Live simply.

Grow naturally.

Love greatly.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A review of Big Backyard

Some of the best presents that my daughter receives from family members are magazine subscriptions. In fact, Sarah probably receives more mail than her parents do. I get as excited as she does when one comes in the mail.

We headed out a few weeks ago in search of acorns after reading the October 2011 issue of ­Big Backyard. Sarah carried the basket while I lugged baby Jabel along in my SnuggleWrap. Of course, acorns are plentiful until you are looking for them, so it took a little longer than I thought it would, but soon we had returned home to try out the different activities they had suggested in the magazine. We put a pile on the porch for the squirrels. We counted how many we could toss into containers. We looked for the acorns that sank so that we could sprout them and grow oak trees. Sarah drew some pictures of acorns and hung them on the refrigerator to remind us to check the chosen acorns regularly. True, the acorns have yet to sprout, but we had a great afternoon.

The feature, Green Hour, gives ideas every month of things to do with your ever inquisitive child. I am already ready to take November’s ideas out on our next outing, which include tree find-and-seek and looking for animal homes. There are so many resources out there for parents who want to offer their kids a natural childhood. In the same magazine, the National Wildlife Federation is publicizing one of their websites: BeOutThere.org. Be Out There is a movement to help families raise happier, healthier, nature-loving kids. There are tons of fun ideas and activities on what kids can do outside. On one of our daily jaunts, we searched for any animal life and made a list. Once home, we made up a story that included all the animals we saw. How fun is that?
If you have kids or are just young at heart, take time this week to explore the outdoors. You can use these resources I’ve mentioned or find your own unique activity. Let me know what you come up with, so that I can incorporate it into our walks.


  1. Shannon, what fun memories you brought back for me! I had all the same hopes and dreams for my children and managed to make most of them work. A few things that we did worked out well over the long run. We always had a compost pile...usually more than one. We also had chickens. They are easy to deal with, they aren't noisy unless you have a rooster, and the eggs are so much better than what you get in the store. The children learn where their food comes from and learn how to utilize chickens as part of food production (they eat bugs and weeds, they shred plant wastes and mix them with their manure so that they compost faster, etc.). One thing all the kids in our neighborhood enjoyed was looking for potatoes. We didn't really have ideal conditions for potatoes but I usually planted a few just for the kids to find. They'd dig around gently in the sandy soil and their eyes would light up when their fingers found a hidden treasure. Another neighborhood tradition was taking the ladybugs to our house. Children love to catch ladybugs. All the neighbor kids knew that they could always bring ladybugs to my rose garden because ladybugs eat aphids and my roses usually had at least a few aphids.
    There are so many ways to interest children in the outdoors...I know you'll find all kinds of ways to make memories with your children, too.

    Esther Miller

  2. Esther, what great ideas you have! Sarah brought me a worm the other day and I told her to take it to the compost pile, but I can't wait until ladybug season. We will probably buy some guineas next year. They are a lot louder than chickens, but both Sarah and I were on medicine for Lyme disease this summer and I heard they are good for ticks. Potato gathering is one of my favorite childhood garden memories. I remember the cool dirt beneath my feet as we followed behind dad and the plow. Thanks so much for your ideas