Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Outdoor Life Challenge Begins!

Yes, April is here, and with it the beginning of my Outdoor Life Challenge!

(In case you missed the original post, click here to read my initial thoughts on the challenge.)

And yes, it was snowing here today. And there's more in the forecast for tomorrow. Not exactly how I was hoping to begin April, but we will forge ahead anyway!

Here's a recap of my goals for the next three months:

1. Spend a portion of our day together outside

I'm going to start by trying to do this in the afternoons. I'm liking our current morning routine, and since it's taken a lot of effort to create consistent mornings over this year, I don't really want to mess with that. The kids do usually go outside for between 30 minutes to 1 hour before we begin our morning lessons. They go out and play while I put the baby down for her nap, do a few of my chores, or finishing getting ready for our lessons. I will add this to the kids' total tally for the day, though it won't count for my time.

I'm still working out how to structure our afternoons to go out together, especially with this tricky early spring weather. It's not quite "fine" enough to be eating outside, or for the baby to be crawling around yet. I think I'm going to keep the baby's nap time the same for now, at least on most days. The other thing I need to work out is how to schedule in the kids' quiet time, which is my daily sanity saver!! This usually happens during the baby's nap as well, which is around 1:30-2:30. We also have a read-aloud time that usually happens after quiet time, which is a highlight of our day. I can anticipate eventually moving that to our front porch once the weather warms up, but for now we might need to keep that indoors. I have a feeling things will be shifting around a lot as the weather changes over the next few months.

I'm also going to start small. My humble goal, at least here in the beginning of chilly April, is to go out with the kids for one hour in the afternoon. I hope it's doable enough to get some momentum going! And maybe we'll surprise ourselves with more, who knows!

In addition, I want to plan one "full" afternoon outside a week, whenever possible. (This may be a trip to the pond down the road, or a hike/bike ride once the trails are clear of snow. I'm also waiting on some new inner tubes for my stroller. We have a great backyard, but I'd like to try going just a little further afield if we can.)

2. Have a snack or lunch outside on fine weather days

Hmm, we'll see about this! The temperature range for the next week is between -3 and +4 celsius. Maybe we'll try a snack this week! I do have a little picnic table outside that is great for snacks and small meals. It's currently in a mud/slush puddle. Again, things should shift as spring becomes warmer.

3. Dust off the nature journals and make regular entries

We did this last week! It was great. Our goal will be at least one entry a week. Eventually I hope to move some of the actual journaling outside, but for now we may need to bring some nature inside for drawing purposes, or draw from our guide books.

4. Make outdoor play our default play

I know this will become easier as the sun gets warmer and beckons us out. I can see this being a challenge at the beginning. A lot of outdoor play this time of year means an awful lot of mud too. Besides finding some more splash pants, I think I will have to designate a set of "mud clothes" for each child that can be permanently stained "island red."

5. Continue my own nature education

What are these?

Right now I'm reading through "The Out-of-Doors Life for the Children" section of Mason's Home Education (volume 1 in the pink set).

Our "special study" area for nature study this term (following Ambleside Online's schedule) is fish. I'll have to read up on this in my Handbook of Nature Study. I must say, I don't know a lot about fish at the moment. I'm sure that will change by the end of June!

A few more things. . . 

  • Every day I will keep a tally of the kids' total time outside, and our time outside together. I'll post this at the end of each week, hopefully with a bit of a recap of our time outside. 
  • Once a week I will try to post a few thoughts from my reading in Home Education
  • I want to pay special attention to what sparks joy in our time outside! I hope to capture at least one moment a week, whether in words or in a photo, that I can share. Joy is a big part of why I'm taking on this challenge. :) 

If you'd like to join in this challenge and share your own outdoor journey, please chime in in the comments, or link to any blog posts you may have! I'm not tech-savvy enough to have hashtags and link parties and all that, but perhaps we can encourage each other in some small way. 

Happy Outdoorsing! 

~ Lindsey

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