Monday, May 30, 2011

Summer Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers: The grand outdoors

We just returned from a weekend getaway in Colorado with some family. We went out on canoes, caught fish, slept in as long as our kids would allow, and ate things like slow-cooked yak and dutch oven peach cobbler. My girls were in the company of six little boys (and one very cool older girl) and they did things I never hold a live fish, play with worms, and catch beetles with their bare hands. I often found them barefoot and jacket-less in the cool evening air, exploring and investigating in the dirt. They were so happy, which made me so happy. Here's some outdoor activity ideas if you're gearing up to spend some time with Mother Nature this summer:
Rockin' Rock Art
Some of the boys found bug or animal-shaped rocks and painted them. They added googly eyes and paper antlers.
This clever fellow (Seth) wrapped his rocks in pipe cleaners and used hot glue to keep it all together.

Bead Buddies

Kate made bracelets and necklaces and even rings out of craft beads and yarn. You pull out about an arm's length of yarn, double it, and tie a knot on the folded end. Weave a bead (or two or three) onto one string of yarn and then weave the other end of yarn through the bead(s) coming from the opposite direction. Pull the yarn until it's taut and start the next row. Repeat in desired pattern.
(I shall do another post on this with more descriptive pictures because I just confused myself, writing all that out...)

Bug Boxes

Never, ever, underestimate the entertaining power of bug boxes.

Krafty Kites
The wind was just right for these kites.

Pictures via my sister-in-law Stacy.

Pine cone Party
We went on several hikes through the woods where we gathered pine cones. My sister-in-law, Stacy, taught us about the different kinds of pine trees and ways we could remember which pine cone came from which tree.

Limbar Pine

She had a story about mice that found shelter in the cones of the Douglas Fir, thus we see their tails poking out of the cones. See full story here.
Douglas Fir
We gathered one pine cone from each tree that we found and reviewed them later, thus the pine cone party.You could also find a book about identifying different types of trees and talk about their cones or leaves and put a book together (more on this later...). This book looks like a good start:

Usborne Trees Sticker Book
Let me know your ideas!

P.S. This has nothing to do with this post, but I had to share. Since she was a baby, my oldest daughter has sometimes slept with her eyes open. She did it on the drive home from this trip and it kinda spooked my niece, Kate. She says, "Um, Janelle? What is Hazel doing?"
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