My boys are finally at the age now when they can both absorb some tactile lessons in nature. Since we are just getting started with kindergarten homeschool, I am looking for more intentional learning in nature. While we will have to be spending some time on a computer for the curriculum we chose, getting outside for lessons is more important than ever before.
I have also continually found that if I make an effort to get the kids outside for a couple hours right away in the morning, the rest of the day runs smoother. They’ve gotten their wiggles out (as have I), and the fresh air breathes oxygen into our learning (quite literally.)
While rain is not necessarily a prerequisite for this lesson, it does make it more fun and exciting. We recommend quality rain gear (like DucKsday rain suits or Oakiwear Rain gear) or, if it is warm, just letting everyone get good and wet. Plan ahead with a dry set of clothing right inside the door.
Discovering Music and Rhythm:
We set out on a bike/walk in the neighborhood first in search of music and rhythms. I instructed the kids to “open their ears” and just listen (which gave ME a break from their constant chatter – win, win!) J (age 5) was excited about being involved and quickly picked up different sounds. P (age 3) had an interest, but was definitely not as engaged as his older brother. But, that’s ok. Learning is still happening.
We started at the puddles and the boys followed along as I made rhythms with my boots. They love to splash, so it was fun for everyone. I let each of them take turns making their own patterns and having us follow along.
When they began to get restless, I directed them to explore and find their instruments. We searched for sticks, rocks, branches, leaves, dirt - basically anything natural.
They enjoyed using their treasures separately and together to make different noises.
Here are just a few they discovered:
Branches on the metal dumpster
Rocks hitting the water (in puddles)
Rain falling off the roof onto their bike helmets
Sticks beating against tree trunks
Bikes riding through puddles
Boots scuffing on the ground and through the water
Once they both started to really get the hang of it, we started with some blending of sounds. I directed their movements at first and then let them continue:
Can you splash this puddle with your feet while you drum with your stick?
What happens when I make noises with my mouth AND jump in the mud?
You make a beat with your branch and I’ll throw rocks in one at a time down this hole. What do you hear?
The benefits go much further than music
Not only were the kids working on recognizing rhythms and making their own, they were also inadvertently developing balance and coordination (as they attempted to do more than one thing at a time) and an appreciate for nature and their local habitat and ecosystem. They couldn’t wait to get out again. I’ll take it!
LINK ME UP!
Have you read something wonderful (or written it yourself) about learning AND being outside in nature? I’d love to see it. Please link me up in the comments!
Rarely is there a brand of footwear that Mtn Papa and I can agree on and love. His feet are long and narrow, mine more “duck like” (short and wide). What works for him rarely works for me and vice-versa. However, I think we may have found a new favorite brand that we can both agree on AND deserves a little extra attention because it is so impressive.
Ahnu makes a wide-range of footwear for men and women, but we obviously were focussed on the more performance-based models. Even more great styles coming too (I got to preview a few of them at the Outdoor Retailer show earlier this month.)
“With careful and intentional choices, they (the three founders who prefer trails over the treadmill) found a balance between fitness and fashion, performance and aesthetics, profit and philanthropy, and work and play. It was only fitting that they named their company after the Celtic goddess of balance between well being and prosperity. Ahnu. Walk new ground.”
I love this: “Our product goal is to achieve uncompromising footwear performance. We work with leading biomechanists, designers and athletes to develop footwear that will provide the appropriate balance of traction, grip, flexibility, cushioning and durability for a variety of outdoor activities whether on trails, beaches or sidewalks.
Ahnu pioneered Numentum® Technology; a neutral positioning system engineered to encourage your foot’s natural biomechanics. It is designed to center and guide the foot to promote an efficient, stable and balanced stride.”
That Numentum Technology is keeping our feet comfortable on the trail.
When hiking boots arrived for both of us this early spring, I almost sent mine back and kindly refused to review them. I was at the very end of my pregnancy and somehow forgot to take into account the fact that my feet were swollen and completely not “normal”. I am so SO glad I decided to wait and give them a shot – they have become my favorites for everyday hikes. Mtn Papa was impressed with his right off the bat and they continue to perform.
Available in 6 different colors, this is THE lightest and most comfortable hiking boot I have ever worn. It supports well, but lets my feet breathe for warm-weather hiking. It’s also built for all-day wear (but really, ALL boots should be built for that) and is comfortable and light enough to wear both on the trail and out on the town. While it’s not intended as a hard-core backpacking boot, I would have no qualms taking it on the trail for a multiple day trip (and will update this post as soon as I do!)
It’s also available in a shoe – both a mesh version and waterproof version like the boot. I have been impressed how waterproof they really are – especially for a boot that breathes so well. I’ve worn them all summer and they are holding up to use and abuse exceptionally well. They fit true-to-size.
The Coburn is definitely more rugged and aggressive than the Sugarpine. While it still boasts an athletic underfoot performance and is comparatively very lightweight (to other hiking boots on the market), the leather predictably doesn’t breathe as well as the Sugarpine. When my feet are never hot (and my feet ALWAYS get hot in boots) hiking, Mtn Papa finds his heating up. Again, they’ve held up considerably well to rough conditions and are his favorite boots too (which says a lot for a man who wears boots daily.)
I prefer my feet to air out as often as I can, but don’t feel safe biking or hiking in sandals (which I do daily.) While I have worn another brand for years now in a similar style, they are getting replaced by Ahnu. The Tilden has provided me a daily-wear shoe for both water and trail (and sometimes both at the same time.) It is marketed for trail running too, but I don’t find that I can get a snug enough fit for good running support. However, they are GREAT for hiking and river crossing (which both of us have used them for often).
The shoe is very lightweight, has impressive traction and keeps our feet supported. I also love the fact that the holes are well-placed for avoiding a ton of rocks under your foot.
By some miracle (or just a great shoe), we have both avoided the “foot funk” in these too so far (again, I’ll update if that changes.)
Try out Ahnu for yourself!
Ahnu has generously offered the opportunity for TWO of you to try out their shoes!
Boot winner (Sugarpine or Coburn)
Sandal Winner (Tilden or Del Ray)
As usual, please use the Rafflecopter Widget below to enter to win. The winner will be emailed and announced on this post in the Rafflecopter Widget. Have questions? Please don’t hesitate to contact me at mountainmamatales(at)gmail(dot)com so I can help! This giveaway is open to the U.S. and Canada.
Ahnu generously provided us this gear in order to facilitate this review. However, as always, the opinions expressed here are completely and honestly our own. A few of these links are Amazon affiliates. Thank you so much for clicking through them to make your purchases – it helps offset the cost of this blog in a (VERY VERY) small way! You can find my full disclosure here.
This is the time of the year when for families in particular the focus shifts to school and schedules and away from the trail. It’s easy to set aside outdoor adventures for the summer months and give them little thought throughout the late summer/fall, especially as our commitments ramp up. We are on day three of homeschool here and saying we are feeling “swamped” and “overwhelmed” may be an understatement….
However, the benefits of outdoor family time aren’t limited to just when we can make them happen. Ideally, they are an integrated part of our daily life, and break up the monotony of “desk time” while relieving stress.
It can be quite a shock for kids especially to go from a summer of outdoor freedom with hours spent outside, to the typical American education system spending most of the day sitting inside with just a couple short recesses. While that is an entire issue in itself, the point is that outdoor time at home becomes even more critical.
We all have excuses and time commitments and reasons why we can’t – no time, tired kids, tired parents, the turning weather, the impending less hours of daylight, etc. However, the benefits of making it happen anyway (in any capacity you can) include healthier and more adjusted children, less stress, better concentration at work and school, and stronger family bonds.
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