If you or your kids think nature is boring and there is nothing to do out there, then I think you are in for a great surprise. Just getting to know nature better is key. Like making a new friend, it takes a few activities, talks and visits to realize how much fun you can have in nature. In fact, hanging out in any of our amazing Calgary parks is guaranteed to pack a fun punch that rivals any indoor activity!
But we all know friendships can be hard to start. I have learned a few things along the way to help make this new friendship with nature easier. One thing I have discovered is that nature loves it when we are the investigators and nature loves it when we spend time playing in its parks. To nature, we are always important - our friendship and fun means the world to it.
To get the ball rolling and fire up your imagination, here are a few of my top activity picks for outdoors fun for younger kids and their parents:
Explore your nearest City park and look for cylindrical cones on the ground. Once you’ve discovered them, see if you can find these six cool things:
1. If you rub the cones along their scales, do they make a sound?
2. If you try to count how many scales are on a cone, do you get lost?
3. When trying to count the scales, do you follow a spiral pattern on the cone?
4. Do any seeds fall out of the cone?
5. Who do you think eats the seeds?
6. What tree are the cones under?
Why are trees hollow?
Find a fallen hollow tree.
Does it still have bark on it?
Does it have any chew marks or holes in it?
Are there any chew marks or holes on the wood under the bark?
What else did you find?
Is there any sawdust?
Could anything else live in the old, dead tree?
Using your great detective skills, trace the pattern of the marks you see on the wood. Measure the size of the holes. Get a book about bugs and see if you can find the bug that is the same size as the hole and lives in the type of tree you found. What kind of tree did you find?
Make a log cabin or tipi village
Find a group of trees; look for a spot with lots of fallen branches. Collect as many fallen branches as you can that are mostly the same length. Pretend these branches are logs for your mini log cabin, or tiny tipi poles. Make a home or if you have enough branches and/or friends to help, make a mini village.
Find a spot in the park where you can collect stones, cones, small sticks, sticky buds, fallen leaves, dead grass and some mud. Roll the dead grass in the mud, then add some sticks to the corners to make the walls of your small home. Use the fallen leaves to make a roof. Make as many as you like to create a mini village.
Make a trail of wonder
Use the rocks or cones to make a secret trail to your land of hidden wonders! The trail can lead to your village or you can find more nature treasures and make a nature museum with the trail of cones leading the way to your exhibits.
So you see, there are lots of ways to have fun in nature. You just need the right first steps to build this great friendship - one that will last your whole lifetime!
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