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The other day I walked into Tyler’s room to find him filling his backpack. He looks up and exclaims, “Mom! I’m filling up my pack with survival supplies, and then, I’m going to go *exploring*!! In the real woods! But….could you come with me, maybe? You know, to keep me safe?”
After this conversation, I told him that I thought us exploring in the woods was a great idea, and it was also a great idea to bring me along. I just love watching my kids develop their very own unique personalities which are now completely evident. Tyler especially has flourished in developing his interest and desires and communicating them in this past year and his “isms” keep me laughing daily! I am also always looking for ways to raise the kids to be sympathetic and respectful to others, and I believe family time together is a key component to all that!
Because of this and how an adventure would tie all of those things together, plus be super fun, I promised that we would go on an exploring adventure, soon. While we went on a few “practice runs” into our little woods nearby, Tyler, and Amber once she found out, kept reminding me we had yet to go on our “epic adventure”. The whole experience was so much fun (and sneakily educational for them, and me, too) so I decided it would be amazing to let you in on how we did it and inspire you to do the same with your kids, soon! My children are 5 & 8, but these steps will work with a little tweaking for anyone from babies to teens! (for teens I might not call it an adventure 😉 )
The first step is for me to convince you why it’s so important to let kids be free to be kids, and get dirty, and experience nature! I have always been a huge proponent of things like sensory play and as much unstructured outside play time as possible. When I saw these great resources recently, about Simplifying Childhood and a Nature Kindergarten those beliefs were reinforced even that much more! While you may not be ready to send your 4-year-old out into the wilderness full time, you can give them a little taste of what the Danish kids are learning, Mini style!
Here is how to plan an Epic Mini – Adventure that’s perfect for a busy family’s schedule!
Scout Out Your Location
We are blessed to live in a little more rural of an area, and one of the local parks is set up with 2 nature trails. One is paved and goes around a large pond while the other is truly a nature trail with a dirt road that winds throughout the “real” woods in a circle. Here are some things to keep in mind as you look in your own local area.
Try to find a place with a bathroom available for before and after the adventure. Especially if you have elementary kid age kids and younger this is kind of a must. If you’re just going out into the real wilderness, like we would have done if we still lived in Wyoming, try to pick a spot close enough to town that you can get back and forth from before this becomes an issue!
Keep everyone’s physical limitations in mind. You want your adventure to be fun, not something where you all end up exhausted and cranky! So keep in mind your children (and your!) limits. Will this adventure fit between nap time schedules? Will it be farther than your kids can comfortably walk? Is the weather going to affect how far you can go?4 My two kids run each Friday at school, about a mile, so for them a “relaxing one mile” hike in the 70s was just perfect!
If you’re still scratching your head at where you might be able to have an adventure where you live here are some idea starters:
- Any large local park Even if you don’t have quite the trails available we do, parks are a great place to identify trees and flowers, and see squirrels, butterflies, and insects. Plus the playground is always fun for before and after the adventure!
- State Parks Nearly all of these have hiking paths and you might be surprised where you could find one locally if you search for it
- Nature Preserves Like state parks these have great trails and also lots of information signs and places to observe wildlife
- Zoos or Aquariums Urban bound on all sides? You’ll be very likely to have a zoo or aquarium close by. Turn your adventure into a mini safari or ocean expedition!
Gather Items to Bring
Here are the items that you will need:
A Small Back Pack I’d recommend just bringing along one small one. Since it’s a mini adventure you really won’t need a lot, and that way everyone can take turns carrying it.
Notebook, eraser, and pencil For recording and sketching interesting finds along the way.
Camera or Cell Phone with Nice Camera This is great for recording your educational findings, and the amazing memories you’ll be making!
Educational Printables For our area I decided to be smart and educational all in one! While East Texas is absolutely gorgeous in the spring, it’s also full of dangers from fire ants to poisonous plants to venomous snakes. For our printables, I found and printed out what the venomous snakes in our area were, what poison ivy looks like and what it does not, and we also rehearsed how to respond safely and appropriately to any of these if we came across them.
Appropriate Shoes & Clothes Now if you notice my main photo you might question this as Amber is wearing a dress, but I’ll explain that in the next item which is…..
all® free clear detergent and/or all® free clear Mighty Pacs® <— this one is a must! Remember how I talked earlier about encouraging my kids to form their own identities? Well, it just so happens that Amber is me all over again. Which basically means that she loves to get all dressed up and girly, and then go play out in the dirt. For awhile I tried to keep these two things from happening together, but then I decided to let her be free to be a kid, which is actually part of this brand’s stances, too! You might remember that she’s had eczema since she was a little baby, years ago I shared how I’ve loved and used all® free clear detergent ever since it was recommended to me by our dermatologist, and also a fellow “eczema mom”. This isn’t surprising since it is the #1 Recommended brand by Dermatologists, Allergists, and Pediatricians. I have loved and used it often over the past 8 years now!
As she grew older and a little brother who is ALL boy came along I became even more thankful for all® free clear detergent! It still is 100% free of dyes and perfumes so it’s clinically proven to be gentle on skin, but it also delivers a powerful clean, which is great because I can let the kids get as dirty as they want without worrying about their clothes! A big deal when I’m looking around to see this 99.5% of this boy’s life…
Or when right after I took this photo I looked over to see Amber wiping her sucker off on her dress!!! Her response? It fell on the dirt, so I’m cleaning it.
Needless to say, we go through a LOT of laundry! Because of this, I’m always looking for the best ways to get the products I love and save some money, so I love buying cleaning items of all kinds at Sam’s Club!
During my last trip, I noticed the all® free clear Mighty Pacs® which I hadn’t used before, so I picked up my usual liquid detergent along with them. I am loving them so far! They are perfectly portioned so you get all the benefits without wasting any of the product (which adds to saving, even more, money for you!) When you do use the traditional product, another great tip is to always be sure to follow the directions for use on the packaging exactly, and not to overuse the products by putting too much product in one load.
Alright! Now that you’ve picked your location and gathered your supplies it’s time for the adventure!
Pick a Date and Go On Your Epic Mini – Adventure!
For our adventure, I picked up Amber from school on Monday and announced that it was the day! It was super fun to see both of the kids excitement about it! The beautiful thing about a mini-adventure is that we were able to fit it in on a weekday after school, and since it wasn’t a big trip I could easily plan according to work, homework, and weather cooperation!
It was so much fun!! We saw tons of squirrels, bugs, flowers, and trees. No snakes (thank goodness) but our printables did come in handy after all! The kids were about to climb up in this tree…
I’m still not 100% sure if it was Poison Ivy or one of the look-alikes, but it was close enough not to risk it! We also used the “this is not….” printable to identify Virginia Creeper and spotted these fun little Daddy Longlegs, the only spiders I’m friendly with!
Here are some more shots of our adventure!
I just love the bright, fresh green of the new leaves and life everywhere!
I hope our amazing mini-adventure inspires you to go on one with your own family, soon! If you do please tag me @ConfidentFound or @ConfidentFoundation all over social media-I’d love to see what you come up with!
Want even more amazing ideas for everything from laundry routines to family time ideas? Check out these amazing posts here!