Finn Sorensen, 3, of Ripon explores frozen treasures using different tools and salt during his mom Carissa’s practice trials for her outdoor Tinkergarten classes.
Finn Sorensen, 3, of Ripon explores frozen treasures using different tools and salt during his mom Carissa’s practice trials for her outdoor Tinkergarten classes.

   Last year, Ripon’s Carissa Sorensen was chatting with a friend from New York City when they started to talk about children and how little time they spend playing outside.

   “They have so many more opportunities than we did as little kids, and yet so many fewer in some ways,” Sorensen said. “We have all this access to information and professionals and structured activity, and yet nobody goes outside and rolls in the dirt. So we’re talking about how there’s now research showing that children who don’t get to play freely in nature are more depressed, they have anxiety … obesity … there’s a rise of ADHD and things like that. And while that’s not caused by not going out in nature, being in nature is so therapeutic for some of those things.”

   She didn’t realize at the time how that conversation would impact her life, the life of her children and others within the Ripon community.

   During the discussion about nature deficiency in children, Sorensen’s friend noted it was hard to find things to do outside with her son when they live in such a big city.

   “And she’s like, ‘So I have my son in this class [called “Tinkergarten”],’” Sorensen said. “And I started looking into it.”

   As Sorensen researched the outdoor class, she became interested in the company Tinkergarten, which is an organization of a network of leaders who design classes and activities to bring parents and children together outdoors to develop children’s skills through play.

   Read the full story, which includes information on the changes Sorensen has seen in her own kids, in the Jan. 10, 2019 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.