While many families will be heading to the snow covered slopes or a sunny beach next week, you can still have a lot of fun in your own back yard and enjoy spending time with your children by using a little bit of creativity and seeing the wonder in nature with a child’s eyes.
You don’t need an expensive camp or any fancy gear to accomplish this either, but use things you may already have such as a back pack, a nature journal, crayons, magnifying glass, flashlight, compass, binoculars, and of course your imagination and a positive attitude!
- Go on nature treasure hunts: in the green belt, the Lake Travis shores, the nearby state parks, or even in your own backyard. Encourage your kids to look for animal foot prints, listen to the birds singing, and collect rocks, sticks, fossils, feathers, leaves, and seeds. Then you can spend time together organizing, categorizing and creating small nature habitats, creating a nature collages, drawing, and writing in the nature journal.
- Befriend a Tree: have your child spend time observing the trees in your backyard and see them as their friends. Then ask them to choose one tree to be their best friend and encourage them to spend time under it every day: watering it, telling stories to it, singing to it, or just sitting, reading or writing under its shade. Your child can name the special tree, draw it, paint it, take photos of it and create a special Tree-book about it.
- Grow a garden: spring is the time of nature awakening and renewal of all life! Children love getting dirty and there is no better way to get dirty than gardening! Take a quick trip to the Natural Gardener for some guidance and inspiration from their knowledgeable gardeners. There are so many spring gardening possibilities: you can plant a vegetable garden, herb garden, a butterfly garden, bulbs, flowering shrubs, roses, trees, and thus create opportunities for garden observations and journaling during all the seasons.
- Camp out in your own backyard: set up your tent and have some fun storytelling, singing and stargazing together, playing flashlight shadows, flashlight tag or flashlight scavenger hunt.
- Create Art in the backyard: bring the easel, paint and brushes outside or tape a long strip of butcher paper to the fence, and invite your child to paint what they see: trees, flowers, birds, or squirrels. Paint together a bird or a squirrel feeder or pour cement in a stepping stone mold and decorate with crystals and glass gems. Children also take great delight in painting simple rocks and if you apply a glossy clear coat over their rock art, you can decorate your flower garden beds.
The possibilities for having fun with your kids in your own backyard this spring break are unlimited! Enjoy!