Friday, September 11, 2015

The Long, Long Hike: Scavenger Printables!

Have you ever been on a hike and realized it was taking WAY longer than you thought it would?  I mean, sometimes it doesn’t really matter, like when it’s just you and the dog and you don’t have anywhere to be.  I really love hikes like that, they’re so peaceful and you can just explore and be spontaneous!  But, when it’s just you and the dog and the preschooler and the toddler and getting on toward suppertime, it gets a bit more worrisome!  That was our experience yesterday as we set off to explore a new trail system called Dorris Ranch.

Dorris Ranch is not a ranch at all, but rather fourteen individual hazelnut groves, woodland plots and a few open meadows on over 250 acres.  The hazelnut (or filbert) groves date back to 1905 and apparently half of our nations hazelnut trees originated from the Dorris Ranch!  There are miles of winding trails through the groves, but we naturally decided to take the shortest loop (about a half mile) as we planned to visit a new playground as soon as we were done.   Thankfully our adventure boy is in this “be prepared for anything” stage and I’m so glad he is!  He insisted on bringing his backpack with water and trail mix and we tucked a park map in there, too. Though the colored pencils and bungee cord were not found to be as helpful, we were prepared.

The map was nice to have, though I may not have looked at often enough.  We totally missed our cut off trail and took a loop that ended up being well over two miles.  With the wee ones in sandals and it getting close to dinner time.  I was bracing myself for the meltdowns, but attempted to be proactive in motivating them and distracting them from their discomfort.  And you know what?  It worked!  And I feel like they learned stuff, or at the very least, practiced what they already knew.  I was so pleased I thought I’d share with you in the rare case that you might find yourself in a similar predicament one day.  But probably not.  Most people actually read the maps they pick up for the hike!  Haha! Oh, well, it was an adventure all right!

So first off, we took a lot of breaks.  But not as soon as I heard a complaint.  Well, toddlers don’t really do waiting very well, so she did get carried a fair portion.  But when our bigger hiker thought he could go no farther, we would pick the farthest spot we could see to choose as a resting place.  Then we would sit down, take a drink of water and a handful of trail mix and I got to explain how muscles get stronger by being used and how we need to feed them the protein from the nuts we were eating (and the meat later on).  We kept that new playground as a goal when they didn’t want to get moving again.

As we trudged along we made up a sort of scavenger hunt of a few things from the schoolbooks this morning: shapes and colors.  This was such a great motivator as it kept them engaged in their surroundings and seeking to get farther down the trail to discover the next surprise!  Here are our results for the shapes.  Some of them are a bit of a stretch, but given the circumstances, I thought we did quite well:

Circles, ovals, triangle, square, rectangle, octagon.  At one point our loop followed a paved bike path so we were able to find many geometric shapes.

And the colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, white, black, grey, brown.

Oh, and giving points made it extra exciting.  We weren’t really even counting up to anything, but they were points!  We also had the random teaching moments like how the hazlenuts we saw lying on the ground were the hazelnut tree’s seeds and how the whole tree grew from the little nut-seed.  We talked about how the noisy wind bending the trees’ boughs was like God: powerful and strong, but invisible.  We can see what He’s doing but not God Himself.  We even took time (too late) to look over the map together and begin to talk about how they work and how they help us.  Yup, I was pretty much just preaching to myself there.  And random excitement: we found a really tame parakeet.  Pretty sure those aren’t wild around here.  I tried to catch him, but he didn’t think that was a good idea.  Though he let me get close enough to touch him several times.  I didn’t even know what to do!  I’m sure he’s someone’s escaped pet! 

At last we saw the truck!  And it was all downhill from there (literally and figuratively!)  We made it, and with no meltdowns!  Thank You, God!  And for those of you curious, we found a lovely playground and stayed there until dusk and the little ones sure slept good that night!  I did get to thinking these scavenger hunts might be fun to do even when not necessary.  So I whipped up some check lists to use on our next hike to help keep the focus. Maybe I'll keep a pen to cross the words off or better yet: stickers!  If you'd be interested in them, you can just click the photo to enlarge it and print a couple to keep in your vehicle for your next journey!  Happy learning and adventuring!

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