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Get Out!

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Published on: Dec. 2, 2009

Last revision: Dec. 17, 2010

them on a night hike. Use the full moon to light your way and listen for coyotes howling, owls hooting and frogs calling.

Build a house. Eastern bluebirds begin nesting in early March. To entice a pair into your yard, help your child build and put up a nest box. For building plans and pointers on where to place it, visit the link listed below.

March

A is for Armadillo. Go on an ABC hike with your preschooler. As you’re walking, point out things in nature that begin with each of the letters of the alphabet. This works for colors, too.

Witness a mass migration. Your kids don’t have to visit the African savanna to witness a critical mass of critters. Just take them to one of Missouri’s wetlands in the spring. There they’ll be rewarded with thousands of migrating ducks, geese and shorebirds all stopping in to fuel up for their long journey north.

Fly a kite. Take a picture. Loan your child a camera and let them venture out to photograph nature. Seeing the world from a child’s perspective is always enlightening, and you might discover your second-grader is a budding Ansel Adams.

April

Sing in the rain. Remember, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes. Equip your kids with raincoats and galoshes and let them splash in puddles, make mud pies and build mud castles.

Forget the baby chicks. Let your kids catch tadpoles, bring them home, and watch them develop into adult frogs and toads. For tips on keeping baby amphibians alive, e-mail pubstaff@mdc.mo.gov and ask for a free copy of Raising Tadpoles.

Hug a tree—better yet, plant one for Arbor Day.

Forage for fungi. Let your kids participate in nature’s Easter egg hunt: hit the woods to search for morel mushrooms. For help separating the tasty from the toxic, e-mail pubstaff@mdc.mo.gov and ask for a free copy of Missouri’s Edible and Poisonous Mushrooms.

May

Summon night creatures. On a warm spring night, hang a sheet between two trees and set a bright lantern behind it. In a short time, any moths in the area will make for the sheet like, well, moths to a light. Butterflies and Moths of Missouri by J. Richard and Joan E. Heitzman (available at the link listed below) is a book that can help you identify your visitors.

Grow something. Gardening combines a child’s affinity for getting dirty with the opportunity to witness the miracle of a tiny seed

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