Happy Earth Day!

I wish every day was Earth Day….and yes, I remember the first one very well!

One of the things I did today was take the grandkids down to the beach for a long walk…

unnamed (2)We had to stop and skip some stones….

unnamed (1)Climb and run and leap along the jetty…..

unnamedAnd share treasures like this skate egg case with Grandma….

I wish all kids could get out and walk on the beach, in the woods, in a field, even along a neighborhood street. If you know a kid that needs to get outside, don’t be shy. Take them outside!

Happy Earth Day!




Get the kids outside!

Today is March 1 and we all know what that means! There may be snow on the ground and snow in the forecast but spring is on its way.

March is a great month to get the kids outside. There’s so much to see and do and new sights and sounds are arriving daily. The best parts of just getting outside? it doesn’t cost a penny, needs no special tools or knowledge and it’s fun!

DSC01005The hardest part of getting kids outside these days is actually getting them outside. Inside they have many easy distractions, as do we. Just get them out the door and ignore the pouting and whining. And yes, pouting and whining does happen.

Kids are natural explorers. Just go for a walk. Pick any place you like. Be prepared for exuberance and lack of direction. Be prepared for early complaints but by the end, be prepared for a hard time getting them ready to turn back around and head home. Let them poke about, look under and over stuff, inside stuff and around stuff. Let them laugh and hop and holler, too. I know, many birders have a hard time with this philosophy but I’m betting most birders did a little whooping and hollering when they were kids outside….

DSC05484Some kids like to write or draw when they are outside but many do not. Many prefer to climb and jump and look under rocks. Try not to correct them too often. I always give kids the rules of the path, beach or pond before we head out. I tell them to be kind to all living things, plant or animal, no matter how big or small. I ask them to return rocks and logs to their original spots gently so they don’t disrupt too much and to be mindful that even the smallest patch of grass or dead branch is a community to some living being. Even very young children can understand this and need few reminders. They probably need more reminders about their own physical limitations such as their lack of ability to really fly like a bird.

DSC00945If you see something cool, point it out! Let them point things out, too. Many kids like to collect rocks, leaves or shells. Just remind them not to put live things in their pockets.

I am out with kids a lot and even the oldest ones that whine the most about how boring it is to not have their video games or phones on hand will be enjoying the walk before they know it. Older kids rarely get outside any more unless someone takes them so if you know an older kid that is turning into a couch potato, take them out. Let them bring a friend but leave the phones at home. They may grumble but probably not for long. There’s freedom in not being connected all the time, a valuable lesson that you can give them for free.

025If you know how to skip a stone, whittle a twig, make a whistle out of a blade of grass or acorn cap, by all means show a kid how to do it. Let them build a fairy house or a tower of stones and let them show you how to hop across rocks to cross a stream. Never mind that you’ve done it before. Let them be the first to have ever done it. While they’re at it, show them how to make little boats from twigs and leaves and have a little race.

Even in March we can do all these things, though maybe not the wading at the beach part. We can, however, walk a beach looking for whale spouts and other wonderful signs of spring. We can watch thousands of sea ducks gather to fly north and we can watch for the first ospreys to return to the Cape once again.

Dress warmly, get a kid and go have some fun. Get outside!





Kids love to draw and be outside….

I know this is true…

This little girl was jumping up and down, pulling her friend’s hair and screaming really loudly just before she sat down to draw….she sat like this for over half an hour filling page after page with pictures of leaves, flowers, birds and bugs…. Continue reading

Let the kids loose….

This post was originally published in the Cape Codder on August 10, 2012 as my column, Nature’s Ways. It has been a popular column so I am reprinting it here for readers who do not get the Cape Codder (since it is not available online)

Gather any group of folks of a certain age and at some point in the conversation the point will be made that when we were young our parents sent us out for the day and told us to come home when the street lights came on. Some had a bell to listen for, some had a lesson to be home for but mostly, we ran pretty freely through our neighborhoods, the woods, the fields and around the ponds. It doesn’t take long for these same groups to lament the lack of freedom today’s kids have accompanied by a lot of head shaking and making of concerned faces but no solutions are really offered. Everyone just agrees that the world has changed, alas….. Continue reading

Summer Days….

Have left me busy enough to not be blogging and I have a lot to catch up on. Here are some photos from some recent trips I’ve done with families to do some nature journaling and exploring.

Water lilies always make great subjects.This young lady is exploring all sorts of marine goodies we dragged up in a net.A frog had left the pond and was hanging out under the bushes in the shade so this artist got right down on the ground to draw it.Can you see the frog?

Kids and Nature

Kids and nature are a natural mix and just a simple walk can be full of all sorts of wonders.

You might spy a painted turtle on a rock.
You could stop at a bird blind along the way to see what you could see.

You might see a red-winged blackbird singing and showing off his red epaulets.

You could find a caterpillar like this wooly bear crossing the path. Notice how it curls up to protect itself.
Or a box turtle. This lady was the first to be found on the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary this season. She was brought in to the center to be weighed and measured and checked to see if she was a sanctuary regular. The sanctuary has been keeping records of the box turtle population there for many years and kids love to be part of gathering the data.

Or some Fowler’s toads. These gentlemen had taken a wrong turn and were found in a damp stairwell when we went outside to play some games after lunch. Their black chins and release noise told us they were males. Toads often can’t seem to tell the difference between males and females if they are excited about mating and the males have a special noise they make to let other males know they are not females. The kids were very excited to touch and hold these little toads before we released them far from the stairwell.

What did you see today?