Princess Party Canopy Tent!

July 3, 2014 by  
Filed under Outdoor Fun

I’m just tickled!!  This is Only $99! This adorable princess party tent is … it’s only $99! Oh how I wished I had known about this when my girls were young. They would have died. Seriously. This is the cutest thing ever!

This post contains affiliate links.  Clicking on the photo will take you to a website where you can purchase the item.  The item does not cost you any more by clicking on a link that I provide but in an effort to help support this website, the company selling the product may compensate me a very small amount if you actually purchase.

Early Springtime Observations

April 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Outdoor Fun

Nature

Nature (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Getting back in touch with nature is an enjoyable, healthy activity for children and adults. Children are usually fascinated by nature, and enjoy being outside. Adults often find observing nature to be a healing and peaceful activity. With spring right around the corner, now is a good time to teach your children some of the interesting changes that are taking place this time of year.

Spring is brief – there is a rather short window in which to observe spring’s changes, so some planning is required to capture these changes. Here are some ideas to get you started in your nature observations this spring.

* Find a spot to observe. This can be done in your own yard, and it does not have to be a large area. It can be just one square foot or a whole garden, but it should be a low-traffic area so that you are observing nature and not someone’s gardening efforts. You also don’t want people walking over your natural area.

* Once you choose the spot, note how it looks the day you begin your observations. Use a digital camera or garden journal (or a combination of the two) to record details about what you see. If you enjoy drawing, you and your children can make sketches of the area. Some questions to ask as you begin your observations are:

-Is the soil muddy, dry, sandy, etc.?
-Are there moss or rocks present?
-Are there any plants present at all, such as grass or weeds?

* Visit your area daily. If you like, set up a chair or bench nearby. Using your recording methods, sketch, photograph, and take notes on any changes you observe. If birds or other animals visit the area, note that as well as any changes in plants or soil. (Don’t be tempted to put out food to attract animals, however – you are just observing, not interfering.) Even if you don’t note any changes, write that down as well.

* Consider getting a field guide to the plants and wildflowers in your area, and identify the various plants as they grow. If the plants bloom, note when they bloom and for how long, and write down the species if you and your children identify it.

Your children will become attuned to small details in their special spot, a skill that is applicable in other areas of life. You will all be surprised at how much change occurs in nature over a short period of time, even though it is gradual.

When spring turns to summer, go over your observations and see how much the original spot has changed. The beauty of observing carefully is that you are making note of details not discerned in just random, passing glances. You will see the gradual greening of the spot, the blooming of flowers, and changes in the soil from dry to wet, or from packed to loose. This can be a special, annual activity for your whole family.

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Make and Fly Cool Kites

February 13, 2013 by  
Filed under Outdoor Fun

A man flying a kite on the beach, a good locat...

A man flying a kite on the beach, a good location for flying as winds travelling across the sea contain few up or down draughts which cause kites to fly erratically. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even in the winter, making and flying your own kite is an option. As long as the day is dry, there is wind, and you and your kids are bundled up appropriately for the cold, you can make and fly a kite. There are some really wonderful designs and ideas for home-made kites, and they do not have to be complicated. Here are some ideas for making and flying some really cool kites.

Regardless of the style of kite you choose to make, the list of supplies is essentially the same:

– Plastic straws or wooden dowels (for the frame)
– Paper or plastic sheets (for the body of the kite)
– String (for the bridle and to hold onto the kite)
– Glue (for stabilizing the frame)
– Scissors (to cut paper or plastic sheets)
– Utility knife (to cut notches in the straws or dowels)
– Ribbon (for the tail)
– Paints, crayons, markers, and other decorative materials that are flat and light

Make a cross shape with the plastic straws or dowels, and criss-cross the joint with string to hold it together. Stabilize the joint with a drop of glue.

Cut notches in the bottoms of the dowels or straws using the utility knife. Then, run string through these notches to make a classic kite shape (like a diamond). Bring the ends of the string toward the middle, cross them over the middle joint, and tie in a knot.

Now, cut out the paper or plastic in the same shape as your frame, only bigger by an inch or two. Decorate it, and then glue it onto the frame.

Punch a small hole in the top and bottom points of the paper or plastic part of the kite. Run a piece of string through these holes so that the string goes underneath the kite. Make it loose enough to get your fingers under, but not so loose that it flops around under the frame. Cut the string off and tie knots to keep it from slipping through the holes. This piece of string is called the “bridle” of the kite, and is where you attach the long string to hold it.

In the middle of the bridle, tie another piece of string. This is your flying string, and will need to be long. You can wind the excess around a toilet paper tube, wooden block, or other piece of scrap wood or cardboard.

To the bottom tip of the kite, tie a piece of string that is about the same length as your kite. You can tie ribbons to it for decoration and added weight. This is the “tail,” and it helps balance your kite.

If you have trouble visualizing some of the above steps, there are a lot of visual tutorials online that can help.

Now bundle up, get outside, and enjoy the winter wind! You can even make this a community event, inviting people to make their own kites and participate.

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Back to Nature – How to Encourage Today’s Housebound Children to Explore the Great Outdoors

February 1, 2013 by  
Filed under Outdoor Fun

Latino Children Play Swing

Latino Children Play Swing (Photo credit: epSos.de)

Years ago, summertime meant the sound of children playing in neighborhood yards. These days, however, yards remain silent as kids are camped out in front of computers, televisions, and video games.

To help the health of our children and get them in touch with nature, we need to get them back outside. Here are some ways to encourage housebound children to enjoy the outdoors.

1. Get outside yourself – If your children see you sitting in front of the TV all evening, they will follow suit and won’t be motivated to get outside. Getting outdoors is healthy for adults, too, so do your whole family a favor and invite them outside for a group game of Frisbee, horseshoes, or a nature walk. The first step to getting your kids outdoors is to lead them there.

2. Build a tree house or playhouse – Remember tree houses and playhouses? These little hide-aways provide wonderful scope for children’s imaginations. They can be forts, pioneer cabins, igloos, stores, and anything your children can imagine.

3. Cut the cable – Have you thought about simply getting rid of cable television? Gasp! It may sound like a huge step, but those who have ditched the cable claim not to miss the TV and to be glad for the extra money each month. Consider scaling back or cutting out cable altogether, or rationing your kids’ television and computer time.

4. Swing! – Whether it’s a tire swing or a full-scale swing set and slide, put some sort of activity center out in your yard if possible. This will encourage your children and their friends to go outside and play. If it’s not possible, go to a park.

5. Build solar toys – Is your child a techie who loves computers and computer games? Try building solar-powered toys (there are good-quality kits available) or other solar-powered gadgets. You have to be outside in the sun to make them work!

6. Start a garden – It can be in containers or prepared beds outdoors, but gardening can get the whole family outside. It’s good exercise, too. Kids enjoy watching the plants or seeds they plant grow, bloom, and bear fruit. This fascination will draw them outside.

7. Collect stuff – Kids love collections. Begin rock, leaf, or feather collections. Get a good field guide and go on hikes and walks to find more items for the collection. Some children enjoy finding bugs and insects, too.

8. Look to the stars – Invest in a small telescope or binoculars and a good constellation map, and look to the skies. It can open up worlds of study and fascination to explore the heavens.

9. Have picnics and cookouts – Cooking and eating outside gets the whole family outdoors. Weekends and evenings are perfect times for these kinds of outdoor activities. A kite, Frisbee, ball, or other outdoor game will get everyone exercising and moving.

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Discover Nature in Winter

January 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Outdoor Fun

Yesterday as I was blog hopping about looking for fun things to do with my girls for homeschooling I discovered this great book for doing nature studies with young ones.  The book is called Discover Nature in Winter by Pat Archer. 

This author actually has several nature discovery books but since we’re in winter now, and doing nature studies is 2 feet of snow isn’t always easy, this one in particular seemed to be the most practical.

Her books are very detailed and give ideas for fun, practical lesson plans and ideas to explore for the whole family – from little ones to us old folks!  For those of you who don’t homeschool, this is a great supplement to their schooling and a wonderful way to pull away from the TV or computer and interact as a family together!

Check out Pat Archers other nature discovery books too:

Discover Nature Close to Home: Things to Know and Things to Do (Discover Nature Series)Discover Nature Close to Home: Things to Know and Things to Do (Discover Nature Series)

Discover Nature at Sundown: Things to Know and Things to Do (Discover Nature Series)Discover Nature at Sundown: Things to Know and Things to Do (Discover Nature Series)

Discover Nature in Water & Wetlands: Things to Know and Things to Do (Discover Nature Series)Discover Nature in Water & Wetlands: Things to Know and Things to Do (Discover Nature Series)

Discover Nature Around the House: Things to Know and Things to DoDiscover Nature Around the House: Things to Know and Things to Do

Don’t they look like great books?  I’m throwing them all in my amazon shopping cart now and will add them in once in a while to an order to get it to the free shipping point!  Let me know what you think or if you’re a nature study parent, comment below and let us know about it!

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