Winter Safari

[ 9 ] February 24, 2010 |

By Jeanine Silversmith

BunnyI’ve had enough. Between the sinus infections and fevers, the wind and the rain, the frigid temperatures, and the toddler who absolutely refuses to wear mittens yet screams, “Cold! Cold!” while pointing to his chubby, purple hands, I am pretty much done with winter.

For those of you who know me or have read my columns here at Kidoinfo, you might recall that I started RI Families in Nature because I truly believe that everything falls into place if we all just get outside and play a bit every day. So you might say it surprises me a bit to know how many days it is difficult for me to get outside with my kids – especially during the winter.

So when cabin fever really gets the best of me and my two little ones, I reach for the books, surf trusty sites, and find some new motivation. My latest vice: the wintertime wild animal safari. I found this idea along with a host of other gems in Nature Rocks Winter Wonderland Activity Guide.

Step 1: Sneak outside and hide a few of your children’s stuffed animals in your yard. You can also do this in a park; just have your kids hide their eyes while you do it. Place them in trees or shrubs, on top of logs or rocks. If you’re a bit of a neat freak and worried that the animals will get wet or dirty, simply use plastic animals. And if you’re a bit of a science geek like me, you’ll feel compelled to place them in species appropriate spots. Like a stuffed owl would go on a tree branch, whereas a stuffed mountain goat would go on a big rock. What, doesn’t everyone have a stuffed mountain goat?owl

Step 2: Announce to your kids that it’s time to go on a wild animal safari! Grab a pair of binoculars and a camera and you might just be out there longer than you thought you’d be. I first tried this activity on a particularly cold albeit sunny and dry day, so I had pretty low expectations of how long we’d be out there.binoculars Little did I know that my two little ones would decide to take turns hiding the stuffed animals and searching for them. Then, they decided we needed snack out there. And then we had to tell each and every neighbor what we were up to. So we wound up watching the sun set and going in after 75 minutes. At that point, of course, my toddler was shrieking about his mittenless hands. (Hey, I kept putting them on him. And he just kept taking them off.)

Step 3: Feed them a big, healthy dinner, put them to bed early, and revel in the fact that spring is just around the corner. No matter what that groundhog says.

Jeanine is a self-described tree hugging, science and math geek whose love of nature, coupled with her absolute certainty that people, especially children, are happier, healthier, and wiser when they regularly spend time in nature, led her to establish Rhode Island Families in Nature. She loves to run, garden, bake, hike, and go camping, especially when accompanied by her husband, Ian, her four-year-old daughter, Sierra, and her two-year-old son, Devin. They live in Wakefield.

Category: activities: outdoor, kids, nature/science, preschool


Jeanine Silversmith

about the author ()

Jeanine is a self-described tree hugging, science and math geek whose love of nature, coupled with her absolute certainty that people, especially children, are happier, healthier, and wiser when they regularly spend time in nature, led her to establish Rhode Island Families in Nature. Jeanine also works for the RI Environmental Education Association, supporting formal and informal teachers as they create "place-based" curriculum. She loves to hike, run, garden, bake, and go camping, especially when accompanied by her husband, Ian, her daughter, Sierra, and her son, Devin. They live in Wakefield.

Comments (9)

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  1. Sarah says:

    What a terrific idea! This should help get my kids out on a cold day while we anxiously await spring…

  2. What a GREAT idea!! I love that it does not cost a penny and motivates us to get outside. I will try it soon (but not today, thanks rain) 😉

    I would also suggest heading over to the botanical greenhouse at Roger Williams Park. It is like walking into a rain forest, filled with light, a wide variety of plants, fish and water elements. AND it’s warm and toasty (no mitten negotiations needed) 😉

    There are even benches so you can bring a book, snack or picnic lunch. 🙂 I think it’s $3 for adults and kids under 6 are free.

  3. Laura C. says:

    Terrific idea! I will try it with my 4 year-old and my mitten-less 2 year-old as well. 🙂

  4. Yeah, this rain’s a killer. But I am thinking that since it’s warm enough to be raining (as opposed to snowing), then surely spring is on its way!

    And I do agree that the RWP Botanical Center is a great way to stave off cabin fever. It’s like being outside!

  5. Oh, am so going to try that RWP Botanical Center (and this GREAT animal safari adventure)
    Thanks for the great ideas!

  6. Marcia M. Fowler Marcia says:

    Thanks for sharing this idea!
    Marcia

  7. erin goodman says:

    love this!!

    my kids are still talking about how much fun they had playing this in your backyard!!!
    🙂

    ~erin

  8. Elyse Major elyse says:

    wonderful ideas & fun pics. thanks for sharing.
    elyse

  9. Jeanine, I LOVE this idea (I think I want to try it…) and the Nature Rocks guide is wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

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