Hello October, It’s Wonderful To See You!

Hello October (1)

Can you believe it’s October already!? I know it’s a cliché, but time has absolutely flown by these past few months. While we love summer’s warm sun, and relaxed schedule, there is nothing better than sipping coffee while enjoying the crisp fall air. We love nature walks, scavenger hunts, campfire nights, and jumping in leaves! All are wonderfully beautiful, and so quick to leave. Enjoy the moment. 🙂

 

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Favorite Activities to Inspire Imaginations in Children

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination.”

Being a creative adult doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a painter or sculptor. CEO’s and political leaders, too, benefit from being creative, which lets them see things in new ways and find solutions to problems others might miss. That kind of problem-solving and innovative thinking begins with the power of imagination.
So how do we inspire this power in our children? These fun activities are a good place to start!

 

#1. Tell Stories

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Reading to your kids isn’t about having a perfectly illustrated book, and the serene setting. It’s about the one-on-one connection, the parent and the child, with the story mediating. Storytelling may well be the cornerstone of imagination development, and doing it well, and in a variety of ways is something you can do almost every day-even if it’s only in brief moments.

 

#2. Make Art

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Paint, draw, mold, build, sculpt. Tactile experiences are important, and giving young children free rein over their work is crucial–let them create freely!

 

#3. Use Natural Materials

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Keeping kids in touch with objects from nature inherently inspires their imagination. So does play with open-ended toys  — such as blocks or sand  — that have endless possibilities!

 

#4. Puppets

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Gather a box of assorted household items  — a strainer, a shoe box, paper cups, a flashlight, whatever you can think of that’s not sharp or fragile  — and have your child create a puppet show using these objects as the “puppets.” You’ll be amazed at the creatures and characters your child creates.

 

#5. Wacky Photos

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Gather some old photographs that no one will miss (or cut out some pictures from old books)  –and let your child cut them into various bits and pieces. Then get out some glue, construction paper, and markers and have them create new scenes. You might suggest a general setting such as outer space or a medieval castle, then let your child create the image.

 

#6. Nature Story

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Take a paper bag and go on a walk with your child. Try to collect at least 10 nature objects, no more than one of each thing (only one leaf, and so forth). When you get home, have your child make a story from the objects by reaching in the bag and pulling out items one by one for inspiration.  We love seeing our children come up with some incredible stories by using just a few simple items! 🙂

 

#7. Playing With Boxes And Cartons

 

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Whether it be a huge cardboard box or a simple egg carton, the creative possibilities are endless! Here is a tip if you don’t know where to get those huge boxes: find a local appliance store, or buy a large, wardrobe-sized box from a moving-supply store! Set the box up in an open area in your house and let your child decide what he wants it to be  — a house, a cave, a time capsule. Provide heavy-duty markers for decoration and let your child’s imagination go to work!

 

 

#8. Make Some Paper Creatures

 

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Start by folding a piece of paper, and then pass it along to the next person. It can be quite entertaining to see what kind of  creature or object a child can create!

 

 

#9. Art Tales

 

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Go to an art museum  — a small, local one is fine  — and slow down for a change. Stand in the middle of an exhibit room and have your child decide from a distance which picture he likes best. Then walk up to it and look at it closely. Ask your child to tell a story about what he sees. Encourage him with open-ended questions. Find another painting and have your child create a story that connects it with the last one!

 

 

#10.Junk Drawer Game

 

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Okay, everyone has a junk drawer (or two or three in our case). It could be one of those spare drawers in the kitchen or the top desk drawer in your child’s room. Have your child go through one drawer and pick out a dozen of the oddest, most lost-looking small objects he can find  — the less anyone knows what the things originally came from and what they were for, the better. Get a big sheet of cardboard or poster board, some markers, and some dice, and have your child invent a game using all the found pieces. Then sit down and play together. Who knows? You may invent an award winning game while you’re at it! 😉

 

 

Extra idea: Brush-less Painting

 

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Anyone can paint with a brush. For this activity, find things around the house that your child can paint with that aren’t brushes. String will work, or odd bits of sponge, broken pencils, rubber bands, strips of yarn or fabric, apples cut in half, or even a discarded action figure or doll. Spread some newspaper on a table or the floor, lay some washable paint out in small bowls or plates, give your child a large sheet of paper (at least 18 by 24 inches), and see what develops. Our littles loves going outside to gather twigs and pine needles to make nature prints. They turned out beautifully!

 

 

Do you have an idea that inspires imagination?! Share below! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Power Of Outdoor Free Play

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Unfortunately, the amount of time that children spend engaged in unstructured, child-directed outdoor play has diminished significantly in the past generation. Schools have opted out of recess and play time in favor of a more structured academic period. As many years of research has shown, that it causing more harm than good. Here are some of the amazing benefits that come with outdoor free play!

 

Cognitive Health

 

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Playing outdoors gives children the opportunity to make decisions and problem solve, it provides an environment for creative thinking, and makes children use a higher level of sequence, planning, and organizing.

 

Physical Health

 

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Outdoor play provides more opportunity for movement which in turn greatly decreases the likelihood of developing of developing obesity and disease. It also magnifies the use of fine and gross motor skills!

Mental health

 

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Overall, children who are active outdoors have much better moods, have a decrease in hyperactivity, and are less likely to have symptoms related to anxiety and depression.

Emotional Health

 

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The development in empathy, an increase in self-esteem, and the development of emotional intelligence is all part of getting outdoors to play! 🙂

Social Skills

 

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Research has also shown that playing outdoors provides increased social interactions, higher levels of sharing, cooperating, and helping!

Play Skills

 

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Play skills help develop creativity, and provide endless opportunities for imagination and engagement! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An Indiana Summer’s End

In Indiana, there’s always a reason to celebrate. 
Car shows, historic reenactments, carnivals, art fairs, music festivals, county fairs – Sky’s the limit! Each year, over 640 festivals and events are held in all 92 counties from January to December. Here are our favorite Fall events! 🙂

 

#1. Summer’s End Market

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Summer’s End Market
August 26th- 9am-2pm | Parke County Fairgrounds
As the summer is coming to an end, this market will provide for you a great opportunity to shop those unique vendors, yet again. Enjoy a leisurely stroll through an inside building and plenty of parking.

 

#2. Bridgeton Milling & Craft Demo Days

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Bridgeton Grist Mill 1878 Grounds Live demonstrations at the mill. Grinding flour and cornmeal on 200 year old French buhr stones.
Pioneer craft demonstrations, fiber arts.
No admission. For more information call 765-548-2136 or visit www.bridgetonindiana.com

 

#3. Covered Bridge Festival

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This countywide festival, Indiana’s largest festival, always starts on the 2nd Friday in October is nationally known as one of the largest. Enjoy visiting communities throughout the county with a wide array of shopping and a variety of food that is sure to please everyone.

 

#4. Elephant Retreat

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Circus History is deep rooted in French Lick with the Hagenbeck-Wallace circus once owned by Ed Ballard. An African elephant herd of three girls will be retreating at Wilstem Ranch, only 7 miles from French Lick. The three elephants that retreat at Wilstem Ranch each year are retired from making appearances in parades, circus acts and more. But as they age, even elephants need retreats, and they’re coming to town for a vacation! This one of a kind up-close encounter is a rare and wonderful opportunity to learn more about these amazing creatures and connect with them in a tranquil environment. Various levels of engagement are available.

 

#5. 50th Annual Orange County Pumpkin Festival

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Carnival, food booths, vendor booths, flea market, games, entertainment and more.  Parade will be held on Sunday.

 

#6. Outdoor Movie Night!

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Family Movie Night
August 18, 2017
 Location: Hendricks Regional Health YMCA
Address: 301 Satori Parkway, Avon, IN 46123
Time: 8:30 PM to 10:00 PM
Price: Free

 

#7.  McCloud Prairie Maze

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September 1, 2017 – October 31, 2017 Recurring daily
Bring the whole family out to test your navigational skills from Sept. 1 through Oct. 31 in our huge maze that is cut into the McCloud Prairie. The maze is open from dawn to dusk daily. Be sure to wear comfortable closed-toe shoes, dress for the weather, and pack some water.  Venue: McCloud Nature Park
Host: McCloud Nature Park
Address: 8518 Hughes Rd., North Salem, IN 46165
Price: Free

 

#8. North Salem Old Fashioned Days

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September 2, 2017 – September 4, 2017 Recurring daily
Three days of family fun!  Live music, vendors, food, tractor pulls and horse pulls!  A smorgasboard breakfast kicks off the festival at 7 a.m. on Saturday at the United Methodist Church on Main Street. At 11 a.m., you can’t miss the Old Fashion Days Parade, the largest parade in Hendricks County. Be sure to bring a sack for the kiddos as candy will be aplenty and plan to come early as parking will fill up fast.

 

#9. Natural Valley Ranch

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This family-owned ranch set in a scenic wooded area allows visitors to experience 30-, 60- and 90-minute horseback rides through their sprawling 75-acre property nestled alongside White Lick Creek near Brownsburg. In addition to horseback rides, visitors can see and interact with farm animals, go hiking, fishing or even stay in a 3,100-square-foot country cottage with a wrap-around porch that can sleep 12-16 people.

 

#10. Beasley’s Orchard

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Voted a top Indiana destination, this family-owned business boasts a Civil War-era barn featuring a local market with both homemade and home-grown produce and products including apples, fresh vegetables, jellies and more. Other features include a pumpkin patch, corn maze and annual Heartland Apple Festival in the fall. Visitors can even enjoy a cup of Beasley’s apple cider, voted by the Indiana Horticultural Society ‘The Best Apple Cider in Indiana’ .

 

Do you have a favorite festival? If so, share it below! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Fried Dandelions? Yummy!

Picking dandelions while Running with bare feet through the lawn. There was nothing better! We remember thinking how strange it was to be picking weeds for a fun dessert, but also remember being ecstatic about trying something new. Fried dandelions!

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Makes 36 fritters

3 dozen medium-sized dandelion flowers (see note)

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons of sugar

4 Tablespoons of water

5 Tablespoons of milk

½ cup canola oil for frying

1-2 teaspoons of powdered sugar to finish

 

Dandelion note: The best dandelions for this are young, tender and medium-sized (about 1” across). Pick them from a lawn or bank that you know has not been sprayed with weed killer. They’re at their freshest in the late morning when they first open to the sun. Oh, and they’re packed with vitamins, too!

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Prepare the dandelions: Trim the milky stems right to the base of the flower, leaving the green bud intact. From this point on, you’ll want to avoid licking your fingers both for hygiene reasons and because the taste of the raw milk is mighty bitter! Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Heat the oil: Pour the canola oil into an 8” frying pan and heat it slowly over medium heat. The oil will be ready when a test dollop of batter cooks to medium brown on the bottom in 30 seconds. Arrange a plate with two layers of paper towel beside the pan and have a spatula and a pair of tongs handy.

Make the fritters: Dip 6 dandelions at a time yellow-side down into the batter, using the green knobs as handles. Quickly fork a little of the batter onto the green bits, but don’t try to coat the backs entirely.

Put the 6 battered flowers face down into the hot oil so that they keep their flower shapes and fry for 30 seconds until medium brown. Now flip them over, pushing the tops gently with the spatula as the green sides cook, and fry for a further 30 seconds.

Using the tongs, remove the fritters to the paper towel to cool. Repeat the process until all the flowers are fried.

To finish: Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm. Delicious!!

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Old Trees, New Life- Camping Activity

When a tree falls, its life is over. But the tree can still give life to others. The dead tree becomes its own ecosystem, where plants, insects, and microorganisms thrive-from the mosses, ferns, and fungi that make the rotting tree their home to a whole host of bugs and bacteria that eat the tree and break it down into soil for new plants! Next time you see a dead log, take a close look and record your observations in your Field Journal. You just might be amazed by what you see.

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What You Do

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#1. Find a rotting log: Look for a tree that has fallen and that has wood breaking apart in pieces. It may be slightly damp.

 

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#2. Describe what the log looks like. What is growing on it? Can you see any mushrooms, ferns, mosses, or lichens? Are there baby trees or any other plants sprouting out of the wood?

 

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#3. Do you see any insects? What are they doing? Look for tiny piles of sawdust at the base of the log. This is evidence that insects have drilled into the wood, starting the decomposition process. The holes left behind create highways for fungi and bacteria to come in and break down the wood even further.

 

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#4.  Tap the log with your fingers. Is it hollow? Wet? Bone-dry? What does it smell like?

 

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#5. Put on your gloves and gently and carefully lift the log a few inches to see if you can take a peek underneath. What do you see? Are there insects underneath? What are they doing? What do they look like? When you’re done, put the log back.

 

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#6.  Use your magnifying glass to peek at the log itself. Do you see insects breaking it down? What do they look like under the magnifying glass? What about the plants growing on the tree? What do the mushrooms look like up close?

 

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#7. Draw and describe what you’ve seen in your field journal. Try to identify plants, animals, and insects by looking at your field guide or Nature Anatomy book! 

 

There is so much to learn! Head outdoors and explore! 🙂

 

 

An Indiana Summer-Part 2

Last week we shared a few of our favorite places to go during the summer. This week we’re sharing our favorite events! All of the following events haven’t happened yet, so there is still plenty of time to plan! 🙂

 

#1. Hendricks County Fair

 

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The fair is a highlight of our July! From the animal showings to the tractor pulls and yummy food-it’s such a fun week! The Hendrick’s County Fair runs from July 16-22 this year! 🙂

 

 

#2. Festival of the Lakes

 

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From carnival rides to boat rides and games… the Festival of the lakes offers a wide variety of family fun. It runs from July 19-23 this year!

 

 

#3. Frankfort Hot Dog Festival

 

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Downtown square. Frankly the BEST HOT DOGS in the WORLD! Great American Dog Competition, exciting sporting events the entire family will love, Disc Dog Competition, Lots or arts and vendors. FREE entertainment both days. Runs July 28-29.

 

 

#4. Indiana Family Star Party At Camp Cullom

 

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Camp Cullom. Indiana’s largest star party. Astronomy, camping, food, speakers, kid’s sky trekker program, telescopes, and so much more! 🙂 Runs July 28-29!

 

 

#5. Amish Acres Arts and Crafts Festival

 

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Amish Acres. 300+ vendors demonstrate their trade and sell their wares. Family style Thresher’s dinner in the century old barn and guided tours of the historic house and farms! Runs August 3-6.

 

 

If you have a favorite local event, be sure to let us know! We love exploring new places! 🙂