I recently introduced Wildlife Wednesdays on the blog and I have created a list of mini adventures to take us over the course of the year. Nature outings galore and a new theme for every calendar month of the year. I thought I would take this week to think through what you would need for you nature outings, sometimes just being prepared the night before can be all that you need to succeed.
Preparing for Your Adventures
Se7en Things You Need for an Outing
- Enthusiasm is Contagious:
- Absolutely Any Kind of Weather:
- A Breathe of Fresh Air and you Stop and Observe:
- Take Only Pictures and Well, All Those Collections:
- Nature Notebooking Supplies:
- What’s in a Backpack?
- And Marvellous Maps:
- A title
- A scale and a compass rose
- Location, date, time and weather
- Human features: roads, paths, powerlines, buildings and so on
- Natural features: ponds, lakes, rivers, mountains, dunes and so on
- Animals or traces of animals: birds, insects, mammals, reptiles and so on
- Plant Life: trees, grassy areas, shrubs, flowers and so on
- Coastal wetlands such as mangroves absorb carbon from the atmosphere up to 55 times faster than tropical rainforests. I’m taking part in #WorldWetlandsRun to ensure these areas can be protected and thrive.
- Did you know that wetlands provide habitat for thousands of species of aquatic and terrestrial plants and animals? Join me for #WorldWetlandsRun to raise awareness of the preservation of these critical habitats.
- Did you know that a staggering 40% of the world’s species are reliant in some way on wetlands? These marshes, ponds and river deltas need to be saved! Join us on the #WorldWetlandsRun
- Without wetlands, cities have to spend more money to treat water, floods are more devastating to communities, animals are displaced or die out, and food supplies are disrupted. Join #WorldWetlandsRun to raise awareness that these areas need to be protected.
Nature outings are exciting and fun, but I found that the more I mentally prepared my kids in advance, chatting about them and planning with them, the better the outing went. Some nature outings are new and exciting and fresh, it turns out that our favourite kind of outings are those that we do through the seasons and over a year. We visit the same spot time and time again. For example find a tree and document it… with a photo of the month, and then make a collage of your photographs at the end of the year. We do a monthly beach cleanup and we have been doing it for years… you can see the changes that occur, in and out of the seasons. It doesn’t have to be huge… it can be a corner of the garden, a corner of your local park… a bridge across your local wetland. A place that you visit time and time again. One year we climbed the mountain behind our house once a month over the entire year, and we created a book and a video documenting our adventures.
Once we have set up our location, we pop dates on the calendar and we head out whatever the weather… we usually pick a day of the week and stick to it. It gives us all something to look forward to and whatever the weather we head out… because its on the calendar. Because of this we have ventured forth in rain and mist and sunshine… howling winds and sudden storms have turned out to be the most memorable by far. I don’t want my kids to think that the great outdoors happens only on good weather days… I want them to know that it is always there for them.
Part of being in the great outdoors is that it trains you to be so much more observant. Your children will stop you and point out dozens and dozens of things as you amble along… and this is a good thing. They are exercising their observational skills and this will help them in every other aspect of learning. I try and remember to have a moment of intentional observing: when we stop and pause: listen to the sounds around you, think about what you can feel: maybe the heat of the sun or the spikes on a bush… is there something you can taste, fresh spring water, and what about sounds: the crunch of leaves, the buzzing of cicadas… at first my kids were really silly and they would listen for traffic in the distance and taste their snacks, but they quickly got into it and these moments became some of our fondest memories.
I know, take only pictures and leave only footprints, but small children have the incredible ability to find natural treasures everywhere… a walk around the block, an amble to the library and suddenly you have a leaf collection, a stone collection and a feather collection. Before you know it you will drowning in collections and beautiful as a nature tables look on instagram, there is chaos on every surface of your home. When our kids were small I dedicated a small area of our garden to nature collections, baskets of seashells and feathers abounded and now that they are older we have drawers where I keep their favourite finds.
We use notebooks that are small enough to fit into a pencil bag, and then toss our watercolour pens and a brush into the bag as well. There is always water in our water bottles for painting and a pencil for sketching and a pen for details is also great.
Certainly when my kids were small, I kept our nature bags packed and ready just in case an opportunity arose, and not a lot has changed. Ask your kids what they would put in their backpacks over and above a water bottle, a little snack and a sweater… sometimes I would pop something a little interesting… a tape measure or a magnifying glass, a guide book of something in particular that we are studying… and of course a map. You can create a checklist for your kids or even better let them create their own one, a picture of a backpack, with their essentials inside will help your young explorers to get ready time and time again.
I always make sure that I have a map with me, and we keep the same map stuck on our fridge… Our favourite local maps are Slingsby Maps. They are beautifully annotated and have lots of little details that only a local would know. There is a fabulous interview with the author of Slingsby Maps over here…
We add our own annotations to our maps. Where we spotted whales, scorpion rock (you can only guess why), good places for spotting snakes (again… guess why?)… and of course the date of hikes. Slingsby maps are waterproof, they require water proof pens to write on them. Don’t be precious about your maps, they are tools to use and there is nothing wrong with adding your notes and memories to the places that you have been. New years and new maps and we are good to go again.
Create Your Own Map
A good place to start your own adventures is to create a map, it is an activity that I can do with my kids at any place and any time. They are a great resource to keep and add to as time goes on… a little annotation of where you saw a particular bird, or where you spotted an ant nest… and all these add up to the memories that you are making.
There is no limit to the things you can add to your map or the creative way that you make your map. You really don’t need anything fancy to get going, regular old copier paper, pencil crayons and markers are perfect for maps and mapping.
It is really easy to create a map on a page in your nature notebooks, and I have created some quick and easy printables for you, if that makes it easier… they are available in our online store.
And The Theme for February is Wetlands
In honour of World Wetlands Day on the 2 February, our Wildlife Wednesday Theme for February is going to be WETLANDS… we have activities, stories and even a recipe to inspire you next week. After that we will be looking at the animals and birds that you find in our local wetlands… so we are really looking forward to that…
In the meantime a fun activity you can join the World Wetlands Run… it’s free, it’s fun and it is for everyone.
You can Sign Up to the World Wetlands Run HERE
Grab your race number and go and walk around the block, around the corner… and together we can walk around the world and raise awareness for our endangered wetlands.
See you back here next week, for some more Wildlife Wednesday Wetland Magic…