Birding Adventure On Wheels

I’m always looking for low traffic areas to take my kids on long bike rides. Anytime we’re all riding in town I feel like I’m herding cattle and so on edge when cars are nearby.  That’s why I was so happy to discover that the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge here in Utah provides a 12-mile loop that is far from the everyday hustle and bustle.

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First we stopped in at the visitor center to get a map and an idea of the road conditions.

To our surprise they handed us some binoculars and a colorful pamphlet full of pictures and names of the different types of birds we might see. bike trailer

The kids identified all the birds while I snapped some pictures…

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe stopped for a break at one point and sat really still just listening. All the birds were chattering back and forth so much that we bust out laughing. They sounded like an orchestra warming up.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd this guy was just showing off…

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Unfortunately the rain clouds came sweeping up behind us so we had to cut the ride a little short.

bird refuge bike ride 5 On our next visit I think I’ll bring sketch books for the kids to take some time to draw in and maybe some rain gear! I’ll end todays post with these birding tips for families from the National Audubon Society. Enjoy!

Survival Day For Kids

When our entire family manages to sit down together and watch some TV we usually end up watching America’s Funniest Home Videos or the Discovery Channel’s Dual Survivor on Netflix. The former usually teaches us what NOT to do (stand behind the person taking a swing at a piñata). The Later usually teaches us what TO DO. Yet both are very entertaining!

Dave, a military trained survival instructor and Cody, a naturalist and primitive-skills expert are the dynamic duo of Dual Survivor, picture G.I. Joe and a hippie hanging out together. It’s fun to watch. My kids like it so much that I decided to host our own survival day.

survival day for kids

In the show they often talk about …

The 5 C’s Of Survival

  1. Cordage
  2. Container
  3. Cutting Tool
  4. Combustion
  5. Cover

These are the 5 most important things you want to have when it comes to staying alive in the wilderness. I tried to hit on all of these points throughout our day in the “wilderness” aka our local campground.

First we found some cordage. We kind of cheated on this one and brought some vines from our back yard that grow like crazy sauce. They were strong enough for my oldest son to lash together three large sticks to make a teepee sort of device to hold our container of water over the fire.

Lashing poles with vines

Second the kids made fire, because they weren’t getting any breakfast unless they got a fire going to sanitize the water to make oatmeal. The cutting tool they used to gather firewood was a hatchet. We talked about cutting distances, keeping your tool clean and how to sharpen it.

The combustion they used was a magnesium fire starter, which was not easy. It took all of us several tries to get it going. The main thing we learned was to be patient and scrape together a huge pile of magnesium shavings before trying to spark them.Magnesium shavings

Survival Day Build A FireFire Starting Nature For Kids

My number 3 was the cook on site. She took her responsibility very seriously, can you tell? We used an old cooking pot as a container.boil water over fire

After eating, the kids created some cover by building a lean-to using cordage and some logs they gathered.

Nature For Kids Survival Shelter

By this time you can see they were reverting back to their natural caveman instincts.

Next we made spears by carving and fire-hardening the ends. They were sooooo into this…

fire hardening spear

Next we went out looking for medicinal plants using a book I got off of Amazon that is specifically for our region.

Medicinal Plants Nature For Kids

They found some yarrow root and read that if you chew on it, it can numb your gums if you have a tooth ache. So of course they had to test it out and purposely talked like Sid the Sloth for the rest of the day.

We also found these huge leaves from a plant that we couldn’t identify but its uses were quickly pointed out…

“Look mom it’s a cup!”

drink out of leaf

“Look Mom it’s a hat”

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At the end of the day we did some target shooting with the blowgun.

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That’s when they went all “Lord of the Flies” on me and I decided it was time to head back to civilization.

blowgun bullseye

It was a super fun day spent with my kids and they already have said they want to do it again. I’m going to have to up my game and have them burn out a canoe with some coals or something. Overall I think they gained more of a respect for those who have gone before them and it made me realize I’m not as self sufficient as I thought. Time to watch more Dual Survivor I guess.

l8rsk8rs – Shawna
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Spirals Found In Nature

I’m not a huge fan of juniper bushes and our front yard was loaded with them…

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So I prepped the kids with long sleeves and gloves and as I cut they pulled them out and loaded them in the trailer…

juniper bushes

It was a major job. And after three loads to the green dump we were finally done.

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There were several snails that ran for cover as we went about our work so we took a break for some entertainment…

snails

Seeing them all made me think of a book we’ve been reading called Swirl by Swirl, written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes.

read swirl by swirl

swirl by swirl

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The book is a visual tour of all things spiral in nature. Our favorite illustration in the book is of the ram horns. But all the pages are definitely frameable art!

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Beth Krommes 2011, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

I’m adding this book to our Nature Books Page. (Thank you Shar for introducing us to it last year!)

SOMETHING FUN TO DO WITH THE KIDS

On the book’s website there is a readers guide that provides instructions on how to make a tornado in a bottle, a spiral mobile and other fun projects!

Take a look at this short video to get a better idea of what the book’s about…

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My kids are constantly pointing out spirals they see in nature now, it’s become somewhat addictive to look for the pattern! And don’t worry about the snails, they were transplanted into a neighboring (non-prickly) bush!

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Snow Fort Construction And A New App Called Vine

We spent a lovely weekend together as a family, Saturday being the highlight with the construction of a snow fort that is now gracing our front yard.

Our intentions were to go outside long enough to just shovel sidewalks and driveways for some of our elderly neighbors but once the work was done the kids were naturally drawn to the heaping mound of untouched snow.

Within an hour there was a snow bunker established for an eminent snowball fight.

We thought the experience was the perfect opportunity to try out a new app we downloaded called Vine. It’s very similar to instagram, but with very short looped video. We’re talking like riding a bull short… Here’s our first post shown below.

If you have an account come follow us (username: NatureForKids) and share your outdoor vids too. I’m sure between us all we can make some noise about getting kids outside and having fun in nature!

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There’s A Party Outside, No Invitation Needed

Last weekend we loaded some snow equipment in the car and took off for our local recreation area (Mantua, Ut). We really didn’t know what we were going to do, we didn’t even have enough gear for all of us to do any one activity together. But we knew we just needed to get out of the house, so we took off and decided to wing it.

When we got up there it looked like there was a party going on that we didn’t get an invitation to.

It was exciting to see the wide range of activities everyone was participating in. And I’m pleased to say there were kids in almost every group we came across. I ended up just taking pictures, Damon cross-country skied with the younger kids and the older ones snowboarded and snow skated down a nearby hill.

While looking through the lens of my camera and focusing on all these people having a great time outside I realized the best thing about the outdoors is that you never need an invitation to explore it. It’s just waiting for us to come and play.

What’s the latest thing you did outside for fun?

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