Thursday, May 12, 2011

Summer Survival Guide- Backyard Adventures!

Hello there ladies (and gentlemen, if there happen to be any)! I'm MacKenzie from BOLD Turquoise and I am so thrilled to be guest blogging here today at Happily Domestic! Such an honor! I am going to be sharing with you some super fun ways to turn your backyard into your very own adventureland this summer, so let's dive in!

Nothing says summer like playing in the backyard, well, in my book anyway! And while it is the great daily standby to just send the kiddos out to run off some energy, it can also easily be turned into a memorable adventure for the whole family. Who knows, you and the kiddos might even learn a thing or two along the way! I think of these little adventures a lot like summer camp at home. Lots of fun but way less expensive and you get to share the enjoyment with your kiddos. If you want to get really crazy you could even invite another family or two to join you!

Today I'm going to give you a little how-to guide for a fun backyard adventure for all the kids in your life, even the kids at heart! I hope to also inspire you to get creative and make your own adventures as well. Now let's get started on our first adventure-

Explorer for a Week

The best way to start out an Explorer adventure will of course be to learn a little bit about some other explorers- ya know, the guys who've been there and done that. Pick a morning to make a little jaunt over to your local library and let each of your kiddos pick a book about a famous explorer. Columbus, de Gama, Ferdinand, Magellan, Cortes, or Vespucci would all do just fine!

Now, when you get back home don't just plop down on the couch to read through your books! No, no, no! Instead, pack a picnic (make sure to have lot's of citrus to stave off the Scurvy!), and trek out to the back yard with all of the following close at hand for the week:

your library books,
a map or atlas,
some simple sketch notebooks (mole skin journals would be great for this!),
coloring and writing tools,
clear contact paper,
field guides (if you have them or get them from the library),
a large cardboard box,
a long wooden dowel or branch,
an old towel, a small old sheet or decent size piece of remnant fabric,
twine or cheap yarn,
paint (optional),
and maybe a few other things, but we'll get to those in a minute...

After you have done all your reading and gobbled your grub, it's time to plan your voyage! Get the kids involved with this and let them tell you where they'd like to go. What most interests them about being an explorer? What do they think they will find when they get to the land they'll be exploring? Ask lots of questions and let their imaginations run wild! Look through your maps and let them draw one themselves in their very own Voyage Journals. Have them make lists of the supplies they think they will need for the trip. Have them turn the cardboard box into their ship, complete with a name painted on the side and a jimmy-rigged sail (this is where the sheet, dowel and twine come in). Heck- they could even christen their ship for it's maiden voyage with squirt guns! Let them take as long as they like to really get in the explorer mood and excited for their little journey. If it takes 3 days to get ready, all the better!

Once you've mapped your course and finished your preparations, it's time to board the SS Explorer, bound for a distant land! Now, as mom and trip facilitator, I give you full permission to douse your kids with copious amounts of water- ya know, to give them a true taste of life at sea. You guessed it- time to break out the water balloons! (I told you this would be fun for everyone!) Ok, so maybe have a few balloons stashed away below deck so the kiddos can join in on the storm, but you still get the first throw! Or two. Or maybe even three! :-D

Land Ho! Drop your anchor and row to shore. It's time to start the actual exploration! I think you'll be amazed and delighted to see what your children find around your yard when they're prepared and determined to find something new! Now is the time to get your Voyage Journals back out and start documenting all the cool things you find. Draw pictures with vivid descriptions of all your discoveries. Make flower pressings on your pages or crayon rubbings of leaves. You could even place leaves, seeds, or anything else that isn't living, under contact paper onto the pages. If you want to really learn something you could take it a step further and bust out some field guides to find the names of the things you've found and read a little extra information on each. The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock would be a wonderful resource for this part of your adventure!

Of course, you could always up the anti a little bit and also create a scavenger hunt for your kiddos! Whether you give them a traditional hunt for clues to find one big grand prize (filled with fun things like magnifying glasses, big explorer hats and other fun goodies) or declare "There's gold in them there hills!" and have them find all the hidden chocolate gold coins they can, they are sure to be thrilled!

After you've completed your day (or days) of exploring it's time to make camp! What, you thought explorers just waltzed off to the nearest Ritz Carlton for a sweet night between the sheets? I think not! Pitch a tent, grab some sleeping bags and prepare to stake it out for the night! Fire-roasted (or barbecued) hot dogs and smores are bound to fill up and satisfy even the most beat explorer out there. Tell tales of your adventures by campfire or lantern light and don't forget to have your little explorers make a good old-fashioned journal entry about their fun-filled quest!

Of course, when it is all said and done you will also have to make sure to print out all the dozens (or hundreds!) of pictures you snapped during the week so your kiddos can add those to their journals as well. Not only will they have had an amazing and unforgettable week, all in the comfort and convenience of your very own backyard, but they will also have a little souvenir to remember it by!

You've got to admit- that sounds about as fun as a barrel of monkeys, doesn't it?! I knew it, you're wishing it was summer already! Well, as long as I've got you reigned in on this little adventure, why don't you try planning one of your very own? Here are some ideas to get you started:

Pirate Island- Slap on some do rags and eye patches and follow a weathered map to search for buried treasure! Sing sea chanties, talk with pirate accents, eat Pirate's Booty, and don't forget- X marks the spot!

Fairy Forest- Perfect for all the little girlies in your midst! Take them on a fairy finding adventure where leaves floating in bird baths are actually miniature fairy boats and delicate pillows of grass make the perfect fairy bed! Build fairy homes from popsicle sticks and furnish them with flowers and leaves. Eat miniature "fairy foods" like midget pickles and baby corn. And if you happen to live in an area of the country that boasts these magnificent creatures, then catch some fireflies to make the perfect fairy nightlight!

Luau- Aloha! Bust out the waiting pool, tiki torches and grass skirts and have yourself a luau! Google some fun Hawaiian words to use during your party and be sure to address everyone by their very own Hawaiian name! (and a little piece of trivia for you- did you know that the Hawaiian alphabet only has 12 letters?!) Play some Hawaiian music, make your own leis, have a hula competition, build sand castles in a sandbox and cook up some traditional kalua pork! I have a feeling some neighbors may even drop by to get in on some of this fun!

Have I got hour sparks flying yet?! I sure hope so! We'd love to hear what other ideas you come up with so be sure to share!

Of course, I'd also love if you popped by my little blog this summer too, if you get a chance in between all your adventures! Actually, since you'll probably be pretty busy by then, why don't you swing by BOLD Turquoise right now and let me know what you think?! Thanks for reading and have the most amazing summer you've ever had!

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