It has been cold here the last little while, hovering around -20 for over a week. It’s hard to get out and get motivated in the winter sometimes, but I strongly believe that it’s more important in the winter and adults have less winter skills.
Therefore I find way to engage the kids outdoors and teach them skills without them realising it isn’t just a game. My husband and I wanted to get them out for some fresh air and exercise, and the kids were in the mood to act like zombies, so like the good little mountain parents we occasionally are – we invented a game. We played this amazing game a couple of weeks ago and it’s sure to be repeated many times even during the summer months. A game of survival, critical thinking adventure!
We drove up our mountain as far as we could get in 4 feet of snow, then we unloaded the kids and the snowshoes. Once everyone was strapped in we went for a bit of a hike asking the kids to pay attention to their surroundings as we walked.
Once we’d gone a ways (with a clear snowshoe path leading back to the truck), we asked them to lead the way to the truck but they couldn’t take us on the same route. They needed to think about it and find a different route that would take us to the same spot. Cut their own trail. They looked a little surprised, as the forest canopy was 60 feet above them and the ground was covered in snow. So we stopped and talked a little bit about the surroundings, things they may not have noticed on their own. We asked them to look at our trail back and think about where the truck was. Could they point in the direction it was parked? We asked them to look at the sun and compare it to the position of their body when they faced the direction of the truck. When facing the truck it was slightly passed their right shoulder. We were less than 20 minutes from the truck so the sun would move very little before we returned.
We had no compass, so the boys (aged 5 and 7) had to get us back on sheer brain power. They looked around for a minute, talked about it between themselves and off they went with their dad and I in tow.
They chose a pretty route, that followed an active set of coyote tracks over a hillside and into the forest. The ground was alive with animal activity. They looked at the tracks and the different sizes, trying to guess how many were in the family. It hadn’t snowed in several days, so it was possible that this was days worth of activity from the same family members, therefore increasing track numbers. Their dad tracks for a living so he was teaching them ways to see if they were fresh and to notice size and shape differences.
One time our path started to shift a little north and we had to remind the boys to look at the sun and turn their bodies back to the body/sun position they had started with. We climbed over boulders and logs, we dipped down below fallen trees and we trudged though snow as deep as the boys. Just as they were getting a little frustrated and feeling the shadow of defeat our truck appeared over the bank and huge smiles washed over their tiny faces.
It was a day of triumph.