First The Photo: Throughout history Autumn has always been a time for organizing and preparing for the winter months ahead. A century ago, facing a winter unprepared could mean devastation for the entire family. Name the time-period when you believe this farm was in use as a bustling home.
Second The Question: Can you identify each structure in this photo and what it was used for? In the dark of night how would you find your way around this farm? What would happen in a blizzard when you couldn’t see structures even a few feet ahead of you? Can you plan-out some of the things that families needed to do to prepare for the harsh months ahead? Are you glad that you no longer live in that era or would you enjoy these challenges?
Third Next Step: Autumn, with all its hustle and bustle of back to school activities, continues to make it a wonderful time for families to prepare a routine of organization for the busy months ahead. Even simple things like: a weekly family meeting to go over the upcoming events, will help everyone in the family to feel less stressed and more prepared. Put together a chalkboard or dry erase board and set aside a few moments each Sunday evening to sit together as a family and list out daily and weekly activities. Discuss any stresses that any family members face in the upcoming week. This is a great time to organize rides, plan the menu, set goals, discuss chores and provide encouragement. A few minutes of family organization can ensure a smooth-running week for the whole gang.
First the Photo: Where do you enjoy reading? Have you ever read a book outside?
Second the Question: What are your favorite books? Do you chose a book by its pictures or by its story? Do you enjoy silly books or books with words that paint a story for your imagination?
Third Next Steps: How often do you visit your local library? Does your library offer unique ways to visit? Like a book mobile or a bike mobile? Or smaller satellite libraries? A Library is like a pirate ship..climb abroad and let the adventures begin..You can travel anywhere..pick a book about time travel, the oceans, animals or one full of cake recipes. One fun way to spend a rainy afternoon in the library is to put together a library scavenger hunt for the whole family. Compile a list of books, DVD’s, travel videos, Cookbooks, craft books, nonfiction, artwork and see who can find the entire list first. It is a wonderful way to re-introduce everyone to the wonder of Libraries.
First The Photo: Can you name this type of flower? Scroll down through the post and see if you can name all of the different flowers. Do you know what season each of the flowers bloom in?
Second The Question: Do you like to dig in the dirt? When the weather warms up in the spring do you feel like it is time to plant something? What do you like to grow best? Flowers, veggies, fruits or herbs? Have you ever planted a garden? Maybe it is a good time to start. Even if you don’t have a yard of your own, you can still plant some pots for the balcony or front stoop. Many things will grow in a medium sized pot. You will even get a small harvest if you choose to plant a vegetable seed. Some easy things for kids to grow: sunflowers, green beans, potatoes in a bin, zinnias, or basil.
Third Next Steps: If you want a great gift for a little gardener. Try making a year-round indoor garden for them to “dig, plant and harvest” from. I made this indoor garden plot from some vinyl I wrapped around tubes of soft batting. Then I found some simple patterns for felt fruits and vegetables. The final step was finding or making a small “wood” box to serve as the raised be container for my garden plot. This is a wonderful, no-dirt way to embrace a bit of indoor gardening no matter what the weather is like!
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First The Photo: Name each of the seasons you see in the picture. Can you list the seasons you experience where you live? What months do those seasons include?
Second The Questions: Which season is your favorite? What do you enjoy about that season? How does the outside world prepare for each season? What do animals do? What do trees and flowers do during each season? What is the weather like in your area during each season? For many people these seasonal changes outdoors affects how they interact with the world. Do you have activities that you do only in a particular season?
Third Next Steps: What feelings, sights, sounds and smells do you associate with each season? Write the words: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter across the top of a page. Under each heading list all of the things you think of for each season. Draw a picture for each season. Try to include a few of the items you listed and share those pictures with others. See if they can guess what season you are trying to portray simply by your hints in the drawing. Our daily lives revolve around subtle changes outside. We sometimes don’t even notice the pull of the days but they shape our interaction with the world. How we live, what we feel and what we do. Think of it as a dance where the weather leads and we modify our steps to each of the tunes it sings to us. Go outside today and listen to the seasons around you..Dance to the music of today.
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First The Picture: Open Air Markets or Farmer’s Markets are all over America..this is one of the most famous. Do you recognize it? Can you find it on a map?
Second The Question: Have you ever visited a Farmer’s Market and explored the treasures found in each booth? Most markets feature fresh produce, flowers and plants, but some even feature locally caught fish or seafood. What type of things are harvested in your area? Can you name some of the local crops, plants and ag-based products? Can you make a list, based upon the seasons of the year and the things that could be harvested in your area? Try to be as creative as you can. Many markets even feature home-baked products, canned goods and organic products.
Third Next Steps: Take a field trip to a Farmer’s Market as a family. Make a scavenger hunt game out of it. Take the list you made of seasonal products and see who can find all products beginning with one letter, or made from one crop. Explore the booths and come home with one idea that you would like to made or grow yourselves. Bring home all of the ingredients for a salsa, pie or salad. Spend the day enjoying your bounty. It is fun to visit with the people running the booth and learning a bit about life on a farm. Buying local is a wonderful way to celebrate the producers in your area. Dig in!
First The Photo: Instead of our usual scavenger hunt to find the place this photo was taken..Everyone: find the closest water source to your house.
Second The Question: Is it a lake, river, or the ocean? Is there a beach with sand or a dock to fish off of? What is your favorite way to enjoy water on a warm summer day? Do you run through the hose? Play in a pool? Fish for dinner or paddle a canoe? There is nothing like cool refreshing water on a hot day. Cools the body and relaxes the mind. Helps to wash away your troubles and infuses the day with a burst of refreshing energy that was sapped away by the sun.
Third Next Steps: Here are some creative things to do with water:
Fill some balloons with water, tie them to a string and play pinata! Or have people try to hit them with a dart to pop them while someone else gets splashed!
Draw a large crayon bulls-eye on a driveway or parking lot and give everyone a different colored sponge. Dip the sponge in a bucket of water aim for the bulls-eye. Everyone has to stand in a circle around the target so you get to feel the splash!
Put golf tees into styrofoam then place ping pong balls on top. Have everyone stand in a circle around the block..the same distance away and see who can dislodge the balls just with their stream of water.
Go wading in a pond and observe the tadpoles and fish swimming past your footsies!
First the Picture(s): Can you locate the place where each of these pictures was taken and can you name the type of civilization each of these communities once represented?
Second The Question: There are as many different ways to rule a group of people as there are civilizations to rule. You could be President of a Democracy or King/Queen of a monarchy. You could be a Pirate ruling the seas or a Dictator commanding an Empire. If you were in charge..what rules would you make? What things would you forbid? What would you make mandatory? Would you allow others to give input or would you demand that everyone do as you say?
Third Next Steps: After you dream of all the crazy rules you would make..try to think of the problems that come with being in charge? Can you see any down sides to ruling a group of people? What happens if the people you govern don’t like your ideas? What steps would you put in place if someone disagrees? What are things that rulers provide for the people they govern? Safety, structure, input, education, food, jobs? What would you provide?
Think of small communities and the people who rule them..Like a Family. Try letting each person be in charge for a day. Write down the rules you would set and then try to list the consequences of that rule. If you let everyone sleep as long as they want..what would happen? Or if each person ate whatever they wanted at every meal. Who would pay for all of that food? It is challenging to maintain balance within a small group of people imagine how hard it would be to run a country. You can see that it helps if the people that live in a country have the ability to give feedback and input to the rulers in charge?
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First The Picture: What do you know about birds? Do you know what type of bird this is? Can you tell if it is a boy or a girl? What things help us to know the gender of a bird? What types of things do birds eat? Do you put out food for the birds?
Second The Question: Some birds stay throughout the year and some birds migrate in and out of areas seasonally. As the winter months change to spring your bird population will change. This is a wonderful time to pay attention to birds outside and begin to notice your unique local bird population. Can you list the different types of birds that are in your area? Try to find images of the birds, both male and female on the computer or at the library. What is different between boy and girl birds? Why do you think they look so different?
Third Next Steps: Birds are amazing colorful, sweet sounding creatures. They add so much beauty to our world. Spend some time walking outside or watching out a window and see how many different types of birds you can find. Go for a hike in a park or at a nature center, bring along a pair of binoculars and spot as many different birds as you can. Spend some time sitting quietly and listen to the different calls that birds make. Visit you-tube and pull up videos of different birds. Another fun thing on-line is: the National Eagle Center has a webcam on their eagle’s nest where you can tune in and watch as they build their nest, lay their eggs and hatch out some eaglets. Click Here One of the most amazing things to do in the spring is to attend a bird banding. Look for nature centers, or regional parks in your area. Go to their website and look at their educational programming options. Many have bird banding sessions in the spring and they love to have help. It is usually free for you to attend. The experience is unforgettable. They actually gently catch birds in nets and then have volunteers hold the birds and place a band on their leg. Children can help with the guidance of an adult. It is awe inspiring for little ones to see a songbird up close and get a chance to feel their soft feathers. A truly memorable way to interact with our amazing bird population and a great way to kick off the spring!
First The Picture: Pull out a map, globe or atlas and find all of the areas that have snow during some time of the year. Don’t forget the southern hemisphere, their snow may come in different months than ours, but they can still have snow sometimes.
Second The Question: What is your winter weather like? Do you have snow where you live? Does it come often? How long does it stay? How do people deal with it; on streets, in their driveways and for school days? How much do you need to get to call a snow day? What do animals in your area do to prepare for the winter? What do you enjoy doing out in the cold?
Third Next Step: Spend some time outdoors this week. Take a walk or try a fun winter specific activity like: skating, cross country skiing, sledding or build a snow fort. One fun, easy thing to do in the snow is: Paint snow! You can: write a message, decorate a snow creation, build a huge shamrock for St. Patrick’s Day or create a colorful snowman or woman. It is simple..fill a clean spray container with water and add a few drops of food coloring. Make a variety of different colors. Then spray the snow…You no longer need to beware of the YELLOW snow if you create it this way! Have fun, be creative, Enjoy
First The Photo: What kind of animals are these? List all of the things you know about them: what noises do they make, what do they like to eat, where do they live, what do they have in common with you, what things are different?
Second The Question: Did you know that goats are typically born in sets of 2? An instant sibling, two peas in a pod. Who are your siblings? How old are they? What do you have in common? How do you differ from one another? What things do you like to do together? What is good about having a sibling? What would be good things about being an only child? What would be different if your sibling was a different gender? Or a different age? What do you like about your birth order? What do you wish was different?
Third Next Step: Siblings have a profound impact on the person we become. As a child we often forget about how our parent’s sibling relationships effected the person that they grew to become. Did they have the same fights that we have with our siblings?Talk with your parents and your grandparents about their sibling experiences. Start by drawing a family tree. Include your parent’s siblings(your aunts and uncles) and your grandparent’s siblings( your great aunts and uncles) add in their spouses and their children. Can you also add in birthdates, marriage dates and dates of any deaths. Now you are building your family genealogy. Where do each of your parents and grandparents fit in the birth order of their siblings? How did their upbringing differ if they were the first born, the middle child or the youngest child? Compare your experiences with anyone who shares your same birth order. Do you have some similar personality traits? Do you think it has anything to do with the order of your birth? Ask each person about the memories they have with their siblings. Do they have one sibling that they were closest to? Was that sibling close in age? Where they the same gender? Learn about how their relationships grew and changed as they became adults. How do they view their siblings now? What evolved in their relationships as they grew and started families of their own? This is a fun conversation to video tape. It can be fun to hear family memories and save them on tape to enjoy again later. Your history makes you who you are. Storing those memories creates a treasure trove of family folklore.
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