helps children improve their observational skills, develop valuable math and science competence, and appreciate the environment. More time in the outdoors could also help combat the obesity epidemic.

“It’s not only a good idea in terms of the future [of the planet],” Janet Waugh, a member of the Kansas State Board of Education, said in Governing, “but it’s important to the future of the children themselves.”

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