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RVCA Fresh Air Fun
Looking to escape the house? Searching for some safe fun and learning for your little ones (or big ones) while physical distancing?
There's fun, discovery and learning available in your backyard or during a walk around the block.
We spoke to RVCA's Outdoor Educators Andrea Wood (Baxter Conservation Area) and Rebecca Whitman (Foley Mountain Conservation Area) and asked for some tips on how to maximize your child's outdoor experience.
Tip 1: Let your child take the lead
"Is it really important to get all the way around the yard or the block?" asks Ranger Rebecca. "Maybe, but maybe not. Let your child guide the walk. What does their curiosity crave? Safely stopping and poking around in grass, looking for nests and other signs of animals in trees, or simply counting tiny steps along your walk could be really interesting and valuable for your child."
Tip 2: Use all five senses to observe nature
"Challenge children to use these five senses while exploring outside," says Nature Nut Andrea.
- Sight: use owl eyes to see what is high up in the trees or at their feet or off in the distance. What's around you?
- Smell: take a deep breath in through your nose. What do you smell?
- Hearing: use deer ears (have children cup their ears with their hands, facing forward and backward – deer can rotate their ears around to locate sounds) to hear what is going on around them. What sounds do you hear?
- Touch*: You can use the sense of touch to feel the roughness of the bark of a tree, the softness of green moss, the smoothness of a rock. How does this feel?
- Taste: Bring a tasty snack on your hike to eat along the way. Is it yummy?
*Be safe, see Tip 5.
Tip 3: Harness their curiosity through "I wonder questions"
Let's think about how we talk to our children when on an outdoor adventure. "Try using 'wonder questions'," challenges Ranger Rebecca. "Rather than saying 'look at this chipmunk hole in the grass', try saying 'I wonder what made this hole over here?' Help guide your child to figure out the answer rather than simply telling them the answer. "How big is the hole? I wonder what size of animal could fit down there. I wonder what kind of animal would want to go underground." Wonder questions help encourage curiosity, inquiry and engagement.
Tip 4: Improve observation skills with the "sit spots"
"Older children may benefit from a "sit spot" experience," says Nature Nut Andrea. "Let them find a special place where they can sit on their own to listen, look, draw, write and reflect. Children will start to notice things that are changing with the season. Plant the seed and see what they start to observe and record."
Tip 5: Wet. Soap. Wash. Rinse. Dry!
"As with any outdoor adventure and especially now, it is important to wash your hands well after your adventure!" reminds Ranger Rebecca. "Make it musical and sing happy birthday to the animals you saw on your walk while you scrub."
Want more ideas? Watch for #RVCAFreshAirFun posts on our social media pages with tips and tricks and games to maximize your time outside! The fun starts on Thursday, April 2, 2020. Be sure to share your amazing family photos – tag us or post in our social media feeds. We love to see our young conservationists exploring!
Join the #RVCAFreshAirFun on Facebook
See our Outdoor Challenge on Twitter