What do you do when your children are full of energy and bouncing off the walls? If your children are anything like mine, then they are filled with a boundless energy. This natural occurrence can be hard to contain indoors. We like to make our way outside where there are no walls to bounce off of and you know what? It's inevitable that we'll learn a few things in the process.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure statement for more information.
If you are heading outside with the kiddos, like we did this week, then be sure to pack the essentials.
- Water (you don't want your little ones to get dehydrated)
- Sunscreen (the sun can get hot)
- Change of Clothes (we always need these as it is unavoidable that our children will end up completely drenched)
- Notebook/Nature Journal (these usually make an appearance after the initial fun and the children are ready for a rest but not yet ready to leave)
- Pencils/Markers (for the Nature Journals)
- Containers for catching BUGS! (our kids like to catch any and every creepy crawly creature they can find. A container saves ME from having to touch the bugs)
- Snack (they are always hungry)
- Towel/napkins (they are always muddy)
This week we headed to the Margarite Falls trail. This is a trail that we have hiked many times before and are very familiar with it. We didn't walk up the whole trail this time as it would have been too much for our daughter. We did hike until we found a nice stream with shallow slow moving water. Typically, when we come to places like this I settle on the bank and snap pictures, knit, or draw in my nature journal. I'll make observations aloud, answer any questions the children have and I keep an eye on the children, but I don't really interfere unless they ask me to or they need me. I personally like to give them the freedom to discover and explore at their own pace.
Our son is extremely adventurous when we are outside. He immediately set off on his own, although he always remained within my line of vision. He loves seeing how high he can climb and how far he can go before returning to my side. Often he discovers something interesting like a rock or a leaf and brings it to sit beside me so that he can continue with his most strenuous of childhood work. Play and Exploration. That's what childhood is all about after all.
Our daughter is a bit more timid when it comes to new places. She takes her time getting adjusted to her new surroundings. While her brother had already begun walking in the stream, little sister climbed carefully over the rocks and around the perimeter. She tested the coolness of the water with her fingers and she tossed a few pebbles into the stream to watch the splash they would make. Eventually she got up the courage to walk into the stream, though I think a little coaching from big brother helped tremendously.
Before long both children were swimming in the water, splashing, and having a wonderful time. I'm happy to say that at least our daughter managed to kick off her dress and shoes before fully immersing herself in the creek. The kids played in the water for well over an hour!
They suddenly announced that they were ravenous and needed a snack. Yes, our son really used the word ravenous.
Fresh peaches to the rescue!
After eating, we dried the children off and gave them their change of clothes. Our son settled down with his dinosaur nature journal and began coloring and sketching. Our daughter set off in search of more bugs. Boy, did she find some doozies! The 5 inch long centipedes were especially creepy.
So, how were the children learning? They were asking questions and making observations about their surroundings.
- What are the names of the trees?
- Are these plants edible?
- Why was the stream so cold?
- Where is the water going?
- Why was there moss growing on the rocks?
- What sort of rocks were these?
- What species of insect is this?
- What do these insects eat?
- Why are the insects here different than on our farm?
- Do bears live here?
- What is a game trail?
- What sort of mammals live in this forest?
- What birds do we hear?
- If that's not a bird, then what creature is making that sound?
Thank goodness for my own knowledge, Google, and my trusty North American Birds App!
Children are naturally curious. They want to know Who, What, When, & Where. Plus, most children are filled with an energy that us adults can only vaguely fathom. Let your kids ask questions and get their energy out in nature. Childhood is such a short window of time. Let your children outside and learn something new today!