Spring is in the air! This season is perfect for family time. Think long walks through the forest, rugged hikes up the mountains, day trips to farms to see the new babies, picnics by the lake, and trips to all the playgrounds and parks one can manage. It’s time to get your family outside.
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As a homeschooling family, we can’t help but see the many opportunities to learn as we play. T and I like to identify plants and see if we can find fun facts about them. For example, what can be made from them, do they have medicinal properties, or are they a key ingredient in a dish or a fabric. What animals consume them? Where else do they grow? We always bring a notebook to sketch in and list what we have found. Very homeschooler-ish of us 🙂 But we recommend everyone give this method a try.
However you decide to go about exploring this spring, we want to share some great tools to enrich the experience and help you locate the perfect destination for your family.
Where To Go For Your Family Day Trip
We are looking for new life and plenty of nature so the following places are all great options for your family day trip!
- Local and State Parks – You can find parks near you using this Find A Park tool.
- Nearby Hiking and Walking Trails – We prefer AllTrails for finding these.
- Public Gardens – There are so many amazing opportunities. Utilize The American Public Gardens Association Map to find locations near you.
- Wildlife Refuge – Wildlife refuges offer endless opportunities to learn all about nature, habitats, endangered animals and so much more. Find your local wildlife refuges here.
- Bird Watching – T and I learned about birding through our local parks department. They taught us how to use our binoculars and what to look for. Birding is a lot of fun. Find the best areas to take your family by checking out this map from Audobon. Our next birding adventure will be taking us to Seven Islands State Birding Park!
- Tour A Local Farm: Learn all about planting and harvesting at a local farm! The animals are also always a highlight! Find your local farm by visiting Local Harvest.
What To Look and Listen For While Exploring
- Look for buds and also flowers already blooming. Discourage kids from picking anything. Instead, take a picture or use an app to identify the bloom. There are a lot of apps you can use but we like iNaturalist from National Geographic and the California Academy of Science.
- Encourage kids to try to identify the different trees they encounter. We like to use Leaf Snap. Once they have learned a tree encourage them to find another of the same.
- Have them search for signs of wildlife such as scat, bird holes in trees, fur, or prints. Always be sure they do not touch or disturb any nests.
- Listen to the sounds of the forest. Encourage everyone to be still and listen to the sounds of birds, animals, winds stirring the trees, etc.
- Inspect the rocks. Have kids compare and contrast the different rocks. Check out this Rock Identifier.
- Bug off – See who can find and identify the most bugs while you are out. Picture Insect is an app specifically for this kind of discovery.
Activities and Games for Your Family Day Trip
- Have kids complete a scavenger hunt. For the botanical gardens, you will want to send them searching for different blooms, on the hiking trails have them seek locations like waterfalls, lakes, or other landmarks as well as trees and mosses. If you are at the farm include animals and garden vegetables.
- Play Tree Huggers! Whoever is ‘it’ calls out the name of a tree. For example – maple. Everyone must find and hug that type of tree. The last one to find it is out. The first one to find it becomes ‘it’. Play until you have eliminated all but the Tree Hugger Champion. This is a great way to encourage kids to learn to identify trees.
- Trail Bingo: Everyone loves BINGO. This version has you giving every family member a BINGO card and a crayon. Instead of letters and numbers, families are looking for the things of the forest.
- Geocaching: When T was little Geocaching was super popular and we had a lot of fun with it. Geocaching is basically the world’s largest treasure hunt. You select one of the locations and search for the treasure via GPS.
Are you ready to gather the family and start making some memories now? I know I am. We have plans to visit Cumberland Gap, go back to Chimney Rock, and Grayson Highlands this spring. What are your plans? Share your favorite springtime family destinations in the comments section below. We love to hear from you!
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