This Saturday, May 11, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Smith Mountain Lake State Park is offering a free wildflower walk through the park.
Children are welcome to attend the walk, which is described as an “easy amble”. Mothers are encouraged to stay after the walk for the Mother’s Day Tea Party, which will start at 11:30 a.m..
The tour will meet at the Discovery Center. For more information, call (540) 297-6066, email the park staff, or visit the Smith Mountain Lake State Park website.
Some tips for keeping children engaged on a nature walk:
1. Give the child a clipboard (with pen or pencil attached by string) to write down their nature observations. For those too young to write down their observations, attach simple blank worksheets, such as:
- Find natural items (animals, plants, flowers, rocks, etc.) for each color of the rainbow.
- Find natural items for each letter of the alphabet (e.g. Ash tree, Beetle, Cardinal).
- Play Nature Bingo, where each square can either have a picture of a natural item (birds, flowers, nuts, shells) for younger kids or, for older kids, types of objects for which they must write in a specific name (e.g. songbird might be completed when the child sees a blue jay, nut might be completed with observation of a black walnut husk) and, for the smartest nature cookies out there, the Bingo sheet could be filled with scientific terms, such as carnivore, herbivore, predator, fungus, arachnid. Free Bingo sheet creators are available at Print-Bingo.com.
2. Give the child a camera and a quick lesson in how to properly focus (push the shutter button half way down till the focus is set, then click all the way to take the picture) the camera and use the zoom and wide lens settings. Allow them to take pictures of whatever they like or ask them to take pictures of items the teacher points out. A digital camera is best, that way there’s no limit to the number of pictures the child can take.
3. Make sure to bring a nature identification guide. Peterson First Guides are great for kids and there’s a guidebook in the series for almost every type of flora and fauna. Another great option is the National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Mid-Atlantic States, which covers wildflowers, trees, fungus, crustaceans, fish, insects, birds, reptiles and mammals all in one easy-to-carry booklet. Make it the child’s job to find and mark everything you see in the guidebook, noting the date for when you first saw it, together.
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