Monday, May 5, 2014

Take a Hike! (a nature hike)



 There is something about the adventure of a nature hike. I think in our fast paced world we have lost the art of the explorer. I know my son is far more interested in battling evil empires on his video game than discovering nature. It is up to me to provide those experiences for him.

It was different in my day (here I go again!) I lived in the country...surrounded by hills and woods and creeks. We had a few rules. Don't go wading in the creek by the road. Don't hurt anything. If you chose to bring home objects for a special "collection" make sure you keep them in your special "collection" box.

So now I live in a 2nd floor apartment. We are surrounded by the sites and sounds of a busy city. Any exploration of nature has to be deliberate on my part. Thankfully, we have some terrific locations here in our town for nature hikes/walks and my parents live on a farm.

How does this nature hike stuff happen?


Think about where. It can be as simple as exploring the backyard. However, I suggest picking some locations that allow true adventure.

They might see things that they would never run into at a local playground or backyard.

You can see Josiah investigating a hole.


Who lives there?  Are there any signs that can tell us?


Another important part of a Nature Hike is the stuff you bring with you. We pack along drawing materials as well as a digital camera. Our little nature journals are simply scrapbooking books my mom picked up at the Dollar Tree. Josiah can sketch, make observations and glue in pictures he takes.

A magnifying glass is an important part of a nature explorers tool kit. The explorer is allowed to investigate, make deductions and see all items of interest up close and personal.


How about a field guide? I like the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock, but I have dozens of smaller field guides on hand. I've gotten them from our local conservation department as well as used bookstores. They simply help the user identify what they are looking at. For example, Josiah knew from reading in his field guide that this fella is, in fact, a toad.
 

The field guide will also help us learn about the habitat or even the proper name of a critter. This guy is a Red Eared Slider and lives in the glorious pond accommodations on my parents' farm. 


Sometimes I like to create scavenger hunts. This one was one we did for Cousin Camp. You can see that some of the items collected were not necessarily of the nature kind. Having a scavenger hunt allows the hikers to have specific things to keep a look out for.


Think about additional items to carry along in a backpack.  Do you have a water bottle? How about sunscreen and bug repellant? How about a hat for those truly serious hikers. Make sure everyone has sturdy shoes. Flip Flops (though usually my footwear of choice) is just not practical for romping through the woods.


Other items you might consider are small bags or containers to bring home treasurers. We have a small journal that we can use to press wildflowers into. The Dollar Tree always has bug collector boxes and butterfly nets available in the spring and summer. This is also a good time to talk about plants of the poisonous kind. Leaves of 3! Let it be!



And what's a Nature Hike without a picnic? A quilt and an easy lunch makes for a special treat. It doesn't have to be complicated. There is something about enjoying a PB&J in the middle of nature. It makes memories.


Happy Hiking!



I'm linking up this post to The Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog Hop. Check it out...I know you will find some wonderful resources.


Philosophy Adventure

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