Friday, June 29, 2012

Rainbow Falls Hike

This week we headed north a bit to Plymouth for our walk.  The Wise Owl is getting a bit spoiled with hikes that end at the summit of a mountain - he loves the views.  As much as he loves being out in the woods, sometimes a meander through the forest doesn't present the same WOW factor to him.  So, I figured a hike with a waterfall should pass muster, and boy did it!

Rainbow Falls is located on Cummings Hill Road - which is off of RT 3 between Plymouth and Ashland. It is easy to find, but parking is minimal.  The hike is part of the Walter Newton Natural Area. It is a loop trail that is just a bit over a mile long.

We started our trail to the left of the bridge, near the wooden sign.  We had a night and morning full of rain so the trail was wet and muddy.  It was also very buggy, however that didn't stop 9 preschoolers from having a great time.  Through out the walk there are many footbridges - some made of wooden planks others of small trees- to keep you above the mushy ground. It was a great exercise in gross motor skills!

I was just happy that Sassy Sis stayed on the footbridges during this hike!

There were lots of rocks, for my favorite rock jumper to explore.  She left NO rock undiscovered!

About halfway through the trail we came to the Rainbow Falls.  The little ones were excited to finally spot it as they could hear it for a while before it was in site.

We viewed the falls from the bottom.  There are some nice benches there and had the bugs not been SO bad we would have stopped for a little snack while enjoying the falls.  However, we found if we stayed put for more then 30 seconds in any one place we were a target for the bugs!

So, a few quick pictures and we were off.  After you cross the bridge by the water fall you can turn left and take a spur of the trail to the top of the waterfalls however, with my luck Sassy Sis would be using the falls as a natural water slide - so we opted to continue on the loop back to the parking area.

During this part of the hike there was an incline, but it quickly leveled out. There were many more bridges to cross on the way back.

However, the last leg of the trail opened up wide so we could run, run, run!

Overall, this was a great hike.  The Glove Hollow Brook is always nearby and the falls are a fabulous surprise! The footbridges were a hit with my two as well.  The bugs, well they were a bit over the top today, but if they do calm down it would be a great place for little ones to really be able to explore their environment. My 27 month old walked all but the last section of the hike.

Trail maps and information can be found here.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Water Wall

We've been trying to add more interesting components to our playscape...aka our backyard. As much as I love taking my little ones on adventures there are days when we must or I like to just stay put.  Having some fun interactive elements in our yard always helps passes the day away. Of course, if water is added to anything, it is sure to be a blast.

All over Pinterest are tons of ideas for water walls.  I had a ton of recyclables in the garage and a husband willing to put up with yet another project.  We started with a project that costs us nothing!

This was a perfect project for the Wise Owl to help Daddy put together.
On an old piece of board my DH and the Owl simply screwed in various plastic containers.  Check out my Pinterest board Outdoor/Summer Playfor many water wall tutorials. 

The water wall has become a favorite component in our backyard.  Owl and his friends figured out if they put a bucket at the bottom of the wall they could capture the water and recycle it to use it over and over again. I love that I'm not filling buckets every few minutes.

We also decided to make a water ramp using gutters.  We simply purchased one piece of gutter and cut it into three equal pieces.  My husband then screwed it into the wall, making sure the angle was enough to have the water run down all three sections. 

The Owl loves not only pouring water down these sections as well as racing his cars down as well.

For less then $10 we cleaned out my recyclables in the garage, created a new component in our playscape and created some fun water play that will keep my little ones entertained for hours this summer!  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Chamberlin Reynold Forest Walk

We've had two scorching days of heat so we needed a break from the sun and the Chamberlin Reynolds Forest was a perfect choice for a hot summer day!! These are easy walking trails in the forest plus, as you approach the shore of Squam Lake there is a great breeze coming across the lake.

 The trails are located on College Road - which is off of Rt 25B.  As you are driving down College Road the dirt driveway is located on the right hand side - you want to park in the West Parking Lot. There are signs that mark to the beach and campsites however, they are sporadic.  I would print off a map before you head out.  Even though all the trails do essentially make a loop, it is nice to know where you are heading! You can find a map here. 

We started off on the West Fire Trail to the East Swamp Trail to the Swamp Walk.  The walk was easy with a gradual slope with only a few rocks and roots. The board walk is brand new and goes across a swamp with lots of great insects and fauna to look at.  There are, however, no rails on the boardwalk and my 2 year old did go overboard into the muddy, murky water - luckily she wasn't hurt - just muddy!

We then continued along the beach trail to a small beach right on Squam Lake.  The beach did need to be raked - there were lots of dead leaves and pine needles. Another mom whom went with us said the beach is usually sandy and raked.  The views, however, are fabulous!

 Sassy Sis was happy to get to the beach to rinse off the swamp muck at the beach!

Once out into the water it was nice and sandy.  The little ones could go out quite a way before it became too deep.  It was a perfect stop to cool off on a really hot day!

There were even some big rocks along the beach where you could sit and have some lunch. 

On the way home we followed the beach trail to the West Side Fire Road. There were signs posted along the way for the parking lot. Again the trail was wide  and with a gradual incline on the way back to the car. My 26 month old managed all but the last 5 minutes of the walk on her own!

We spent just about 3 hours there which included the hike, swimming, and stopping for  lunch.  You know it was a great morning when both little ones were fast asleep before we hit the main road! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Birthday Sensory Book

Some of the mamas in my busy bag exchange started a subgroup just for birthdays.  Each month we create birthday or party themed busy bags for the children in the group whom have birthdays.  This month we had three little ones who were turning one.

I know my little ones love books and at that age could be tough on books so thus came my idea for a personalized sensory book. These were easy to put together and used items I already had in "stock".

I found the cutouts in the teacher section of the Dollar Tree - I knew one day I would have the perfect project for them!  For each page I used some scrap-booking card stock I already had on hand. After I had my pages designed I laminated them before adding the sensory fun! 

After laminating the book, I used foam sticker letters to write out the child's name.

For more sensory fun, I hot-glued on a pom-pom to the top of the birthday and traced the number one with some glitter glue.

On the present I made a bow out of silky ribbon then hot glued it to the page.

Can't forget to use our sense of hearing to shout Happy Birthday - for some texture fun I traced over the accent lines of the noisemaker with some glitter glue.

Lastly, I made some pipe cleaner sprinkles that are hot glued on the page, and colored in the flame with more glitter glue!

To assemble I simply punched two holes into the books and used some yarn to tie them together!  

Monday, June 11, 2012

Busy Bags

    Recently, I found a fabulous busy bag exchange group on Facebook!  Each month there are different  groups in which  to participate. There are always the basic age category groups - infant, toddler, preschool, early elementary, older elementary - as well as specialized groups each month.  This past month some of the specialized groups were duplos/legos and Dr. Suess books.  What's fabulous about this group is for every bag you send out you receive one in return! This month I went no-holds -bar and participated in a toddler, 2 preschool, Duplo, and Dr. Seuss groups!

Dr. Seuss - Matching game for Green Eggs and Ham.  I found the printable for the game on Joyfully Weary (she also has lots of other great ideas for a Dr. Seuss unit).  After I printed out the hat pictures, I glued them on to some green eggs!  Add a spatula to flip over your eggs as you play the memory game!

Duplos Group  Pattern Books:   I found these printables here.  After I printed off a selection of each type of puzzle, I simply laminated, punched a hole, and held them together with a metal ring. These are great for fine motor skill, visual perceptual skills, problem solving.  You can easily increase the challenge of these cards by having your child add the next three blocks, in the pattern, after the completed the pattern on the card. 

Preschool Group 1 - Word/Letter Match:  Like so many of my ideas this morphed out of an idea I saw here on Pinterest. Since I am on a quest to use the materials I have after spending 10+ years in the elementary classroom I used what I had on hand: some sentence strips ( these can be found in the teacher section of Dollar Tree), stickers, and clothes pins.  Simply create a clothespin letter for each letter of each word.  To make this slightly easier for each word in the set you could use a different color marker to writer the word on the strip and the clip letters for that word.

Preschool Group 2 - Name Recognition Game: These are two simple activities to be used with your preschooler to recognize their name.  The first is their name written on a sentence strip ( love sentence strips).  I attached a magnet to the back - this will serve as their guide.  Then I wrote their name again, cut it apart after each letter, added a magnet to each letter piece.  Now the child can manipulate their letters to make their name.  We have this activity on our fridge and the Owl does it each morning when he comes downstairs for the day.  The second activity - I created a grid using foam letters.  The child then sorts the letters in their name on the grid.

 Toddler Group - Pipe Cleaner Drop: When I learned that my neighbor was cleaning out her upright freezer I knew I needed these old spice containers! Of course, my DH grumbled as I schlepped home more free stuff to add to my pile, but I just smiled, because I had the perfect project for them! I filled them up with pipe cleaners and colored straws.  The lids have two different sides- one has a large hole and the other has four small holes.  These are perfect for fine motor skills.  To put my own spin on it I made up some pattern cards, using the materials I had put in each container.  The child can empty their pipe cleaners/straws out, grab a pattern card, and then put just those items back into the container.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Belknap Mountain and Fire Tower

This morning we decided to hike Belknap Mountain to the fire tower.  The trail is located in Gilford, on Carriage Road off of Belknap Mountain Road. Trail map and information can be found here.   For this hike you drive part way up the mountain to a parking lot.  From there  we climbed 740 feet up to the summit of 2400 feet.   Just left of a garage, at the trailhead, is an amazing vista my two loved!

Pre-hike excitement, they were ready to hit the trail.

After reading reviews of the hike we decide to do a loop.  We would take the blue trail up to the tower and then the red trail back down to the car.  The blue trail was a bit longer, both just under a mile, but was supposed to be not as steep or rough.

Let's just say doing this hike after a week of rain and a night of torrential downpours was probably not the best idea I've ever had.  The trail is rutted and rocky with loads of tree roots.  There were very few places where it was level easy walking.  The large rocks that covered the trail, some with loads of moss growing on them, were slippery...very slippery.  There were several little "brooks" running across the trail.  These were perfect for washing our dirty hands, from falling!

Even though it was rocky, some places with steep rock stairs Sassy Sis was determined to keep walking.  She may be pretty in pink, but man is she tough!

She lasted about 3/4 of the way up the blue trail, but ended up in our trusty Ergo partly because she was getting tired and partly because at the rate she was walking we wouldn't make it the summit until the 4th of July.

The Owl on the other hand completed the whole hike on his own.  He ended up with some scrapes, scratches, wet shorts, and a cut on his finger that required a band-aid, but he did it and boy was he proud!

Almost to the top of the tower there was a great vista view. 

And then there was the tower.....

Once we reached the summit, the fire tower was looming over head.  The Owl was excited to reach the fire tower, but sad that it wasn't manned today. We did climb up the tower to the observation deck.  It was VERY windy up there and I'm not a huge fan of heights.  The Owl wasn't overly impressed either, especially when the wind roared in in huge gusts.

After spending some time exploring the summit and having a little break we headed down the red trail.  Although the red trial was a bit shorter going down it was much steeper and really slippery.  We made our way down slowly.

We all slipped and fell, even my DH, who luckily was able to quickly recover since he had Sassy Sis on his back.  I am VERY glad we didn't opt for the red trail up, as it would have been too much of a challenge for my little two.

Overall, it was the most difficult hike we did to date with the Owl and Sassy Sis, but we completed it with everyone in one piece and still smiling.  It took us 2.5 hours from car to car.  Next time we'll have to try it after a dry spell and when we know that the fire tower will be open.

Happy Trails

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Let's go Camping

“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.” 

We've had weeks of rain here.  Lots and lots of rain.  It's been a good reminder to me that little ones don't need fancy toys or hundreds of projects to keep them entertained.  All you need is to rearrange your living room furniture, grab a couple of blankets and pillows and let your imagination go free! 

The Owl played in his "tent" for two days straight.  He went camping, ate lunch/snack there, watched one of his shows, read books, played cars, turned it into a cave, took a nap, and so much more.

It's days like this that I love listening to him while he plays - wondering what character he will be and where his imagination will lead him! 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Felt Food Exchange

Luckily, I belong to a great Mama's group - Lakes Region Mamas on www.  with lots of creative mamas! A bunch of us got together last night for a felt food exchange.  I've been wanting to make some new felt food for our play kitchen, but making lots of different food is daunting for me.  I'm a novice on the sewing machine and hand stitching just doesn't call my name! So, a felt food exchange it was - I only had to "master" one type of food, but I would receive 10 different foods in return!

Last month, our group did much larger busy bag exchange, but for the felt food I decided to keep the group smaller.  There were 11 mamas in the group.  We each made a different type of food.  

The rules were simple:
1. Once you commit to coming you must come!
2. Create 11 of the same product.
3. Pick one food type to make.  This may be a group of food ( breakfast, sandwich, pizza, etc.) or a single food item.
4. You must have at least 3 pieces in what you are going to exchange with each person.  So you can have a three piece set or 3 of one food item.
5. Put together the quality of food you want to receive in return.
6.  Have fun! 

Make your own pizza - with a huge bag of pizza toppings to go with it.  I think we'll be having playing pizza parlor soon!

We had a bakery set of baguette, doughnuts, and a frosted sugar cookie.

Adorable strawberries and a pancake with syrup and butter.

Raviolis - perfect for soup or a bowl of pasta!

Tea anyone?  Tea bag, scone with cream and jam and  a lemon slice! 

Chocolate, strawberry or vanilla - your choice!  Perfect treat for a warm summer day! 

Bow tie pasta and sauce - my little ones will love making one of their favorite meals.

Apple, watermelon, and banana slices -let's make a fruit salad!

Chinese food - all packaged in a take-out container and chopsticks! 

Bag of ruffled chips - now I may need to sew up a sandwich to go with it! 

Fortune cookies - with their very own sweet sayings inside. 

I was amazed at the love and creativity that went into all of the food - and glad that all I needed to do was master my chips and bags!  Owl and Sassy Sis loved waking up to a buffet of new felt food waiting for them  this morning!