With the need to stay home as much as possible not going away any time soon, and the weather getting better, I am itching to get outdoor to somewhere other than my backyard and neighborhood. Now, Little is ready for any and all adventures. Big…not so much. There was a lot of preteen weeping and gnashing of teeth about having to do anything other than Marco Polo-ing her friends.
Cue the eye roll.
Enter the Rainbow Hunt and Sensory Walk.
We headed to the Sac and Fox trail (because somehow we’d never been there before) with the goal of finding items in every color of the rainbow. To make it interesting, we added a random game of “The Floor Is Lava”! (Now, if the mental image of a big girl hopping up on logs and jumping over rocks amuses you, then- you’re welcome!)
If you’re in a space where you can take a Ziploc bag (or a piece of masking tape fastened sticky side out on your child’s wrist to stick findings on to), then take what you find and bring it home with you. If you’re not (such as county, state, and federal land) then you can simply point to what you find. Walking in early spring meant there were dandelions, white clover, and forget-me-nots at eye level for Little. Finding blue, red and orange items kept Big engaged. We got exercise, found a snail, and soaked up that sweet vitamin D. Hallelujah.
Isn’t he just the cutest? Ok, moving on.
Another fun outdoor activity that big and little kids alike can enjoy is the sensory walk.
For littles, you can focus on one sense (the link above provides a printable using a child’s sense of hearing) while big kids can focus on what they can smell, see, hear, feel, and taste (or not). We’ve used this when walking around our neighborhood in southwest Cedar Rapids where there are ample opportunities to hear cars, barking dogs, and the like. We’ve done this on camping trips as well and learned about different species of animals. As a fledgling, suddenly homeschooling mom, I count this as a science lesson!
What made this trip super exciting was the random leg of a deer we found, which sent us all walking real fast back to the trail. We spent a little time researching what animals are native to Iowa, which we hoped would explain where that leg came from and where the rest of the deer was. That was enough adventure for me!
When I struggle to engage my big kid, I have found that if I make it a challenge she is more inclined to participate, and boy does her attitude improve!
I know my mental health is greatly affected by my ability to get outside in the sun; even if it’s just an hour. The quarantine life has driven a lot of us inward, both physically and mentally, and I spend a lot of time with my face in some sort of screen. There’s something about being out in nature that resets our brains.
So go, find a trail (and share it with us!) or your favorite state park and get a little lost!
Make sure you never miss out on a parenting or community-related blog post: sign up to receive Cedar Rapids Moms posts in your inbox. While you’re at it, join our VIP List to ensure you’re one of the first to know about upcoming Cedar Rapids Moms events and promotions!!