Take a Winter Hike!

 

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” ~ Albert Einstein 

It’s cold outside!! Time to explore the winter season and it’s many treasures. Beat your family’s urge to stay in and hibernate by engaging in a fun scavenger hunt to keep your crew active and give children the opportunity to enjoy the crisp, fresh air!

Our own FSA Folsom Childcare Center Director, Le Taunya Terrell, set out on her own winter adventure to get outside and connect with nature.  Le Taunya took a hike within the University of California, Davis Arboretum, one of the Central Valley region’s living laboratories. The 100-acre historic arboretum is set amongst the banks of the old north channel of Putah Creek and is an amazing environmental science space for observation, research, study, and discovery.  Along its many paths, bridges and trails, the arboretum is home to various natural habitats, wildlife, gardens, and sustainable landscape lush with evergreen plants and trees.

Photo courtesy of Le Taunya Terrell, FSA Folsom Childcare Center Director

Le Taunya’s Tips for a Wonderful Winter Walk!

  • Gear Up! Dress appropriately for cold weather temperatures with layers of warm clothing.  Be sure to have hats, scarves, and mittens on hand or pack extra clothing in a backpack in case you need a quick change.
  • Get Your Wiggles Out! Have fun in an outdoor environment that offers so much in the form of PLAY!
  • Pack a Snack! Hot chocolate ready to sip in a thermos with some healthy bites will keep you energized.
  • learn sensory awareness
  • Go back to this same special spot as the seasons turn to see how nature changes and grows around us!

Le Taunya embarked on her scavenger hunt ready to collect seasonal goodies and stimulate her senses.  She felt the “chilly” air and the temperature change in atmosphere as she began her walk.  She smelled crushed pine needles. She listened to trees moving in the breeze, the sound of leaves crunching along the path and the noise of birds chirping. Her eyes were on the lookout to identify different birds, animals, and shelters. To her surprise, she encountered fabulous creatures and a thoughtful retreat.

She shares, “I saw, both, a Great Egret and Grey Heron up close. I find herons to be so beautiful, but I have never gotten close enough to get a good look.  I was lucky enough to watch both birds wade in the water in search of food and as more people approached, I got to see how graceful their flight is…from 15 feet away! I also stumbled upon a labyrinth that had, recently, been made with leaves around a meditation bench.  I allowed myself to slow down and take time to enjoy the sounds of nature: water flowing down into creek, ducks bathing in the water, birds rustling in trees, the distant chatter of people.”

These unexpected gifts gave Le Taunya the opportunity to enjoy a moment of stillness and ponder her place in the world around her. She became so immersed in her hike and the beauty around her that she got lost in the pleasure of the experience, hiking a total of six miles!!  Most preschoolers probably won’t last on such a long trek but the exposure to Winter’s bounty and its magical scenery your toddlers and preschoolers experience will inspire learning moments.  In addition, the joy found in curious exploration, lively conversation, and time spent with family will make for delightful memories.

 

Nature’s keepsake ideas to create a Preschool age appropriate Seasonal Scavenger Hunt:

    1. evergreen tree
    2. pine cones
    3. winter berries
    4. flower blossom
    5. bird
    6. fallen leaf
    7. moss
    8. seed pod
    9. animal tracks or boot prints
    10. leafless tree
    11. frost
    12. twig
    13. feather
    14. cold water source: stream, river, pond
    15. see your breath in the cold air