Before I begin my story of how insane our adventure was I’d like to give credit to where I got the idea! A friend of mine posted a link to a blog directed at homeschoolers that introduced me to the idea of “Clipboard Adventuring“. I say introduced but as a teacher a lot of what was said was veeeery familiar, however it’s always nice to be reminded that you can use all your old teacher tricks in new ways for your own kids! I need a lot of reminding it seems these days… but I digress.
Our Clipboard Adventure: March 13, 2012
I awoke that morning knowing that it was going to reach a ridiculous 70 degrees on that early March day. I knew we had to DO something! Having recently read the article “Clipboard Adventuring” (linked above) I decided that we’d go on a nature walk and record some of the amazing things we would see. Great idea! Free, outside in nature and all three kids could participate on some level.
So while the girls had their morning nap I created a beautiful worksheet (part of me cringes a little when I use that word, it was a worksheet but maybe I should call it a “note taking guide” or something… whatever, it was a worksheet. I’m embracing my elementary-teacher past!!!) for Punkin to take notes on as we walked. He was very excited to use the sheet, a simple four squares labeled Animals, Plants, Birds, and Non-living Things with corresponding clip art (I love clip art… and designing worksheets!!!)Anyway with the worksheet printing I went to get the girls up and ready. I had presumptuously posted on Facebook that I’d be at the park by 10am. HA! We’d just jumped ahead an hour for daylight savings time and 10 still felt like 9 to me… so, at 10:45 we arrived at the playground. I’ll spare you the details of why it took me so long to get them ready… I mean it’s 18 month-old twins and a distractable 4 year-old being herded by a pretty pregnant mom–you get the picture. The van was loaded with a cool little book for Punkin to keep his note-page and pen in along with snacks, water, and a multitude of crafty items including markers, tape and scissors (which we didn’t end up using in the end). Off we went. I brought the stroller because I’m not insane and had it packed up with all the essentials (and non-essentials). The girls were released from its clutches when we reached the path. Each child had a bucket to gather nature items in which I hoped would distract the girls from eating said nature items. **Let me digress here. My twins are 18 months-old and by any reasonable assumption should be past the eating-everything-in-sight stage of life. I suppose they have matured a bit because they don’t just eat ANYTHING anymore, they have preferences. What are those preferences you ask? Rocks are number one, dirt is a strong number two. Twinkle Toes will deign to gnaw on sticks as well. Last summer was a ridiculous montage of me wrestling handfuls of sand/grass/dirt/rocks out of their chubby little fists with a look in my eye that showed my desperate longing for a Spring when they were older and… wiser. Unfortunately for us Winter never really came and so their supply of rocks and dirt was never covered up in a fluffy layer of snow (the one good snow we had was glorious, Pinky actually laid on her belly just to lap up the snow like a dog!). Anyway, I’ve been fighting a largely losing battle over the dirt/rock eating in my own yard. It’s mostly behavioral (increases when they are tired/bored/seeking attention) but I have concerns. At this point I’m attempting to distract them and not make a big deal about it… hence the buckets. Honestly, you have NO IDEA how exhausting it is to try and keep this crap out of the mouths of twin tornadoes like my girls… If I weren’t slow and pregnant I’m sure I’d do a better job but just like they did with the grass last summer my girls have eaten quite a lot of dirt this season (and probably some pebbles though I’d like to imagine I’ve rescued them all in time). I think you might be getting the idea as to why I brought the stroller… End of digression. ** Each child had their bucket and a clear view of the river that flowed just beyond a thin layer of shrubs. The girls were so excited! Punkin was thrilled and kept stopping to take notes. Of course the girls scampered in different directions, Pinky maintaining that the path less traveled really was best, even if it meant she kept falling on her face because she’d tripped on sticks hidden in leaves. Twinkle Toes, my cautious little monkey, forgot herself completely when the path opened up to the river’s edge and I had to recruit Punkin to help me from having some soaking wet babies on my hands!!! As the sweat began to drip down I still smiled, they weren’t eating rocks (or if they were I quickly diverted them into placing the rocks in their buckets). Punkin had gathered many items and had me write down a couple of things he observed (like ducks and geese as no specimens were available to place in his bucket). I scampered around like an idiot (thank goodness no one else was on the trail) wrangling one child then running off after the other while trying to keep the stroller with us. I should have known at that moment that the time had come to strap them in… but I’m a chance giver. Twinkle Toes started by putting sticks in her mouth then came the rocks. I finally strapped her in when she refused to remove the rocks herself. She screamed. Meanwhile Punkin was gathering items and taking notes like a pro and Pinky had plopped herself down in front of an alluring open pile of dirt and began shoveling fistfuls of dirt into her bucket. I began to take a quick video and as the words, “Oh, look, she’s playing in the dirt but not eating it–” escaped my mouth she shoved a fistful in. Then, as she saw me approaching she FRANTICALLY shoveled as much as she could into that little trap of hers. Ew. So, I swept my already dirty fingers through her mouth (I’d already rescued items from Twinkle Toes’, remember?) to get as much of the dirt out as I could. Meanwhile Punkin was a couple of yards away examining different kinds of rocks along the path… I love that kid! Thank goodness for wipes. I managed to make the three of us look presentable before we rounded the corner up to the playground where a few of my friends were playing with their kiddos. Later, after the girls were in bed and Daddy was home, we went through Punkin’s bucket and organized his findings. He was so proud of what he’d accomplished and how he sorted his items. We taped some artifacts to his worksheet and saved the others in his treasure box. He had SUCH a fun time, apparently his mothers crazy struggles are so common place he didn’t even notice them, or at least didn’t let them bother him 🙂 Okay, so I am publishing this post months after the actual “Adventure” occurred. We haven’t had another organized adventure since but I still love the idea of doing it again. We did continue to go on walks for another month or so but the pregnancy took charge and it was just too hard for me to go out, manage my dirt eaters while giving attention to Punkin. I am VERY excited for next summer when the girls are almost 3, I have big plans for new adventures and new worksheets. I’m thinking for the girls we’ll do a check off list of things we see along the way instead of expecting them to have the time to draw a picture or for me to write words down for them. Hey, maybe I’ll do something like that at the end of this summer (gotta spit this baby out first!). Ah, I love planning for fun adventures!