5 Tips for Hiking with Kids

After a very long, wet winter that turned into a very cold not-really-spring, we’ve found ourselves at summer! We’ve been taking every opportunity to explore outside with our nature bag.

Hiking is a great way to stay active as a family. You can bring kids hiking at any age! If you want to hike with your kids, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t have a strict time frame: Kids hike slowly.  On my oldest daughter’s first on-foot hike it took us an hour to get to a lake with both of us walking, and 10 minutes to get back with her in the Ergo.  Bring a magnifying glass and local field guide to explore and identify anything that captures your child’s attention, and enjoy watching your kid discover the natural world. 
  2. Start small: Think flat and short. You can work your way up to more difficult hikes as your child gets older and more experienced.
  3. Bring a carrier: For babies, unless you pick a flat, paved trail, a carrier works better than a stroller.  Even for toddlers it’s good to have a carrier in case they get tired. My youngest spent some hike time in the Ergo until she was 3. A good rule is that the bigger the kid and the more they’ll be carried, the more structured you want your carrier to be. My favorite for little ones over 3 months is the Ergo Sport- it’s lightweight and easy to pack but still structured enough to give good support.
  4. Make your kids comfortable: Bring snacks and water!  For preschoolers and up you can find kid-sized camelback water backpacks. Use sunscreen to avoid sunburn, and dress in layers.
  5. Take safety precautions: Bring a small first aid kit. Let older kids know if they get lost to stay where they are, and give them a safety whistle. 

By making hiking a routine family hobby, you will instill this healthy habit in your kids! Happy trails! 

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Chase the Wind – Physics for Littles

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We’ve been doing some great physics work for upper elementary level these past few weeks. But what about those of us with little ones tagging along? Fortunately lessons in force offer a great opportunity to get outside and play on a windy day! It’s also a good way to transition from our mostly indoor physics unit to our mostly outdoor Springtime Science biology unit.

Here’s what we use to explore the force created by wind:

You can really use anything that moves with the wind. Ribbons and fabric work too. Sheets and pillowcases make great capes.

Adventure Schooling Super Dad

Start by talking about wind. What is wind? If you can’t see it, how do you know it’s there?

Use your wind-revealing materials to play with wind. As free play starts to wind down, ask more questions. Which way is the wind blowing? How do you know?

Look for the windiest and least windy spots. Now is a good time to tie it in to what we’ve learned about force. What do your wind catching materials do when the wind is stronger? This is a good free form lesson where young kids can engage in educational play, and older kids can talk about what they learned, using concrete examples, before moving on to the next unit.

Speaking of, keep an eye out for our upcoming biology unit, Springtime Science!

Adventure Van! How I Organize it for Life on the Go

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We recently made the decision to get a minivan. I love the extra space, the independence it gives the kids to get in and out on their own, and the mileage (it’s a plug-in hybrid). Unfortunately, while the back row does fold down for extra storage space, the regular trunk space is actually narrower than in my old Prius, so I have to be more intentional about organization. So without further ado, here’s what I keep in there so we’re always prepared for an unplanned adventure.

Adventure Supplies

M
  • Our Nature Exploration Bag, which you can read about in more detail here. We’ve used this when we decide to go straight from classes to the beach or on a hike. It’s also great for a break on longer drives- we’ve been known to pull over to check out a cool stream, or, once, surprise snow we encountered driving home from Los Angeles. It also makes planned nature activities easier, because I know I already have most things I need in the car.
  • An old diaper bag. My kids are potty trained, but this bag is great because, like the Nature Exploration Bag, I can hang it to make use of the van’s vertical storage capacity. Here’s what’s inside:
    • My youngest still wears a pull up at night. Sometimes we’re out later than expected, so I carry a couple pull-ups, plus pajamas, in case she passes out on the way home.
    • A fold up travel potty, because sometimes you’re too far from a bathroom for little bladders!
    • Extra clothes for everyone (myself included). We wade into lakes. We hike through the mud. We’ve been known to take an unplanned dip in the ocean. I could say no to this stuff and be zero fun, or I could just keep a quick change for everyone. I keep each person’s extra clothes in a zip lock bag that the wet/dirty clothes can go in to keep the mess contained.
    • Compostable wipes, for the aforementioned muddy adventures.
  • Waterproof bag of park toys, and a waterproof fold up picnic blanket, for park trips.
  • A box of non-perishable snacks and water. I liked to use boxed water so I don’t have to worry about plastic bottles leaching chemicals into water my family is going to drink.
  • Cooler bag, in case I swing by the store and need to keep things cold.
  • And…

The Hippo Tote

The stuff in here rotates seasonally- heavy coats in winter, swimsuits in summer. But there are a few things I always keep in here:

  • Art supplies in a travel case. Great for when you have to wait around, or for when my 6 year old sees something she wants to draw.
  • A couple beach towels. Great for cleaning up messy kids, sitting on, or drying dew off slides and swings during morning trips to the park.
  • Hats- sun hats or beanies, depending on the weather.
  • An umbrella and fold up rain jackets, for me and the kids.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Sea-bands, in case someone feels car sick.

Honestly, a lot of random crap ends up in here too. But better contained in a bag than all over the car’s floor- that’s where I keep my Craisins…

I was going to get my car cleaned before taking pictures for the post, but come on, you know what a mom’s car looks like

Safety Supplies

I watch too much a lot of “Doomsday Preppers.” I also live in California. That combo means I’m expecting a giant earthquake any minute now, at which point my family will have to traverse the apocalyptic wasteland in our Chrysler Pacifica. So I keep an earthquake kit in my car. I’m too lazy to make my own, so I bought this one.

I also have a roadside kit, tire patch/inflation kit, and a first aid kit.

Looking Good

I keep a brush, hand lotion, and like 9 lipstick colors in the center console in the front. Because if I’m jumping in a lake to get an algae sample for my kid’s microscope slide, you better believe I’m doing it with a bold lip.

I get sample palettes for free instead of buying lipsticks I’ll never use up

A Note on Screens

Originally we didn’t want screens in our van, but they were included with the package we wanted. It turns out we love them! We made it clear to the kids that we only use them when the drive will be more than an hour long. We only use them for DVDs, not streaming, so I have full control over what the kids watch on them. So far we have used car screen time to work on our Spanish.

For more guidance on screens, check out my other blog, Conscious Screen Time.

What are your must-haves in your car?

Celebrating Holi

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It seems appropriate to kick off this blog with a celebration of renewal!  For our adventure this past week we attended a Holi celebration at a friend’s house. 

What is Holi?

Holi is a Hindu celebration that takes place in March, on the day after the full moon closest to the first day of Spring. So if you’re looking for a local celebration, early March is a good time for a Google search. Holi celebrates the end of winter and beginning of spring. There are several different stories about the basis of Holi- like most religions’ celebrations of spring, they revolve around fertility, rebirth, and the triumph of good over evil. 

How do you celebrate? You basically just throw colored powder at each other. My art and mess loving kids loved it! There are huge celebrations, but my friend just bought the colored powder on Amazon and let the kids have at it in the yard- her toddler found the big public celebration too overwhelming, so doing it with just a few friends was perfect for the little ones. 

Experiencing Other Cultures is Important

Our family focuses on anti-bias education. This includes intentional exposure to and celebration of cultural and individual differences, and conscious discussion of issues surrounding bias (I like to use media to intentionally bring up particular issues). 

By exposing your child to various cultures and their celebrations, you can start laying the basis for respecting these cultures. You help your child understand the world, and prepare them to navigate different cultures in their future travels. 

How to Experience Other Cultures

  • Hanging out with friends: the best way to experience another culture is through someone you know! We are lucky to live in a diverse area and love sharing cultural celebrations with friends.  
  • Tavel: immersing yourself in another culture is a great way to learn about it
  • Public events: online searches and community center event guides can help you find these. 

Avoid Cultural Appropriation

When you use elements of a culture for entertainment or fashion without the consent of that minority group, you are getting into the area of cultural appropriation. This is a big deal because it strips these elements of their deeper meaning to that culture and reduces them to a novelty. 

For example, dressing up in a costume of someone from another culture generally means you are creating a caricature of that culture based on stereotypes. If your child is interested in traditional attire and you want an activity around that, try a coloring sheet with information on the style of dress and why it was culturally significant. Or check out this sticker book.

How do you teach your child about other cultures?

I’d love to hear other ideas! Comment below!