THE CHILD IN NATURE: A Film by Miranda Andersen, 13, about Nature-Deficit Disorder

About the Author

Miranda Andersen is a middle school student who has aspirations to go into marine biology one day. She recently completed a TEDx talk on the subject of nature deficit disorder and is in demand as a public speaker. She is an accomplished painter, swims competitively and loves to spend as much of her free time in nature as possible. Patty Andersen is a part-time teacher and full time Mom.

Miranda Andersen has contributed often to these pages. Now she’s back with a new film. Accomplished professionals have produced wonderful documentaries about reconnecting children and nature. Among them, Mother Nature’s ChildPlay Again, Where Do the Children Play, Wetlands and Wonder, and BOLD.  In addition, there are dozens of adult- and student-made YouTube videos. But it’s not often that a 13-year old produces a film quite like The Child in Nature. 



We asked Miranda and her mother, Patty Andersen, to talk about the process of making this film. At first, Miranda’s mom was hesitant to be included. But we were curious about why both care so much about this issue, and why each is such a good spokesperson for the children and nature movement.

Patty: When Miranda was 9 years old she made her first film. It was about her hero, Ruth Foster, a retired teacher who co-founded a salmon hatchery in our neighborhood. During an interview with Ruth she talked about a topic Miranda was completely unfamiliar with — nature-deficit disorder. Ruth first learned about the concept from Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods. Fast forward three short years and several short films later she has the reward for her passion for nature-deficit disorder, her latest film entitled The Child in Nature.

Miranda: When I was in grade six, I went to hear Rich speak at an environmental convention in Vancouver. I asked Rich if I could interview him sometime for a film. A few months later my Mom and I met him in California and he was kind enough to spend a couple of hours with me. So now I had a ton of video to sort through and find all those amazing sound bites that would work so well in a film – and believe me, there were a lot of them.

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Miranda Andersen

Making a film is so time consuming. Filming and taking photos is the easy part. Trying to make short films is such a challenge because you really have to focus on the very best information and what will have the most impact. And then there’s the research part.

You want your film to be believed so you have to back it up with statistics and evidence. Now try doing all this when you have all your regular homework to do on top of it all.

Patty: It’s funny how making a film about kids not spending enough time outdoors can actually lead to a kid not spending enough time outdoors! Technology really can take over – and it will – if you let it. Miranda likes to recount the stories of kids at school and their lamenting a lack of sleep for having spent hours the night before racking up the highest scores on the latest computer game at the expense of homework, family time and time outdoors. The same could be said of filmmaking — even for a child it can be all consuming — but it’s all about finding a balance. Miranda seldom forgets to get back to nature.

Miranda: Making a film is a lot like what I imagine it is to write a book. With this film I figured out a title very quickly and had the opening completed in just a few hours. After that, I got such a “writer’s block” that I couldn’t do anything else for several weeks. Add to that the fact that there are always software problems to figure out (which can take days to fix) and all sorts of things that come up when you’re making a film.

While making all my other movies I jumped around and worked on films in bits and pieces and then sewed them all together. This time I was determined to think linearly and start at the beginning and finish at the end. A lot easier said than done. When I thought I didn’t have enough film footage I gathered more which meant…MORE WORK!

Patty: Creating a film is no small feat. Living the message is just as daunting.

When Miranda premiered her movie The Child in Nature this month she was asked, of all the environmental topics her films have covered, which one is the most important to her. Her reply came easily — nature-deficit disorder.

Why? Because if you don’t get outdoors and you don’t learn to care about the environment, she said, how can any of the topics she covers in her movies have any meaning at all?

Miranda: This was my way of finding connections and ideas — it came from being outside in nature. My head was clearer, my creativity was greater and I could get back to making the film. Nature was my inspiration. The thoughts were flowing again — well, at least until homework, swim practice and other commitments got me sidetracked again.

When a film is finished, you’re so glad it’s done, you forget all the hard work, all the troubleshooting you had to do, all the hours it took to edit and you start to think about the next film.

Want to get involved? Find out about C&NN’s initiatives for young people, families and educators: Natural LeadersNatural FamiliesNatural Teachers. 

Watch Miranda’s October, 2012, TEDx Talk about Nature-Deficit Disorder.


  1. Wonderful film! Charlotte Mason a 19th century educator, has built her theories on learning on this very subject. I encourage you find out more about her for your next film. Also, I would encourage you to consider home education for your children since it looks as though you are already doing so! Great job! I give you an A for creativity, English, History, Technology and Science!! See, you have done your homework!!

  2. Wonderful new documentary for Miranda. She and her family should be so proud. I am certain she is influencing adults and young people alike. She certainly influences me.

    I cannot find her TED talk, however. Does anyone have a link for it?

  3. Miranda and Patty Andersen

    Thank you for the kind words. I really enjoy getting messages like this out to adults and to kids. The TED talk is supposed to be available soon. It will be posted on my website as soon as it’s completed.

  4. Seldom does a one see a work that contains the depth, simplicity and ability to touch the heartstrings as this one does. I want to thank you, Miranda, for your talents and commitment to crafting an important, moving film. I know it will continue out a wide ripple.

  5. I am a Resource Teacher in Northern Ontario Canada and I just have to tell you that you have made me smile today. Listening to your video has inspired me just as much as reading Richard Louv’s books. This information is pertinent in spreading verbally to the people that I see everyday, in written newsletters and in my everyday practice with children. I am learning to shift how I have been teaching children and using nature as one of my tools. Thank you so much!

  6. Great work Miranda! I’d like to share our approach for helping get kids excited about nature with you – music, storytelling, and the arts. We’ve got a nature themed children’s pop musical called Pacha’s Pajamas about a little girl who whose magical pajamas whisk her away to imaginary worlds where she discovers everything she needs within herself. In the first story of the series, Pacha journeys to an epic music festival organized for (and by) plants and animals. Through this dream experience, Pacha falls in love with nature and by extension, herself, fully realizing her capacity and responsibility to positively impact the world.

    Part of this property’s special sauce is that we uniquely translate key aspects of today’s reality into a magical story that enables kids to better understand real life situations and to see their role. Gracefully, the story handles topics such as climate change, drought, hurricanes, extreme events, habitat loss, plastics, asthma, dreams, imagination, music, dance, oneness, collective work, cooperation, balance, unity, appropriate technology, resource extraction, deforestation, and more. We hear from parents that the story is a great jumping-off point for such conversations.

    The Pacha’s Pajamas story is designed to teach pre-teens, youth and families about the importance of following our dreams, about our connectedness with nature and one another, and the power of creative expression. Through Pacha’s Pajamas, we aim to inspire the next generation to create new stories for humanity in which we work more in alignment with the natural world.

    Have you met Ta’kaiya Blaney? She’s the voice of Pacha and she lives in North Van and you may find her to be a kindred spirit even if she is a bit younger than you.

    Thank you for your work!

  7. Miranda and Patty Andersen

    Ta’Kaiya and I haven’t met yet but I know her work. She’s doing great things – especially with raising awareness about the environmental issues around the Northern Gateway Project that is supposed to be built for shipping petroleum in northern B.C.

  8. way to go, kiddo! I have a special needs child, and a typical child, and heartily disapprove of video games. Both kids spend as much time in nature as possible!Organized sports? Try horseback riding!

  9. Wow, Miranda, that was truly wonderful! You are as talented at film making as you are in painting! I am so glad you are out there in the world sharing the message of nature. I can’t wait to see your next project!
    Now, I’m going for a walk in the woods…something I can’t go a day without!

  10. Great Job! Your film should be required viewing in all classrooms.

  11. Great job!

    Thanks for your leadership and enthusiasm for spreading this very important message!!

  12. I am impressed! This is a great work, amazing. Thank you very much!

  13. What a great film. I loved it! She is so well spoken and the quotes were perfect. Loved it!

  14. I would like to show “A child in Nature” at our school as a community event to begin a discussion about expanding our forest learning program. What would I need to do in order to have permission for this.

    Thank you

    • Richard Louv

      Thanks much. Will forward this request to Miranda.


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