Nature Scavenger Hunt

Spring is finally upon us and nature is beginning to wake up after the long winter.  With warmer days and new life appearing all around us, it is the perfect opportunity to get outside and observe nature–especially if you can bring your kids along for the fun!

One of our family’s favorite activities is to go exploring–just find a trail or a beach or a patch of woods and see where it takes us. This week I decided to take advantage of my boys’ excitement over exploring (and David’s new-found obsession with scavenger hunts) and embark on our first-ever nature scavenger hunt. The concept is simple, but there is so much (fun) learning that can happen on a hunt like this.

To begin, we needed only two supplies: our “treasure map” (a Nature scavenger hunt page that I created that included items I knew we could find in the woods behind our house) and a jar with a lid (I just used a clean, empty jam jar).

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Then, it was time to start searching! I held onto the “treasure map” and David carried the jar, where we placed our “treasures” as they were found.

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Jacob loved following his big brother on our hunt, and he even found a few treasures of his own to add to our collection.

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The boys were thrilled to be outside running around finding treasures to place in their nature jar. David couldn’t wait to see what was next on the treasure map and he carried his nature jar around with such pride.

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After we’d found every item on our treasure map we walked back home and brought the nature jar inside for observation. We had three ladybugs in our jar, and the boys were absolutely mesmerized by them. In fact, David sat like this for about half an hour while I made dinner (and, just so you know, that is highly unusual!):

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I poked some air holes in the lid of the jar for our little ladybug friends and we kept them for two days before releasing them back into the wild (our back yard). The boys couldn’t get enough of their nature jar, so this was the perfect opportunity to sneak in some learning. Here are a few questions I asked David to get him thinking about what he observed on our nature walk and in his nature jar:

  • How many (sticks, rocks, leaves) can you see in the jar?
  • Is this rock smooth or rough? Is it hard or soft?
  • Which (stick, rock, leaf) is the biggest/smallest/longest/shortest/darkest/lightest?
  • What colors do you see?
  • How many legs are on the ladybug? How many eyes? How many wings? How many dots on its back?
  • Which of these treasures are alive or come from living things?
  • Can you arrange these stones in a row from smallest to largest?
  • Which of these items starts with a b/r/t/f sound?
  • Can you think of a word that rhymes with bug/twig/rock?
  • How many syllables are in the word flower/pinecone/twig/leaf/berry?
  • What was your favorite part of the nature walk? Why?
  • Which of these items do not belong in nature? Why shouldn’t this be in nature? Where does it belong instead? (One of our items was litter and, unfortunately, we found lots of it on the trail. After this experience, I think our next nature walk may be a litter clean-up!)

We can’t wait to go on another scavenger hunt soon to see what else we can find!

 

Mother Runner

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This morning after I dropped Big Guy off at preschool and Daddy off at work, Little Guy and I headed out for a run. It was a beautiful, crisp Fall morning and the tail was beckoning us (Okay, the trail was beckoning me. As you can tell by the photo above, the trail was doing little more than lulling Jacob to sleep).

I love running. I love running so much that I actually do it for sheer enjoyment, not just because I’m being chased (which, in a house with two little boys, is also a common occurrence). I started running in elementary school when I joined our school’s Track team (cute, right?)–and I’ve just been going ever since. I run for the pure joy of running.

Just me, my shoes, and the open road.  And a jogging stroller. Can’t forget the jogging stroller.

Now that I have two young children attached (quite literally) to my hip, they get to accompany me on most of my runs. My sons have become my trusty running companions–my training partners, if you will. They motivate me to run faster (Are we done yet, Mommy? I have to go potty.), they increase my stamina (Have you ever felt how heavy those dang strollers loaded down with children weigh?), and they give me purpose for my training (Just try keeping up with two boys all day. I swear they produce enough energy to power a third world country). Plus, it’s actually a lot of fun running with them.

With the help of my tiny running partners we’ve discovered new places…

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..and rediscovered the past.

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While running, we have bonded as a family…

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…and met many new friends

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We’ve explored beautiful landscapes…

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…and icy frontiers.

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I hope that as my boys get older they will remember our runs together as happy times. Times when we explored our world and grew stronger together. Who knows, maybe some day they’ll even run with me, and they can show me new wonders that they’ve discovered. No matter what, though, I am a Mother Runner.

Just try to keep up, boys.

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