Let’s Take It Outside

images-1

By: Angy Talbot (ECFE Blog Writer)

One of the great advantages of our ECFE program is the Nature Explore Center at Handke.  It is a wondrous outdoor environment where children can experience the great outdoors first hand to explore and use their senses in a safe location.  Children and families can come and discover this natural wonderland of flowers, plants, and nature tools to play and learn in the fresh air and earthly abundance.  Living in Minnesota, we have numerous lakes, trails, forests and parks with nature all around us.   If you take a good look outside, you can find nature everywhere from a plant growing in a crack on the side walk, a bird flying in the sky, or a bug crawling in the grass.  We don’t have to go very far to experience nature and the outdoors with our children.  Here are a few tips to help get you started to exploring the great outdoors:

  • Go on a Nature Walk/Hike: You can find and observe different birds, insects, plants, animals, or water sources while looking at the sky, ground and all that is around you.  Bring a backpack on your walk to collect small treasures from rocks, leaves, acorns, or pinecones.  You can also take pictures of things you see and later make a picture book identifying or researching what was found.
  • Go on a Nature Scavenger Hunt: Look for different items in nature and check off all the different items you can find. http://thebirdfeednyc.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Scavenger-Hunt-Nature-Walk.pdf
  • Nature Study: Take some time to study and research about different leaves, trees, bugs, or whatever interests your child.   Give your child a magnifying glass or binoculars and have them find something they would like to explore and learn more about.   If they find a worm on the sidewalk, this can be a great opportunity to learn about worms.
  • Nature Journal (Observe and Draw): Have a nature journal for your child. It could be a notebook or construction paper stapled together.  Have colored pencils or crayons available for your child to draw pictures of what they see or feel.  Children can also do tree or leaf rubbings and tape findings to the journal pages.
  • Sit, Watch and Listen: Take some time to go outside and just relax.  Lay or sit still in silence for 5 minutes or so helping your child to take in all they can see, hear or feel.  Then after, talk about the experience sharing and asking questions about these moments and what was witnessed, felt, smelt, or heard.
  • Play Outside: You can do almost anything outside!   You can read a book, do art projects, have a picnic, watch clouds, play a game, ride bikes, blow bubbles, fly a kite, plant a garden, search for bugs, run through the sprinkler, sing songs, dance to music, swing, bird watch, play ball, or take a nap!

Playing outdoors gives children the opportunity to explore and take risk.  It exposes children to nature and helps them to learn about the world.  It let’s children be kids by running, rolling, jumping and climbing.   It gets them off the coach and the devices and guides them to use their bodies, mind and soul.   “I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel when introducing a young child to the natural world. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil.”  -Rachel Carson, A Sense of Wonder

Below are some great outdoor fun resources:

NAEYC for Families:

http://families.naeyc.org/content/11-reasons-take-kids-outside

http://families.naeyc.org/learning-and-development/music-math-more/explore-great-outdoors-your-child

Outside activities to do with your children:

http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2012/03/50-simple-outdoor-activities-for-kids.html

http://happyhooligans.ca/category/outdoor-play/

Getting outside in nature:

Sherburne County Wildlife Refuge

https://www.fws.gov/refuge/sherburne/

http://www.exploresherburne.org/

Sherburne County Parks and Recreation Attractions

https://www.co.sherburne.mn.us/parksRec/attractions.php

Minnesota State Parks

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/index.html

Nature Explore Classrooms

https://natureexplore.org/

Fun Summer Activities!

images

By: Angy Talbot (ECFE Blog Writer)

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy all the fun places you can go in Minnesota with the kids! Listed below is a list of activities and places of interest around our state and town:

Como Zoo and Conservatory

http://www.comozooconservatory.org/

Not only can you visit the animals and gardens, the zoo and conservatory offers many different activities, classes and programs.

Harriet Alexander Nature Center

http://www.ci.roseville.mn.us/index.aspx?nid=183

The boardwalk and trails circulate through 52 acres of marsh, prairie and forest habitats.

Sherburne County Fair

http://sherburnecountyfair.org/

July 20th – July 23rd

Oliver Kelly Farm

http://sites.mnhs.org/historic-sites/oliver-h-kelley-farm

Riverfront Concerts

http://www.elkrivermn.gov/index.aspx?NID=858

Check out the Thursday night downtown Elk River Riverfront Concert Series all summer long.

Parks in our community (bike, hike, walk, picnic)

http://elkrivermn.gov/index.aspx?NID=888

Elk River Library

https://griver.org/

Many family events and story times

Music in the Park, Big Lake

http://www.aroundthecloud.org/org/detail/220185546/The_Legacy_Foundation_of_Big_Lake

Thursdays, 7:00 pm

Historical Fort Snelling

http://www.historicfortsnelling.org/

Free for children under 5 years old.

Family Days

http://www.familydaysout.com/kids-things-to-do-usa/elk-river/mn/

List of LOTS of family days and places to go throughout the state.

Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge

http://www.exploresherburne.org/

Many free events/programs throughout the year from butterfly to bird tours.

Bunker Beach Water Park

http://www.bunkerbeach.com/

Minnesota’s largest outdoor water park

Anoka Aquatic Center

http://www.ci.anoka.mn.us/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={4EEF4901-5699-4217-818F-58ECC6E8B0EF}

Outdoor swimming, pool and water slide

Elk River YMCA

https://www.ymcamn.org/locations/elk_river_ymca?utm_source=google&utm_medium=local&utm_campaign=local%20search

Elk River Residents can get 4 free passes a year!

Hope you can get to some of these entertaining places this summer. As we all know, Minnesota summers are short!   Summer time is one the best times to spend with family enjoying these carefree moments and the warm weather. We can’t forget that school days are just around the corner!

 

 

 

 

Get Moving!

Featured

images

By:  Angy Talbot (ECFE Blog Writer)

As a child, I never thought about exercise or even knew what that meant.  We would bike ride, roller skate, or run around the block or throughout our neighborhood.  We spent most of our playtime outside always moving.  Even in the winter, we were skating for hours on the outside ice rink or sliding up and down, “Monkey Hill.”  The great feat was trucking back up the big hill to slide back down again.  I rarely sat still, watching TV was something we only did on Saturday mornings, and computers and video games were not yet in the homes of American families.

Today, families are bombarded with social media and digital gadgets.  In fact, children spend an average of three hours a day watching television!  Children no longer run around the neighborhood all day returning home when the streetlights turn on.  Children spend more time in-doors, spending less time moving and more time sitting still.  Exercise is now something that needs to be planned or embedded into the day’s schedule.  From the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention states that, “Children should be getting at least one- hour of physical activity every day.”  In order for children to be healthy, physical activity is essential.

Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore or work . . . it should be fun!  Large motor development is significant for growing children.  Physical activity should be age-appropriate.  For young children, exercise is using their muscles and simply moving their bodies.  Parents play a significant part in helping their child become more physically active.  Listed below are 11 ways suggested by the American Academy of Pediatrics to get started:

  1. Talk with your pediatrician.  Your pediatrician can help your child understand why physical activity is important.  Your pediatrician also can suggest a sports activity that is best for your child.
  2. Find a fun activity.  Help your child find a sport that she enjoys.  The more she enjoys the activity, the more likely it is that she will continue.  Get the entire family involved.  It is a great way to spend time together.
  3. Choose an activity that is developmentally appropriate.  For example, a seven-year old in not ready for weight lifting or a three-mile run, but soccer, bike riding, and swimming are appropriate activities.
  4. Plan ahead.  Make sure your child has a convenient time and place to exercise.
  5. Provide a safe environment.  Make sure your child’s equipment and chosen site for the sport or activity are safe.  Make sure your child’s clothing is comfortable and appropriate.
  6. Provide active toys.  Young children especially need easy access to balls, jump ropes and other active toys.
  7. Be a role model.  Children who regularly see their parents enjoying sports and physical activity are more likely to do so themselves.
  8. Play with your child.  Help her learn a new sport.
  9. Turn off the TV!   Limit television watching and computer or digital game use.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one to two hours of total screen time, including TV, videos, computers, and video games each day.  Use the free time for more physical activities.
  10. Make time for exercise.  Some children are so over-scheduled with homework, music lessons, and other planned activities that they do not have time for exercise.
  11. Do not overdo it.  When your child is ready to start, remember to tell her to listen to her body.  Exercise and physical activity should not hurt.  If this occurs, your child should slow down or try a less vigorous activity.  As with any activity, it is important not to overdo it.

Source: Encourage Your Child to Be Physically Active (Copyright © 2003 American Academy of Pediatrics, Last updated 6/3/2013)

Physical activity begins as young as infancy from tummy time to crawling.   Physical activity should be enjoyment for children.  Physical activity promotes a healthy body and life style.  Just get your body moving and have your children involved by going for a bike ride, nature walk, or building a snowman.   There are many benefits to exercise from a better nights sleep, maintaining a healthier body, and improving motor coordination (just to name a few).

“Motivation is what gets you started.  Habit is what keeps you going.”  ~Jim Ryan.  I hope you become motivated to incorporate exercise into your family life.    Physical activity doesn’t have to be labor; we just need to strive to find the time for physical play and enjoyment!  As famously put by Nike, “Just Do It!”

Here are some resources on physical activity for children:

Exercise For Kids

http://www.parenting.com/fitgeneration

Kids Exercise: The 4 Types You Need

http://fit.webmd.com/kids/move/article/exercise-types

The Many Benefits of Exercise

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/exercise.html

25 Exercise Games and Activities

https://mommypoppins.com/newyorkcitykids/25-exercise-games-indoor-activities-for-kids

Physical Activity in Early Childhood

http://www.excellence-earlychildhood.ca/documents/parenting_2011-04.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FALL BUCKET LIST

Featured

images

By: Angy Talbot (ECFE Blog Writer/Discovery Learning Teacher)

I love making lists and a bucket list is especially fun. Each month I make a list of ideas for the season. I get lots of inspiration from Pinterest and fun activities that we have done as a family each year. Here is a fun filled Bucket List for Fall:

• Go on a hayride
• Go to a pumpkin patch
• Make an apple or pumpkin pie
• Have a campfire
• Go to an apple orchard
• Stay up until dark and watch the stars and moon
• Drink apple cider hot or cold (depending on the weather)
• Make a pile of leaves and jump in it
• Go to your local high school football game
• Go through a corn maze
• Collect acorns and leaves
• Watch Halloween kids movies – My favorite is, “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”
• Leaf rubbings with crayons
• Break out the fall wardrobe and jackets
• Fly a kite
• Run/walk a mini-marathon
• Go to the farmers market
• Decorate the house in fall colors and window decals
• Make homemade soup with the kids
• Go trick or treating
• Roast pumpkin seeds
• Carve pumpkins
• Make pinecone bird feeders
• Host a Halloween party
• Make a costume from scratch
• Send homemade Halloween cards
• Bob for apple
• Make Carmel apples
• Plant a tree
• Take family photos outside
• Visit a farm
• Go to a fall festival
• Take a hike
• Go on a leaf drive during the leaf color peak
• Read outside
• Picnic in the park
• Take a flashlight walk at night
• Plant fall flowers
• Make S’mores
• Ride Bikes
• Make a gratitude jar
• Photo shot in Halloween costumes
• Play outdoors whenever possible
• Go to the zoo
• Donate to the food bank
• Enjoy the weather!

What’s on your Fall Bucket List?

Outdoor Fun Around Town!

Featured

imgres

By: Angy Talbot (ECFE Blog Writer)

Summer is the perfect time of year to enjoy all the fun places you can go in Minnesota with the kids! Listed below is a list of activities and places of interest around our state and town that you can do outdoors:

Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge
https://www.fws.gov/refuge/sherburne/
Free Family Event Schedule 2016
https://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/2016%20Event%20Schedule(2).pdf
Wildlife and nature viewing from sandhill cranes, eagles, plants, butterflies and the smallest of the animal species.

Elm Creek Park Reserve
https://www.threeriversparks.org/parks/elm-creek-park.aspx
The park features more than 20 miles of paved hiking and biking trails, miles of turf hiking trails, a chlorinated swimming pond, children’s play area and more!

Downtown Elk River Riverfront Concerts
http://www.elkrivermn.gov/DocumentCenter/View/469
Check out the Thursday night live concerts at downtown Elk River’s Rivers Edge Commons Park all summer long.

Oliver Kelly Farm
http://sites.mnhs.org/historic-sites/oliver-h-kelley-farm
Meet the animals in the barn and help work on the farm by picking vegetables or churning butter in the kitchen.

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
http://www.arboretum.umn.edu/
Over 1,100 acres of gardens, woods and trails.

Walker Arts Center Sculpture Garden
http://www.walkerart.org/calendar/2008/walker-on-the-green-artist-designed-mini-golf
There are many free events including Free First Saturdays.

Como Zoo and Conservatory
http://www.comozooconservatory.org/
Not only can you visit the animals and gardens, the zoo and conservatory offers many different activities, classes and programs. Blooming Butterflies opened on June 17th.

Minnehaha Regional Park
https://www.minneapolisparks.org/parks__destinations/parks__lakes/minnehaha_regional_park/
Minnehaha Regional Park covers 167 acres of nature, gardens and waterfalls.

Harriet Alexander Nature Center
http://www.ci.roseville.mn.us/index.aspx?nid=183
The boardwalk and trails circulate through 52 acres of marsh, prairie and forest habitats.

Woodland Trails Park – Elk River
http://www.elkrivermn.gov/facilities/Facility/Details/31
Bike, walk or hike the trails.

Lake Maria State Park – Monticello
http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/lake_maria/index.html
The marshes, potholes, and lakes provide excellent habitat for wildlife.

Things to do in Elk River with the kids!
http://www.familydaysout.com/kids-things-to-do-usa/elk-river/mn
Many activities and attractions listed with detailed information and directions to each location.

There are so many ways to explore Minnesota and there is so much that our state has to offer. For even more events and activities go to:
Explore Minnesota
http://www.exploreminnesota.com/things-to-do/

Time to put on the sunscreen and discover all that summer has to offer. See the sights and travel around! Minnesota summers sure fly by . . . so take pleasure in it while you can. We’ll be shoveling snow soon enough!

Winter Family Fun List

Featured

images

By: Angy Talbot (ECFE Blog Writer)

Finally, we can enjoy the snow and have some winter excitement! There are so many great activities you can do with the family during the winter months. Here’s an entertaining list of ideas you can do with the kiddos indoors when the weather gets cold and ways to have a blast outside!
• Build a snowman or snow family
• Go sledding or tubing
• Go ice-skating
• Have a snowball fight
• Pajama day
• Movie marathon day
• Bake cookies
• Go through old photo albums of your childhood with the kids
• Look through family pictures or watch home movies
• Get up early and go out to breakfast
• Family game night
• Take a walk in the snow (especially when snowing)
• Sit by a fire indoors or out
• Go to the local community center for open swimming
• Go ice-fishing
• Catch snowflakes on your tongue
• Indoor or outdoor scavenger hunt
• Spa day at home
• Do arts and crafts
• Donate canned goods to a food shelf
• Have a dance contest
• Make funny home videos
• Sip homemade hot chocolate
• Take pictures in the snow
• Play with play dough
• Build an indoor fort with blankets and pillows
• Build a snow fort or igloo
• Make paper snowflakes
• Assemble a jigsaw puzzle
• Make bird feeders
• Snuggle under the blankets with a good book
• Make apple cider
• Play in the snow and make snow angels
• Take a bubble bath
• Draw self-portraits
• Go to the library
• Donate old clothes and toys to charity
• Go to a local hockey game
• See a play
• Go to the movies (don’t forget to get popcorn)
• Have an indoor picnic
• Create snow paintings (try water colors in the snow)
• Bake bread
• Find animal tracks
• Make different types of tracks in the snow
• Make popcorn and try different toppings
• Take a train ride
• Go to a museum
• Go to the zoo
• Have breakfast for dinner
• Blow bubbles outside
• Plan your summer family vacation
• Make homemade pizza
• Visit an indoor bounce house
• Go to the roller rink
• Make a meal from another country or culture
• Learn to say, “I love you” in different languages
• Go to a planetarium
• Give to those in need or volunteer together as a family
• Winter star gaze
• Shovel snow (let the kids help, small shovels work great)
• Go bowling
• Go play ball in an indoor gym
• Take a scenic drive
• Enjoy a sunset
• Make New Year’s Resolutions
• Take a family NAP

The Power of Nature

Featured

images

By: Angy Talbot

“As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unselfconsciously to the soughing of the trees.” ~Valerie Andrews

When I was a child, I was exposed to and experienced nature in many ways. Each year we spent a week at Itasca State Park. During our visit, we would tent; make campfires, go swimming in the lake, hike, and fish. One of my favorite things to do was to bike ride the Wilderness Trail where we would stop to take hikes in the woods to see various natural landmarks along the way. We would witness so many beautiful species, plants, and trees along our path. I can still smell the fresh scent of cedar and lake water. Once my father and I stopped at the Pioneer Cemetery. We were the only visitors. I remember the moment, it was so peaceful and I could hear what seemed like every sound in the woods from the rustle of leaves to waves hitting the shore. As we sat in silence, little did we know that we had a visitor watching us. No more than a few feet away stood a fawn standing in the path looking at us with such an intense stare. I couldn’t help but stand and walk toward this stunning creature. At the time, I was just 8 years old. As I approached the deer, it too approached me. I was able to get close enough to pet this wild animal like it was a pet on a farm. My father who was in complete shock, grabbed his camera only to drop a roll of film on the ground which startled the young fawn to run back into the woods. I had no idea at the time what a great honor it was for me to have lived out that moment. My father was disappointed that he didn’t have the opportunity to snap a picture of this rare occurrence. I recall many other great memories of my childhood in those special moments experiencing nature with those I loved. As a parent, I have tried to recreate some cherished moments I had with my family. There are so many opportunities to engage and connect our children to nature! Children today do not spend as much time outdoors in the natural world. I feel fortunate as a teacher that we have a magnificent Nature Explore Center on our school grounds. It is a natural environment with gardens, trees, grass, flowers, and a hill. There are also different medians for the children to work and play with from instruments, sand, climbing, building, and relaxing. I see so much creativity, cooperation, and exploration in their play when they are outside in nature experiencing our Earth. The bugs are no longer scary and all they can see, hear, touch, and smell heightens the children’s senses. Giving children opportunities in nature will provide memories to cherish for a lifetime. This time can be spent at the park, beach, in the woods, and lets not forget about our own back yards! The cost is simply priceless.
Here is a list of places that you can take your children right here in Minnesota to explore the powers and wonders of nature:
Sherburne County National Wildlife Refuge
http://exploresherburne.org/_index.php

Spring brook Nature Center
http://www.springbrooknaturecenter.org/

Elm Creek Park and Preserve
http://www.threeriversparks.org/parks/elm-creek-park.aspx

Minnesota State Parks
http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/index.html

Tamarack Nature Center
https://parks.co.ramsey.mn.us/tamarack/Pages/tamarack.aspx

Oliver Kelly Farm
http://sites.mnhs.org/historic-sites/oliver-h-kelley-farm

These are just a few places that you can go to discover nature. There are so many neighboring parks near and in every city of Minnesota. So take some time and enjoy this wonderful physical world we live in with your children.