I just love to watch the Earth transform from the quiet of winter to the vibrance of spring. Everything seems to come alive again as the grass greens, flowers and trees begin to bloom, birds are all around us, insects are buzzing and new goslings make their appearance. Even though mother nature seems to be playing a trick on us this week, this is still a great time of year to get out and experience nature with children while looking for those signs of our coming spring. And we are lucky to have a tremendous wealth four main galleries throughout Lake County with nearly 30,000 acres of preserved natural land just waiting to be discovered.
I make a point to visit the same preserve on a regular basis with my children so they can visit their favorite spots and see the cycle of nature unfold. No long explanations or detailed books are required, just a leisurely walk in the great outdoors to awaken our senses and get in touch with nature.
While I tend to stay quiet and let them soak it all in during our weekly nature walks, I like to ask my children questions about what they may see, hear, feel and smell to bring awareness to all of their senses. We may sing songs and tell stories as we go but, mostly, we enjoy this little refuge from the noise and distractions intrinsic in our everyday lives. I also do my best to instill a sense of reverence for the earth and we make a point to pick up any trash that we may see in our path. In celebration of Earth Week, I am planning to conduct a small scavenger hunt to find signs of spring to help my four year old expand her knowledge while my toddler is learning right along with her. And, for those of you with visions of a toddler run amuck in the forest, I find these walks to be a great opportunity to practice walking together without having to worry about keeping anyone out of the street. Sure it means that I am chasing him down every so often but it pays off in the long run and, since we aren’t in a hurry, I am far less likely to become frustrated with his inevitable wandering. Plus, I always bring a good carrier along in case things go awry.
These nature walks have become a highlight of our week and we have learned so much along the way. In addition to a greater awareness of the cycles of nature, we have also learned practical lessons which make it more comfortable and fun for everyone. Make sure you bring along:
a snack or picnic lunch to enjoy once your walk is over
crayons and blank paper for the kids to make bark rubbings or just color
one bag to carry all of your treasures and another to collect any trash you come across
The four main galleries has a tremendous network of trails and preserves throughout Lake County, many of which have additional amenities such as fishing lakes and equestrian trails for our enjoyment. They also host a variety of events so look at their calendar and be sure to check out their free Earth Week activities.
There’s nothing like a walk through the forest preserves to get in touch with nature and celebrate Earth week. So bundle up and get out there… You might be surprised at what you’ll find!
Can anyone guess which preserve is our favorite based on the above photos? Which is your favorite forest preserve? How does your family celebrate Earth Day?
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Kristy is the mother of two young children, who join in her quest for unique restaurants, fun places to play and a little personal sanity in the process. She does her best to teach her children healthy habits, kindness, compassion and a love of nature while also learning that sometimes we need to let go of our ideals in the name of fun.
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