Archives for posts with tag: hiking with kids

Well it’s that time of the year again.  We’ve had over 64 classes total with all the age levels and we managed to strengthen our love and respect for nature.

I am grateful for ALL of these children and families that come to Avalon to share in the joy of nature.   As I look back at all the photos I’ve taken this past season I smile.  I think of all the littles guys  who held my hands as we hiked.   I think back to the lessons my older kids learned from other naturalists, such as Len who talked to them about why and how he raises pheasants and bobwhite quail on the grounds of Avalon. I think about the night hikes which were always met with excitement All of it was so  inspiring to them and it  confirms that I am in the right place in my life doing just what I want to be doing.

My overall goal with these classes has and will continue to be getting kids OUTSIDE.  I cannot express how important this is for the future of our lives here on this planet.  These children will always have these memories of frogs, trees, hiking  in their hearts, so hopefully they will own it and protect it as they grow into young adults and one day, parents (yikes!).

Not only that, it is so fantabulous and  healthy to spend time in the outdoors rather then cooped up in a classroom or watching TV.

So to celebrate,  our last class is always about roasting that cube made of sugar, the marshmallow!!!  Luckily we have a great fire pit at the barn!!  Also, Chris once again brought in his hot dogs to roast.  How fun and yummy!!!

Here are some crazy photos.  Enjoy and we’ll see you on the other side in March.  Peace out….. Miss Sue

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Yesterday was a  beautiful fall day.  I was able to hold the class outside.  It felt so wonderful to sit on our squares and talk about fall and what happened to the trees surrounding us.  I asked, “what did the trees look like before they were empty” The preschoolers responses were varied and most of them said there were leaves on the trees.  Most of them said they were colored leaves.  It was hard for them to remember all the way back to the time when the leaves were green.  But finally we got there!  Something so simple that most take for granted.   It truly is an amazing cycle.

It’s great to just sit on the ground an talk about what is all around you. We could hear and see the geese flying, we could hear the pheasants squawking, and of course Owen heard the trains, “double deckers!”  Perhaps one thing a parent can share with their child is just sitting outside and listening.  It doesn’t take up that much time.  Especially now that fall is ending and the leaves are gone… there are so many different sounds available to our ears.  The need for our children to be able to  play outside is gaining more and more importance as we are seeing studies saying the there is a connection between lack of outdoor play in kids and learning issues.   Anyway, I digress to make that statement which is always on my mind.  Preachy Miss, Mrs., Mrs Aunt Sue !!!

Our class went on a leaf hunt and selected some oak leaves (no shortage of those) Each child brought their leaf back to the rock table to make a silhouette painting.  It was challenging but with the help of parents and grandparents they were able to pull it off and boy were they proud! So simple and so fun!

Here are a few pics:

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Then we went for a great hike to the magical evergreen tree!  I love this place.  We also discovered a lot too.  Saw some more pheasants, so beautiful!

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It was a fabulous day!!!

Get em outside!!!


Howdy all!! Today was a super fantastic day where the topic was apples… yes apples.  We read one of my old favorites by Dr Seuss, “Ten Apples on Top.”  I loved how engaged the kids were as we watched these silly animals balance apples on their heads!!  There’s just something about reading a book to a child… they will stop and listen and enjoy. So magical.

Anyway, we did our apple tasting and checked out the seeds, also known as pips.  If the child did not want to eat the apple I encouraged them to touch, smell or put their tongue on the apple.  Little steps of exploration .. ….

As you may have noticed the title of today’s blog is Sparkles and Shadows.  I prefer to write about what struck me as the best moments of our time together. Today it was our hike!

We walked and ran down the wildflower field trails.  Surrounded by walls of brown flowers that once were yellow, brown and purple. I looked up into the sky and realized how amazingly blue it was.  I decided it was a great time to lay right down on the ground and look up at the sky. I asked what the clouds made of and someone said, “stuffing.”  So precious!  All the kids joined me as we looked up into the endless sky.  Wonderful.  It was only a short moment but oh so amazing to be human… then thump! One of the kids decided to sit right down on my belly!!  So funny.  In the meantime all the parents were standing there watching.  Why oh why didn’t they get on the ground with us??? (I’m sure some of them wanted to !!)

As we picked off the seeds that were stuck to my shirt we continued our short journey to an apple tree that had only a few apples on it. Last year it was abundant with apples and many were on the ground.  Oh well so much for that lesson.

But the best part was yet to come… sparkle and shadows!

As we were getting ready to leave there was this amazing rock lit by the sun!  It sparkled like crazy!  The kids ran to it and climbed all over it inspecting the inlayed jewels.  How magical.  One of the girls said, “It’s like they threw sparkles on it!”  So wonderful

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Before we left the sparkly rock I noticed my shadow and began to try to run away from it.  Then I challenged the kids by saying, “don’t step on my shadow!”  They laughed and chased my shadow.  The sun went behind the clouds and the shadow faded… some of them realized why it went away.  Not bad for preschoolers!  The parents traced some of their children’s shadows and we left them there to lay in the bright warm sun!  The tracings that is, not the kids!!!


It was a great Fall day in Avalon.  Love being outside with the kids and their parents!

Get outside, there’s so much to explore!



I am grateful for every moment I spend with these kids.  They are excited by a fallen tree, collected branches from a broken down lean-to, the adventure of being high up above the ground.  It is as magical  as this photograph, this image that was a single moment, a collective group of breaths and laughs.  Gone forever but always here.  

You can have this feeling as a child or as an adult.  Just stand back or participate.  Leave the worries at the beginning of the path… for those moments you will feel joy, fear, excitement, curiosity.  “What was it like when that tree fell?” the kids wondered. That tree which has given us a place to live for the moment.


And the moment when Lola sees this thing up in the tree?  That moment when we can explore and wonder.  

When we can touch and feel life crawling upon our hands.  

Thank you dear children for making moments so important.  Our bills, our headaches, our worries can be left as we enter the woods to experience these moments.  

Take the time to make a moment or allow a child to show you how to live a moment. 







I find it amusing to watch these children collect things.  At times it’s been acorns but today it was stalks from the spent wildflowers.  Celeste, Kathryn and Samantha were straggling behind collecting the stalks.  When I asked them why they said, “because we want to build a fort.”  Of course… how silly I am!  I don’t know what exactly they had in mind but when we arrived at our destination they were ready to build. 

Interestingly, when they arrived they seemed unsure about what to do.  But this was a great opportunity for them to work together and figure it out.  And they did.   Time passed so quickly and we had to leave to go back to the waiting parents.  They were just beginning to get into full building mode and I had to be the party pooper telling them we had to go. ” Nooooooooo, we’re not done”  I actually felt bad and the playfulness in me wanted to stay til the sun went down, but I’m an adult and I had to deliver these kids back to their parents….  Sometimes I have to be the enforcer.   



We finally got on the road back to the barn …. 10 minutes late (oops)  And I consoled them by saying we can return next time to see what has happened to their creation.  I wish they were coming back next week… I love the adventure, the spirit and the willingness to create with nothing but nature.  Fun stuff!!!!!

Until next time…. get outside!




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Yes, those beautiful flowers and helpful bugs are still in a state of stillness, but in preparation of things to come I thought it would be fun to utilize the skeletons of summer and spring past.



So our troops of Kindergartners and 1st through 3rd graders bundled up and went hunting for the remnants of milkweed, evening primrose, bee balm, goldenrod, purple cone flowers.  It was a great opportunity to take a look at the idea of how strong mother nature made these plants so that they can flick about in the wind and disperse their seeds.


It was awesome to see the kids sharing what they picked.  Our goal was not only to find our own but make a wildflower sculpture to take home.

The older kids and I went deep into the jungle of the field.  Letting them lead the way they hunted and found many interesting things.

I couldn’t help myself and let out a lot of wooops while we were walking.  It was very cold and windy but it just felt so good to let out the screams of joy….. although at one point one of the boys told me I ” didn’t need to do that anymore!”  Haha… what can I say I was just so excited….

Both Jack and Rylie found praying mantis egg cases!!!  We added them to the 200 cases that the teenagers from S.T.A.T.E. found over the weekend  Pretty cool treasure to find.

More than anything these kids are developing a confidence to lead and also to work together as a group. Something I believe is a result of playing outside.  They have to take chances  in an environment which they might not be used to. In the end  they realize  can do it!





After we hunted for a while we returned to the barn to make these!!!

Ta da!!!

They all left with pictures of what these flowers will look like when they bloom this year and a magnificent sculpture created by them!


Love the rosy cheeks and also how one of the sculptures has a milkweed with seeds still intact. (like a cradle)  Another lucky find.

Until next week…… GET OUTSIDE!!!  Seriously

Peace and warmth, Sue



 Today’s classes = A full heart.  

3, 4 and 5 year olds are so amazing and sharing my time with them and their parents makes my sun shine. 

We began our day with an “Eye Spy” book where the kids helped to identify animals by seeing their eyes and color.  It was great to see all of them so engaged and full of answers.  Each time they met with success they wanted more and more.  Most of the time I become so rapt with them that nothing else going on in my life matters.  A breath of fresh air!!




Drumming was something I decided to introduce to the kids this season.  I’ve always felt drumming is such a great outlet for kids and adults alike.  When I introduced the drum to them a few weeks ago you could see the kids were dying to get their hands on it!  I’ve also incorporated these homemade bamboo rhythm sticks,  so the kids can play along when they are not having their turn up at the drum.  This week we worked on slow and fast drumming.  I think almost every kid came up to drum and when it was time for the moms to do it we had three brave moms volunteer . Best part of that was seeing how proud the kids were of their moms.  Lots of loving hugs for them.  Ahhhh so wonderful!  My hope is to get all the kids drumming by the end of our eight classes together!

 It’s all part of my philosophy of, “its’ okay to be loud, get dirty and be less fearful.”  (that goes for parents too!!)






Their seasonal trees were completed today.  The first week they printed their trees with styrofoam and paint. This week they finished with cotton for the snow and oil pastels for leaves and blossoms.  Just lovely!!  Every piece is unique…. just like these kids 🙂


A yes we finally got outside!  Still a bit chilly but the air was so fresh.  We began by bird watching all the Robin Red Breasts eating the Staghorn Sumac.   Don’t worry moms, it is not poison sumac …. they have white berries.  We were able to to see the birds up close and also examine what it was they were eating.  Yum yum…

Eye spy the Robins…..


Onward  we hiked with the kids making sure we waited up for everyone!  So funny.  Always a blast on the trails.  

Great to see them climb and explore.ImageImageImageImageImage

Oh so many images to share but I’ll stop now…

Great kids, great parents and a fantastic day at Avalon!!

Get those kids outside

peace,   Miss Aunt Sue (as Lola calls me!)  





Well here we are again with some new faces; we’ve added Kathryn and Celeste to our group.  Welcome girls!

When released into the outdoors these kids go crazy!!!  With a capital Z!   It’s been a long winter and being cooped up in the house with little exposure to the sun, they managed to store up lots of  energy.

We began class by talking about Wilson Bentley, a gentleman known as Mr. Snowflake.  He was one of the first people to photograph snowflakes.     Mr. Bentley was repeatedly told he was crazy to do what he was doing, but he did not give up. He was passionate about his snowflakes.  In the end all of his hard work was acknowledged and  published in a book entitled  “Snowflakes in Photographs.”  It shows page after page of the snowflakes he photographed.  Pretty impressive, especially for the early 1900’s!

Here is a page from his book.images

When I asked who inspires them Shannon talked about her Uncle who is an artist.  She said it made her want to do art.  Kathryn said she was inspired by Lindsay Von, a famous skier.  She said she skis all the time.  I was so proud to these girls that they were able to identify what an inspiration is and even more impressed that they had people they looked up to!  Way to go!

The outdoor session of our class was a great opportunity to look for animal tracks and make some tracks of our own.  We were able to find deer, squirrel and bunny tracks.  They spotted field mice and a rabbit.   Image

Just being silly on the trail!


It looks like a marshmallow but it is actually a praying mantis egg case


Chris looking for animal tracks.

It’s wonderful to see these kids so full of life and energy (sometimes too much … hahaha) going thru the fields finding their way.  I believe each of them take home their own person memory of the time we spent out in the fields.  Looking forward to making more memories!

Get outside!


IMG_1445This beautiful photo was taken by Amelie, one of the hikers in the group!

On our hike to today we had a contest to see who could collect the most nuts.  I called them my nutty bunch!  They have a great deal of energy and it is always a challenge to get them to notice the things around them.  I love that they get to run, but exploring can be part of the adventure too!   After our hike the kids returned to the barn with their stash of nuts to see who was the winner.  Of course we all knew that Matt would be the winner because his pockets were practically hanging down to his knees.  But then something happened…. some of the kids decided to add to Matt’s pile….  so I think then they all decided they were  winners!!  Matt was okay with that and which made me sigh with relief!

Wiggly worm find!

Wiggly worm find!

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Love my nutty bunch…. it was a fun day!!!  xoxox


Perfect Fall day!

We wandered around the trail on a color hunt!  Looking for reds, yellows, oranges, greens, browns and blues.  It was a fun way to get the kids and moms and grand moms to work together.  Along the way we stopped and talked and I punch their color cards with my “smelly feet” hole punch.  They were all working towards getting all the colors identified and  receiving an acorn necklace and beads for their hard work!

Here are some fun pics.  Love to see the moms smiling along with the kids!