Posts Tagged ‘outdoors’

Camping: Great for Family Bonding

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

camping-great-for-family-bonding

If I had known how wonderful camping would be for family bonding, I would have gone camping with my family a lot sooner. Yes, I find it nearly impossible to sleep outdoors because of all the noises and light, a feeling of not being protected, and the constriction of a sleeping bag which is way too hot and tight for comfortable sleeping. During the day in the summer months, the outdoor temperature induces sweating and wilting, not the ideal conditions for a pleasant experience.

inside-the-tent

Notwithstanding the aforementioned drawbacks of camping, I still have to say that the beauty of nature, the delicious food cooked over a campfire, and the deep conversations without any electrical devices can be refreshing and invigorating. And it helps if there is a lake or river nearby to dip your feet into to cool off.

marshy-area-camping

Years ago we were given a family tent that was big enough to sleep our whole family, back when our kids were young. We used this family tent for church camps because we couldn’t afford a cabin. During those church camps when my children were toddlers and preschoolers, the sheer amount of work to take care of the children was enough to bring me to the brink of tears out of sheer exhaustion.

braid

Now that the kids are older and starting college, we took a weekend to re-connect as a family. I found a new 2-person tent at a yard sale for $5, so we even had separate quarters for us, the parents. My sons immediately started whittling sticks with their pocket knives. It had been years since they had learned to use their pocket knives at Cub Scouts, which my husband and I used to lead.

whittling-while-camping

We set up the tents and threw our backpacks into the tents and settled into our canvas chairs around a campfire. We had brought food to cook over a campfire for each meal, and of course, we brought S’mores. As we sat around the campfire in the evenings, we would talk and talk. It was wonderful! My kids are interesting and their thoughts run deep. They have opinions about everything, and they are hilarious. We laughed a lot while sitting and telling stories the second night around the campfire. My kids all have active imaginations, and their conversations reminded me of when I was young and all of life stretched out before me.

roasting-marshmallows-campfire

During the day we went exploring the area, finding beautiful other-worldly places. The marshy ground revealed long-necked birds and more exotic insects than are found in the city. A small lake reflected the blue sky and was surrounded by low mountains. It was a beautiful sunny day, both days that we were camping.

hiking-while-camping

It was nice to smell bacon and eggs in the morning, especially when cooked by someone other than me. My son Stephen made pancakes the second morning, and we were always ravenously hungry. Maybe the fact that we were outdoors caused us to expend more energy through exercise, causing us to need more food. And the food always tasted wonderful.

breakfast-at-camp

The conversations we had as a family enabled us to bond in a beautiful way before we sent two kids off to college. One of our sons left to Oregon for Bible college, while our second son is commuting from home, but both have definitely matured into godly men. Sitting and sharing our hearts over a campfire is definitely an experience I would not have traded for the world!

Nature Study

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

 nature-study

Have you wondered how to incorporate nature study into your homeschool? A couple of weeks ago I was asked to be a panelist on this very topic, where several homeschool moms shared ideas for how to do nature study with children.

Why is nature study important for homeschooling?

Nature is science–plants, animals, rocks, weather phenomena, etc.–all of this is science. To be educated, you need to understand science. And to know it well, you need to see it and experience it first-hand in the great outdoors.

When can you start nature study?

Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers can enjoy nature. Here are some nature activities that small children can enjoy:

High school students and adults can also enjoy nature through nature journals, drawing and labeling intricate details of God’s creation. So all ages can enjoy nature study, especially because you can get fresh air and sunshine on your face while you relax and take it all in. You don’t have to rush when you are doing nature study.

What do you do back inside to follow up on nature studies?

Look inside an insect identification book for the insect you just sketched. Try to identify a tree by its leaves, or look up what kind of rock your son found.

I also like to take out drawing books, especially for younger children who might have trouble drawing straight from nature without seeing a pencil sketch. I describe more about how to do this in my workshop Using Journals to Teach Writing.

How directed should a nature study be? Is mom in charge or do you just let your kids cavort outside?

Most of our nature studies are open-ended, where the kids can decide what they want to write or draw. But if we are studying a specific topic in science, we might look for that topic. For example, if we are studying spiders, we would try to find spiders and spider webs to draw.

Tell us about nature study during the winter months when it’s too cold outside.

You can easily do a winter scavenger hunt, where you find different objects in nature, and snap pictures of them. You can also pay attention to what animals are doing this time of year, and you can study snow and weather. Here are a couple of winter nature activities for you to enjoy:

Also, if you want to set up nature collections during the other seasons, you can continue to study nature from your home. Here is a fabulous workshop that shows you how to bring the outdoors into your home:

Here is the panel of homeschool moms who share what they do for nature studies:

Croquet

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

croquetCroquet is a fun game to play, especially in the summer. It’s a lawn game, where you hit a wooden ball with a mallet through wickets. The wickets are the iron squared-off loops that you stab into the ground. I remember playing croquet as a kid, setting up the wickets randomly around the lawn, and trying to hit my ball through each one, taking turns with my sisters.

croquet-2The game actually has a specific pattern for placing the wickets. It looks like two diamonds stacked on top of each other, with double wickets on the top and bottom. Refer to my pencil drawing to see the arrows, as to how you go all the way down the two diamonds on one side (zig-zagging as you go), and then go back up the double diamond. The first person to hit the stick at the top wins. (You also need to have your ball hit the other stick at the bottom when you’re halfway through the game.)

croquet-3Make sure that when a kid is swinging his mallet, that the other kids are far enough away not to accidentally get hit by the mallet. It hurts.

If you don’t have level ground in your backyard, go to a local park that has a grassy level area, and set up your croquet game there. Each person has a mallet of a different color, with a ball to match, so as not to confuse people as to who is winning. That would be me, of course. (I’m kidding.)

croquet-4Many famous artists have painted games of croquet, including Norman Rockwell and Winslow Homer, who painted women in fancy dresses, playing croquet. Lewis Caroll also wrote about a crazy game of croquet in his novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. So the game of croquet is worth playing at least once. You can borrow a set from someone, if you’re not sure you will like the game. Children enjoy this game particularly, and it’s good for hand-eye coordination.

croquet-5croquet-6

Painting From a Water Bucket

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

painting-from-a-water-bucket

Painting from a water bucket is one activity that my children used to do when they were younger. They loved it, and there was no mess!

We got some regular paintbrushes for painting a house. (You probably have some lying around in your garage.) Pour water into a bucket, and voila!

Your children can start painting the shed or the side of the house. If it is a hot day in the summer, the “paint” will disappear quickly, but if you do it in spring or autumn, you can get almost a whole side of the shed looking dark before the water evaporates. Meanwhile, you can relax with a fun gardening magazine and watch your children enjoy themselves.

The water makes a better mark if the wall is darker, so try to find a darker wall in your backyard. Another thing you can do is take a chalkboard outside, and have your child paint that with a round, thick brush. The child could paint a simple picture. You could even paint a word and have your child read it before it magically disappears!

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