By Kristen Thompson
I love going for nature walks. Rain, snow, wind, sun… I just want to be outside, moving my legs and taking in the beauty of my Okanagan home. My kids - whose legs become “tired” the second they’re asked to use them for anything other than playground play - do not feel quite the same way.
Walks and bike rides are short-lived, there’s profound boredom, there are threats of limbs breaking in half under the duress of physical exercise. Sound familiar?
But I want them to love being outside, I want them to love hiking (flat, easy, urban hiking, at the very least), and I want them to stop and take note of all the amazing things happening in the woods - the kind of things you only notice when you take the time to slow down and look for them.
Which is why, when I discovered this awesome Spring Textures Hunt by B.C. blogger Mama Papa Bubba, I knew I’d found exactly what we needed to keep my kids interested while exploring the Okanagan’s family-friendly trails.
The free instant download comes with two sheets that encourage kids to search the outdoors for different textures found in nature. One pages includes a list of textures to look for (which was perfect for my three year old), and the other encourages children to fill in the blanks on their own (perfect for my kindergartner).
We took our pages and headed to the Greenway trails near Mission Creek Park to hunt for our treasures, which we collected in a large reusable bag (as the treasures were kind of wet and mucky), and brought home to dry in the sun on a cookie sheet. We collected rocks, pebbles, berries, twigs, moss, bark and grass. Some more questionable items (which had been planned for the “squishy” box) were left untouched on the ground.
Once dried, my three year old sorted through the collection and found an item to place on each square, and we chatted about how some of her finds - like small pieces of branch, for example - fell into more than one category, such as hard, bumpy or rough.
My kindergartner took a more creative approach, writing out all the textures on her own, and drawing each item in the corresponding box.
We also talked about some of the items we weren’t able to find, and where we might be able to stumble upon them in our own neighbourhood, or perhaps at the beach.
It was an easy and fun activity for both kids, and was a good reminder for all of us that beauty can be found all around, even in the mucky, drippy spring - you just have to slow down, and look around you.
Thanks Mama Papa Bubba for the great idea!
Kristen Thompson is a freelance journalist, and half of the team that makes up Do The Okanagan. She discovered her love for hiking in Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment, and is trying hard to pass on that love to her children here in Kelowna. It’s working …. kind of.