Take a Night Walk

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Whether walking along the lakeshore while camping or around your neighborhood on a summer evening, a nighttime walk can awaken the senses and make even the most familiar places come alive in a whole new way.

As humans we typically rely on our sense of sight more than any other sense. We are visual animals that are made to carry on with life during the day and hunker down for much needed rest and recovery at night. All the more reason to get out of our natural rhythms every so often to experience the world from a different perspective, helping our other senses take over and come alive.

Hear the world in a new way…

At night the big sounds of the world die down and a quite falls over the landscape.

That sounds like something right out of a story book, right? To a certain degree it is true, but you will quickly discover on your night walk that while the hustle and bustle of human activity has quieted down, the creatures of the night are just getting started and sometimes they can make quite a ruckus, for those who are listening.

While you are out listen for frogs peeping, bats on the wing, birds of the night (most are quite quiet), the wind blowing through the tree, insects chirping and buzzing, along with other signs that tell you someone is rustling about.

Before you leave you might want to talk about which animals you know about that are nocturnal and how the wind might make things move. You may want to even tell a few stories about nighttime creatures. This will help even the littlest explorer tune in, and dampen some fears that may arise from the sounds you hear. A reminder that even little creatures can make big sounds when the rest of the world is quite is helpful for everyone.

What do you smell?

Without our vision to help us we have to rely on our other senses and all of a sudden smells become very important. While it is true that even people who cannot see don’t have a heightened sense of smell, our sense of smell can tell us a lot about the world around us and it is really more keen than we give it credit.

During your walk tune into how things smell. Smell the bark of a tree, the grass, and flowers you pass by. Do they smell any different than they do during the day? Do they have a stronger smell? Weaker smell? Why would that be?

As you may well know, our sense of smell is intimately tied into our sense of taste. (Is that is why S’mores around the campfire at night taste extra good?)

It is also linked strongly with memories. While you are out talk about any smells that remind you of something.

Our eyes adjust

While we are not known to be nocturnal the human eye can adjust to see better in the dark. It takes about 20 minutes for our eyes to adjust to low light conditions so try to keep from looking at any lights or turning a flashlight on so your eyes can do the work of seeing better in the dark. To help kids understand how our eyes do this have them look into your eyes…

A super fun and simple way to learn about the human eye is to see it in action and a great way to do that is to have the kids see your pupil change right before their eyes. To do this simply close your eyes for about 10 seconds then open them while facing a bright light. Your pupils will quickly dilate to adjust to the increase in light and the kids will be able to see them get smaller. If you have someone around with light colored eyes have them do this for a greater effect.

The simple explanation here is that our pupils take in light to help us see and when light is low they get bigger to take in more light, and when the light is bright they get smaller to take in less light, very similar to the shutter on a camera. This is obviously a very simple explanation (since there are folks who study the eye in depth) but this will get them started on learning about the eye and who knows… medical school could be in their future because you took them on a night walk.

 

Keeping safe on a night walk

A few simple precautions will help you and yours stay safe during a night walk.

  • Stick together and pair up if you are in a large group
  • Wear light colors so you can be seen (especially if you will be walking near a street)
  • Take a flashlight (but try to keep it off as much as possible to let your eyes adjust to the dark unless you need it for safety, then just point it toward the ground and back as you walk)
  • Walk in a familiar place to avoid getting lost in the night

Extra tips

  • With very little ones start your night walks at twilight just as the sun is setting to let them get use to the fading light as the walk goes on
  • Before you go read stories about nocturnal creatures learning more about how they are adapted to the night and what they do out there
  • Be a confident role model for your kids (if you need to get used to being out at night yourself try a few night walks with a friend to get yourself familiar with the nighttime world before taking your kids out)

This will get you started on your journey to discover the night and make memories that will last. My kids still talk about seeing the stars reflecting off of the calm black lake one night while we were out exploring the darkness. It was brilliant.

We would love to hear about your night walk. Pop on into the Mud Puddles to Meteors Facebook group or tag #mudtometeors on Instagram to share your walk with us!

Happy Exploring!

Dawn

 

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FS Coastal Colour

Coloring nature scenes is a great way to get a little closer to some of the finer details in nature through amazing illustrations.

And it is a whole lot of fun!

Kirsty, from Fog and Swell, has a new coloring book available for download that can help with just that very mission. This is super exciting news around our house!

I have known Kristy through a variety of social media for who knows how long and I can’t tell you how excited I was when she started offering prints of her illustrations. I had been seeing little glimpses of her amazing work through photos and while we own a number of her sewn creations (which my kids love) having her artwork in our home is a real treat.

Now the kids, and this mama, can color our own versions of Kristy’s work and we are over the moon about it!

To give you a little taste of what this awesome coloring book is all about Kristy is offering Mud Puddles readers a free coloring sheet to download. Yay!

You can find that sheet right here.

Pop on over to Kristy’s shop to check out the coloring book and her other amazing prints.

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You can find Kristy on Instagram here and Facebook right here. Pop over to follow and give a like!

After you color your pages tag them on IG or FB with #fogandswell and #mudtometeors so we can see your pages!

Have fun coloring!

Dawn

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May Nature Explorations Graphic

May is almost here and that means Nature Prompts!

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

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

Click right here to 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 tomorrow morning bright and early. 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 May Desktop Calendar

5 May 2016 Sunday Start

Here we are with May just a few days away!

I made up a May desktop calendar for you. I hope it will bring a little extra nature to your days when you are in front of the 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 May!

Dawn

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Thanks so much to everyone who entered to win an Easy Macro Lens and shared about the giveaway.

It is wonderful to see so much excitement about this little lens and how it can add so much to nature study.

First, the winners!

Jenny Irvine, Rachel Santos, and Amber Willis are our winners.

Congratulations!

You all should have received emails from me this morning so please check your inbox.

Second, a little something for all of you!

The amazing folks over at Easy Macro have given you all a gift of 25% off your Easy Macro order until April 30th by using the code: MudPuddles25 

How nice is that? Very nice!

You can use that code over on the Easy Macro website right here.

Thanks again for a wonderful giveaway.

Dawn & the Easy Macro Team

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Happy Earth Day

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For my kids Earth Day is much like any other day and when they were young they did not totally understand what all the fuss was all about.

In these younger years we downplayed the big issues like climate change, endangered species, and the burning of the tropical rain forests. These issues that can be overwhelming and lead to a bit of hopelessness and confusion. I truly think that young kids need to develop a love of nature right where they find themselves in order to develop the compassion and capacity to make decisions later in life that will impact the natural world. 
So, Earth Day is simply a special day to acknowledge our love of nature and our life-giving planet. 
You know your kids best and as they get older bigger concepts and the reasons for them can be introduced. We started with recycling, because it is an action they see daily. We always pick up trash at the beach so it made sense and it was a tangible action. (And when they were young this trash arrived at the shore because people accidentally dropped something, the wind caught it and it blew off a boat, etc… We tried not to paint people as bad, but that we all simply needed to do a good job of keeping track of our trash and make sure it did not get away from us.) 


As they have grown we have talked about climate change and how that might impact where we live along the coast. With my daughter, at age 12, we are discussing some of the bigger issues around the climate. My son, at age 9, is still very sensitive to these big issues and the role humans play in the environment so we don’t discuss them as often and when we do we try to be very optimistic about the future and humans capacity for change, adaptation, and innovation.

I know this is kind of heavy for Earth Day but I worry that we are burdening kids with these weighty issues before they are ready and have developed a relationship with nature. Even the positive nature of the Earth Day message can bring questions as to WHY this day is even necessary. 


I encourage you to focus on the positive acts of Earth Day like recycling and planting trees while building up to those bigger issues as the kids get older. 


For those of you who are interested in the history of Earth Day you can find that 
here
Enjoy the day outside exploring and learning first hand what a wonderful Earth we have to call home! 

Let WONDER lead the way…

Dawn

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Project: Bug Be Gone Spray

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Spring is here and with spring comes warmer days, flowers, and bugs! While we really like studying insects and generally think they are pretty cool, we aren’t very keen on the itchy bites they leave behind when they visit and get a little too personal. To keep them at bay we make up our own bug spray using essential oils. This helps us stear clear of some of the harsh chemicals found in commercial sprays and makes us smell much better!

Follow the directions below to make your very own Bug Be Gone Spray!

Supplies:

20-30 drops essential oils (recommend oils: citronella, cedar wood, lavender, clove, eucalyptus, lemongrass, tea tree, catnip, rose geranium)

2 oz glass spray bottle

2 oz distilled water or witch hazel

We have used a combination of the oils above and did some experimenting to find the blend we liked best. You can start with equal amounts of three or four oils and work from there adjusting the amount of each to fit your needs. For example, if eucalyptus is too strong reduce the number of drops and add more lavender. If you like to smell of lemongrass, add a few more drops to your blend. You really can make it personal because there are so many different oils that work to repel insects!

Citronella, lavender, and eucalyptus are a few of the most popular oils for bug blends and if you have ticks around rose geranium is great to add.

What to do:

Add the oils of your choice to the bottle.

Add your carrier (distilled water or witch hazel)

Shake before each use and spray on as needed.

 

If you would like to make a bigger batch simply use a bigger spray bottle and add more drops of oil accordingly.

 

Because essential oils are not as powerful as other commercial sprays that contain strong chemicals you may need to apply more often.

As with anything new test a small area of your skin before applying all over.

NOTE: Recommendations to use citrus oils can be found on the internet, but use caution when adding those oils because they can make skin extra sensitive to the sun.

 

Now, you can still get the occasional bite or sting even when using a spray.

If you do get a sting or bite apple cider vinegar followed by a dab of lemon or lavender essential oil works wonders to reduce swelling. I keep a roller bottle of apple cider vinegar and one of lemon in my pack for this very purpose.

Don’t let the bugs ruin your fun, just be prepared.

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Easy Macro Giveaway

Giveaway

If you follow me on Social Media you likely already know of my love for the Easy Macro lens. It has been a fantastic way to get up close and examine the little details of nature and has opened up whole new worlds for our nature study.

For us, it basically acts as a portable microscope allowing us to meet nature right where it is instead of bringing it in to our bigger microscopes indoors, which is not always possible. And as a bonus, we can take photos and record video with it to easily share with others and add to our online nature journals. Perfect!

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One frustration I have with phone photography is that my phone has a hard time focusing up close so I could only take shots from a distance. Easy Macro has solved that and taken phoneography to the next level.

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The photo on the left is as close as I could get in focus without the Easy Macro and on the right, with the Easy Macro. Very cool!

As a huge bonus, it is super easy to use and does not require me to remove my phone case. It is simply a band with a little lens. So simple! I love simple!

The amazingly nice folks over at Easy Macro have given me three lenses to giveaway! How cool is that?

You could have your very own Easy Macro in no time, or if you already have one you could have a backup one for your nature bag.

Use the Rafflecopter below to enter.

Winners will be selected Tuesday, April 26!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Release Day!

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Today is the day!

Whatever the Weather is officially in the wild to be spotted in bookstores, nature centers, and other places where nature inspired books linger while waiting to be picked up and inspected by a family who loves the outdoors (or hopes to soon)!

Thank you to all of you who pre-ordered. It should be landing in your mailbox soon, if it has not arrived already (there have been some early reports of book sightings in mailboxes around the country)!

We appreciate all of your support and enthusiasm for the book. Your encouragement has been wonderful!

In all hopes that this little book inspires big time outdoor adventures!

Dawn & Annie

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It is April 1st and that means Nature Prompts!

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

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

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 tomorrow morning bright and early. Sign up right here if you want it to land in your inbox (you will also receive a great PDF with 21 Ways to Get Your Kids Unplugged and Engaged with Nature. 

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