Posts filed under ‘Outdoor Adventures’

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 Tips: Family Nature Connections


Let’s Go Chipper! … Into the Great Outdoors

Today’s children are losing their connection with our natural world and spend over seven hours a day of “screen time.” The negative effects are lack of physical exercise and opportunities to explore creatively and exercise our critical thinking. That’s the research, but what if we just go on our gut instinct and reflect on how our days unfold?

Family Nature Connections

When we pause the “research and worry” button and consider our basic desire to connect with our children and just play, we should all feel confident in just saying “yes” to taking time to join our kids on the floor, grass, or on the swing set! Adventure into the park, take a walk around the block, or get the bikes out. Nature is waiting for us.

Children in touch with their natural environment are healthier, do better in school, have increased creativity and improved concentration. Realizing these benefits and sharing adventures and experiences help broaden a child’s perspective on life which leads to a stronger emotional spirit. Even more so leading children in guided experiences, engaging in hands on activities, and exciting conversation will inspire a contributive spirit so today’s child will become a more conscientious, involved student and member of the community.

So what can we do?Family Nature Connections

  • Let’s get physical – Be active, play outside, and just excite a sense of freedom to explore
  • Connect with the outdoors – Provide access to safe, green spaces
  • Discover the five senses – Provide activities which will engage seeing things in nature, listening to nature, touching, smelling … even tasting
  • Participate – Provide opportunities for your kids to engage in the process and therefore be interested in taking care of the animals they find in nature

Most importantly for parents – don’t fear getting dirty. We say, “It’s not a good day unless you do a load of laundry.” So next time you have the urge to check your phone or text a friend when your child is close by, put it back in the bag … maybe play a little “tag” and see how letting go can make you feel connected to your child and remind you of how easy it is to build your own care free spirit.

How do you get outdoors with the kids? Share with Chipper!

May 15, 2014 at 6:17 pm Leave a comment

Chipper Activity + Craft: Nature Walk and Craft Project


Explore the outdoors with your little one(s) and collect nature materials to make cute critters! Not only will you a foster a connection with nature, your kids can also exercise their imaginations and creativity. There is so much you can find outside: nuts, rocks, sticks, leaves, petals, and more. 

Nature Animals | Let's Go Chipper

Picture from naturallymom

Chipper Playfully Teaches: Earth and Space Science, Creative Arts and Fine Motor Skills.

Adventure into the great outdoors with young children and use the natural materials as craft supplies for creating creatures from the children’s imagination or animals identified on the walks.

Collect with a Partner | Let's Go Chipper

Collect with a Partner

Timing: One Hour
Explore and collect: 15 minutes
Craft Time: 30 minutes
Extra 15 minutes:
 Travel time and padding because projects with young children will always take longer than you plan!

What you need:

  • Reusable tote to carry found treasures
  • Cardboard bases from recycled boxes and scrap paper and materials for accessorizing crafts
  • Glue and string
  • A partner or chaperone
  • Imagination
Create a crocodile | Let's Go Chipper

Create a crocodile!

Chippers Tips:

  • Explain the rules of staying together “You can play, but don’t stray!” and the project
  • Check off that everyone has their tote for collecting items. While exploring, be it in the backyard of a school facility, house, childcare center, or beyond the yard, keep children on track by talking about what they might find; the colors, shapes, texture and more.
  • Assist young children with glue or glue gun and string assembly.
  • Welcome conversation while exploring. What do you see, hear, smell and feel?
Get bit by nature...creatively! | Let's Go Chipper

Get bit by nature…creatively!

Upon returning, sit down and talk about the items in the bag and what can be made; a butterfly from leaves, a nature cake, a boat from sticks, a car from rocks and bark. Welcome the conversation and encourage the creativity!

Chipper Activity + Craft: Nature Walk and Craft Project

Image from WildlifeFun4Kids

May 9, 2014 at 1:30 pm Leave a comment

10 Chipper Tips for Gardening with Kids


A veggie garden is a great place to teach your youngsters valuable lessons while spending satisfying time together. Gardening is more entertaining than any video game; I have yet to meet a child who didn’t get a kick out of playing in the dirt, planting seeds and watching them grow. And finally, there’s no better way to get kids to eat veggies than to grow their own.

Gardening

Jasper the Jack Rabbit and Chipper help out in the garden!

So where do you start? These 10 ideas just might inspire your gardener-in-training:

  1. Take a field trip. Visit a farmers market or produce aisle and talk about what you see. Explain the life cycle of a veggie, from seed to fruit to dinner table. Have kids taste-test a few varieties, then help them plant the ones they like.
  2. Let them choose. While at a nursery or garden center, ask your kids to pick out a few seeds or plants they want to grow. Also let them select any extras, like trellises or containers. If they’re involved at the very beginning, they’re more likely to remain interested throughout the growing season.
  3. Give ’em some space. Pint-size gardeners love to have their own little section of a garden. They’ll treat this space with extra-special care. Let them make the decisions, from what gets planted to keeping the occasional “pet” weed.Let's Go Chipper Gardener Set
  4. Tools of the trade. On birthdays or other occasions, give your children a colorful garden tool, apron or hat. Make it a game to get dressed up as a gardener when it’s time to play outside.
  5. Family history lesson. Use your time outside as an opportunity to tell kids about your family. Was Great-Grandpa a gardener? Did Aunt Nora grow heirloom tomatoes? It’s a great way to get them interested in relatives and radishes at the same time.
  6. Theme gardens. Try an alphabet garden, where your kids choose everything from asparagus to zucchini. Or create a garden of miniatures with cherry tomatoes or mini-pumpkins.
  7. Be realistic. You can’t expect a 6-year-old to spend an afternoon weeding, so you’ll have to perform some of the mundane tasks yourself. When kids do tackle these chores, don’t expect perfection—a few jagged rows or a weed here and there won’t matter. Remember that kids have short attention spans, so make your garden a fun place where they can see real results.
  8. Let’s go crazy. Kids love unusual varieties, so don’t be a conformist. Instead, walk on the wild side with yellow tomatoes, white eggplants, purple carrots, brightly colored chard and giant pumpkins.
  9. Teachable moments. Explain how natural vegetable gardening promotes healthy living by providing safe, nutritious, low-cost food for the family. Also point out that growing your own veggies means more exercise, no pesticides and less pollution from delivery trucks.
  10. Continue in the kitchen. Invite your children to help you make dinner by adding cut-up garden produce to a salad or soup, and let them snack on a few as you cook. Don’t be surprised if they learn to love veggies.

The bottom line? Kids imitate what they see. If you love to grow things, chances are they’ll be enthusiastic, too. And remember that one of the most important things you’ll ever grow is a gardener.Let's Go Chipper | Making Change for the Better | Build Communty Gardens

Plan a community garden for your school or neighborhood! Collect spare change to fund the project and teach your kids how they can help make change for the better!

10 Best Veggies For Kids To Grow

  1. Sugar snap peas. Kids love to eat them fresh off the vine and they are packed with Vitamin C!
  2. Lettuce. Easy to grow and lots of cool color varieties, plus it contains a considerable amount of iron.
  3. Pumpkins. Plant a smaller variety, like Jack Be Little, for your smaller helpers. Don’t forget to eat the seeds which help keep heart heathy!
  4. Radishes. Within a month, these fast growers are ready to pick AND they help keep away allergy sniffles.. Just for giggles, try red, white and purple varieties.
  5. Carrots. Quick-growing carrots are perfect for short attention spans. In addition, they are filled with powerful vitamins that support your eye sight.
  6. Potatoes. Kids really dig potatoes, which are as much fun to harvest as to eat. These nutrient-dense veggies can be cooked dozens of ways!
  7. Green beans. The big seeds are fun and easy to plant. Plus they are packed with Vitamin B!
  8. Cherry tomatoes. Little hands love to pick these tiny fruits. They are sweet and nutritious, filled with fiber, protein and Vitamin C.
  9. Sunflowers. These beauties take off without much work, and come in tall or small varieties. Plus, it’s fun to harvest the seeds, or leave out the seed heads to attract birds.
  10. Broccoli. Like many veggies, garden-fresh broccoli tastes sweeter than store-bought. Broccoli is also a powerful antioxidant and great for bone health.

What other veggies do you kids love to grow? Share with Chipper in the comments!

May 4, 2014 at 6:00 pm 3 comments

Chipper Recycle Craft + Activity: Nature Journal


Chipper playfully teaches Earth and Space Science, Creative Arts and Fine Motor Skills.Create your own special nature journal with recycled materials that can both help save the environment and embrace the beauty of nature!

Let's Go Chipper | nature Journal

Collect Your Materials

Explore and Collect materials like:

  • Recycled paper (Paper bags, used computer paper, light colored newspaper, light colored magazine pages, etc.)
  • Cereal Box or any recycled cardboard box
  • Hole puncher
  • String and yarn
  • Paint, markers, crayons, colored pencils
  • Leaves, petals, seeds, and sticks

Chippers Tips:

  • During your outdoor adventures, help your child engage their five senses to evaluate what they see, smell, taste, hear, and feel. When they find something that peaks their curiosity, ask questions and peak their interest in drawing or writing it in their journal.
  • Ideas to inspire creativity – cloud chasing or finding characters in clouds, bird watching, evaluating insects, making silly faces with friends, eating a piece of fruit and finding various types of leaves!
  • Tell your child to, “Play but don’t stray!” when they are exploring and to “Keep your tail on the trail!”
Let's Go Chipper | Nature Journal

Make your journal.

Making your Nature Journal: 

  1. For cover: Decide on the size of your journal and trace and cut out from your cereal box or every day box. You can use either side of the box to face out.
  2. Decorate the cover using collected and coloring materials.
  3. Journal pages: cut the paper bags or found papers to just within the size of the cover.
  4. With adult help use a hole puncher to make 3-5 holes lined up on the front and back cover. Do the same with the inside journal pages.
  5. Weave the yarn/string to connect the journal and tie a bow at the top or bottom to secure the bindry.
  6. Time for creating! Encourage story telling through pictures and images, words, and found materials all celebrating nature or daily experiences. Make it a weekly activity to explore the outdoors and then add to your nature journal!

    Let's Go Chipper | Nature Journal

    Explore and record!

Let’s Go Chipper into the Great Outdoors!

May 2, 2014 at 12:29 pm 2 comments

Chipper Tip: Only Rain Down the Drain!


Just Rain down the Drain

You see the signs right? And it seems obvious but millions of pounds of trash and plastic enter our waterways through our curbside drainage system each year. The effect on our plant and sea life is huge: about 22,000 bodies of water in the United States are considered “impaired” by the Environmental Protection Agency due to this pollution.

Let's Stroll Crissy Fields | Eco-Educational Book and App for Kids | Free Activities

As we celebrate National Wildlife Week and the theme being “water,” be inspired to take action over just acknowledging the importance of clean water for our animals on land and sea.

What we can do:

  1. If you see it, own it: Lead by example and pick up trash when you see it on the ground. Use good judgment, plastic/foil chip bags, paper bags, and plastic bottles are generally safe to pick up but be safe first.
  2. Make the grade: Collaborate with your classroom and take a walk through the neighborhood. A good stroll is healthy for both mind and body and the clean up helps foster a deeper connection with your community.
  3. Power to the Park Ranger – Chipper is the most enthusiastic ambassador in town and always pays respect to the ranger. Invite your local state or national park ranger, or junior ranger, into the classroom to teach kids about streams, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, even the little puddle along the path. All give life to the forest and eventually make it to the sea. Teaching kids the principals of Leave No Trace will inspire them to pick up any litter along the trails during spring and summer hiking and camping adventures

Here are some great tips and things to keep in mind:

Collaborate as a family, school, and community and join Chipper in Making Change for the Better – what we do as individuals makes a different for all! Print the label below, attach to recycled can, collect change, and donate to the Ocean Conservancy to help keep our water ways clean!

Making-Change-for-the-Better-Label_Waterways

Click here to download, print, and color!

 

Let’s go Chipper and remember to give a little thumbs up to the National Wildlife Federation!

Let's Stroll Crissy Fields | Eco-Educational Book and App for Kids | Free Activities

March 18, 2014 at 5:45 pm Leave a comment

How Does Your Garden Grow?


ChipperMom_rev3_Chipper badgeWhen I first created Chipper his big adventures were to start at the windowsill of a bed and breakfast cottage nestled within a bed of color reminiscent of a Monet’s Garden painting. Chipper would delight in tales delivered by the cottage owner while guests were off exploring for the day; because Chipper knew kids were meant to be neither seen nor heard from here. I remember sharing the mission of my little squirrel with a producer whom looked at me and said: “Squirrels are rodents and I hate rodents in my garden.” That squirrels are active, curious creatures ready to explore and engage meant little to this producer …and, more importantly, passionate gardener.

Last week, I remembered my early inspiration after reading Weeds Find a Way, by author and poet Cindy Jenson-Elliott and illustrated by Carolyn Fisher. That another writer would find beauty and personality in something otherwise destined to be dug up and discarded gave me a sense of camaraderie so I flipped through the pages. And then, I took the hardback book with me to story time. How would the kids see themselves when asked: “Are you a weed or a plant?” “And what is the difference?”

Both the story and illustrations captured the children’s (6-10 year olds) attention and the word for the day became “empathy.” The story excited conversation and reasons why we should just let the weeds grow.

There is a very whimsical rhythm to the flow of the text and illustrations and you feel like you are being blown carefree through the pages. Take time to discuss what it means to coexist and delight in the conversation. I highly recommend this book for the classroom and a perfect page-turner for the overnight with the grandparents. Pull the jacket cover off and save it as my ten year old did as she is determined to save this one for her own children some day. “I want it to look new again.”

The Chipper mom in me took to finding Jenson-Elliott so I could go knee deep into the weeds to learn a little bit more. I found a late bloomer to science and a teacher making up time as Jenson-Elliott designs Teacher guides to support her growing list of children’s books. Enjoy our conversation and happy planting:

Do you see children as weeds or flowers/plants? Weeds as plants are a wonderful metaphor for children. They are resilient, tenacious, beautiful, clever, adaptable, without all of our interventions, just as they are.

What is your earliest experience realizing the difference between a weed and a flower: I remember my curiosity about the difference between the planted and an unplanted world. I remember wondering around age four who planted certain plants. We lived in a really verdant area around Philadelphia, with yards that had probably once been landscaped but had reverted to a tangle of green.

We had a very overgrown rose garden that my mother struggled to bring to order, and I remember many afternoons running around in the back while she trimmed the thorny stems. We were new to the big old house, and it had been inhabited by a very old man before we moved in, so the formal rows of roses were leggy. One day I found remnants of a vegetable garden, broken down corn stalks, a tiny ear of Indian corn, growing behind the garage. All around it were wildflowers—weeds! —Queen Anne’s lace, black eyed Susans. One day I found a jack-in-the-pulpit. I have a very clear memory of seeing the little “man” inside his pulpit and how wonderful it was.

Living in suburbia, and seeing urban landscaping, a lot of kids—myself included—may think that someone went around and planted everything they see. I think I asked my mother, “Who planted those trees?” I really didn’t understand her answer: “No one, they just grew there.” It seemed mysterious and amazing, this world without people. Even today, I find that fact really moving, almost a relief. Singer Dana Lyons has a great line in his song, “Willy Says:” “Here’s a story that you may not comprehend. The parking lot will crack and bloom again. There’s a world beneath the pavement that will never end.” The natural world is so beautiful without our intervention. We don’t really have to do anything—just appreciate it.

What tips can you offer parents and educators on using the analogy of weeds/flowers and the lessons in developing friendships? I have curriculum in my free curriculum guide, downloadable on my website, that speaks to this issue. While I did not intentionally set out to teach a social-emotional lesson, I realized how embedded those lessons are after the book came out. Kind of funny that way—poets often don’t know what their poems are about until after they are written.

Weeds can teach us a lot in the social-emotional realm. They hold many qualities that we hope to engender in our children as human beings, and as learners. We hope they have grit – the ability to stick with something no matter what, withstand hardship, and thrive in spite of – and because of – challenges.

Weeds can also teach us a lot about appreciating the diverse qualities of others – the hidden beauties we may not see the first time we meet someone. Weeds teach us to look again at something we think we know well – or someone we think we have all figured out. When we have an opinion about someone – we think they are a “weed” rather than a flower, for example – we jump to conclusions about who they are. When we look more deeply, we can come to appreciate is that everyone has wonderful qualities – even thorny personalities.

Some wonderful curricula  and teacher training for helping children learn to appreciate each other in the classroom and beyond are the Responsive Classroom and Second Step, and my all-time favorite book, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk.

What’s your favorite weed? In my neighborhood, I think cheeseweed is one of my favorites. It is in the mallow family, like many landscaping plants, and has geranium-like leaves. I would love to see fireweed, though, which Carolyn Fisher put in those beautiful final pictures in the book. I was not familiar with it before she did the art, but everyone I have shown the book to who is from Canada or the northwest says, “Ah! Fireweed! I love fireweed!” Carolyn, who lives in Canada, added many weeds I didn’t know in the art, and then I went back in and added them in the text.

How do your children inspire your storytelling? My science work with children has most inspired my work. I came to science late – in my early 30s –when I went back to school and took as many science classes as I could fit in before I had to go back to work full time. Every class was a revelation, a wonder, from biology to chemistry to geology and physics.  Teaching science and gardening, and writing about science and gardening, have been ways for me to explore ideas more deeply and share those with children. We learn science through experiencing that joy and wonder of the world, and I would like every child to have a chance to feel the awe of understanding something amazing about our extraordinary ordinary world.

Weeds Find a Way is available at Barnes & Noble.

Weeds Find A Way cover

 

March 3, 2014 at 5:41 pm 2 comments

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