Treasures: A Nature Basket

My son collects soooo many sticks, rocks, feathers, nuts, and other cool stuff during our outings that his “treasures” have become a bit overwhelming.  In order to provide a space for his favorite discoveries, I gave him a basket.  We call it his “nature basket”, and it’s where the best finds are kept. *** WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge:  Treasure Continue reading Treasures: A Nature Basket

Silent Saturday: Nature Journaling

“The most important thing we can teach our children is to observe well.” -Ernst Mayer, Evolutionary Biologist Learning about animal tracks and signs, and journaling their observations. *** An awesome, free, naturalist-led class! Tilden Nature Area, Berkeley *** Interested in learning more about nature journaling?  I highly recommend the book, Keeping a Nature Journal:  Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You, … Continue reading Silent Saturday: Nature Journaling

Climb on a Giant Tree! San Mateo Memorial Park

How often do kids get to climb on a really, really large tree? You’ll find the “largest tree” on the Sequoia Trail (at less than a mile long, the trail is perfect for young kids).  The trailhead is in the Tan Oak Picnic Area.  See trail description and hiking map here.. Sequoia Trail.  Note that the “largest tree” is the largest in the park, not … Continue reading Climb on a Giant Tree! San Mateo Memorial Park

The Calming Effect of Nature on Children

One of the great things about playing in nature is that bouts of exertion and excitement are often interspersed with quiet, contemplative time.  I don’t have to recommend these quiet moments… my five-year-old sits down and calms himself entirely on his own whenever he’s inspired by the beauty around him. I often wonder what he’s thinking, but I wouldn’t dare interrupt the magic of the … Continue reading The Calming Effect of Nature on Children

More Fun with Animal Tracks

This past weekend, we attended a fun nature class at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont.  This free class for children aged 5+ and their family, called Family Nature Hour, is held on Saturday afternoons throughout the year.  Each week a different concept from the natural world is covered.  The one we attended on Saturday was about animal tracks. We were fortunate to have the … Continue reading More Fun with Animal Tracks

It’s Earth Science Week!

Earth Science Week is going on right now, this week, October 14th-20th.  This international “event” is put on by the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) “to help the public gain a better understanding and appreciation for the Earth Sciences and to encourage stewardship of the Earth.”  Sounds like a great time to teach our kids a bit about the earth! Not sure where to start?  We’re … Continue reading It’s Earth Science Week!

South Tufa Trail, Mono Lake

On Friday, during our trip to the Eastern Sierras, we enjoyed a hike on the South Tufa Trail at Mono Lake, California.  This is a short, flat 1-2 mile trail, perfect for kids, with a lot to see…. fun limestone rock formations, a salt-water lake, views of the Sierra Nevada mountains to the west, ancient volcanoes on the north and east, and sagebrush everywhere.  Gorgeous… … Continue reading South Tufa Trail, Mono Lake

Going on a Bug Hunt

While my husband was warming up for his bike race on Saturday (see post here… Cyclo-Cross, Monterey Style), my son recommended we follow one of the nearby trails and go bug hunting.  Excellent idea!  We keep exploration tools (bug viewer, magnifying glass) with us at all times, so we’re ready to go whenever inspiration strikes. Photos taken on Saturday, September 22nd, on the frisbee golf … Continue reading Going on a Bug Hunt

Top 5 Nature Activity Books for Families

Looking for a book filled with activities and advice to help you get into nature with your kids?  I’ve listed five of my favorites here.  I refer to these often in my daily outdoor activities with my now 5-year-old, and have been using a couple of these books since he was two or three.  While it’s important to provide children with lots of free playtime … Continue reading Top 5 Nature Activity Books for Families

Create With Nature Zone, Blake Garden, Kensington

Take a child out into nature, and what are they naturally drawn to play with?  It’s pretty universal… sticks and rocks.  So this is the perfect playground for a child… an area filled with sticks and rocks, inviting the child to stack, build, and create.  Imaginations went wild this day.  In additional to the simple joys of stacking and weaving, a few of the items … Continue reading Create With Nature Zone, Blake Garden, Kensington

Connect with Nature: Find Your Sit Spot

I’m currently reading the book, What the Robin Knows:  How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World, by Jon Young, which is about awakening our awareness of the behavior of birds in order to deepen our connection with all the wildlife surrounding us.  Ultimately, the author is helping us to reconnect with our own animal senses, teaching us to be one with wildlife instead … Continue reading Connect with Nature: Find Your Sit Spot

Nature Fun for Kids: Take a Photo Walk

Our new favorite nature outing is to take a walk together with our cameras.  Provide a child with a camera, and he’ll see the world in a different way.  Every day while in Yosemite National Park last week, my son begged us to take him outside to photograph the flowers.  Obviously, Yosemite naturally calls to be photographed, but we have just as much fun walking … Continue reading Nature Fun for Kids: Take a Photo Walk

My Childhood Play… My Love of Nature

This is the backyard of my childhood home.  These are the places I played as a child, building forts, climbing trees, scaling mountains, running from dinosaurs, becoming a world explorer, digging like an archaeologist, wading in the creek, catching crawdads, watching frogs lay eggs, and observing the development of pollywogs.  This was the play of a child falling in love with nature. Are you a … Continue reading My Childhood Play… My Love of Nature

Nature Time! Hike, Dublin Hills

We kicked off our Memorial Day weekend with a great hike with friends from our Nature Time! playgroup.  The kids had fun on the trail, playing in the tall grass, and stopping to check out insects (mostly stink bugs).  The weather  was breezy and cool, but the children didn’t seem to notice.  It makes me so happy to see a pack of kids running joyfully … Continue reading Nature Time! Hike, Dublin Hills

Birding with Kids, Shadow Cliffs, Pleasanton

Since the week my son turned three, we’ve been attending the East Bay Regional Parks Outdoor Discoveries program, a naturalist-led class designed specifically for three-five year-old children.  Each outing includes a hike and plenty of time for observation, exploration, and play.  To make the classes even more fun, I always invite friends from my Nature Time! playgroup to join us. Our class this morning was … Continue reading Birding with Kids, Shadow Cliffs, Pleasanton

Fossils, Flowers, and Fun! Dublin Hills

I thought we’d head to a museum today, but my son asked if we could go hiking instead.  Great!  When I asked him where he wanted to go hiking, he said, “Dublin Hills!”  I liked that answer, as the official trail head (Donlon Point Staging Area) is only a few miles from our home.  Easy! For those of you who may not know, I have … Continue reading Fossils, Flowers, and Fun! Dublin Hills

Spring Nature Activities!

I’m always on the lookout for fun things to do with my son. Today I came across the Spring 2012 Nature Rocks Spring Activity Guide, which is filled with tons of fun nature activities. Coincidentally, it includes a couple activities I recently recommended (take favorite toys outside and do messy art activities outside), but also includes the following (and much more): Ideas for exploring nature … Continue reading Spring Nature Activities!

Nature Play, Roberts Regional Park, Oakland

One of our favorite parks for play is Roberts Regional Park in the Oakland Hills.  This park, nestled in the redwoods, has something for everyone.  First, if you have a child, the play structure here is among the best in the Bay Area (and it’s barrier free / wheelchair accessible).  But other than that, the park has a variety of hiking trails, a baseball field, … Continue reading Nature Play, Roberts Regional Park, Oakland

Creating Our Backyard Wildlife Habitat: Step Two, Supply Water

For those of you who are following us, you know that yesterday my son and I started to create a wildlife habitat in our backyard, following the guidelines set by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). Yesterday our focus was on providing food sources for wildlife. Today, we worked on step two… supply water for wildlife. Certification requires that the backyard provide one water source, selected … Continue reading Creating Our Backyard Wildlife Habitat: Step Two, Supply Water

Earth Day 2012

How do you plan to celebrate Earth Day this weekend? Assuming my son is feeling better (he has a horrible sore throat today), on Saturday we will head to Crissy Field in San Francisco for Earth Stroll 2012.  Sounds fun… “Adventurous activities and games, hosted by some of the Bay Area’s leading environmental organizations, will engage the hearts, minds and bodies of the whole family. … Continue reading Earth Day 2012

Take a “Signs of Spring” Walk

The wildflowers are starting to bloom, new leaves are growing on the tips of branches, gardens are beginning to sprout…  this is the time to take the kids out for a walk to look for the signs of spring.  This can be a quick walk around the neighborhood or the park, an exploration of your backyard, an excursion into a local nature area, a trip … Continue reading Take a “Signs of Spring” Walk

Urbia Adventures: Exploring Nature in San Francisco

A friend recently told me about some fun-looking educational treasure hunting booklets created and sold through the Urbia Adventure League. These booklets were created based upon the concept of letterboxing (which I wrote about last week), but add so much more. Each booklet has at least ten pages packed full of information and activities designed to provide the child (family or class) with a two-hour … Continue reading Urbia Adventures: Exploring Nature in San Francisco

Nature Walk, Redwood Regional Park, Oakland

My favorite spot in the San Francisco East Bay to take kids for a nature walk is Redwood Regional Park, but, for a variety of reasons, we haven’t visited the park for a few months.   We had a break in the rain late this week, so we headed to the park for a walk and some playtime with friends.  As has been happening lately, … Continue reading Nature Walk, Redwood Regional Park, Oakland

Letterboxing: Getting Ready for the Hunt

Letterboxing has been around forever (well, at least, a few hundred years), but I just learned about it within the past year.  Though I’ve been interested in trying it out with my son, it somehow seemed a bit overwhelming just to get started.  But now I’m ready to begin.  If you’re new to letterboxing, like I am, I’m going to provide you with the basic … Continue reading Letterboxing: Getting Ready for the Hunt