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June 23, 2024

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Green Time for Kids

Give Plenty of Nature Time to Your Kids

Nature is the antidote to too much screen time. Check out what's happening at local nature centers!

As chilly weather gives way to the warmth of springtime, we’re all drawn to the sunshine outdoors. And that’s a good thing. Loads of current research shows the benefits of spending time in nature, aka green time, especially in light of how much time adults and kids  spend on screens. But adults have already grown up. The main premise of nature deficit disorder for growing kids — as coined by scholars — is that too much screen time can take away from the mental health benefits found in the outdoors. Screens often keep kids indoors regardless of the weather.
    Tearing kids away from their screens and into the outdoors is not going to be easy. But here’s ammo to help you start the effort.

 

LOCAL WAYS TO CONNECT WITH NATURE

DAVIDSON COUNTY

Beaman Park Nature Center
5911 Old Hickory Blvd.,
Ashland City
615-862-8580
Beaman Park’s Nature Center is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 12 – 4 p.m. Request their monthly program newsletter by emailing beamanpark@nashville.gov. Park trails are open every day from sunrise to sunset. Programming at the center includes creek exploration, woodland walks, wildflower hikes and more. Registration is required for more programs.

Bells Bend Outdoor Center
4187 Old Hickory Blvd., Nashville
615-862-4187
This center has an indoor climbing wall for all ages and an outdoor climbing boulder for ages 13 & older. Regular nature programs include geocaching 101, archery, hikes and more. The center is open Tuesdays through Friday from 12 – 4 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Shelby Bottoms Nature Center
1900 Davidson St., Nashville
615-862-8539
Offers a wide range of free public nature and environmental education programs and other special activities for people of all ages. The center is open Tue., Thu. and Sat. from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Wed. and Fri. from 12 – 4 p.m.; closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Warner Park Nature Center
7311 Highway 100, Nashville
615-862-8555
This nature center provides extensive opportunities for people of all ages to connect with nature. Upcoming spring programming includes “Fantastic Fairy Houses” on March 9; “Outdoor Nature Painting” on March 14; and “Explore with a Naturalist” on March 23. Most programs are free with registration by email to wpnc@nashville.gov. Nature Center hours are 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tue. through Sat. and closed Sunday and Mondays. The park hours are sunrise until 11 p.m.

RUTHERFORD COUNTY

Murfree Spring Wetlands
460 SE Broad St., Murfreesboro
615-217-3017
A 25-acre park located at the corner of Maney and Broad Streets, enjoy walking trails through wetlands. Adjacent to the Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, the Discovery Center provides a lot of outdoor programming for children throughout the year in the wetlands’ surrounds. 

The Wilderness Station
697 Veterans Pkwy.,
Murfreesboro
The nature center, located inside Barfield Crescent Park, is home to many animals including owls, a hawk, snakes and more. Programming for families is offered through Outdoor Murfreesboro and includes animal encounters on most Saturdays; environmental education; paddles on the Stone River; nature play including mud painting and more, “Wild Things” preschool program for ages 1 – 4 and more. Hours are Mon. from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.; Tue. – Sat. from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sundays from 12 – 5 p.m.

WILLIAMSON COUNTY

Bowie Nature Park
7211 Bowie Lake Road, Fairview
615-799-5544
Here, you’ll find 700+ acres of forest, lake and trails. Head to the center to pick up a programming guide. Trails can be closed due to wet conditions, so always call before you go. Nature center hours are Fri., Sat., and Mon. from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Park hours are daily 5 a.m. – 10 p.m. 

Owl’s Hill Nature Sanctuary
545 Beech Creek Road,
Brentwood
615-370-4672
Owl’s Hill has “Knee-High Naturalists” for ages 3 – 5 plus an adult  this month and next where you can explore nature through a series of topics lead by an Owl’s Hill educator. A “Junior Naturalist” workshop is available on Saturday, March 30 for kids ages 8  – 13 with an adult. An assortment of paid programming also includes Lantern Hikes, geocaching days, wildflower hikes, raptor encounters and more. Owl’s Hill provides a protected environment for more than 2,000 species of local flora and fauna. Admission is by online program registration or Day Pass ($5 for ages 3 and older).

GREENWAYS & TRAILS

MURFREESBORO GREENWAYS

Links to 17 miles of trails, greenway sections, bridges and boardwalks.

NASHVILLE GREENWAYS

Provides links to individual trail maps organized by park/greenway. 

GREENWAYS & TRAILS

Search for a trail or greenway wherever you are by entering the zip code.

TENNESSEE PARKS

Find a park near you, seek nature events and activities, book a cabin or a campsite.

 

About the Author

Susan Swindell Day

Susan Day is the editor in chief for this award-winning publication and all-things Nashville Parent digital creative. She's also an Equity actress, screenwriter and a mom of four amazing kids.