PRESENT DAY MOMS

Beach Clean Up

Emily DaFoe
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One common thread between all of us at Present Day Moms, is that we want our children to have an appreciation for the environment and know the importance of giving back. One of the things we feel very passionate about is keeping our ocean and beaches clean.

According to the non-profit organization, Take 3 for the Sea, an estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean every year. This plastic contaminates our air, land, sea and can enter the human body through the food that we eat, the water we drink and the air we breath. So next time you are visiting a waterway, we encourage you to join the movement and take 3 items of plastic off the beach and put it in the recycling or trash can.

Since we are fortunate enough to live by the beach, and spend so much time there, we wanted to encourage the kiddos to take a moment and collect as much trash as they could before they got to play in the waves.

We packed up a couple of metal buckets (but anything would work) and started our search for plastic and garbage. The first thing we found was a plastic shovel, which came in quite handy. There were water bottles, kids sand toys left behind, bottle caps, scraps of plastic, and more.

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With three buckets full, the kids were able to see what they could recycle and/or toss in the garbage. If you don’t live by the beach, this activity can be done at the park or on a walk around the neighborhood. It’s just too easy to plan a clean up activity to improve the environment and your community.

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Backyard Campout

Emily DaFoe
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Do you remember how exciting it was to sleep outside when you were little? We used to take sleeping bags or even sometimes our mattress and throw them in the lawn and just drift to sleep under a thick blanket of stars listening to the crickets sing!

Before Summer vacation came to a close, we wanted to give the kiddos one last camping experience. Since we didn’t have a chance to take off to a proper camp ground, we popping a tent in the backyard!

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While this activity can be created in several ways, we opted to pop a huge tent, add a couple of air mattresses (because it is way more comfortable than sleeping on the ground) and threw on some fairy lights for a bit of light in case the kiddos woke up in the middle of the night.

To make this experience a little more authentic, we cooked breakfast outside on our makeshift fire rather than in the kitchen. The smell of the wood smoke mixed with bacon and fresh ranch eggs was pretty awesome and the kids loved it.

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Crawfish Hunting / River to Table

Emily DaFoe
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Bring your CRAWFISH BOIL to the next level by taking your kids on a crawfish fishing trip. Spend the day turning over rocks, swimming in the river, and enjoying the outdoors as your hunt for your night's meal. Nothing beats a crawfish boil than one that you and your kids have hunted. 

CRAWFISH Hand Trap

METHOD:

My 7 yr old daughter came up with this method, and it works so much better than using a hook or tying the meat to a piece of string. A hook can easily get snagged on tiny fingers, and tying a piece of meat to some line tends to fall off easily. Once you have completed your crawfish trap, place it under the ledge of the river's edge and then wait. The Crawfish will smell the meat and attach a claw to it while they eat. Slowly bring the line up, and before you bring it out of the water place your net under the Crawfish, then scoop your net up! Crawfish tend to swim backward, so make sure your net is under or behind them. 

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INGREDIENTS:

  • Stick

  • Twine

  • Small Rock

  • Scissors

  • Meat (hot dog, chicken, pork, steak, salami - any meat)

  • Small Hand Net

  • Plastic Fork

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STEP 1:

Attach your string to your plastic fork with a knot and then wrap your rock up snuggly against the fork, wrapping and knotting it frequently so that it stays in place. Your rock will act as a sinker.

STEP 2:

Leave a few feet of string and then attached the other end to a stick (essentially this is your fishing rod). Pierce a piece of meat with your fork and you are now ready to set your line! We placed about 6 of these around the fishing hole and then poked the sticks into the ground, checking each line every 5 minutes. 

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NOTES:

  • Get a fishing license. In many states, a fishing license is required to catch Crawfish. However, once this license is acquired, you can catch as many Crawfish as you like, 365 days a year.

  • Look for Crawfish in freshwater lakes, ponds, and creeks. Crawfish are freshwater crustaceans and can be found in many bodies of water across the U.S.A. and in countries around the world. Most Crawfish prefer still or slow-moving water, with plenty of rocks and vegetation to provide cover. They are most likely to be found close to the bank, or in a deep hole of a river, pond or lake.

  • Crawfish are nocturnal, which means they are most active at night, especially in warmer waters or during the summer months. However, Crawfish can still be tempted by bait during the day, so catching them during daylight hours is not impossible.

  • Use open or closed traps. Traps are the best way to catch large quantities of Crawfish with relatively little effort. So if you want to feed your friends and family a crawfish feast, this is the way to go. We opted for hand fishing as it was extremely engaging and kept us entertained for hours. 

Outdoor Water Fight!

Emily DaFoe
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We are nearing the end of summer vacation, and my kids are getting a little bored of the same summer activities; beach, pool, park are on repeat! It is time to get creative and break out some of the old summer backyard water activities. 

Nothing beats a refreshing, fulfilled backyard water fight! Top it off with some popsicles and fresh-cut watermelon, and it has SUMMER FUN written all over it.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Water Balloons

  • Slip and slide

  • Water pistols 

  • Buckets

  • Sprinkler

  • Super Soaker

Check out the list below for some more summer water activities. They will not disappoint!

IDEAS

1: Swap out baseballs for water balloons and take the backyard hitting practice to the next level.

(source here )

2: Make a fill-the-bucket water relay by drilling holes in small cups and have your kids balance them on their heads. Divide children into two teams.  Each team starts standing on either side of the large container full of water.  Place the small buckets a short distance away.  On the go, the children must fill their cups with water, place it on their heads and run to their team bucket on the other side (attempting to keep as much water in the cup).  Once they reach their bucket, they dump what's left in the cup into the bucket, run back to the starting line, and pass the cup off to the next person.

3: Make an easy water slide using a tarp, a hose, and shampoo. It is that easy. 

4: Swap out a piñata for water balloons for a game that will cool you down. ( source here )

5: Transform "Duck, duck, goose" into "Drip, drip, drench" by tagging players with a soaked sponge.

6: Get up a sidewalk racetrack and propel toy cars with squirt guns.

7: Target Practice: Cut a hole in some pop bottles and strap them your heads. Divide into two groups and have a round of target practice with water guns. Endless hours of fun and also a great way to get soaked.  (source here)

8: Outdoor Water Bed: I wish my parents had done something like this when I was a kid. This is a great DIY idea to have fun and keep cool during the warmer months, and the kids will have a blast. (source here)

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Simple Beach Days

Emily DaFoe
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Is there anything better than a day at the beach? Running around carelessly, effortlessly, and just feeling free? Now that there are kids in tow, it’s even more fun to see the excitement on their faces when they discover creatures in the sand, cool sticks that they can play with, build giant sand castles, or just splash in the surf.

While there is no recipe for a fun-filled beach day, here are a few things we like to do with the kiddos that get their creative minds going and ignite imaginary play.

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BUILD A FORT

  • Find some large sticks and bury them into the sand to create a fortress. We chose to bring some electric firth lights to string around the edges along with some muslin cloth go make it more fun.

  • Once the sticks are dug down deep, string the fairy lights and muslin around them. This is especially cute when the sun sets and the bonfire starts!

  • We threw a beach blanket in the fort so the kiddos could sit and have snacks and dinner, while they played and dreamed up a new world!


BEACH SNACKS!

  • As we know, kids are ALWAYS hungry! Prepare ahead of time for some easy beach snacks. We love watermelon, popcorn, throwing some hot dogs on the fire, and of course, roasting marshmallows. Whatever you do, just keep it simple and light so you don’t have to shlep a bunch of heavy stuff back and forth. As always, use caution when building your beach bonfire, and make sure it’s allowed at your beach.

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WATERMELON

It’s light, refreshing, and the kiddos love it! It’s also easy to rise off if it gets covered in sand!

POPCORN

If you are a fan of Jiffy Pop like we are, grab some of the old school camping popcorn and put it right on the fire. The kids will think it’s so cool to watch the foil come to life, and who doesn’t like buttery popcorn?

HOT DOGS

We opted for hotdogs today so we picked up organic dogs, fresh buns and only offered ketchup! Keep it simple mamas!

ROASTED MARSHMELLOWS

The cherry on top of any beach bonfire is roasting marshmallows! Even the mom’s couldn’t help but get in there and have some tasty sweet treats.

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PICK UP STICKS!

  • A fun summer activity is making driftwood wall hangings or painted art. Today, we opted to pick up some beautiful pieces of driftwood to make a fun wall hanging for the kids room. To check out how to make one, click here!


SEA SHELL ART

  • If you are lucky enough to find some cool seashells, use it as the perfect opportunity to create art. If it’s one amazing shell, put it on a little leather rope and make it a necklace. If you have too many to part with, keep them and add them to your driftwood wall hanging, or make a shell mobile for your kids wall. Add the year so they remember which summer it was. When it gets closer to the holidays, they could be cute ornaments too!

Driftwood Wall Hanging

Emily DaFoe
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With beach days in full effect this summer, it’s fun to get the kiddos engaged in a little beach activity and craft. Because I love to design and create art, I thought it would be really fun for us to make driftwood wall hangings from what we found on the beach. I have to admit, I was very impressed with the outcome.

While this project might be a bit easier for older kiddos, Waylon had a huge hand in our design. In the end, I put it together, but he wrapped the wood and told me how he wanted it to look. Perhaps we have another designer in the house.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Driftwood - however big you would like to make your hanging - we got about 8 pieces.

  • Kitchen Twine of Yarn

  • Fishing Line or transparent jewelry line

  • Scissors

  • Anything decorative you want to add - shells, paint, feathers, etc.

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METHOD

STEP 1:

Decorate your driftwood however you want. You can paint it, glue on shells or add pom-poms. We wrapped ours with kitchen twine.

STEP 2:

Lay out your pieces to see how it looks and cut the fishing line in the length of distance you want between each row.

STEP 3:

Attach the line so each piece is connected. Because we used twine, I tied the fishing line on the back of the twine to keep it connected. You could add little screws if you want, or if you have a small drill, you could make tiny holes to connect the pieces. Again, the options are endless.

STEP 4:

Once everything is put together, tie string on the outsides of the top piece to create the hook and hang your new piece of art!

For a little more inspiration, head over to Pinterest to get some fun ideas.

These make great pieces for the kids room, amazing activities, and wonderful gifts.

Panning for Gold

Emily DaFoe
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As I mentioned in my post, Beach Day Treasure Hunt, I have very fond childhood memories of camping trips hunting for gold in the wild Australian outback. While we never stuck it rich, the memories that we created along the way have become a real-valued treasure. 

A couple of weeks back, my mom visited from Australia, and we set out on a road trip with the kids in tow, across the state of California, and into the Nevada desert. Hitting up creeks, ghost towns, lakes and more in search of the Mother Lode. If was a fun-filled trip, full of outdoor exploration, we learned about rocks, minerals, fossils, and volcanic matter. But most of all, it was an experience that I know my kids will treasure just like I have in the past. 

You don’t have to go to ‘gold country’ to go panning (though that does make it more exciting), hit up your local creek beds, lakes and waterways and see what you can find!

INGREDIENTS:

COST

Gold Pan Kit: $37.95

AGE

3+

METHOD

STEP 1: 

Get your kit together. This Gold Panning kit was awesome! It is complete with sieves, shovels, gold dust extractions, and small little vials to put your samples in. Don’t forget to pack a rock book to identify your collection on rocks. 

STEP 2:

Find a location. The best place to pan is in a slow-moving creek with pebbles and rocks. Some lands have private ‘claims’ on the ground, which means you are unable to mine that area as the rights to it are already owned by someone else and be careful not to wander onto private land. These mistakes can not only cost you your findings but also fines and penalties. If you are unsure if you are allowed to pan an area check with the Bureau of Land Management, the local State Park Authorities and/or the park ranger. 

STEP 3":

Once you’ve found a creek bed to pan, follow these steps to get into the rhythm and get your first pan-full of gold.

- Use your shovel to scoop gravel, sand, and silt out of the river and into your pan.  Be sure that everything you scoop out is nice and wet.

- Gold is heavier than other minerals and materials in the river, so roughly shake and swirl the pan around to help the gold settle at the bottom of the pan.

- Using a very shallow angle, tip your pan into the water and let the current of the water carry the first layer of silt and sand away and out of the pan.  Slowly move the pan back and forth in the current to help loosen up the first layer, and make sure you don’t let too much of the material get away.

- Repeat the second step, shaking down your gold, continue this process until you are left with a few tablespoons of blackish sand.

- Begin to gently swirl your pan to help the gold flakes settle further, and pick them out as you spot them.  Make sure you put them away safely!

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Summer Fishing!

Emily DaFoe
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I grew up in a tiny seaside fishing village called Gracetown, near Margaret River, Western Australia. It was a fisherman’s paradise. My parents were very active in teaching us how to live off of the ocean’s bounty, and we would integrate this way of living into the daily rhythm of our lives. During the long days of summer, before heading out to school, my parents would wake me up to harvest abalone off the low tide reefs. After school, we would fish, and on the weekends when there was a little more time in the day, we would dive for crayfish (or lobster as you say in American). I learned from a young age how to live off the land, and it’s something that I enjoy teaching my children. 

Fishing is a fun summer activity that not only teaches your kids patience, but it also shows them where food comes from, and about the circle of life. Even if you have never fished before, do not be timid, ‘fisher-people’ are always willing to give you tips - so ask away!

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INGREDIENTS:

METHOD:

STEP 1:

Most states and countries require a fishing license, except for specific age groups. Make sure you check with your local fisheries department and purchase the necessary license required before fishing. Your local fishing supply shop can also give you tips on where to acquire a permit, they will also have bait for sale and tips on where to fish! There could be size and quantity limits on certain species of fish, be sure that you learn this information before setting out to fish, as you do not want to risk getting fined. Rule of thumb - if you don’t know what it is, then release the fish back into the waterway. 

STEP 2:

If you have never fished before, I recommend practicing casting with your child by tying a sinker to your line (without a hook) and casting into the ocean. This way no body parts will get hooked!

STEP 3:

You are now ready to fish! Fill up your bucket halfway with water for any fish that you might catch, set up your rig, add your bait, cast and wait!

See the attached diagram for a simple rig; this consists of a sinker, swivel, and hook. I have also attached a diagram of simple Fishermans knot, this knot will ensure your tackle is secure and will not become undone when you have hooked a fish!

STEP 4:

When you reel in your fish, use a glove or Tea Towel to hold the slippery fish, and use your pliers to remove the hook from its mouth safely. 

If you do not want to eat your catch, or the fish is too small, please respect the ocean and lakes by releasing your fish back into the waterways.

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NOTES:

Fishing takes time and patience. We usually pack a picnic with loads of drinking water, sunscreen, and make a day of it. If the fish aren’t biting, try different types of bait, and use burley to entice the fish into your area. We bring fishing books to identify our catch, and to learn more about what the fish like to eat. Above all, HAVE FUN!

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Let's Picnic!

Emily DaFoe
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Spring in the Santa Ynez Valley is pretty dreamy. What makes it better is the ability to have picnics outside. You certainly don’t need to have a winery to picnic, this can be done at a local park as well, regardless, it’s a fun afternoon outside with the family.

We tend to pack a picnic of cheeses and crackers…and wine then set off to enjoy exploring the ranch. Of course make it easy and pack whatever is going to be the least of a hassle.

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Beach Day Treasure Hunt

Emily DaFoe
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“My GOLD FEVER started at an early age… For my 10th birthday my mom packed the 4 of us kids into the Toyota and took us deep into the Western Australian outback where the rich red dirt went as far as the eye could see. We were armed with metal detectors, and water bottles, and we trudged through the desert searching for gold. We found specs here and there, but the anticipation and the joy from excitement of the hunt, that was the real prize, the real jackpot.” - Alana Clumeck

This simple treasure hunt does not have to be limited to the beach. Set it up on grass, in your backyard, or by the beach at a lake. Who knows, GOLD FEVER might just kick in and you and your children will spend the afternoon blissfully hunting for treasure!

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INGREDIENTS

COST

Metal Detector: $33

The rest you can find at home!

METHOD

STEP 1:

Mark out a square or rectangular area in the sand. My area was approximately 12 x 12ft 

STEP 2:

Count out your coins (so you know how many you are looking for) and scatter your coins within the marked area.

STEP 3:

Guild your kid(s) to methodically sweep the area with the metal detector. When it beeps use the spade and sieve to find your GOLD! 

TIPS

- If you kids find it hard taking turns, it might be best to mark off two separate areas.

  • I used a metal bucket and spade, to reduce confusion from the metal detector, I recommend using a plastic bucket and spade. 

  • To make the hunt ‘X’tra exciting. I put an ‘X” on 2 of the coins with a special reward for whomever found the marked coin. 

  • When you think you have finished, don’t forget to recount your coins to ensure no litter is left at the beach! If you still have some to find, keep hunting!

Paint Their Fairy House

Emily DaFoe
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In this electronic age, children need time to build meaningful connections with nature. Time nurturing gardens can develop more caring natures and helps to build a child’s sense of competence. The planting of seeds gives children the opportunity to build their skills of accountability and commitment as they watch the seeds grow after daily tending and care. It really is beautiful to watch a child experience the joy of seeing seeds turn to flowers that they themselves planted. Having a Fairy Garden of their own can illuminate to little ones a deep respect and responsibility for taking care of our planet, even if it’s a tiny part.

In addition, studies have shown that when children have contact with soil, they experience better moods, and decreased anxiety. Enough said, right?

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MATERIALS 

·     Large Terracotta or Ceramic Pots (ours was 14” in diameter)

·     Miniature Mushrooms or other bright trinkets found around the house

·     Small Stones

·     Flowering Gerberas or Perennials 

·     Additional seed packet for the children to plant

·     Potting Soil

·     Moss (Optional)

·     Small Spade

·     Other additional decorating trinkets. For example: fairy dust (glitter) or miniature nests with eggs.

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METHOD

STEP 1:

Let your children’s imagination run wild. They can paint their pots and sprinkle glitter, keep the planter intact or crack the side to expose more of the fairy garden. After painting, let the pot dry so it will be ready for the soil.

STEP 2: 

Fill the container with a light potting mix. The ideal soil for Gerbera’s or perennials is a well-draining and fertile soil, such as a potting mix with lots of peat or perlite. Fill the container and then moisten the soil with water. 

STEP 3:

Plant the seeds about 1 inch down. We did an additional surface sprinkle and then added additional soil over top in case a few don’t grow. Pat the soil so its nice and firm. This is a good time to talk about sunshine, nutrients and fertilizer and what flowers and plants need to grow.

STEP 4:

Add little trinkets like the miniature mushrooms, beautiful stones and of any other items that your child thinks might make the fairies feel welcomed and invite them into the child’s Fairy Garden.

STEP 5:

Find a home for the Garden to sit. Share with your child what you need to do to make sure the garden with survive and thrive. Tell them it’s their responsibility to help the flowers grow. 

Note: My daughter loves her garden and checks on it daily to see if the fairies have been. I’m thinking of leaving little fairy footprint out on the balcony where the garden lives. Check back for an update on that!

NOTE – PLAN AHEAD

We made some of our trinkets out of FIMO. You can get this on amazon.com – it’s easy to use, and a similar texture to Playdoh. Simply make the trinket, then place the modeled object on aluminum foil and let it harden in the oven for a maximum of 30 minutes at a temperature of 230°F. FIMO will only be completely hardened when cooled down to room temperature and you have your very own trinkets for your fairy.

TIPS: I found my pots and fairy items on the app ‘let go’. Then weeks leading up to making our garden we scoured thrift stores and online ‘buy and sell’ apps for great deals. And you don’t have to use Gerbera’s and Gardenia’s, other plants such as Moss cuttings or even Marble Pothos are a great choice for beginner green thumbs. You can ever plant herbs!


Throwing Stones

outside kidsEmily DaFoe
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Is there anything that better than being outside with your child and watching them explore? For us, we are lucky to have mild weather year round, which enables the outdoors to be a massive part of our daily life.

While there isn’t much of a recipe here, we like the timeless tradition of throwing stones…literally, not figuratively! Since we have boys with a lot of energy, this can be a physical burn as well as getting out any negative emotions for the day.

Regardless of the day, he’s had at “school” or home, I ask him if he has had any tough times during the day. If he says yes, I suggest he says what it is out loud, then throw a stone to make it go away. This is not only a fun way to spend an evening, but it’s also a great way to shake off the day. Admittley, it’s great for the moms too!

Teddy Bear Picnic

Emily DaFoe
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My pain point when practicing being present with my kids is pretend PLAY. 

I am great at activities; cooking with them, crafting with them, anything that keeps my hands and body busy with them… But to join them on a journey with my mind? Well, I fear that this Peter Pan has finally grown up. And with all this growing up that I have done, I have forgotten how to be a kid again. 

What my heart really wants, is to put all the clutter of my mind to the side and to go off on a journey to the Neverlands with my children. Could I do it? Could you?

Wikipedia explains that the Neverlands are found in the minds of children…  and that the… Neverlands are compact enough that adventures are never far between. It says that a map of a child's mind would resemble a map of Neverland, with no boundaries at all. 

Oh, how glorious a life it would be if we allowed our minds and imaginations to be boundless! Let your imagination run wild as you create a Teddy Bear Picnic for you and your littles to enjoy. This can be as simple or as extravagant as you make it. But above all, don’t forget to have fun!

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INGREDIENTS

COST

$0 I found all of these items at home. 

METHOD

We found a lovely shaded spot in the garden under a hanging pomegranate tree. We decided to decorate the tree in Christmas ornaments made from old trinkets. The kids hung dried flowers from the tree by wrapping small portions of wire around the ends of the flowers. We dressed up in flower crowns and hats, played games together, read books, and served heart shaped p+b sandwiches and tea to our cuddly guests.

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images by Brittnay Taylor

Scavenger Hunt!

outside kidsEmily DaFoe

I absolutely LOVE going on walks, I have learnt that being in nature feeds my soul and keeps me connected and present to life outside of myself. However, my kids do not share the same passion and I have to practically beg (sometimes bribe) my kids to go on walks with me. Within minutes they are asking to be carried (which becomes harder to do with each passing year), or they are complaining that they are hot and bothered, or tired, or bored, or their feet ache… well, you get the picture. 

So I had an idea, what if I was going about this the wrong way?  The begging and bribes were making them feel like it was a chore. What if I could nurture and encourage their curious minds to see past a hot and bothersome walk, and awaken them to view their surroundings as a magical forrest full of life and adventure? Maybe in the process it could awaken me too!

This easy-to-do scavenger hunt, complete with binoculars and a monocular, will keep you and your kids engaged, and curious. Enjoy the adventure! 

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INGREDIENTS

COST

$0-5. I was able to find all the items at home.

TIME

Approximately 15 minutes

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METHOD 

STEP 1: 

Use your computer to make a check list of items that you might anticipate your children seeing on their walk. Print this out. Alternatively, you can draw pictures or write the items by making a list. My kids need visuals, so I opted to use pictures and words. 

STEP 2:

Using your empty cereal box, cut out large cardboard rectangles. Glue your list to your cardboard and secure the edges with tape. 

STEP 3:

Use your hole punch to make 2 holes at the bottom of your check-lists. Weave ribbon or string through the holes and leave enough length for the string to hang loosely around your child’s neck.

STEP 4: (optional)

Make a hole at the top of your scavenger hunt, tie a piece of string around a pencil and secure it to the cardboard.  

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BINOCULARS/ MONOCULAR

INGREDIENTS

COST

$0-5. I was able to find all the items at home.

TIME

Approximately 15 minutes

METHOD  

STEP 1:

Have your kids decorate the blank paper. They can use paints, crayons, stickers, pencils, anything to make it colorful. 

STEP 2:

Cut one of the pieces of paper in half (lengthwise). Use these smaller pieces for 2 of the toilet rolls. Use the large piece of paper for the monocular. Tape your paper lengthwise to the cardboard tube, roll it up and secure the end with another piece of tape. 

STEP 3:

Insert the extra toilet roll onto the end of the monocular roll and secure it with duct tap. With your 2 decorated toilet rolls, put them side by sided and secure them with a long strip of duct tap across the middle. 

STEP 4:

Use the hole punch and make two holes on each side of your monocular and binoculars. Tie string through the holes and ensure the length of the string will allow the crafts to hang loosely from your child’s neck. 

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