With the weather starting to warm up in some areas, and little flowers popping up everywhere, I thought I’d write about some outings to do in nature with your kids in spring. The list of course could go on and on but I will tell you about my favorite few.
A Spring Scavenger Hunt
Get the kids to look for:
- New shoots on trees
- Fuzzy shoots like Pussy Willow and Magnolia
- Young flowers
- Birds & their babies
- Bird nests
- Lambs (baby animals)
- Frogs and tadpoles
- Deer’s new coats
Bird watching for little kids can be fun if you can get close enough to them to get a good look. Kids like feeding birds but you need to exercise caution for the sake of the birds. People tend to feed birds the wrong things at parks like bread and crackers and while this is fun for the kids it can be harmfull to the birds. We recently went on a walk with a local kids group and fed the birds seed. I was a bit uncomfortable with this at first since we were in a nature park but the food that was offered should be fine for the birds as it is the same as what we have in our bird feeders at home. If you are in a park with lots of bird life you should be able to get a good look by using binoculars and by staying still. Kids have a hard time with the sitting still part but this can be good activity to build patience. Get kids interested in identifying the differences in the bird varieties and see how many types they can spot. Our four year old always get more excited when she can identify a bird out of a bird book. If you must feed the the birds please do not feed them bread!! Here is a blog on the problems with feeding birds: http://ecojoe.blogspot.com/2006/10/feeding-bread-to-birds.html
Bat Watching (plus other wildlife)
That’s right I said Bat Watching.
Bat watching is great in the late spring. Locations known for a lot of bugs are usually a good bet with early morning and at dusk being the best times. Check with local organizations for the best places and dates for your local bats. This link from Bat Conservation International is a great resourse.
Contact local naturalist groups to find out what other wildlife can be viewed in springtime. Right now we can go see sea-lions, herring runs, plus lots of deer, and bald eagles. We have been pleasantly surprised of how much fun our kids have while looking for wildlife.
On a similar note our kids also love looking for bugs. We can find many of these creatures in our own backyards but going out into the wilderness to find them can be even more fun.
Is your local wilderness lacking? Head to your local public gardens. Most cities and small towns have at least one to wander around in. They usually have different sections like; rose gardens, rock gardens, local plants, and exotic plants. I know with our kids it’s hard to keep them on the trails and not walking right through the freshly planted flowers but with some calm pleading they usually get the idea before the groundskeeper sees them trampling the crocuses. These places are great to do a flower spotting scavenger hunt.
Hiking in the woods or a park
Where we lived in Calgary there were limited woods to visit within walking distance but there was a great big grassy hill called Nose Hill Park which was only a few minutes away from where we lived. At about 2,600 acres, it is one of the largest municipal parks in North America. We did many hikes there before we had kids and a few with Annika when she was little enough for the baby backpack. Even though it was not the type of park that us “forest and ocean” type people usually enjoy it was still a good place for a spring walk and see the wildflowers. Now that we are living on the west coast with the lush green forests we are now spending more time in the woods and we have a long list of parks to visit in their springtime glory. I am always trying for the perfect photo of the kids hiking in the woods and every time we go for a hike I take more pictures as it is such a beautiful combination. There is so much for the kids to see, trees(of course), flowers, bugs, birds, and maybe if you are lucky a squirrel or deer. We would prefer to see bears and cougars from the safety of our car.
Kids love being by the water and even though it is usually too cold in spring to go swimming (especially here in Canada) kids love crab “hunting”, sea shell, rock, and sea-glass collecting. While it usually frowned upon to remove things from the beach I let the kids slip the odd rock and seashell into their pocket. Rock-hounding is actually a very common hobby and something I’ve always been interested in. One of favourite beach activities here on the coast is playing with the shore crabs. They are plentiful, easy to handle and will only give you a little pinch if your hold them the wrong way. We like to bring a large shallow bucket with us to the beach to collect crabs or whatever else we find but of course we always empty the bucket before leaving. You do not have to live by the ocean as kids just seem to be at home beside any body of water be it lakes, ponds, and streams.