With a pet emergency forcing a postponement of the latest tyke Hike, I expected a smaller crowd, if any at all. My premonition came true as Embry and I ended up going out alone on a daddy-daughter Tyke Hike. While she was initially a bit bummed "none of my friends are here," her spirits perked up quickly when I told her we could still explore nature.
With the "planned" hike out the window, I gave her the option of heading to the planned destination for the hike, the prairie, or the forest. She chose the former, exclaiming "I love flowers!" Maybe it was just paternal pride, but I was excited she made that natural connection. Luckily for me, she made many more connections along the way, confirming my entire purpose of creating the Tyke Hike program for the Ice Age Trail Alliance and developing a nature-based nature kindergarten in my teaching.
Today's post focuses on some of her natural connections.
Why walk on the trail when a "balancing board" is available? I love how she uses boardwalks, benches, stumps, rocks, and more as springboards.
She also feels the need to bop every blaze along the blaze. Some service trails with recognizable tire-created paths intersected the trail. She was able to choose correctly between the "tire trails" and the hiking trails, often using a nearby blaze as her guide.
Another fun thing I have noticed is her ability to figure out the different habitats. As we walked out of a wooded area and walked over a boardwalk covering a wetland area, she announced we were in the swamp. Then, after the boardwalk ended and the prairie emerges, she let me know that as well. Then, on our return trip, she made sure I knew she "loved the forest" as we re-entered the woods.
While every yellow flower she sees is a sunflower, I'm not too worried about her plant identification. She did however the picture above as a hot dog plant. After confirming her creative suggestion, I told her it was a cattail and she let me know every time she saw another one.
Embry loves her animals, so I'm not surprised every time she finds and investigates a "critter hole." Besides there investigations, she loves to identify anything she sees. Today, she found orange and red dragonflies, an assortment of butterflies, a frog, a "chipper" chipmunk, a "red-tummied" robin, and other insects like bees and ants. Her most scientific identification was when she correctly identified a chickadee and even sang "chickadee-dee-dee" to try and get the bird's attention.
However, in my opinion, her crowning achievement is her attention to what I've taught her about "keeping nature in nature." One thing she loves to do is to clear the trail of sticks so that other hikers don't trip. Often, you'll see her grab a stick on the trail and hurl it into the woods, often saying "get back to nature" with the toss. She also recognizes when things don't belong in nature. Today, along the path, she collected three bottle caps and went off trail to retrieve a water bottle she noticed so we could take it home to recycle.
Though I am very proud she shows care and concern for nature, I absolutely love why she does it. As the picture at the top of this post shows, she likes to take advantage of a bench for water and a snack. Today, while relaxing on the bench, she proclaimed, "This is my kingdom. I love my kingdom!"
So do I.