Spring Time is Nature Time For the Kids!

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It’s finally spring time here and the kids and I are looking forward to getting outside, especially after all the snow we got this year. Everything is blooming, the birds are chirping and I have even seen the bunnies hopping in the back yard.

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My boys are really excited about getting out and interfacing with nature and I think the girls will be game if we set up some structured activities to do.

The boys could spend hours just traipsing around, but the girls like to have a purpose when it comes to interacting with nature. For some reason they don’t like to be surprised by spiders, frogs and worms.

In an effort to enjoy our time outdoors I have organized some activities for the kids and me to do so we can learn more about nature.

The first one has to do with all the bugs that are around our property. I have noticed that my boys are very fond of picking them up and the youngest one is always bringing them over and asking me what type is this one and what about this one, mom.

Well, I have no clue and I feel bad that they want to know what they are but none of us do, so I have a bug “bed and breakfast” set up so we can collect some of the insects and look them up to see if we can identify them.

After finishing up the ice cream last night, the kids saved the half-gallon container from it and cut three or four 2-inch-square openings around the top of it (I did make sure they cleaned it first).  They then wrapped duct tape around the openings to make the sturdier.

Before they went to bed, they went out and buried one of our small plastic cups in the empty vegetable garden. (If you do this make sure the top is even with the ground).  They then placed the prepared ice cream container over it.

(This serves to protect the buried plastic cup from the rain.).  One of my older girls suggested they place a rock on top of the container so it would not blow away and although the boys weren’t happy that one of the girls told them what to do, they finally place it on top.  We left the set-up overnight and we all went in to get a good night’s sleep.

When the kids got up the next morning, they were up and out before I could even get them breakfast.  Before I could get my shoes on and get out there, I heard them all squealing.

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I hurried out to see what was going on and there they were looking inside the cup where several different bugs were. I did not think there would be any but my oldest had put some tiny bits of fruit in the bottom of the cup.

The boys carefully lifted the cup out of the dirt and brought it over to where everyone could sit down. The boys took turns taking different bugs out of the cup.

One of their sisters would look up the bug online and the other two would enter their name and description in a notebook we got just for that. When they were done with one of the bugs they would put the bug back into the garden soil.

Another exciting and fun outdoor activity the kids did was trying to catch the tracks of the animals that show up at night; the boys were trying to prove to the girls that they did show up at night.

The girls agreed that there were animals during the day, I mean any idiot could see that there were birds, squirrels and sometimes rabbits during the day, but they believed they slept at night.

In order to prove to the girls that they came out at night, they made what they called their footprint catching “trap.”

They took and old white sheet I let them have and they folded it in half. In an area of the yard where they though the animals were most likely to visit (near a hedge, for instance, or a compost pile).

They placed the sheet there and then placed some cut-up fruit and bread spread with peanut butter on top of it, (sliced carrots, or hard-boiled eggs will also work) in the center.

In order to record the footsteps, they spread a foot-wide band of dirt around the edges of the sheet. Using a hose or watering can, they then wet both the sheet and the soil and left it overnight. The next morning, sure enough when they checked their trap to see if any animals had taken the bait, they found deer and rabbit tracks.

I hope these activities will bring the out the outdoor nature in mine and your kids.

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