Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Upside Down Hike

Looking for something different to do this summer?  Go on an upside down hike.  This hike is not taken walking on your hands - though if you can walk on your hands up the hiking trail your young child will LOVE you for it (talk about coolest parent in town!).  Instead, it is an upside-down hike because you turn over rocks and logs and things to see what you can find underneath.  You are turning things along the trail upside down.  Wear a pair of gardening gloves (prevents most scratches and bug bites), sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat.  I also recommend wearing long pants to avoid brushes on the legs against thorns and toxic plants.  Review your toxic plants before you go and avoid poison ivy in addition to anything else that might cause problems like nettles.  It also might be helpful to have a magnifying glass and field guide about amphibians, insects and reptiles common to your area.  You can find all kinds of things under rocks and logs that will be fun to observe.  Please try to mind your trail manners and return rocks, animals, logs, twigs and any other native object you move back to its original position before moving on further down the trail (this keeps the interesting life you've uncovered, healthy and alive).  Enjoy what you see together.

Art/Science: practice sketching some of what you see along the way together.

Writing Skills: Have your child write a description of a favorite critter that was found along the way.  Or have him/her sit quietly and describe what he or she observes while sitting there.  Suggest using all the senses as starting points for this type of a journal entry.  What does your writer see? smell? feel? etc.

Geography/Map Skills: Make a map of the trail as you walk it, draw in landmarks together.

Reading/Literature (mostly non-fiction): Check out any of the numerous books on insects, lizards, or reptiles you might find under the rocks and logs you overturn.  A perfect one for this activity is Minibeasts Under a Stone.  Read the books together before you go and then make a picture book together of your finds after you've returned.

Science: Learn what makes a bug a bug, and an amphibian an amphibian etc.  There are numerous book resources about this topic and activities to do to really make learning about these critters fun. If you really want to learn more about Creepy Crawlies spend some time with it and make your upside down hike the introduction or the finale - either way its lots of fun.  Here is a link to many internet sources and not surprisingly, the San Diego Zoo also has some info on the matter for kids.

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