Creating a Nature Habit TEDx Talk & PDF

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Back in April I had the privilege of giving a TEDx talk in Moncton, New Brunswick. It was an unforgettable experience. My hope in giving the talk was that my story of moving from California to Nova Scotia, and experiencing nature with a new sense of wonder as I explored with my own children, would inspire even one person to deepen their connection with our natural world. A few people have already told me that they have watched and enjoyed the talk, and some even took notes. This was thrilling for me to hear!

With that in mind I am sharing not only the talk but a PDF which will provide you a few key notes from the talk and room to take your own notes.

You can watch the talk below and find the PDF right here.

I would love to hear what you think and how you think these ideas might be applied to your own life.

Let wonder lead the way…

Dawn

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Nature Every Day

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When people hear that we incorporate nature into our daily life they sometimes think that we go on a long hike or nature walk every day of the week.

While that may have happened when the kids were very young, because I had a certain little one who had.to.be.outside, when more demands were put on our schedule that time was reduced considerably. We had to find more creative but simply ways to incorporate nature into our daily lives because I knew the great benefits we all gained from even short daily connections. In the process it became a part of our family culture to be outside whenever we could and simply notice the nature around us, even when we were not on a dedicated nature walk.

I wanted to share three very simple ways we do this in our family with hopes that you will be able to incorporate these things into your days and bring more nature awareness to your family.

1.Don’t kill time, fill time… with nature.

At some point throughout our day we will have to wait, for something. Fill that time instead of kill it. Fill it with nature!

Most of the times we find ourselves waiting, there is nature to be found somewhere nearby.

– a narrow bit of sky between buildings
– tree branches popping over the rooftop of a building (signs of a rooftop garden)
– birds overhead

Take the time to…
– stop at a park with big trees
– sit under a tree in a grassy areas outside of a building
– watch the birds come and go
Talk about what you see.

The “pond” in the photo below was really just a ditch between the road and the railroad tracks but we took a moment to stop every time we walked by on our way home. So many discoveries were made in that little ditch of a pond.

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2. Stop and Look

While in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the day just stop and look! It does not take long to spot a little bit of nature, or draw attention to something easily missed when hurrying along.

– Walking down the sidewalk? Check out what is growing in the cracks.
– Driving home from sports practice? Stop on the side of the road for a short break to take in a scene.
– Walking into a building? Take a moment to look up before you go inside.

Find little moments to be mindful of your surroundings and the nature all around.

We were on our way home from the dentist and decided to stop at the boat ramp for a moment. While we were there we saw a mink in the rocks. It was very exciting! Can you see it there in the rocks to the left?

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3. Find a window

Windows provide an interesting view of the world. By looking out a window one can focus on the visual information coming through while closing off the other senses (to a degree). More importantly, one does not have to actually be outside to gain the benefits of what the outdoors has to offer. And let’s face it, there are times when you just can’t be outside, for whatever reason.

While not all windows offer spectacular views, through most windows there is at least a tidbit of nature to be found.

– a birds eye view of trees
– the underside of a fly
– raindrops trickling down

Next time you and your kids have to be inside, seek out a window to frame the world outside and see what you can see.

 

Considering our busy lives, it can be good to give these things some forethought. Thinking about your typical day, or week, when do you have opportunities to connect with nature in simple ways?

I have made a PDF with these ideas, along with a few extra tips and a printable sheet you can fill out to help you discover where you have opportunities throughout your day or week to connect with nature.

You can download the PDF right here.

I hope that you will find these little moments build up over time and become part of your family culture. You don’t need exotic vacations to far off places to connect with the natural world. In fact, small daily interactions are more beneficial over the long run and can be found all around.

Let me know if you have any questions or need help with any nature related hurdles.

I am happy to help.

Dawn

 

P.S. The Everyday Nature for Families online workshop is now open for registration. If you register before September 24th you can invite a friend to join you for free! Yay! Learn more and sign up here.

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8 Ways to Celebrate Autumnal Equinox

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The autumnal equinox is quickly approaching and the change is in the air. The breeze has chilled just slightly, there are trees starting to change, and beach days have been replaced with hikes through the forest to the lakes that are retaining that last bit of summer heat.

There are two equinox each year. The autumnal equinox marks the first day of fall in the northern hemisphere and the first day of spring in the southern hemisphere. It is also called the September Equinox and falls on Thursday, September 22 this year. In March the vernal equinox brings spring to the northern regions and fall to the south.

Of all the seasonal shifts fall seems to be the most pronounced and requires not only a shift in wardrobe but also a slight shift in mindset. While there are those who relish in the coming of the cooler weather, especially those who have very hot oppressive summers and more mild winter, there are some who work to wrap their mind around the coming cold and all the changes that come with it.

This makes the celebration of the Autumnal Equinox an important marker to help make that shift and get ready to enjoy all that the months ahead have to bring. It is a time to celebrate the bountiful harvest of local foods, the preparations nature is making for the season, and settle into routines that will carry over into the cooler months ahead.

Below are a few ways to celebrate the equinox. Some are fun and a few are practical. Don’t let the list overwhelm you (we certainly don’t need any more of that). Pick and choose a few you think will make the transition to the new season something to celebrate.

Celebrating the Autumnal Equinox

  1. Eat a locally harvested meal. This is a great time to stop into the farmers market and see what is available or look for those “locally grown” signs in the grocery. Even if you just add one item to your equinox meal and talk about how it was grown right were you live that is a great way to celebrate.
  2. Prepare for the season by scheduling things that need to be done around the house. Kinda boring for a “celebration” but like I said, some of these are practical. Does the flue need to be cleaned? (Ours is getting cleaned today.) Do you need to try on cold weather gear? (You might schedule to do that the Saturday after the equinox.) Do you need to freshen up the house with a deep clean? (There never seems to be a good time for this so I tend to just pick a random day and put it on the schedule.) What else needs to be done before the onset of the cooler weather?
  3. Gathering family and friends for a bonfire is another super way to celebrate. It does not have to be extravagant. It is amazing how a fire alone creates a celebration!
  4. Hunt for fall. A few members of the Mud Puddles to Meteors group on Facebook mentioned that they will be doing a fall nature hunt and it is a wonderfully simple idea. You can make up your own as you go or search for a fall nature hunt on Pinterest.
  5. Do a fall nature craft. You can find inspiration here.
  6. Make a list of gratitudes for the season. The Hello There Friend community on Instagram is a wonderful place to find gratitude inspiration. You can search #htfgratitude to find wonderful photos with bits of gratitude.
  7. Stock the bookshelf with fall inspiration. This list is a great one for children’s books. Please do share your favorite fall reads for kids or adults in the comments. We would love to see which books inspire you in the fall.
  8. Pick a few fall nature study projects & clean up the nature table for new fall finds. Fall brings a new bounty of finds for the nature table and collections. This is a good time to clear some space for them and use the summer treasures in projects or to create shadow boxes to remember the days past. Fall is also a great time for leaf and tree studies. Fungi are also plentiful and a popular fall nature study. The equinox is also a great time to start tracking the sun as it moves across the horizon so you can make note of how it shifts during the year. There are really so many possibilities!

Kicking off the equinox with a study of the equinox is a great way to start the season ahead. We have talked about it and done various projects over the years but as the kids grow they add on layer after layer of knowledge. It is a wonderful thing to see develop!

Below are some resources to get you started.

Time and Date is not only an informative resource but also allows you to search for the exact time the equinox will be in your city.

10 Facts About the First Day of Fall is filled with both science and fun facts.

This National Geographic video is a wonderful look at the equinoxes.

 

Let us know in the comments how you celebrate the Equinox!

Enjoy the fall,

Dawn

 

P.S.

The Everyday Nature for Families online workshop is now open for registration. Click on over here to learn more.

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Four Fun Prompts for Nature Exploration

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I have made of Four Fun Prompts for September Nature Explorations.

These are super prompts for engaging kids, and their adults, in nature and are a great jumping off point for further explorations.

If you would like to read more about what prompts are and how I use them with my own kids you can check out the post Nature Prompts & How to Use Them.

Click right here to sign up and download the prompts.

As always, if you have any questions or want to share your nature experience you can get in touch with me in the Mud Puddles to Meteors Facebook Group or email me at dawnsuzette@gmail.com.

Happy Exploring!

Dawn

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Free September Desktop Calendar

09 September 2016 Sunday Start

 

Whoa! September is here! Before we know it the leaves are going to be changing. In fact, some of our little maples are getting a head start on that project.

Along with those changing leave we tend to see all kinds of interesting fungi popping up in September, so I thought this beautiful one would make a great September calendar.

We hope you enjoy this lovely bit of nature on your computer this month!

Download the Sunday start version here .

The Monday start version can be found here.

Simply download and right click on the preview, then select “use image as desktop picture.”

 

For those of you signed up for the Free Nature Prompts, I will need a few more days to get those out. This nasty head cold, coupled with some deadlines, has delayed me a bit. They will land in your inbox soon. If you want to sign up to receive them you can do that right here (and get last months prompts).

 

Happy September!

Dawn

 

P.S. The Mud Puddles Monthly Newsletter will be going out soon. Sign up right here if you want it to land in your inbox. When you sign up you will also receive a great PDF with 21 Ways to Get Your Kids Unplugged and Engaged with Nature. 

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Free August Desktop Calendar

08 August 2016 Mud Puddles to Meteors Desktop Sunday Start

August has not always been a favorite month but it has grown on me over my years in Nova Scotia. Summer is so slow to come here and most of July finds the ocean still a little chilly for swimming. Come August the water warms along with the weather and it feels like our one true month of summer through and through, which is giving it high marks!

The beach roses are a favorite part of summer for us and after consulting with my son (who has been very keen to take part in choosing our desktop photo each month) the beach rose was chosen for August.

We hope you enjoy this lovely bit of nature on your computer this month!

Download the Sunday start version here .

The Monday start version can be found here.

Simply download and right click on the preview, then select “use image as desktop picture.”

Happy August!

Dawn

 

P.S. The Mud Puddles Monthly Newsletter will be going out soon. Sign up right here if you want it to land in your inbox. When you sign up you will also receive a great PDF with 21 Ways to Get Your Kids Unplugged and Engaged with Nature. 

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Five Fun Prompts for August Nature Explorations

I have made of Five Fun Prompts for August Nature Explorations.

These are super prompts for engaging kids, and their adults, in nature and are a great jumping off point for further explorations.

If you would like to read more about what prompts are and how I use them with my own kids you can check out the post Nature Prompts & How to Use Them.

Click right here to sign up and download the prompts.

As always, if you have any questions or want to share your nature experience you can get in touch with me in the Mud Puddles to Meteors Facebook Group or email me at dawnsuzette@gmail.com.

Happy Exploring!

Dawn

 

P.S. The Mud Puddles Monthly Newsletter will be going out soon. Sign up right here if you want it to land in your inbox. When you sign up you will also receive a great PDF with 21 Ways to Get Your Kids Unplugged and Engaged with Nature. 

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Whatever the Weather Giveaway

Whatever the Weather Cover copy

The amazing folks over at Home School Life Magazine are having a giveaway for a copy of Whatever the Weather!

 

Pop on over to the Home School Life blog to check out an interview, learn a bit about the book, and enter to win a copy.

If you are a homeschooler be sure to check out the blog and magazine. It is a wonderful resource for any homeschool family.

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Interview with a Young Naturalist

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It always delights me to come across kids who are excited about nature. Whether these Young Naturalists study insects, love birds, or can’t get enough of nature photography, seeing them in action (or the results of those actions through their photos or nature journal entries) is thrilling.

Today we are sharing an interview with one such Young Naturalist. Jonah lives in Florida and is an amazing young wildlife photographer. Enjoy his interview and photos!

  1. Please tell us a bit about yourself and the area where you live.

We live in woods close to a river in North Florida. North Florida has wetlands, fresh water springs, beaches, Pine tree forests, and River Hammocks. I like climbing trees in my backyard, playing basketball in the road, and biking.

  1. You have taken some really wonderful photos. When did you become interested in photographing nature?

My grandfather gave me a camera on my forth birthday, but the batteries didn’t last long. When I was eight, I started looking for a new one. I found a good deal on a Fuji hybrid. I watched a photography class on the Great Courses and it got me interested in a DSLR, because I wanted more control of the camera. But DLSRs are expensive and Mom wouldn’t pay for it. Instead Mom helped me sell my photographs in the kid section of a local art event. Our friend, who is also a photographer, gave a camera body, and I used the money I raised to buy a long lens and a macro lens that I have now.

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  1. Do you have any tips for kids interested in nature photography?  

It is not just your camera. You don’t need an expensive camera. Try to be creative, and get different perspectives. After sunset and early morning is the best time to shoot, because there is no harsh shadow and there is beautiful light.

  1. Please tell us about a favorite place you like to go to spend time in nature.

Our back yard is woods. I like to climb the trees. I also have a rope swing that I try to swing in a 360 degree circle and try to land on my feet.

  1. If you could travel to any destination to photograph and learn more about the nature at that location, where would you go and what would you want to see there?

I would go to Madagascar, and find a family of lemurs on a cliff and wait until sunset. I like lemurs and think they would be interesting to photograph.

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  1. Do you have any nature book recommendations for other young naturalist?

Nature Detectives is a good one for younger kids. It is a little kid guide on bugs and nature. I like My Side of the Mountain and Chronical of Ancient Darkness for around my age, (eleven). My Side of the Mountain  is a story of adventure and living in the woods with a falcon. Chronical of Ancient Darkness is a series about a boy named Torak that is also about survival in the woods.

 

Thank you so much for sharing, Jonah!

You can find more of Jonah’s photos at his blog Images of Beauty.

Thank you to Della, Jonah’s mom, for sharing his work with me and allowing me to interview him!

 

If you know a Young Naturalist who would like to share on the blog please let me know by emailing me at dawnsuzette@gmail.com. 

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Free July Desktop Calendar

7 July 2016 Sunday Start

It is amazing to think that tomorrow is July 1st!

As unbelievable as it is, it means it is time for a new desktop calendar to bring some nature to your computer!

Download the Sunday start version here .

The Monday start version can be found here.

Simply download and right click on the preview, then select “use image as desktop picture.”

Enjoy this little glimpse of nature on your desktop.

Happy July!

Dawn

 

P.S. The Mud Puddles Monthly Newsletter will be going out soon. Sign up right here if you want it to land in your inbox. When you sign up you will also receive a great PDF with 21 Ways to Get Your Kids Unplugged and Engaged with Nature. 

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