Posts filed under ‘connecting kids with nature’

Great Greens – How on Earth Do They Grow?


Great Greens – How on Earth Do They Grow? Artichoke and Asparagus facts and recipes!

Continue Reading April 21, 2015 at 5:08 pm Leave a comment

The Rainbow Connection


IMG_8135“Mom, if we’re Irish how come I can’t see Leprechauns?” Hmmm, I had to ponder this question last year as I walked with my daughter from school on a rainy day. Our path was under dark clouds streaked with little cracks allowing just enough sunshine to peak through and make for a magical skyline.

2015-03-11 16.46.09I opted for the easy out: “Leprechauns are magical like fairies so you can feel their spirit around you but you can’t always see them.” It didn’t work. We’re at the tail end of “Do you believes” and the Leprechaun answer wasn’t buying me any time. She challenged me on how I can believe things I don’t see or have proof of.

How do we exercise the magical little spirit born from a clear conscience that fades at an age far to young for my liking? Make believe and “Let’s Pretend” games have lost out to apps that distort your voice or change your face into a circus character. We aren’t relying on our imagination when the device is directing us, and many parents feel pressured to push their kids to perform over free play.

I’m never one to give up and continued on about how there is much around us we cannot see but if we just take a moment and wonder, the feeling of hope and faith will win over our mindset and the need for intellectualizing the matter at hand. I explained to my daughter that we don’t always need an explanation when we feel a certain way. The ability to believe in ourselves is important; our thoughts, feelings, actions, and attitude toward the world around us should be enough sometimes. We don’t always need proof.

It was a simple conversation but the base of it was “self doubt.” I knew my daughter was feeling doubt with herself so she was having doubt in everything else around her.

Last PhotoWe continued on and looked up at the sky marveling at how it can change in an instant. The clouds had parted even more which made a beaming of light lead straight to a large painted map on the blacktop. It sparked excitement in my daughter and just as she looked ahead ready to race to the playground she stopped. She grabbed my hand firmly. I looked at her concerned and she just pointed ahead without a comment.

Literally the beam of light lead right to a man crouched over the giant map painted on the blacktop. He wore a black old-fashioned suit with big black boots. He slowly stood up and turned slowly as if realizing he had been found. My daughter and I stared at the man – astonished – it was a Leprechaun! No kidding, the man wore a suit too short we could see his boots and ankles. He even had a rounded top hat and a full beard.

Let's Go Chipper_Irish Soda Bread RecipeWe approached slowly; my daughter never let go of my hand. The man stood silently as we neared. I felt the pull of my daughter so I walked away from the map and eased us toward the swings. He watched us and then gave me a wry smile and walked on across the blacktop to the grass.

My daughter and I stopped and turned, both of us silent. Then she looked at me with wonder.

“It’s what you believe, that matters.” … I gave her a smile and she released my hand from hers and bolted to the swings.

March 17, 2015 at 5:00 pm Leave a comment

A Presidential Pooch


I'm a Chipper Mom | Expert Advice for Moms and ParentsThe ads in the papers, TV, and push notifications on our apps all say “Presidential Savings” to capitalize on a day meant for celebrating our US leaders whom have lead this country to where it is today. You might not like where we are today as a nation but if you turn off the noise and focus in on family you’ll quickly realize the most important guidance starts in the home and empowers the core character of our children. And feel lucky that you only have to guide your family and not the many layers of government that help the President run a country of billions.

My own parents instilled in us the understanding that we are all a part of what makes a home, community, country and world, good. Treat your neighbor with respect, care for the environment around you, and never shy away from lending a helping hand.

There are many ways to instill a sense of giving in your children. The basic assigning of age-appropriate tasks like making the bed to taking out the trash teach responsibility which is at the core of self-discipline. Introducing your children to experiences, which include people or animals in need, will activate their hearts and emotions allowing everyone to tap intoPresidential Puppy empathy. It’s empathy that drives our compassion to help others and perhaps that is why so many presidents had dogs in the White House. Sure, it makes for incredible photo ops but research shows caring for an animal or having an animal in the home reduces stress and increases compassion.

Schools across the nation are beginning to welcome pets into the classroom to help teach responsibility and care for others. This tail-wagging program is helping reduce the stress of bullying cases for these participating schools. I’ve often wondered why we need a pet to teach us this when human-to-human interaction should excite these emotions. After years of working with animals through 4-H and now as a foster family for Rocket Dog rescue I realize it is the innate understanding of Adopting dogs as family petsunconditional love. Dogs and most pets don’t hold anything against us. They will give love, be an enthusiastic participant in play and stand by your side no matter what you choose to do. They won’t judge. They lift you up when you feel down.

Research shows having a companion beaming with unconditional love and attentiveness strengthens our own emotions and helps us with relationships. Our four-legged friends keep us physically fit; they stop to say hello to neighbors which helps strengthen our awareness of our community. They help us think beyond ourselves. As we celebrate President’s Day – remember: to lead is to guide others with decisiveness based on realizing what is best for all and with compassion for everyone.

Imagine if our world leaders met at dog parks instead of windowless rooms with hardback chairs. I imagine we would treat each other differently. Like Harry S. Truman once said

Children and dogs are as necessary to the welfare of the country as Wall Street and the railroads.

February 16, 2015 at 9:07 am Leave a comment

Helping your family “Fall Back”


Helping your family Fall Back!” –  Daylight Savings Time ends November 2, 2AMTips for Adjusting to Daylight Savings

An extra yawn one morning in the springtime, an extra snooze one night in the autumn is all that we ask in return for dazzling gifts. We borrow an hour one night in April; we pay it back with golden interest five months later.

                                                                                                – Winston Churchill

Before we had kids, I used to love the end of daylight savings time – a wonderfully lazy Sunday morning gift. In that gloriously anticipated hour, I’d sleep late, or indulge in coffee and reading the Sunday paper front to back (yes, back in the day of the paper actually showing up on your doorstep).

As a parent, next Sunday reminds us that there are no more free hours. Instead, we walk out of work in the dark and wake the kids up when their little bodies are telling them it’s still too early.

Your overtired, off-schedule little ones can be a challenge, but take heart: it usually takes less than two weeks for circadian rhythms to adjust. As the family looks forward to a snuggly autumn and winter, here are some tips for “falling back” more gracefully:IMG_1708

 

  1. Be consistent. Keep meals and activities schedules in place. Keeping your routine with little standard time tweaks will help ease the transition.
  2. Get outside. Sunshine is the reset button. When you can get your kids into the sunshine first thing in the morning, their bodies will adjust more easily. No sunshine? No worries. Just seeing the light of day, and the fresh air, makes the moment the perfect wake-up call. Check out this list of 50 ways to get outdoors in your own backyard for some ideas!
  3. Adjust your schedules. Start bedtime 15 minutes earlier a week as you head into the November 1 weekend.
  4. Nap. Nap. Nap. If you have young children, watch for signs of fatigue and put them down before they miss their sleep window. Crankiness doesn’t help the transition.
  5. Give your early risers what they need. For children over four years old, early rising will be an issue. Give them a stack of new library books and an alarm clock. Agree that they must stay in bed until their “wake-up time,” and allow them to peruse their new books if they’re up early or download some FREE coloring pages here. Blackout curtains can help since it will be much lighter in the morning.
  6. Connect. On Sunday, take advantage of that gloriously anticipated hour to enjoy your family. Take a fall leaf walk in the park before the winter weather sets in. In the evening, enjoy an early dinner, a cuddle on the couch; and an early evening story or movie.
Chipper Family Moments Pamphlet for November

Chipper Family Moments Pamphlet for November! Click here to sign up.

With your child snuggled next to you, reminisce about the good old days where you took that extra hour to sleep in your bed. Free of diaper wipes, stuffed animals, blankies, and shin guards, you could read the whole paper. Today, you’ve got the whole world in your arms.

Chipper Tip:  Remember to check your smoke alarm and flashlight batteries when you set your clock back and add a few more canned items or flats of water to your grocery list – you are winter ready!

October 26, 2014 at 5:30 pm Leave a comment

Happy 14th Birthday Geocaching!


geocaching with kidsRemember the year 2000? In the United States, a pound of bacon only cost $3 and a gallon of gas set people back $1.26. The iPhone was still 7 years away from being introduced. But on September 2, 2000, some hearty adventurers, tired of being tied to an office cubicle day after day, launched Geocaching.com. The adventure to inspire outdoor play through GPS technology began.

Just like any story-worthy journey, Geocaching.com’s beginning was filled with uncertainty. Before “geocache” joined the ranks of approved Scrabble words or a Geocaching game piece rocketed to the International Space Station, Geocaching.com launched with only 75 geocaches. Today the site lists the locations and descriptions of nearly 2.5 million geocaches. Adventure is truly waiting to be discovered all around you, as long as you’re in the 180+ countries where geocaches are hidden [hint: you are].

geocaching with kids

Here are some more little known facts about the game you love:

  • The activity of geocaching was originally known as the GPS Stash Hunt.
  • What we now know as the first geocache was hidden on May 3, 2000.
  • The cost of running Geocaching.com was originally funded by the sale of donated tshirts.
  • More than 9 million people have created Geocaching profiles.
  • The word ‘geocache’ means ‘hidden location on Earth’, as ‘geo’ means Earth, and ‘cache’ is French for a hidden location or place.
  • Hugh Jackman goes geocaching (and other celebrities like cyclist Jens Voigt).
  • Share your Geocaching birthday wishes and personal geocaching fun facts (like when you started geocaching) on the Geocaching Facebook page.

geocaching with kids

The mere mention of the word ‘treasure’ is guaranteed to light up kids’ eyes. So, why not take them on a real-life treasure hunt with geocaching? People use global positioning devices and the internet to seek out items hidden by others. “When my guys were 12 and 13 it was fun to do geocaching where you find people’s hidden items via internet clues and GPS. It’s done all over the world [and] it’s fun to hide items too,” says mom of two, Kerri Hopkins. Want to try it? Check out Geocaching.com for help and download their free app!

Let’s Go Chipper into the Great Outdoors and find some Geocaches! When, where or what was your last Geocache? Share your story in the comments below or on Facebook!

September 3, 2014 at 6:00 pm Leave a comment

Chipper Family Stargazing Tips + Recycle Craft


Take advantage of the clear Summer Skies! There are many opportunities to have fun this Summer, and one of them require only your backyard, some family and friends, and a clear night. The answer? Stargazing! It’s not only a fun, bonding experience but you and your little ones can learn something new!

Let's Go Chipper | Family Stargazing

Why stargaze?

Our galaxy is filled with planets, comets, asteroids, nebulas, black holes, and stars! Everyone should take advantage of the beautiful view available anywhere on a clear night. Not only is it fun and inspiring to look at the amazing night sky, there are also many chances to learning something new about our Universe. Here are some facts and information to answer any questions your little ones might have!

What are stars?

Remember the song “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star?” It perfectly describes our fascination with those twinkly dots of light! They are bright, but some are brighter than others. They are also extremely distant from us. The closest stars to Earth after the Sun (yes, the Sun is a star!) are Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B, which form a binary pair (two stars that orbit each other). The third star, which may or may not be part of our solar system, is Proxima Centauri and is about 4.22 light-years from Earth.

Stars are made out of very hot gases and produce their own energy. There are many types of stars and when a star gets old (think several billion years!), it starts to die and all of its gases are pushed into space. New stars are soon made out of those gases. Yes, even stars recycle! Some of the heavy metals found in human chemistry and other life on our planet were created from dying stars. You can scientifically say we all have a little star dust in us!

Let's Go Chipper | Family Stargazing

What about those shapes and patterns?

The patterns seen up in the sky are called constellations. They are patterns made out of stars, each different than the other, varying from animals to mythological creatures. But you can’t see all of the 88 modern constellations in one night. While some are visible right from your backyard, there are even more on the other side of the world.

Let's Go Chipper | Family StargazingSome cool constellations you must see:

  • Orion – Named after a hunter from Greek mythology, you can see it from all over the world! Just look for the distinctive 3 star belt.
  • Ursa Major & Ursa Minor a.k.a Big Dipper & Little Dipper – They can be found right near each other and look like large, square spoons.
  • Hercules – Dedicated to the strong and immortal son of Zeus, the king of the mythological Greek gods, it is the fifth largest of the modern constellations.
  • Draco – Latin for “Dragon” and shaped like the fantastical mythological creature, this constellation can be seen all year.

How to Stargaze:

Everyone will enjoy this wonderful night activity on a warm summer night or anytime of the year. Here are some directions to get started:

1. Check your local weather reports for the best clear night to stargaze. Here’s a great website to check besides your local weather report: http://www.noaa.gov 

Tip: The best night to stargaze is one before a rest day or the weekend as you will be pretty tired after a long night of stargazing!

2. Have supplies ready before the night of the event:

• Clothes and blankets, bundle up in layers, the temperature could suddenly drop at night even though it summer

• Pillows, rug, blanket or anything comfortable to lay down on and keep you dry and clean

• Snacks and drinks to nibble on while watching

• Binoculars and/or telescopes – if you don’t have any binoculars or telescopes available, try a FREE Stargazing Apps:

– NASA App

– Sky Map

– Star Chart

– Night Sky Light

3. Chose a location. It could vary from your backyard to your nearest park. Keep in mind to choose a location with the fewest lights to have a better view of the starlight!

4. Decide on when to go, gather all your supplies, and have fun!  Consider waiting for one of the several meteor showers throughout the year. Count how many shooting stars you see and don’t forget to make a wish! Here’s a list of meteor showers in 2014:

Name Date of Peak Moon
Quadrantids Night of January 2 Just past new
Lyrids Night of April 21 Rises around 3 a.m.
Eta Aquarids Night of May 5 Sets after midnight
Comet 209P/LINEAR Night of May 23 Early morning crescent
Perseids Night of August 12 In view most of the night
Orionids Night of October 21 Dawn crescent
Leonids Nights of November 16/17 Early morning crescent
Geminids Night of December 13 In view after midnigh

 

Obsessed with stargazing or don’t have the time to do it during the week?

Stargaze right from your home with this quick craft!

Let's Go Chipper | Family Stargazing

Materials:

  • An old jar with its lid
  • Blue or black construction paper or use markers/crayons/colored pencils to color recycled paper
  • A hole puncher
  • A glow stick

Directions: 

  1. Roll up the construction paper inside your jar and cut out any excess that overlaps so it fits exactly inside the jar.
  2. Hole punch “stars” anywhere on the construction. Tip: Want authentic star patterns? Use this Constellations guide to help you draw constellations.
  3. Roll the construction paper inside the jar and place 2-3 glowsticks or battery operated lights inside.
  4. Twist on lid to jar to close tightly.
  5. Turn off all the lights and enjoy your new stargazing jar!

Stargaze this weekend or even tonight to see the Perseids Meteor Shower! Share your star gazing tips with Chipper below.

August 12, 2014 at 1:04 pm Leave a comment

Contain Yourself: Flower Power


During summer and spring we all see our gardens and surroundings fill with gorgeous flowers that we want to bring inside to liven the house! Let your kids feel as though they are a helpful part of decorating the house with these fun vases made out of recycled cans. Not only are crafts fun, they help improve emotional, physical and mental development! Read more about the benefits of crafting.

Encourage spending quality family time together with this project and get out of the house and into nature to explore allowing your children to develop a connection. It’s very beneficial and important to take a break from your busy week and enjoy the outdoors with your loved ones! Read about the importance of spending time in nature.

Chipper Recycle Craft: Can Flower Vase

What you need:

  • Metal Can (soup or food can; or go big with a coffee can or oatmeal container)
  • Glue or Tape
  • Construction Paper or Recycles Paper
  • Scissors
  • Extras: Paper, Cotton Balls, Ribbons, Buttons, Pipe Cleaners, or anything fun you want to stick on your can
  • Optional: Flower Seeds and Soil

IMG_0151

Instructions:

Sit down as a family and let your minds go wild! Make a can that encompasses your personality that you would be proud to have around the house. Clean out the cans and make sure all materials are laid out before you begin the project.

  1. To make a woven paper decoration for your can as seen above, just cut 1 inch thick strips of paper from two different colors of construction paper (or try using folded strips of Newspaper from the Funnies section!)
  2. Lay two strips of your paper in the shape of a plus sign and tape them together. Weave another strip through and tape the ends of horizontal strips to one of the vertical strips, alternating top and bottom attachments.
  3. Weave the remaining vertical strips, securing their ends to the top and bottom horizontal strips. Trim off any extra paper and use tape or glue to attach to your can!
  4. Once your cans are done, take a family hike to pick up flowers to put in the cans. Or add dirt and some seeds to grow your own plants in the can.
  5. Place somewhere fun in the house and enjoy! Make sure to read directions on your seed packet and put it in the sun if you decide to grow your own flowers.

What other uses can you find for your decorated can? Share with Chipper in the comments below!

 

July 26, 2014 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

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