Activities For The Whole Family

Here are some great ideas for fun activities to do with the entire family.
Here are some great ideas for fun activities to do with the entire family.
Nature walks
If it's gray and gloomy where you live, you can banish the blues -- at least for an hour or two -- with a look at nature. Even if you're citybound and convinced there's nothing but bricks and cement within walking distance, use a nature guide like WoodsWalk: Peepers, Porcupines & Exploding Puffballs (Henry W. Art and Michael W. Robbins, North Adams, Mass.: Storey Publishing, 2003) to help turn even the most urbanized kids (and parents) into budding naturalists.

If you're going farther than the park a few blocks away, prepare: consider taking a map, wear sturdy shoes, long pants and an appropriate jacket, and bring water, a small flashlight and binoculars.

Got a bug box? Take it along, too. If you're heading for a longer trail, a nature preserve or a national park, make sure you've checked the weather, packed an emergency snack and foul-weather clothing and told someone where you're going.

Once you're on the "trail," even if it's a sidewalk or a well-traveled path in a city park, slow down. The more slowly you move, the more you will see, hear and smell. Here's some examples of what to look for:

  • Tree shapes and colors: The mostly bare branches give you an opportunity to notice the different shapes of the trees. Many look drab from afar, but if you check the bark, the buds and the treetops, you may see more than brown and gray.

    For example, paper birches have purplish brown buds and white bark. Red maple flowers look like red popcorn. Poplars have greenish bark and yellow-green catkins.

  • Pillbugs: Even in the city you may see pillbugs (also called sowbugs or wood lice), bugs that look as if they're covered with armor. Often they're hidden under a scrap board or an empty flower pot.

    At the first sense of danger, they roll themselves into tight balls. If you're carrying a bug box, drop in a pillbug for a closer look at the head and "armor" before you release it.

  • Canada geese: Among the critters that go to warmer climates for winter are Canada geese. Once there's a hint of spring, they'll be back. Wherever there's a pond, lake or fountain, you may see (or hear) a flock of these honkers searching for breakfast.
  • Tags: outdoors

    recommended for you