Winter Hike at Salmon River and Day Pond State Park

Yesterday we headed out to go hiking with our Happy Homeschool Hiker group. The weather turned out to be perfect, being mostly sunny and not as windy as it has been with high’s in the upper 30’s .  I t was a pretty big turn out as everyone in the group was able to make it to the hike. We started at Salmon River by the covered bridge, it was recently restored and one of the last covered bridges in Ct.

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We walked through the bridge to the trail head and it didn’t take long for all the kids to start throwing rocks into the river, breaking the iced edge.

 

The bridge had a few windows inside to look out and view the river.hike bridge

 

 

 

 

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We headed up the trail along the side of the river, it was a little bit snow covered and pretty steep. The older children are really great about helping out the younger ones. Everyone was hiking and pointing out plants and rocks along the way, small conversations with each other- it is truly fantastic how well all the children in this group get along, help each other and have fun with made up games along the way.

hikeWe reached the look out at the top of the trail and then headed back down to the cars. Next up was a hike not to far down the road at Day Pond State Park. As we arrived at our next hike, all the kids were so excited to see a man ice fishing and that they were too allowed to go out on the ice. This was the first time on a frozen pond for a lot of them being that our winters have not been that cold lately. A few wipe outs! After feeling it out and getting accustomed to the slippery underfoot, they had  great fun running and sliding on their feet. A few enjoyed some popcorn while waiting for the others.

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After some free time we headed down the next trail. It was a bit muddy and many spots had water running through, covered in ice. It didn’t take long before a few adults and children started to grumble about being wet and cold. The sun was starting to hide behind the trees at this point so we did about half the trail and turned back.  Hopefully next week we’ll head out again!gangsnow hike

 

A little less screen time, a little more imagination

Last week was filled with field trips to museums – a new “screen” time schedule for the boys to follow in order to minimize that immediate -go to- reaction when there is downtime.  It is winter and has been very cold to get outdoors, but I know if they just took a minute to think of something to do rather than sit in front of a tv, computer or video game, I’d see some imagination and creativity! It seems each winter we go through thThey each have an allowance of time slotted for each day, it can be either planned out in advance or used as wished throughout the day, subtracting the time left as used. I have to say after a week now I haven’t even heard a grumble, Liam has been monitoring his own time and using it fairly well, Luke is a bit too young still and doesn’t really sit down very long to really bother with (but to be fair)…

What have they been doing with their time once schooling is done? Liam has been doing some woodworking in the basement carving a stick, building forts, making up games and characters with his legos, yesterday we built forts and made ice bird feeders, did yoga all together and played “our neighborhood” a.k.a. Luke and I mailed Liam letters under his door, wrote back and forth, he even asked for some bills to be mailed to him so he could use play money! I am so loving the creativity and seeing them play together! Yeah! I think I finally found a “screen time allowance” that is practical fair and working!!

Today we are headed out to a science museum and then tomorrow we are joining our happy homeschool hikers for a day on the trails!

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished~Lao Tzu

Last week our hiking friends contacted us, as we had not been able to join the group for our weekly hikes for a couple of months now. Gratefully, they were flexible and accommodating to our availability this week and we met for a two-part hike yesterday.  The quote “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished” fits perfectly as our hike was one of the longest yet; 7hrs on the trails!

-Haley Farm State Park and Bluff Point State Park-

Upon our arrival our friends were there to meet us as well as a new family! It was great to see our older family and we immediately hit it off  with the new family.  We set out and the boys all ran ahead, grabbed sticks, talked about legos and such 🙂 It wasn’t too long before they spotted a nesting area in the woods and took guesses on who’s home it may be. We then stopped by the water’s edge and they climbed along the rocks- the imagination and conversations never stopped!

Next, they all spotted a huge boulder to explore and had a quick quiz on what type of rock it was and how it was formed. A few of the puddles surrounding the rock had baby spiders  in them! They all loved this find!

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We headed out took a new path that led us to a foot bridge over the train tracks and as luck would have it, the train came by. As we continued walking the boys continued with games; hiding behind trees, climbing rocks spotting different specimens to examine and throwing rocks into a small body of water we came across. We stopped for a snack, explored some rocks and shells then turned back to head towards the cars….again many stops for exploring, conversations and climbing rocks!

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Once back at the cars, we decided to head over to Bluff Point about five minutes down the road for a picnic lunch. It was only down the street, but the difference in temperature was drastic! We all had to bundle up as the wind was pretty constant and cold by the picnic tables. As we all cleaned up and re-packed our bags for our next hike, the boys had gathered their legos and started a new games chasing each other around and making plans for a get together to trade pieces with eacNew Image09h other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once everyone was ready (many bathroom trips and last minute adjustments later) we headed out to make our way to the Bluff. As we came to the first beach area, the boys found many rocks to collect, jellyfish and clam shells to explore, etc. This stayed true for the entire walk! We kept joking that we were going to be hiking back in the dark! A normal hours walk out to the bluff turned into  about a two hour walk- We finally made it to the bluff, took some photos and then headed down to the rocky coast just down below for some more explorations and a lesson on types of rocks as one of the parents has vast knowledge on rocks and their formations.

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At this point the sun was starting to set, so we started to head back. We were using flashlights by the time we made it to the parking lot! It was a beautiful sunset and a great way to have spent our day! A round of hugs for all, plans to get together soon-we were off! Nothing was rushed, and everything was accomplished!

 

 

 

 

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Heifer International Farm Visit

We visited Overlook Farm again today for the Harvest Festival. This is a working Learning Center that is part of Heifer International. In a previous post called Moo-ving project you can view our other visit.

Today we had the best experience with the kids learning hands on global issues concerning hunger and poverty. The farm had hay rides, lots of activities for the children, scavenger hunts and we walked through to explore the homes in the Global Village and learn about traditional harvest celebrations in Peru, Poland, Kenya and more. There was also a delicious lunch prepared from the farms products! My oldest was really able to see the process from garden to table! Though I really didn’t think about “schooling” today we walked away with a lot of new knowledge! All of us!

Heifer offers free Global Education kits. They are amazing- I speak from experience! We took action after using the kit and raised money to buy a few Living Gifts!

If you are able to take a field trip, please do so! Here are the locations. We live about and hour and a half away, but so worth the trip every time!

Older children and those of 18 and older can volunteer and live on or off the farm! My oldest who’s eight already has said many times, he wants to volunteer as soon as he is old enough!

The Scavenger Hunt took us a while! This was one of the clues : There are many purple plants in the garden, and although I’m one of the smallest, none of the other purple plants smell as good as I do or have prettier flowers. If you can find the other purple plants, write them down but be sure to  get one leaf from me and smell it! I taste particularly good with tomatoes and mozzarella.

Really make you think and look closely! We got all 12 of them! Whew!

Garden Scavenger Hunt

View of the cattle

Making a bees wax candle

Playing Instruments Together

Guinea pig in Peru

Learning to weave a bookmark

“I Spy” So Much Fun!

Today we headed over to a place called Bakerwoods Farm.  It has just about   everything that we look for in a worth while educational field trip.  Imagination, nature, science, history, animals, nature trails, a picnic area and the  kids favorite part: the “Gnome I Spy Nature Trail”l!

We first set out to see all the animals as many of them came to greet us upon our arrival!

I think “peggy the goose” was one of the first animals we met, who we learned has quite a little history to her life so far.

Peggy the Goose

We made our way through all the animals.

Grazing Horses

Babies!

The Big Guy

The we headed out to the “I Spy Gnome Trail”.  The first thing is to get your paper with the items to “spy” while on the trail. We spotted everything on the list except for three things while on our walk…maybe next time we’ll get them all?!

Knock, Knock!

Then we took a lunch break and finished up with another nature walk through the Ancient Path Trail. We used our imaginations and made up some short stories and ideas about the facial expressions we saw in the trees!

As we left, we talked about what stood out to us today.  For Liam who’s 8: The Gnome Trail- cause it was really cool to walk around and find all the hidden objects!

For Luke, who’s 2, he said( in so many words): I like the bird with the costume, he played pee-a-boo! He kept saying “costume” because of the way the birds plumage stood up around it’s neck. 🙂

For me, I appreciated the entire experience and feel very grateful for the hard-working people who run places like this for others to enjoy- very welcoming and fortunate to have people like that in this world!

There is no fee, they accept donations.

We “spied” many other nature items throughout the day as well.  If you can take a trip, I urge you to take advantage of this peaceful, relaxing, educational and fun atmosphere it’s very unique and you’ll spy many other things I have not mentioned as well!!

Covered Bridge

Some Hives

Liam spotted some pretty fungus

Pretty roadside

Camping Lake Side

 

My oldest son and I camped outdoors last night- first time for him. He’s been dying to try it but just a little to scared to actually spend the night outside.  My sister’s children have been asking as well, so she planned a camp out in her yard for all of us to “try it out.”  It ended up being a success- all children made it through the night, and seemed to have really enjoyed it!

The festivities began with some swimming and other water games they kept coming up with together. Followed by dinner, making S’mores (watching them hunt for sticks was amusing), lots of “glowing” games, reading a camping story together in the tent and sparklers. Concluded by star gazing!

Time for S’mores!

See my sparklers!?

Glow stick ring toss

Story Time

This camping things not to shabby! 🙂 Relaxed

Swimming together. Played games such as marco polo and other group games

Getting the fire started

 

Dinosaur Park Adventure

Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum, Rocky Hill,...

Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum, Rocky Hill, Connecticut, USA. Close-up of dinosaur prints. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum, Rocky Hill,...

Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum, Rocky Hill, Connecticut, USA. General view of dinosaur prints. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We decided to take advantage of the beautiful day, with a last minute thought to head out to Dinosaur State Park.

We had the company of my sister and her three boys joining us, a total of 5 enthusiastic boys!

When we first arrived, we headed indoors first for a hands-on look at dinosaurs and the different types of footprints and fossils on how to “read” and study them. For example, we explored one station that explained how to determine if the tracks showed a pack with young ones traveling, or if it suggested that a dinosaur was running.

Next up was a snake Q and A outdoors in the small ampitheater. The children and parents all gathered around to hear all about the snakes habitat and how his environment conditions are very crucial to these animals as well as other animals.  It was interesting. We headed back inside to continue exploring in the classroom- two animals on site, crafts, puzzles, puppets, and made footprint bookmarks as a souvenir! Then the Bill Nye movie started, featuring Volcanoes! As you  can imagine boys and volcanoes go together! They all sat and watched this short film and came out with many theories of their own! Think we’ll be doing another volcano experiment in the near future 🙂

Picnic lunch outdoors, then we were off for a hike on a couple of the trails! First stop at the butterfly garden, which was apparently a very peaceful area as the older boys all began to spontaneously meditate! We continued along on the swamp trail, spotting frogs and various plants. The trail was very pretty and had information boards posted along the way. As we neared the ending we could see the boys all still had plenty of energy so we decided to explore another trail. We set out on the wildflower trail next (which ended up being about a 30-40 min hike) beautiful flowers, trees and sounds to take in. Even spotted a rabbit who quickly ran for cover! We listened to different bird songs, spotted some birds, bugs and insects, examined and listened to ideas on how and why this big tree we came upon was turned over with it’s roots as equal in height as the older boys.  We spotted different “faces” in the trees trunk- “bat”, “scary face”,” owl ” and a “spider.” By the time we ended this trail it was time to head home!

Think we’ll return again soon though! Maybe we’ll bring supplies and make a fossil of our own on the next trip!

If you’re in the area, definitely stop by for a visit, there is so much to do there!

This is not just a hike!

Alas, the sun finally made an appearance and we were ready to hike after a long week of being stuck inside! We live in New England, so therefore, we packed both our suits and our sweatshirts- not knowing just how the weather was going to turn out as the day progressed. Gotta love it!

We meet regularly with a small group of local homeschoolers’ and hike new trails. This week we set out to Wolf Den State Park! A favorite trail of ours, that we have hiked once or twice in the past.

This week I took to noticing that the group of children~more in particularly my own, have really begun to be quite the little nature bugs! They all have so many questions about the plants and trees they are seeing, or looking for conformation on recognizing one from a previous hike. “What kind of leaf is this?” “What is this over here?” “What kind of bug is this?” “Isn’t this the same flower we saw last time?” “Did you hear that bird, what bird is it? ~They all take turns to yell out with excitement at one point or another with something they’ve spotted, and everyone else runs up eager to see!

The flowers have blossomed as well as the relationships with this group! They seemed to have quickly noted the likes and dislikes of each other, and will shout to each other when they spot something they know the other is interested in. As well as a fair warning! They check in with each other as we walk, look out for one another and encourage one another along the way as feet and spirits get tired. My youngest son riding along in the backpack get many visitors too, whether it be for a rock or stick or some other treasure found for him to hold, or more precious, another child walking beside us holding his hand and talking with him!

This week was pure conformation to me that this is not just simply a nice hike outdoors with friends, this is hands-on life learning at it’s best! So many basic skills and life long relationships are being formed! Image

ImageImageCan’t wait for next week! 🙂ImageImageImage