by by T.Y., Survival Blog:
(Continued from Part 4. This concludes the article series.)
GAME 9: TRACKER
This will introduce your children to hunting skills through identifying animal signs in your area.
You will need a drawing pad, pencil, and a basic book or printouts that shows detailed pictures of tracks from animals in your area.
Before the Activity
If you live in an area where animal tracks are easy to find, then you need no preparation. If not you will need to find an appropriate area, such as a park or forested hiking trail.
How to Play
- Tell your children that you are going on an animal hunt. Ask them what animals they might expect to see when they go outside. Say something such as, “We might not see any real animals, but they will have left some signs to let us know they have been there.” Ask them what you could look for as signs that an animal had been around.
- Give the children a drawing pad and pencil to bring with them and head outside for a walk.
- Take them to places where animals may have been and look for signs. Some examples could be next to a bird feeder where you may see spilled bird feed and possibly tracks, near a place where dogs run where you might see paw prints, in the forest you may see deer scat or hoof prints, and around the base of nut or fruit trees you may see cracked shells or partly eaten fruit.
- When you find a sign of an animal, try to figure out what type of animals might have been there. Use your resources of the animal tracks combined with the surroundings to determine what animal has left the signs. Have the child draw a picture of what they think the animal was doing when they left the signs and copy the animal’s tracks from the ground or from your resources.
- As your children progress, help them to begin estimating how fresh the tracks are, where the animal came from and where it is headed. Encourage them to look around and tell you why an animal was coming from a certain direction (shelter, cover) and why it may be headed in a specific direction (water, food).
While the children are playing outside or while you are taking family nature walks ask them to show you signs of animals. See if they can identify what types of animals have been around and what their tracks would look like.
GAME 10: GERMINATE!
By planting and caring for seeds your children will learn how to germinate and grow basic vegetables seedlings.
You will need an empty soda bottle or milk jug, planting soil, vegetable seeds and water. Some vegetable seeds that are easy to germinate and grow are melon, summer squash, green beans, and cucumber.
Before the Activity
Cut the bottom of the bottle off about 4 inches from the bottom, but do not cut it all the way around. Leave a small part uncut to act as a hinge. You can lift the top of the bottle back exposing the bottom 4 inches of the bottle as a container for holding the soil. Poke some holes in the bottom of the bottle for drainage.
How to Play
- Invite your children to grow a plant with you. Ask them what a plant requires to grow. The basic necessities are that the seed needs soil, water, and sunlight.
- Have your children fill a container with soil and add some water to dampen it. Mix the soil and water together until it is the consistency of a rung out sponge.
- Allow your children to fill the bottom of the bottle with damp soil, tamping it down lightly with their hand.
- Next, have them use their finger to poke a hole in the soil, place the seed in, and then cover the hole back up with soil.
- Give the seed some water and then close the top of the bottle back over, leaving the lid off for ventilation. Place the bottle on a plate in a warm sunny spot.
- Each day water the seed together with your children and make observations. When the seed germinates discuss what is happening and together assess if the seedling’s requirements have changed. As the plant grows you will notice that it needs more water, more sunlight, and more space.
- Harden the seedling off after the danger of frost has passed. Explain to your children that you do not want to “shock” the plant by transplanting it outdoors before it becomes acclimated to the temperature variations. To do this, bring the jug outside during the morning, slowly exposing it to the outside temperatures. Use the hinged top to regulate the temperature inside the bottle (if it is hot, open the top and if it is cold, close it).
- When the seedling has acclimated to the outdoor elements, transplant it into a garden or larger pot where it can finish growing. Enjoy harvesting and eating fresh vegetables from your seedling!
Allow your children to have a small garden. This can be an area the size of a sandbox or even in a few pots on a balcony. Help them to plant and care for vegetable seeds. Do they know how to plant a seed? Do they remember to water it? Can they tell you the basic things that their garden requires?