Learning is messy.
“It’s in the mess that the real learning happens. Reaching the whole child or family requires that we position ourselves to see life not through our content or instructional expertise, but simply as a human being.”
We love messy play around here, and believe it is so very important for a child’s development. When we first came across Kinetic Sand, we were completely blown away by how much we thoroughly enjoyed playing with it. It looks like sand, feels like sand, IS sand, but unlike regular sand, Kinetic Sand is stretchy, and holds together!
Here are some of our favorite Kinetic Sand activities:
Sand and Water Bin
Kinetic Sand Cupcakes
Kinetic Sand Spiders
Kinetic Sand Dot to Dot
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!
Bamboo Wind Chimes
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).
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).
Young Adventurers Camp
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.
Creek Critters and Bugs
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.
Nature’s Floral Fireworks
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.
Firefly Night Hike
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.
Fly Fishing for Beginners
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+.
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.
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).
Creek Stomp Hike #2
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+.
“By playing games you can speed up your learning curve to help develop the right kind of thought processes.”
Spot it! is the addictive, feverishly fun matching game for every generation. The first thing to know about Spot it! is that there is always one, and only one, matching symbol between any two cards. Got it? Now all you need is a sharp eye and a quick hand to play all five party games packed into the grab ‘n’ go tin. Including up to eight players, Spot it! is a cinch to learn, plays fast, and is irresistibly fun for all ages!
Rock Paper Scissors The Card Game
Here’s the fast & fun CARD VERSION of the game kids have played for generations. Each player lays down a card. If your card beats your opponent’s card, you take it. When all cards have been played, the player who has collected the most cards wins the game!! 2 players, ages 4 and up!
Keekee The Rocking Monkey
Works on Balance notions • Dexterity fine motors • Weight notions • An adorable all wooden balancing game for 1 to 4 players, ages 3 and up.
Like tic-tac-toe, line up 3 of your Gobblers in a row to win! • Players can gobble up their opponent’s pieces to take their place. • Gobblet tests critical thinking while training memory skills and spatial awareness. • All wooden strategy game for 2 players, ages 5 & up.
Race to ring the bell first when a winning combination is shown on the table! • This fast pace game will be filled with chaos and laughter • Includes: 90 cards, a bell, and illustrated rules • For 2-9 Players, ages 5 & Up
This is one of our favorites!! Works on Memoery skills • Color Recognition • up to 4 players • Go on a South Pole Egg-spedition with this all wooden memory game for 2 to 4 players, ages 4 and up. • Roll two colored dice and lift two penguins to search for colored eggs that match the dice. Collect six penguins on your iceberg to win! • Strengthens color recognition, visualization, memory and social skills.
Sequence for Kids
Play a card from your hand, place your chip on a corresponding character on the board. When you have 4 in a row, it’s a SEQUENCE and you win! Use a wild card to place your chip anywhere. Remove your opponent’s chip with a DRAGON card. Have fun with your friends playing SEQUENCE® For Kids™! Includes: folding game board, 42 playing cards, 21 red playing chips, 21 yellow playing chips, 21 green playing chips, 21 blue playing chips, and instructions. 2 to 4 players. Ages 3-6.
Shape Your Story
A game that brings a twist to oral storytelling. Use the 3 shapes (Circle, Triangle & Square) to draw objects/characters. Let your imagination take a flight and make thousands of stories with drawings. Roll the number and the shape dice to pick your shape cards. Draw different objects with the shapes. Use the objects that you have drawn to tell a story. Play a game of telling stories by yourself, time your story and challenge another player or draw and create stories together in a game of cooperative story telling!
The Bananagrams anagram game will drive you and your friends bananas! It requires no pencil, paper or board and provides educational family fun!
Ticket To Ride-First Journey
Start your trip across Europe with ticket to ride: first journey (Europe)! ticket to ride: first journey takes the gameplay of the ticket to ride series and scales it for a younger audience. During the game, players will collect train cards, claim routes on the map of Europe, and try to connect the cities shown on their tickets. The first player to complete six tickets wins! with the same gameplay as the first ticket to ride: first journey game, but now featuring a map of Europe, this game is perfect for any young conductors!
There are so many adorable nature-themed Valentines Day crafts for kids! Take some time this weekend to create some of these adorable keepsakes!
Nature Valentine’s Card
You Rock Valentines
Valentine’s Bird Feeders
#4. Love Bug Valentine
Toad-ally Awesome Valentine’s!
Plantable Valentine’s Heart
Heart Stick Mobile
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…
January makes getting outdoors even harder, which also means cabin fever is starting to set in. This is why we love this full moon schedule! It gives us a fun January activity!
Gear up with some blankets and a thermos full of hot coffee and enjoy some night sky gazing!
January 31- Wolf Moon
March 1st- Worm Moon
March 31st- Blue Moon
April 29th- Pink Moon
May 29th- Corn Planting Moon
June 28th- Strawberry Moon
July 27th- Thunder Moon
August 26th- Green Corn Moon
September 24th- Harvest Moon
October 24th- Hunter’s Moon
November 23rd- Frost Moon
December 22nd- Long Night Moon
Being outdoors has incredible benefits, and with spring being just a few months away, we’re compiling some of our favorite sensory activities for littles!
#1. Mud Pie Kitchen
Some of our favorite memories were those of making mud “food”. We would mold the mud into whatever our imaginations created and then would paint the creations once they dried.
#2. Creek Wading
#3. Pine Cone Sorting
Our little guy loves to gather all the different pinecones and sort them according to size.
#4. Leaf Threading
A thin stick will work just as well for threading leaves together. This is another one of our favorites!
#5. Stone Sorting
Grab a little bucket, and let them start a collection!
#6. Lots of Grass
Playing in the grass is one of the best sensory things to do with littles!
#7. Tree Bark Rubbing/Art
Take a large piece of paper and hold it (or tape it) on the tree. Then take some chalk and gently rub the paper over the bark! The results are beautiful!
#8. Barefoot Sensory Walk
You can walk on grass, small pebbles, sand, mud, and so much more!
#9. Water Play
Playing with water can inspire so much imagination!
If you have a smooth surface and some chalk, the possibilities are endless!
I forget how easy it is to let busyness control me. Especially this time of year. Keeping up with work, cleaning, laundry, cooking, gift buying and wrapping, parties and activities, is no easy task!
However, when I look back at the week I don’t remember all the dishes I cleaned, laundry I folded, and messes I cleaned up. I reading to our little boy, and how happy that made him. I remember building block towers, and hearing him break out in a contagious laughter while knocking it down (the best sound ever). I remember hearing our baby girl giggle out loud for the first time, and how that melted my heart. I remember watching her watch her brother as if he was the most amazing thing in the world (which, he is!). I’m looking forward to saying goodbye to busy this weekend, and hello to more beautiful memories!
Do you have a favorite activity you like to do with your littles? We would love to hear about it!