Monday, June 27, 2011

Walking in the Woods with Kids

Jacob in the St. Louis Canyon at Starved Rock
I went on a hike with my husband and two young kids through Starved Rock State Park in Northern Illinois this weekend. The park is a series of canyons that were formed when the glaciers melted, forming a series of rock walls, 50' + waterfalls and sand basins from disintegrating sandstone. When I told my 4 year old daughter that we would be going on a hike to a sand mountain that they could climb, she was beyond excited. So excited, in fact, that she was so focused on getting there that she wasn't really able to enjoy the journey to our destination. Not surprising for a little kid.
In between questions of "are we there yet?", I pointed out tangled tree roots that could have been steps up the cliff, tiny shade flowers, butterflies that crossed our path, interesting moss and lichen, and anything else that I thought may interest her. Not so much. Sand mountain, please!

So when we finally got there - yay! My 2 year old son squealed and clapped as toddlers do when he saw the waterfall. To him, it must have looked like the largest shower ever! He also loved climbing the sand mountain (ok, hill) and scooting down on his backside. My daughter went to climbing right away and found a caterpillar crawling through the sand. She knew what it was and that it turned into a butterfly. She also knew to be careful with it and not step on it.

Walking back, we came upon a tiny little baby frog that blended in so well with the sand that the only way we knew it was there was when it jumped. We watched it jump across our path and back into the brush. My daughter asked "why is it so small?" When I told her it was a little kid, she said "because it was a tadpole before?" I must be doing something right because my 4yo has the curiosity and science knowledge of a grade school kid and my toddler son has amazing wonder and delight. I'm very proud of them and looking forward to many more walks in the woods.

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