365 Summer Wanderings & A Brief Tinkergarten Review
At the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair should be messy, and your eyes sparkShanti
The earth has music for those who listen.William Shakespeare
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.Genesis 1:1
“Mommy, look! A worm!”
I turned around to see my son standing and pointing down at the long grass below his feet. There was no way what he was looking at was just a worm. His eyes were too far away from the ground to notice a small, squiggly body moving through the grass. It had to be something else.
“Oh, are you sure it’s a worm?” I said it hesitantly. He was about five feet behind me. My daughter remained content in the toddler backpack carrier as I rotated my body back around to face my three-year-old. He continued to stare intensely at the ground pointing at the “worm”.
I made the attempt to approach calmly, reassuring myself that it was probably just a garter snake or something harmless. I really just hoped it wasn’t a snake at all. Please don’t let this be snake…and if it is, please let it be a non-poisonous one, I thought. Maybe I should have better prepared for this hike.
As I approached where he was standing, I looked down to see a small baby snake. It slithered past his feet into the taller grass next to the path. I felt the words easily flow from my mouth as my heart settled a little,
“That’s not a worm, buddy, that’s a snake.”
His curiosity was peaked as we left the snake behind to continue with our hike. The questions ensued as he wanted to know more about snakes: what they ate, where they came from, where they lived, what animals ate snakes, and so on. His little three-year-old brain was enraptured by this new animal that he had just discovered in its natural habitat.
The snake sighting opened up an opportunity for us to talk, for him to learn, and for both of us to grow in appreciation for what was right in our area. I couldn’t help but look around and thank God for all the different species of birds we heard and saw, the different grasses, trees, flowers, and so much wildlife that was hiding right below our feet or beyond our sight.
There was so much to take in all around us. It was a simple hike for our family, yet all around us was an intricate, detailed beauty that could only come from a divine Creator. It was truly therapeutic to soak in the details.
Later that day when my son was re-telling the day’s events to my husband, he claimed we saw a rattlesnake. I then had to go into detail about how, no, we didn’t see a rattlesnake, it was most likely
Beyond the snake sighting, what made the hike especially enthralling for my son (and me!) was finding painted rocks along the trail. Within our county, many people have chosen to paint and hide rocks for people to find. It’s a simple way to share a message, love on others, get creative, and connect people.
After finding a rock, there’s a Facebook page to share which rock was found and where it was sited. It’s up to the person who found the rock as to whether he/she would like to keep it or re-hide it for someone else to find. We’ve always chosen to re-hide the rocks so that others can enjoy the excitement of finding them and share in the beauty of someone’s art work.
These rocks have also been spotted in other counties and states as people continue to hide them in different locations. Someone was kind enough to hide a painted rock at each marking post along our hike at the state park. It was like a treasure hunt for our family, and it motivated my son to walk to the next post to see if we could find another rock. I so appreciated that extra act of kindness and love from a stranger.
Without taking on the 365-mile challenge at the beginning of 2019, I don’t know that we would have been having as many outdoor adventures. I know that we would have been going outside (most people do in the summer months), but it’s definitely been a motivator to appreciate, marvel, and take in the great outdoors for all the seasons.
The challenge has motivated me to want to explore more of the state where we live. It’s easy to take-for-granted what’s right within our state. There are so many local parks, trails, state parks, and even some national forests to explore.
Right now, I’m appreciative for the beautiful places to go that are so close to home. Having little ones has given us the opportunity to just stay and explore within our own backyard or in some great parks near our home. There’s so much loveliness just right outside our doors.
Much of our summer has been choosing to stay close to home. Since our kids are still so young, it’s easier to navigate and stick to a schedule that works for our family when we are intentional about slowing down. It gives us time to reflect, spend quality time with each other, and keep our priorities a priority.
One of the great local exploring opportunities my kids had this summer was doing Tinkergarten (I included a discount code at the bottom of this post). In short, Tinkergarten is an outdoor class that allows kids to learn through play. The class can meet anywhere and it promotes an environment where kids are welcome to get dirty, be curious, and adventurous.
These classes are led by a teacher, but parents attend with their children. Each season brings a different theme for the kids to focus on, and there are different activities that support the theme.
What I loved most about Tinkergarten was the freedom within the structure of the class. From our experience, other free outdoor classes were too structured and made little room for exploration or the curious questions of a preschooler. Tinkergarten is much different. Our instructor let all the families know the first day that the kids are welcome to participate or not participate as they feel led.
A perfect example of this was when our class played in the mud. Yes, everyone got dirty, and it was fun! My son was one of the kids who was ready to play in the mud. He had the buckets, sticks, water, and other materials to dig and create. Some of the other children were hesitant to get in the mud and wanted to watch for a while before taking on the activity. Both groups of kids were learning about mud, but they were choosing to go about that learning process differently. The freedom of choice was a beautiful integration that enabled children with different learning styles to participate and learn through play, each in their own way.
Each group is structured a little differently based on the participants. Our class was organized so that there was an introductory activity, then some instruction from the teacher on what we’d be doing that day, a main activity, extra time to socialize, and then a closing song and snack. From my understanding, the teacher was given the materials and the class curriculum for the session by Tinkergarten. Our particular class met two days a week for three weeks.
Our theme for the summer was “Communication”. With the children in my son’s class ranging from 15 months to 5 years old, there were a variety of ways the children communicated with their parents, other children, and adults within the group. It was great to see the community that was formed in just the few short weeks of the program.
We’re looking forward to signing up again in the future.
If you are interested in checking out Tinkergarten within your area, feel free to use my link for a percentage off. It’s a great way to get kids interested in the outdoors and get them excited about learning through play. If you have additional questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.
***Blog Posts on 365 Mile Challenge Experiences
Photo Credit: https://unsplash.com/@wiradyatmika