National Wildflower Week ends this Sunday, May 10, 2020. The photos and posts being shared online with the hashtag #NationalWildflowerWeek have been a welcome window into the wild while sheltering at home (and we do hope you’re safe at home these days!).
There are many types of wildflowers and many purposes that native wildflowers serve. The shelter they provide to insects (think links in the food chain) and the diversity they bring to an area’s ecosystem are both very important. Then there is the beauty factor.
It is a surreal feeling to be out on a hike, make a turn, and be greeted with a field bursting in color. Or to emerge from a pine grove or ravine and see flowers laid out like a carpet before you. Leonard M. Adkins, author of Wildflowers of the Appalachian Trail, credits wildflowers as an inspiration for him.
“As the miles drew me northward, I could not ignore the attractive pink petals of spring beauty ﬂowers delivering the promise of warmer days to come. It seemed everywhere I looked tiny bluets spread out in lengthy carpets along the edges of the trail, mirroring the clarity of the sky above me, while flame azalea reﬂected the sunsets of which I was so fond. How could I have been so ignorant of such an exquisite element of the Appalachian Trail? How could I have always been questing after the big picture, while overlooking the smaller elements that make up the whole? It was time to learn more about this natural world of which I was becoming a part.”
When I read that quote, “ignorant” is the word that resonates with me the most. Nature has a way of instructing us and showing us just how little we know and how often we’re looking at the wrong things. All the more reason to keep books nearby and measure your own adventures and outdoor experiences by the folks who have done it before.
Wildflowers are a wonderfully simple reminder of the joys you can find on and around the Appalachian Trail. And, if you’re safe at home these days, the colors you’ll see while learning the varieties make for a rewarding break in the day. We hope you’re well and able to get outside soon.
Given the current situation and guidelines for sheltering in place, some families might need to get creative with Mother’s Day gifts this year. If you can’t take the matriarch in your household out for dinner and haven’t found any perfect mom gifts, we’ve got you covered. Following are 10 ways to celebrate while social distancing.
1. Serve breakfast in bed.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. Even toast and orange juice will send the message, especially if the children are the ones to prepare and serve it. If you feel like upping the ante, grab a favorite cookbook like Good Food from Mrs. Sundberg’s Kitchen, and make some eye-opening dish like baked apple pancakes or bacon cornbread.
2. Clean the house.
As far as Mother’s Day gifts go, this doesn’t need much explanation. Let Mom rest, relax, and pamper herself while the rest of the family takes care of all the cleaning. That means folding the laundry too!
3. Give her a homemade gift.
Have the kids make something special. Write a poem. Draw a picture. Color a coloring page. Build a LEGO creation. These tend to be the best mom gifts, even when we’re not staying home for the holiday.
4. Have a backyard picnic.
If you served breakfast in bed and are planning something special for dinner, a simple lunch sounds lovely. Cold-cut sandwiches and chips never taste better than when you’re sitting outside, enjoying a family picnic. Grilled hot dogs work too. Serve with homemade lemonade (8 cups water, 1 3/4 cups sugar, and 1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice).
5. Take a family walk.
Some of the best Mother’s Day gifts are simply time spent together. Make time to go on a walk and enjoy a bit more of your neighborhood’s fresh air and splendid sights. Bring a bird-watching guide and go birding for added entertainment.
6. Go on a bicycle ride.
If Mom wants to be outside even longer and venture a bit farther, you can hop on your bicycles after or instead of your family walk.
7. Cook her favorite dinner.
You know what she likes best. Planning and preparing her favorite meal ranks high on the list of mom gifts. At our house, it’s grilled chicken kabobs.
8. Rent her favorite movie.
The digital age makes it pretty easy to rent movies online. Gather around the TV, and let Mom pick a movie to watch together.
9. Go stargazing.
This makes for a very special memory if it’s something you don’t often do, so it’s a perfect finale for your Mother’s Day gifts. After dark, bring that picnic blanket back outside. Lie down together and look at the stars and the moon. With a little prep work—or a copy of Night Sky in hand—you can even identify a few constellations, such as Ursa Major and Leo. Venus will also shine brightly, halfway up the western sky.
10. Hug her . . . a lot.
It may not be the Mother’s Day any of us were planning, but where would we be during this crazy time without the love and support of Mom? Take time to give her plenty of hugs throughout the day. She deserves them.
There is something that teachers have known for a long time – journaling is a great way to get kids engaged in learning. It forces them to think critically about what they’re seeing, dealing with, and feeling. That skill sounds pretty handy right about now, doesn’t it? We hope you’re doing well and are able to stay safe at home. And if you’re at home with kids, we hope you’re able to get them outdoors (safely distanced), engaging with what nature has to teach them.
It’s only a half step beyond what teachers know to see the value in putting a notebook in your children’s hands and have them log entries into a nature journal. The journal doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a place for your kids to record what they’re seeing around them, when outside. A nature journal or nature log becomes immediately valuable to children because it’s made up of their own artwork. It’s their own record of their world. And it’s their own personally made keepsake when things go back to normal and they do finally get to go beyond the backyard.
Keeping a nature log isn’t just a writing exercise. A good nature log book will include factoids, trivia questions, games to play, and a place to doodle. It helps to get your kids looking at their world from all kinds of different angles and using different ways to express what they’re seeing. It’s all about getting kids engaged with the world as they’re experiencing it. Plus, they’ll enjoy showing off their artwork and recounting what they saw to family members.
Nature Log for Kids
One good example of the above ideas is the Nature Log Kids book by Adventure Publications. It’s a kid’s journal with space to record nature experiences. It includes nature facts, games, experiments, crafts, and ways to help the Earth. So the experience can go beyond just a writing exercise to help guard against boredom and encourage kids to take a deeper look into nature.
And once everything opens back up, think about keeping a notebook, journal, or one of the Nature Log Kids books in the car or your child’s bag, so that it’s always at hand.
We hope you and your family are well and able to get outside safely.
While our neighborhoods and the outdoors are strong, no one is immune to what’s currently going on around us. Things can be very tough, and there’s plenty to worry about—beyond the chance of getting sick: work, paying bills, and buying groceries. We hope you’re able to stay safe as you navigate your corner of the world today, and we here at AdventureKEEN would like to help as best we can. That is why we have been working with our authors and editors to provide some of our book content for free.
We invite you to check out BeWellBeOutdoors.com (#bewellbeoutdoors) for free resources focused on pre-K–12 education and activities. We’re even offering up an inspirational or thought-provoking quote hoping that it will bring a little spark of calm to your day.
Every Tuesday and Thursday we are making free pages from our stellar line of activity books. Here you will find lots of coloring pages, crossword puzzles, word finds, mazes, and much more. Each page has been designed to be printed out at home or used on a tablet device. So grab a device or the crayons and find a place for the kids to sit down and work away. Hopefully it will occupy any kids you are looking after while keeping them thinking about the outdoors.
These once-a-week activities are built with learning and education in mind. Our Home Lesson pages are all about getting the kids outdoors to explore whatever patch of grass, backyard, bug, or tree they can find. With these print-outs, you’ll be able to join the kids as they do things like make their own fossil imprints and go on animal track hunts. Just click to download the worksheets, print them out, and get outdoors!
These daily images are simple and to the point. All the images have been taken from the vast image library here at AdventureKEEN (having been in outdoor travel publishing as long as we have, we have a LOT of great images to choose from). We’re hoping the quips, sayings and insights shared will offer just a second or two of thoughtful calm during a stressful day.
You can find all of that info and more across all of our social channels using the hashtag #bewellbeoutdoors. We know the impact that being in nature can have on our spirits, emotions, and energy. We encourage you to #bewellbeoutdoors as much as you can. Steal 5 minutes on a balcony. Find a sunny seat in a lobby. Just enjoy what nature has to offer. It’s good for you.
We don’t know what lies ahead and none of the solutions seem perfect, but we hope the resources we are posting throughout each week at BeWellBeOutdoors.com will be helpful as we navigate the days ahead together.
Take care and stay safe. #bewellbeoutdoors
Today, the last Saturday in April, we were all supposed to be celebrating Independent Bookstore Day 2020. But due to all the stay-safe-at-home rules around the country (you are staying safe, right?), the official event has been moved to August 29, 2020. August feels a long way away, doesn’t it? We’re feeling like it is. So after you mark your calendar for August 29th, come back and read some of the tips below on how you can celebrate, shop, and love on your local indie bookstore.
Loving on Indie Bookstores
Things are going to have to go digital and online this month, as we wait for Independent Bookstore Day 2020. Here are three thoughts on how to celebrate the community cornerstone that is your indie bookstore.
Number 1. SHOP It’s that simple and it doesn’t have to be much. But you’re stuck at home and need something to read, right? Just search online for your local indie store and see how they’re doing things these days. Some have curbside pickup. Some have online ordering. Some are getting creative and even delivering by bike. And many are using Bookshop.org to manage online orders. Bookshop.org gives some of its profits back to the indie shops that use the service. And you don’t have to buy a book. Buy a pencil or a T-shirt to wear with your sweats while you’re self-quarantining. The goal is to help the shops stay open and take care of their staff. One day we’ll all be able to get back out and visit the indie shops in person and we’ll be glad they were able to stick around.
Number 2. IF AUDIOBOOKS ARE YOUR THING, sign up for Libro.fm. You can grab a monthly membership or buy audiobooks one at a time. The cool thing about Libro.fm is that you get to select a local bookstore as “your bookstore” when you sign up. And whenever you buy an audiobook they split the profits of the sale with your bookstore. They have lots going on right now like Virtual Bookstore Party and Socks for Binc. You can check out all of their deals, discounts, and happenings on their site.
Number 3. KEEP UP WITH ALL THE HAPPENINGS on the official Independent Bookstore Day site. Sign up for the event newsletter and follow the organization on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. They’re doing a great job keeping things moving. And be sure to interact with them. The folks behind Indie Bookstore Day are not only fun to follow, but they really want to hear from the book community.
We are passionate about indie bookstores here at AdventureKEEN. We love our indie bookstore partners and the communities they represent. We sincerely hope you make it to a local bookstore this August to show your support too.
Spring weather is no joke. The temps are high. The temps are low. The sun is bright and the wind is blowing or the rain lasts a full day and the wind is howling. With most folks staying safe at home (and we here at AdventureKEEN hope you’re well and practicing smart social distancing), many are getting outside to hike, bike, or take a walk with the family. And the spring weather is certainly a factor.
Spring kicked off about a month ago and officially lasts until June 20, 2020. Which means we have a few more weeks of lingering snow, tornado season, lots of rain, and temperature swings. One of the best ways to navigate all of this is to know your clouds and understand what’s happening in the sky above you.
What Cumulonimbus clouds say about the weather: Often called towering cumulonimbus for the heights that they can reach, these clouds mean only one thing—thunderstorms. The violent updrafts that cause these storms tend to occur when the surface (or the area just above it) is warm and humid. Thunderstorms emerge from the strongest updrafts and can offer some of the most dangerous, but also the most visually captivating, of all weather scenes.
What The Clouds Look Like: Cumulonimbus clouds are likely the most famous types of nimbus clouds. A cumulonimbus cloud has a broad base because air is being drawn toward the primary updraft before being forced upwards. The strong updraft creates localized low pressure underneath the storm, which causes the storm to act like a vacuum, sucking up the warm, moist air around it, with collision and coalescence happening at the base of the cloud over a broader area than the main updraft area. At the surface, this can also lead to brisk straight-line winds, both preceding the thunderstorm and occurring again after it departs.
One of the best ways to get up to speed on why the weather “does what it does” is with Ryan Henning’s Field Guide to Weather. This pocket-size book packs in a great deal of need-to-know weather information from a certified meteorologist and shows us one of the telltale signs that a thunderstorm is on its way. The author goes on to discuss government-issued watches and warnings, as well as weather safety. The simple explanations are useful in easing the mind of a frightened child, and the in-depth details help adults learn to understand and prepare for the weather ahead.
So be safe out there. Pay attention to your local weather reports, and look up in the sky for yourself. Our spring trips into the outdoors are much more meaningful if we’re aware of our surroundings and understand what’s happening in the sky above us.