Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Making Discoveries - 1000 Hours Outside

We are halfway through our 9th week of participating in the 1000 Outside challenge and we are currently at 131 hours and 15 minutes spent outside. The past couple of days we have not made it outdoors due to Jordan's basketball game and wet weather; I'm holding out hope that we'll get at least one hour today. I was surprised by how much time we actually spent outside. When the weather is nice we are out there a lot longer than I thought, but when the colder temps hit we hunker down in the house and there's little to no outside time. We have gone from 3-6 hours a day in October down to 0-2 hours a day by the end of November, I'm sure the earlier nightfall plays a part in that also.

With the colder temperatures some days it is harder to encourage the boys to get out of the house, when I would rather stay toasty warm inside. Once the snow comes they'll be more excited to head out and play. When we can see a reason for the cold it tends to make us more accepting of it. Plus with snow comes many fun games and creations. We have been making an effort to bundle up and get out, even if I may be watching the clock to reach an hour. Once I get the kids out there it doesn't take long for them find something to do and the time passes quickly.

While staying toasty warm inside suits us just fine, we have seen some neat things during our outside time we had been missing. Once a week the younger two and I head to the park while Jordan is at basketball practice, last week we were greeted by about 50 Canadian geese. As we walked towards the play equipment the geese walked away from us and many went into the nearby water. Half the geese took to the water, while the others found us not to be a threat. This lead to a teachable moment of why birds don't freeze in the cold water. The boys kept checking to see how many geese had stayed in the water. There was on funny little guy who kept waddling up to the water's edge, stared at the water and waddle back towards the grass. The boys were waiting to see if this little one was actually going to follow the others into the icy cold water (he didn't by the way). We also walked down the pier and noticed the ice that had formed around the pillars just above the water. On the way back to the playground Joey noticed that there was ice on the sand and a little bit of snow, even though there was no snow elsewhere at the park.

While walking with Homeschool Campers on a trail near their home Jordan had discovered a set of deer tracks and near them a set of coyote tracks. We also explored an area where some deer had recently bedded down. There was also a lot of play with the ice and breaking the ice. Our friend Elder Cracker Jack had figured out that if you stick your hand in the hole in the ice the pocket of air there is a few degrees warmer. Jacob grabbed a piece of really cool ice from a hole one of the other children had made, it had formed a neat twist below the surface.
Jacob's ice find
Deer tracks
Coyote tracks

While I could have taught my boys these things sitting comfortably in our warm house, there is just something about discovering things in a hands-on way that helps them make the connection. I love seeing them get so excited about discovering something new. If we hadn't taken the challenge and had not made a point to be outside, we would have missed these awesome opportunities

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