And that's really the best part of the season, letting your imagine stretch as you explore the incredible miracles in the world of nature. One of the ingredients for a great exploration trip is doing a little research first. Excellent sources offering a wealth of information on many outdoor explorations with children include: On-line and standard encyclopedias, internet searches, libraries, book stores, county environmental offices (they're listed in your phone book and their information is free), scouting handbooks (the ones intended for leaders are usually terrific), and children's publications (our favorites include Big Backyard and Ranger Rick, both published by the National Wildlife Federation).
You could narrow your search to one topic or choose several. For example, a recent trip included looking for spiders and birds. We had a book showing various kinds of regional spiders and their webs. It told us where to look for the webs and how to identify them. The difference between the funnel web of a grass spider and the zig zag web of a garden spider made for an interesting search. We even awarded points for the person who found the most spiders or webs on our list. It helped also to know which were poisonous and which were relatively safe.
Our on-line encyclopedia gave us a nice variety of birdcalls and by watching and listening, we were able to catalogue several different types of birds in our area. We took photos and added them to our Nature Notebooks. We then observed the birds at the bird feeders for a few weeks, and learned to predict some weather patterns by the birds activity's at the feeder. Frantic feeding usually indicated an imminent storm.
We seem to find endless different search topics and I enjoy learning along with the kids. They may not remember all they've learned, but they're learning how to learn. How to look. How to find. How to see and appreciate and record the various information. And most important of all, how to respect and appreciate the mysterious, miraculous world of nature that's all around us. Wow, that sounds like a woodpecker...