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Exploring

Fun, Low Organization Educational Activities that can be done at home.

As parents comply with the restrictions placed on families, how can they keep their young children occupied? This article describes two fun activities that require very little planning. They involve physical activity, practice with observational skills, and an awareness of nature. This is intended as an in-family activity, as the government has required that we stay isolated within our own family unit.

Treasure Hunt:   Physical Activity, Map Reading, Observation skills:

Setting up a treasure hunt requires a little pre-planning. This treasure hunt required setting out quarters along a 1.5 km pathway that we had walked the previous day. The maps were placed in our mailbox, and the clues identified places with exotic names such as “Sitting Rock”.

At Sitting Rock, a quarter was hidden along its bench top. The treasure hunt ended at the opening of a pasture. There, a two hour walk began.

Nature Walk:

Physical activity, Observational skills, Events in nature, health and safety

Bear Scat was found on the trail, filled with undigested seeds likely stolen from a bird feeder.
Coyote scat was also found, with small bits of its latest meal. This is cottontail fur.
We kept a close eye on the ticks that invariably migrate onto our clothes. Wearing socks, light coloured long pants helps. My granddaughter held still for the photo opp. Many questions were asked, including are they a spider? No, they are sufficiently different that they are in a separate order altogether. Are they dangerous? Often their bite doesn’t even trigger an allergic reaction. They can pass on diseases, and so precautions are required. About 30 % of the ticks in this area carry the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease. Ticks on clothing can be removed using masking tape. Ticks that have started to feed can be removed with a tick puller. Health authorities suggest that ticks need to be removed within the first 24 hours, to prevent Lyme Disease. Always consult a doctor if there is any concern of infection.
On nature walks, my grandkids began to notice the small often ignored beauty of the forest. This beautiful moss shows the spore stalks rising above the green, leafy parent. The stalk will release spores that will allow the moss to colonize new areas of the forest. They will later learn, in high school biology, that the roots are not true roots, and moss lack a vascular system. With no roots or vascular system, how do they get the nutrients from the ground to the top of the plant?
While a bit hard to see, this swan provided a rare find for my two grandchildren. What was most important, is that they had some time on their own, exploring without having an adult directly hovering over their shoulder. Here they found a place without boundaries, where they were free to discover. They could get wet, muddy, trip and fall and not be in trouble

While remaining isolated, the time can still be productive. Our children can continue to learn using nature as a classroom. Keep in mind that restricted travel and isolation are our two strategies to prevent spreading infection. Stay safe.

Dave Gervais

STAO Safety Committee Chair

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