to prepare for future vacation adventures further away. For your toddler or preschooler it is exciting, yet feels safe and familiar.
Invite Wildlife Into Your Yard
It is amazing what you may discover when a portion of your lawn is not mowed for a while. Grasses and wildflowers produce flower heads and seeds feasted upon by hungry insects and migrating birds. Go one step further and start a few native garden plants, put up a bird or bat house or just add a couple of large rocks to create your own small nature viewing station. Your area may serve as a caterpillar diner where you may observe the entire life cycle of some of our state’s moths and butterflies.
Food and water attract a colorful crowd for your family to enjoy year-round. A simple birdbath can be made using an old terra cotta planting pot and a wide ceramic soup bowl. Just turn the planter upside down and place the bowl on top of the pot. Fill the bowl with fresh water and enjoy your visitors on a hot summer day.
Take a Tree Trek
Once acquainted with your home safari, why not branch out and take a tree trek around your neighborhood or along your local walking trail. No matter the time of year, trees are always in season.
In the spring, trees come alive with buds, blossoms and winged seeds. Maple trees provide endless hours of fun with their millions of “helicopter” seeds, and redbud, dogwood and sassafras create splashes of color amongst the bare branches of winter. Ripening mulberries and wild plums add flavor to summer, while persimmons provide the opportunity for tasty baked-good additions in early fall. Native trees such as walnut, pecan, hazelnut and hickory all have edible nuts that are sought after by both wildlife and hungry wildlife observers.
Make a “treasure map” using trees you have identified along a trail and a few other natural landmarks. Mark your treasure with an “X.” Your treasure find may be a picnic spot, campsite or secret fishing hole.
A crayon, a piece of scrap paper or paper grocery bag and some leaves of varying shapes and sizes create lovely artwork suitable for use as decorative framed art or holiday wrapping paper. Leaf rubbings help small children learn cause and effect relationships. For a little natural magic, repeat after me, “If I rub my crayon over this