This is the time of year we start planning our summer vacation. There is a certain sense of anticipation and excitement about it. Books about National Parks and hiking are scattered everywhere. Dinnertime discussions get everyone's input. Over the years we have been to some pretty amazing places with our kids. Morocco, Germany, Belgium, but the last few years, we have stayed in the states and hit some of the National Parks. I think if you asked my kids, they would say they loved the National Parks the best. It is unbelievable what natural treasures there are in our country!
Given a chance to go to Disney World or a National Park - my kids would choose a National Park in a heartbeat!
Recently, I overheard a middle schooler say, "We never go anywhere." And this was just in repsonse to the teacher talking about a local nature area. I just wanted to cry. I was sad for her. I understand that exploring takes effort, but if there is anything that can give childen a sense of curiosity, instill gratitude and an appreciation of diversity, it is seeing new and different places. Starting with local places is an easy way to begin your exploration journey. Check out a nature center, museum or find a hike nearby. Not only will you get to see remarkable things, it gets your whole family moving and off technology!
Once you have gotten the hang of exploring locally, start venturing out a little bit. Do some research and make sure to include the kids in the planning. Spend the night somewhere in a hotel, Airbnb, or try camping, depending on your style. There are so many options these days - we have stayed in lots of fun and different places. It is hard to choose a favorite but it is probably a tie between sleeping in a treehouse or the house in Oregon with a treehouse AND a tiny house!
I am so thankful my parents took me places and we have tried to do the same with our kids. Its not just about the beautiful places - although, that is a great motivation. It is about helping the current generation understand that people and places are different in a good and healthy way. As you travel through the U.S., it brings you in contact with people of different cultures and socio economic levels - things you might not see if you never left your hometown - or only went to theme parks. In a culture where people are so intolerant of people who believe differently, it helps us all by broadening our horizons.
My recommendation to you as you consider how to spend your vacation time this coming year, is to consider seeing some of the natural wonders of the United States. After seeing some of these places, you come away with a sense of wonder, gratitude and a desparate desire to preserve these places for the future. Check out some of the places we have discovered:
Do you want to raise children that appreciate diversity, have a sense of gratitude and have a sense of curiosity about their surroundings? Then, you need to take them places!
What are some fun and unique places you have gone with your family?
Leave a comment here or on my Facebook page
Stay tuned to upcoming blogs about finding local hikes, planning trips and finding unique housing at your destination.
Although Spring does not officially start until March 21, we had a burst of warmth not too long ago where I live and Spring is in the air! I always feel like the earth is ready to burst as Spring approaches. It is time for new beginnings in so many ways. The bulbs are up. Some trees have sent out buds. And the birds are active and singing. We even just spotted a foal running next to its mom on our drive yesterday.
Spring is a great time to push the reset button and start getting back outside. Even though I love being outside, sometimes the winter makes me just want to cozy up by the fire and hunker down with a good book or craft project. Although there is nothing wrong with some indoor downtime, there is nothing that does the body good as much as getting outside!
I have rounded up some great activities for you to do with your kids. Be sure and click on green titles for more information or a link to directions. Enjoy and Happy Spring!
Get out there quickly! Give your child the responsibility to take a picture everyday of the same tree or plant over the next several weeks and see how it changes. There are so many easy to use photo programs out there that you could make a fun slide show or time lapse of the changes.
Not only are these a fun way to see seeds grow, they are a great way to recycle. This article from Southern Living has some great containers to use for starting seeds. Who needs to go buy expensive starter pots when you can use ice cream cones, eggshells or orange peels??
This is one of my family's favorite signs of spring. The first person to hear peepers at dusk gets a special prize. Do a little research and see what conditions it takes for peepers to start peeping. I can still remember tromping around in the dark for my college biology class to measure how the temperature of water affected the rates of peeping. At the time that seemed like a lot of work - now I love the sound of peepers!
Spring is a great time to visit Botanical gardens. Not only is it a chance to get outside and get some Vitamin D, it is always a feast for the eyes to see the tulips and dafodils in bloom. Make it a game to see how many varieties of dafodils you can find. Or see how many colors of tulips you see. Take lots of pictures! Post them on the Skipping Stones facebook page!
Birds are pretty great at building nests from things they find in their environment. Why not give them a little extra help! It is sort of like giving your friends some building supplies as they are building a new house! I am a knitter so I think this is a great idea. Now I have something to do with all my leftover scraps. Another idea I have seen is to buy a gravevine ball at a craftstore and stuff it with Alpaca hair or yarn. The birds will be so glad for the help. Who knows maybe you will spot a nest with some colorful fibers woven into it. Maybe you can give a special prize if one of your children spies one.
These rocks are adorable! I particularly love them because I have a daughter who has been ladybug crazy her whole life! I can't wait to put some of these in my flower garden this year. Not only are they a fun craft and a cut outdoor decoration, they would great fun in a scavenger hunt. Hide them for your kids or hide some for them! What fun and great for fostering development of visual skills!
Hanging May Day (May 1st) baskets is a forgotten tradion. When I was growing up my mom and I always made May day baskets and secretly hung them on our neighbor's door knobs. Today neighbors aren't as neighborly as they used to be but in my book anybody can be a neighbor! Why not shower someone you know or someone you don't with a little spring pick-me-up. Consider it a random act of kindness. This fun tradition is a sweet way to work together with your kids while reaching out to others in kindness.
Here are several more options:
May Day baskets by Three Scoops of Love
Coffee Filter Flower Baskets by Urban Comfort
Paper Bag Baskets by Patina White
8. Visit a new Playground
Kids love going to new playgrounds. Ask around or do some searching on the web and find a new playground to take your kids to. It's a great way to tire them out...I mean have some fun! Look for ones with swings, climbing apparutus and spinning opportunities. These are all great for fostering sensory development, as well as, confidence and strength.
They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. In the same vain, I say, if life gives you dandelions, make a dandelion crown! I know our yard is full of these pesty weeds! As adults we find them annoying and hard to get rid of, but kids see them as treasures. I can't count the number of lovely yellow bouqets I have received from my kids over the years. As the warm weather starts, so will the dandelions! Celebrate with a crown!
Along the same lines as dandelion crowns is making mud pies. With spring it is inevitably going to be rainy. Embrace the mud and make mud pies. It is great for kids to get their hands muddy and it is great for their creativity. Get some olds muffin tins,cake pans, and spoons from your local Goodwill store and let them have a blast. See what wonderful concotions they can come up with. Maybe they can even set up a bakery!
Post some pictures on the Skipping Stones facebook page! It would be great to have a community of parents can share ideas about nature activities.
Now get outside and have some fun!
Hi! I'm Ann - mother of seven, grandmother of two and occupational therapist. My mission is to provide the support families need to raise thriving children and to help you build a family environment that supports healthy development and a pathway to success.
Great blogs to check out:
Rain or Shine Mamma
Children & Nature Network
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