Outdoor Ed: Head Outside for Fun and Learning
What a year. We're planted in front of glowing screens more than ever before, and parents have it especially rough, what with juggling jobs, childcare and trying to manage schooling at home. If you find yourself called upon to be a teacher as well as a parent these days, let WTA help you out.
What a year. We're planted in front of glowing screens more than ever before, and parents have it especially rough, what with juggling full-time jobs, childcare and ensuring their kids learn...anything. If you find yourself called upon to be a teacher as well as a parent these days, let us help a bit.
We pulled together a few different hiking resources that include information about various subjects: history, geology, even art! So if you want to incorporate some learning on trail, have a look at our features and resources below.
But we also know distance learning is hard. If you just need a break from work and school, pick one of the following suggested hikes and head out. No notebook required.
Learn the Land
The history of the lands we recreate on is complex and interpretive signs don't always tell the whole story. Do you know the original inhabitants of the places you hike? Do you know how the landscape has changed over the years? Taking a deep look at history can prompt plenty of discussion to carry you and your kiddos through any hike.
Ghost towns can have an eerie aura about them, especially in the month of October. They're also fun and usually pretty easy hikes. You won't see ruins on all of these hikes, but you can use your imagination to build the scene of what once was. (If there artifacts, do remember to leave them behind for others to enjoy.)
Biology: Goats and Bears and Horses oh my!
Some of the best learning spans subjects, and these hikes blend a bit of a history with a bit of biology. Use it as a chance to talk about how humans and animals interact. And if your kid loves trains, two of these trails will be of particular interest. Can you visit each of the three Iron Animal trails before the snow flies?
Geology: Rocks and more
Washington is an excellent place to learn about geology. Volcanic activity, advancing and retreating glaciers and colliding plates have all left behind stories to tell. For example, did you know there are fossils of undersea animals found at the top of North Cascades peaks? Washington's landscape has changed drastically, making for rich possibilities in kids' imagination. Help them dream about a time when tropical forests flourished, volcanoes erupted and massive floods transformed the earth.
Marine Biology: TidePools
Washington's coast is home to wild, beautiful, and fragile creatures. First talk to your kids about how to respect these animals and their home, and then go exploring. For best results, check the tides first.
6 feet or more
Right now, hiking takes a few extra considerations to keep yourself and everyone else safe. You can model good social behavior for your kids by trying one of these nice, wide trails. It will make it easy for you to keep some safe space, and you all can practice waving a smiling with your eyes from behind your masks.
You’ve probably heard of the shy primate with big feet who lives ... where? There are a lot of environs in Washington that could be Bigfoot habitat — and many communities around the state who are happy to say that they are home to the fur-covered biped. But Bigfoot is just a start. Washington is full of folklore. Try one of these trails to explore the stories — or make up your own.
When the pandemic began, and we were all staying very close to home, we offered some tips on making art right where you are. And these ideas are still useful. Use them anytime — maybe even when your kiddos are on a break from online learning. They also translate to the trail, if you want to head out farther.
Want even more art in your life? Step up your game with these tips from artist Cole Adams, an artist and parent who loves creating.
> Creativity is good for the soul
Reading is a fundamental skill — and these 10 trails offer kids a chance to practice their skills in a fun way. All of them are easy for little hikers. Fun, reading and learning, all on one hike.
The Spacing Study trail is a short one — less than half a mile — but it has an interesting lesson. The trail teaches visitors about the research behind spacing replanted trees. It's a good way to make some math concepts — distance, area, geometry — tangible. (Or, just look at the trees. Trees are cool.)
Are your kids wiggly after a day of online schooling? Here are some good places for them to burn off energy.