Enjoying an Indiana Summer!

Summer is officially here, and it has been nothing less than amazing thus far! It’s about creek stomping, firefly catching, and seemingly endless daylight. It’s about creating a whole new batch of memories and remembering those of days past. It’s slowing down. It’s cherishing the moment. Because this season too will pass.

Here in central Indiana, we have a lot of parks. We have over 12 within 20 minutes of our house! Needless to say, there is always plenty to choose from when choosing a day outing. Here are a few local events we’re looking forward to attending this summer!

#1. Bamboo Wind Chimes

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Create your own natural wind chime while learning about wind and what causes the wind to blow! What will your whimsical wind chime look like?
Recommended for ages 6 through adult.
$3/project (up to 2 people per project).

 

#2. Lil’ Explorers 

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Get to know the various kinds of animals that visit or live at McCloud Nature Park, visit the Bee House, and build a simple bird feeder to take home. For youngsters (age 2-5) with adult. $12 fee covers both child and adult. Maximum enrollment is 12 children. We prefer a 1:1 adult-to-child ratio, with the exception of siblings (in that case, one adult for two siblings is fine).

 

#3. Young Adventurers Camp

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Look for animals, build a shelter, and go on an adventure! Become an expert of all kinds of McCloud animals.
For kids ages 6-12.

 

#4. Creek Critters and Bugs

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Step into the natural habitat of our local aquatic creatures! Together we will capture water insects to see how healthy Big Walnut Creek’s ecosystem is. Be sure to wear closed-toe shoes in the creek to protect your feet. A towel and extra shoes and socks are also recommended, and don’t forget your water bottle!
(If the creek or weather conditions are unsafe, there will be alternative activities.)
This program is FREE to attend, appropriate for all ages, and no advance registration is required.

 

#5. Nature’s Floral Fireworks

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Nature is bursting with color in the summer and putting on a vibrant display just in time for the 4th of July! Learn to identify some of our native wildflowers and discover which ones will complement your landscaping!
Hiking terrain info: easy to moderate difficulty, natural and gravel surfaces, up to 2 miles.

 

#6. Firefly Night Hike

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Learn why fireflies flash (and why they never have to pay an electric bill!), and catch and release these bioluminescent insects! Registered participants will receive glow sticks and insect jars. Wear comfortable shoes and bring a water bottle.
Recommended for ages 6 through adult.
$5/person.

 

#7. Fly Fishing for Beginners

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Have you ever wanted to try fly fishing? Learn the basics of fly fishing during this hands-on program. We will go over some of the local fish that you can catch, as well as assemble fly fishing rods and practice casting on land. No fishing license is needed, as this is on land only. Dress for the weather and bring a water bottle.
Recommended for ages 13+.

 

#8. Bald Eagles

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These majestic birds have recovered from their endangered status, and it is much more common to spot bald eagles now. With any luck, we’ll see our national bird flying along Big Walnut Creek! Be sure to bring your camera and a water bottle, and wear comfortable hiking shoes as we learn all about these regal creatures who double as our national symbol. 
Hiking terrain info: easy to moderate difficulty, grass and gravel surfaces, up to 2 miles.
This program is FREE to attend, appropriate for all ages, and no advance registration is required.

 

#9. Mud Soup!

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Get messy! Help make mud soup and mud pies, paint with natural materials, create natural crafts, and play outdoor games.
For youngsters (age 2-5) with adult. $12 fee covers both child and adult. Maximum enrollment is 12 children. We prefer a 1:1 adult-to-child ratio, with the exception of siblings (in that case, one adult for two siblings is fine).

 

#10. Creek Stomp Hike #2

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Cool off and enjoy a splashing good time in Big Walnut Creek! Stomp in the water with Naturalists to learn about the health of the creek and to discover some great places to explore! Wear closed-toe water shoes or old sneakers, bring towels, and don’t forget your water bottle!
(If the creek or weather conditions are unsafe, there will be alternative activities.)
Recommended for ages 6+.

 

 

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A Charlotte Mason Summer

Summer is here  (we still can’t believe it)! With that being said, it’s time to step back and enjoy some calmness. One of our favorite things about the Charlotte Mason method is that it promotes short lessons, outdoor time, nature, books, and narration. Perfect for the calm summer we so often seek.  Here are some fun Charlotte Mason inspired activities to enjoy this beautiful summer!

National Sunglasses Day (4)

Teaching Kids How To Use A Map And Compass

Learning To Embroider 

Washing Farm Animals Sensory Bin

Weather Stones

Color Changing Flowers

Flower Fine Motor Activity

The Very Hungry Caterpillar 

Painting Sunflowers

Nature Suncatchers 

Leaf Threading

National Sunglasses Day (5)

Light and Shadow Painting

Rock Balancing

Making Mandala Art

Make A Stick Picture Frame

Name That Tree

Journey Sticks

Nature Cuffs

Bark Rubbings

Using the Senses Outdoors 

National Sunglasses Day (5)

Art and Nature Study with Beatrix Potter

How To Start A Family Nature Journal

Nature Journal For Kids

Nature Journal With Twig Binding

How To Make A Nature Display 

Printable Nature Journal

Julia Rothman Nature Journal Guides

Nature Log

Keeping A Nature Journal

Nature Observer

National Sunglasses Day (6)

5 Free Living Book For Nature Study

Billy and Blaze Series 

Living Forest Series 

Nature Reader Series

Robby-Bird Life

The Locust Story

A Horse Called Willing

James Herriot’s Treasury for Children

Learning From the Book of Nature

 

Benefits of Outdoor Play for Kids

Free play is beneficial to all kids, but nature-based play is even better because it allows children to develop a range of science, math, and engineering skills.

As we move into spring and the days become warmer and longer, it’s only natural to want to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. What better time to take the kids and head to a local park as spring unfolds around us? Children are spending half the amount of time outdoors as children did in the ’70s and ’80s. Their free time has declined dramatically over the last 20 years and the amount of unstructured activity has decreased by 50 percent.

Continue Reading

 

TIME TO BE LITTLE AGAIN

We’re led to believe that our kids need to be scheduled, their time accounted for. But, what if they really need is freedom. Blank space. A time to be little.

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Earlier this month I found myself looking at old photos from my childhood. I was reminded of how simple life was. I wasn’t enrolled, entertained, scheduled, supervised, coached, or assessed in adult-directed activities to be happy. I took my time. I collected sticks. Climbed trees. Rode my bike. Got dirty, and had FUN! Taking that step back in time left me craving more. More of that same, simple, beautiful life. It was a wonderful reminder that my own children need a slow childhood as well.

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But, in our modern world, I’m acutely aware that I’m the odd parent out. And that makes it hard. It’s so sad to see all of our parks completely empty during the day (even in the summer) because kids are too busy with organized sports, gymnastics, music classes, etc. It’s not the organized sports and activities themselves that destroy creativity but the lack of downtime. Even two hours per week of unstructured play has the ability to boost children’s creativity to above-average levels!

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One of the things that stop a lot of people from simplifying is fear. Fear that their kids might miss out on something. Fear of being judged for not “socializing” with other children. Fear that we may be impending our children’s success. Fear of what others may think.

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It takes a brave parent to trust that simplifying our children’s lives and giving them down time to play and connect with their families is what they really need!

 

 

 

A Nature Inspired Valentine’s Day

There are so many adorable nature-themed Valentines Day crafts for kids! Take some time this weekend to create some of these adorable keepsakes!

#1. Nature Valentine’s Card

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#2. You Rock Valentines

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#3.  Valentine’s Bird Feeders

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#4. Love Bug Valentine

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#5. Toad-ally Awesome Valentine’s!

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#6.  Valentine’s Tree

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#7. Plantable Valentine’s Heart

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#8. Heart Stick Mobile

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#9. Valentine’s Tree

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#10. Birch-bark Heart

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10 Ways to Study Nature in Winter

We absolutely love nature study in our home, however as soon as the cold weather hits it seems to get a lot harder to keep it up… continue reading

 

Sensory Play with Nature

One of the best ways littles can learn is through sensory play. There are so many wonderful things to learn, and littles learn by doing!

_My goal is to build a life I don't need a vacation from._ (7)

Here are a few of our favorite hands-on learning activities for children!

 

 

 

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The winter sensory garden from barley&birch!