As we move further into fall, our days are cooler and sunsets arriving sooner. The comfortable temperatures and beautiful fall foliage coax many of us outside for walking, hiking and biking.
Our inspiration book this month is Get Your Kids Hiking by Jeff Alt 796.51083 A465G, a new addition to our adult non-fiction collection. Because it doesn’t require any special skills or equipment, walking is a great form of exercise at any age thereby an excellent option for quality family time. Alt breaks out his chapters for planning family hikes based on children’s age groups offering tips and suggestions for making hikes safe and fun. A chapter is also devoted to hiking with special needs children. Some noteworthy points from chapter 1…
Walking and hiking strengthens muscles and joints, maintains healthy body weight and boosts your immune system.
Hiking as a form of exercise increases endorphins in the brain bringing about positive thoughts.
Hiking inspires creativity. Taking yourself out of your “box” (normal routine) allows you to think outside of it more freely. When you’re refreshed you can more successfully realign your focus and goals.
For a briefer tutorial, check out “Hit the Trail” in the September 2012 issue of Family Fun Magazine at http://www.parents.com/fun/activities/outdoor/hit-the-trail/
Nature hikes offer a multitude of educational opportunities especially observation of plant life. An easy, multi-step activity you could incorporate is the Sock Walk found in Go Outside! Over 130 activities for outdoor adventures By Nancy Blakey J796 B637g. You’ll need…
an old long sock, magnifying glass, potting soil, water-filled spray bottle, 9x13 baking pan & newspaper
Pull the sock over your shoe and pants and go for a walk in an over grown grassy area (take precaution for ticks if prevalent in your area). Once home, remove the sock carefully and use the magnifying glass to observe the trapped seeds. Next, fill the sock with damp potting soil. Spray the outside of the sock with water and lay in the baking pan. Fold a chunk of newspaper under one end of pan to tip it slightly. Add enough water to the pan so it pools at bottom so the sock can soak it up. Put pan in a warm sunny place. Keep the sock damp over the next 10 days by adding water to the pan when it dries out. Mist the sock with the spray bottle every other day. After several days (some seeds may take weeks) you will see plants sprouting from the sock. A nice hands-on project to discuss plant growth cycles and how seeds are dispersed with the added excitement of seeing what type of plants sprout.
If you’re looking for a hiking/biking getaway, check out www.ohiostateparks.org for more options. The Little Miami Scenic Trail ( http://www.miamivalleytrails.org/little-miami-scenic-trail ) in Southwestern Ohio stretches approximately 70 miles from Springfield to just outside Cincinnati. Meandering trails allow you to travel alongside the Little Miami Scenic River (opportunities for canoeing abound) or venture out towards Fort Ancient, a 2000 year old Native American hilltop monument, to do some exploring and release your inner archaeologist.
If you’re not ready for rough terrain hiking, The Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers many miles of scenic, paved trails for biking, hiking and running. The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail is a favorite of ours. Alongside the Towpath Trail is the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad which offers Bike Aboard!, Hike Aboard! and Run Aboard!. Especially nice with younger children, walk or pedal one way and then flag the train at one of the stations to catch a ride back to your car. Only $3 per person (children under 3 are free)! Visit them at http://www.cvsr.com/bike-aboard for more details.
A nice way to cap off a day of hiking or biking is to relax around the fire. The increased popularity of fire pits and chimineas allows us to enjoy a campfire in the comfort of our own backyard. Besides the traditional smores, try making popcorn over the fire (page 47, Popcorn in a Packet from Go Outside!)
You’ll need… ½ cup popcorn, 1/3 cup oil, salt, aluminum foil
Tear off a big piece of foil (at least 12”x 6”), place the popcorn in center and drizzle with oil, fold foil into a big packet around popcorn – leaving lots of room for it to expand. Pull up the middle of the packet to form a tent. Place packet into the coals or on a grate over the fire. Listen for popping sounds to stop and open up the packet, carefully so not to get burned. Salt and eat!
And closing with a funny tidbit, October is National Squirrel Awareness Month. Did you know…
Squirrels are either right- or left-handed?
Their teeth grow constantly? Their incisors grow approximately 6” per year but the constant use keeps them at a reasonable size.
While their favorite food is nuts, they also eat seeds and fruit and in desperate times - bird eggs, insects and even animal carcasses.
Check out www.squirrrel.org for more facts, pictures, online games, care and feeding, and instructions for building feeders and nestboxes.
For more reading, walk or bike over to WPPL and check these out!
Amelia Bedelia Hits the Trail, JE Parish, Herman
The Berenstain Bears Blaze a Trail, JP Berenstain, Stan
Alvin Ho: Allergic to camping, hiking and other natural disasters, JF Look, Lenore
Follow the Trail: A Young Person’s Guide to the Great Outdoors J796.54 L923F
For tweens and teens:
Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things, YA Wendelin Van Draanen
Mountain of Bones (Gravediggers), YA Christopher Krovatin