6 Ways to Enjoy the 6th Annual "Kids To Parks Day"

Today is Earth Day, which seems like the perfect day to share an upcoming event.

Saturday, May 21st is Kids to Parks Day. I already pledged to bring my family to a park on that day. Will you join me? In addition to all of the benefits of spending time in nature, you could also win cool prizes. Register at the Kids to Parks Website.

Of course, you don't need any plans to enjoy nature. You can simply get out, hike, observe, and take in the day.

If you prefer a little structure, here are six activities you can plan to do with your family:

1.       Get to know a tree. Feel the bark. Notice the buds/leaves. Give it a hug. Climb its branches. Make a bark rubbing.

2.     Search for plant and animal life in a body of water. Find a pond, lake, ocean, vernal pool or puddle and see what's living in it. Don't just look for large animals- look closely in the water along the edge where insect larvae and small animals live. Turn over a few rocks. See what's there.

3.       Lie on your back in an open patch of grass, sand, pine needles, etc. Watch passing clouds, rustling leaves, or passing birds. Close your eyes. Listen closely. How many natural sounds can you identify? Listen on your own for a few minutes, then whisper to your family to point out sounds you notice. See if they notice different sounds than you. 

4.       Fly a kite. This obviously works best in open spaces. We have a small "pocket kite" we take with us when we travel. Favorite place we've flown it? The National Mall.

5.        Document your excursion in a small nature journal. Provide every member of your family with colored pencils and a small  journal. The journal doesn't need to be fancy. You can even make a simple one by stapling a few pages of copy paper together as a booklet. Hike until you find a place you like. Sit quietly for 15 minutes and sketch something you see or write a few lines describing what you see. You can look far off into the distance or focus on the moss by your feet. See what catches your interest. The idea is to notice details, not to be artists. Compare what interests you to what interests your family members. NOTE: even preschool children can participate if you give them larger pieces of paper. (My post, Nature Observations With Young Children offers guidance).

6.       Photo document your day. Turn off/silence the electronics except for a camera. (Don't view the day from behind a lens- be selective about when and where to take a photo). When you get home, work as a family to create a photo book, blogpost, or movie of your day. If you have older kids with the needed computer skills, ask them to create a movie that reflects their feelings/perspective on the day. (My kids happen to love using iMovie. It's intuitive and they can use it on a desktop, iPad, or iPod). 

Bonus idea for folks living in Rochester, Marion, or Mattapoisett, Massachusetts:

7. Check out a MOBY Explorer Backpack from the public library and take it on your adventure. Use the contents to investigate a topic more deeply.

In exchange for this post, I was offered two sets of books from National Geographic: one set for me, another to give to a blog reader. I will donate my copies to my local library.

ktpBooks

If you would like a chance to win a set that includes Buddy Bison’s Yellowstone Adventure and National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide USA Centennial Edition, please do two things:

1.       Leave a comment on this post.

2.     Sign up for the give-away using the rafflecopter below. (Leaving a comment unlocks the other options). It lists other things you can do to earn more chances in the give-away. For example, you can follow me on Twitter or sign up for my newsletter on the right side bar, in the gray box. Once you complete the action, click that option in the rafflecopter. Each actions earns you another chance.

How will you celebrate Kids to Park Day? Share your ideas in the comments.