Springtime in Calgary can be a tricky time of year. Many of us are itching to get outside with the kids – but with the unpredictable weather, are never sure if we should grab raincoats and boots or winter coats. However, exploring in the spring can be lots of fun if you are prepared.
First, you need to have the proper outerwear for each child: raincoat and rubber boots, winter coat, winter boots, fleece, hat and mitts. With the varying spring temperatures, it is best to dress in layers. If one ventures out and becomes hot, you can take off your jacket and still remain comfortable in a fleece. It is important not to let the kids strip everything off because the sun is out! Teaching them to layer and dress for the weather is an important tool, and key to them enjoying being outside more.
Also, throw in these items to enhance the kids’ outside explorations:
• Magnifying glass
• Notepad and pencil
Ready to go? Try these fun spring activities:
1. Look for animal tracks. Easy to find in remaining snow and mud, kids enjoy searching for tracks. Use a track book to identify the tracks; or take your camera for pictures to figure out the track at home. Kids can also look for other signs of animals, like clumps of hair or fur, in the spring when animals start to shed their winter coats.
2. Search for spring buds. From trees to flowers poking out of the ground, kids become excited about new growth. While on a walk, look at the trees to see if buds are starting; or go out in your backyard and check for flowers coming up. A little bit of green poking through is quite exciting, and kids will enjoy checking each day to see if they have gotten taller.
3. Puddle jumping. This is for a warmer spring day, and one where you are not far from inside shelter. Dress in your raincoat and boots, then hop outside and find some puddles. Challenge the kids to make as small a splash as possible, then a big one. Keep an eye on if/when they get cold and bring them inside right away.
4. Set up a birdfeeder. Hang it in a safe place where cats and other predators can’t reach it and ensure the kids can view it without disturbing their visitors. Fill it with birdseed and wait. Be patient, sometimes it takes a few days for the birds to discover the feeder. With birdfeeders, it is important to continue to fill them as the birds become dependent on the food source. Kids can observe, sketch and identify the birds that come to the feeder.
5. Play in the mud. Wear old clothes, rubber boots and go dig in the mud. Let the kids dig in an area of the garden that is not seeded yet. They can make cities, roads, lakes, etc. They can do hand and foot prints or make mud pies. Set guidelines for them so you are not stressed about cleaning them up; then allow them to get in and get dirty!
Regardless of what you choose to do outside, it is important to check out the area you are going to. Parks and natural areas can flood due to the spring thaw, or areas can become unsafe. A quick check online or by calling
3-1-1 can help you determine if the area you wish to go to is safe for you and the kids.
With these quick, easy tips and activities it is easy to get out and enjoy the Calgary spring!
Carmen is a writer, mother and outdoor educator. She loves to share her passion for the outdoors with all ages, especially with her children.
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