Taking a month off for the outdoors (& poetry)

I'm just so darn happy it's April. It's spring here in Maine and this week I planted my peas. The kids and I are taking this month off from structured school activities. Basically we're leaving the math and handwriting workbooks to sit on the shelf. And I'm giving Celine's real life writing (I'll explain more in my writing post coming up) a break. We never stop reading, creating or exploring so technically we're still learning.


Each year in April I fall off the school wagon. I have posts going back two years to prove this. So this year I made the decision to jump off early, save myself the fall and get back on after a month of gardening, yard work and outdoors focused learning.

How ironic then that Lisa at 5 Orange Potatoes is hosting A Great Outdoors Challenge in conjunction with Children and Nature Awareness Month. Her challenge is to "go outside everyday, rain or shine; then take a picture each day, for the rest of April, of your children outdoors and post it." Sad to say, I will not be participating to that extent. I'm too busy writing, photographing and posting about other topics but it's almost guaranteed we will be out most every day this month. Unless it's really cold and rainy, in which case we'll craft, read, sew and head outdoors another day. 

I love the premise though and I think it's cool there is a movement of people, encouraged no doubt by the book Last Child in the Woods who are getting serious about getting our kids outdoors. Here, here!!

But did you know it's also National Poetry month? Or so says the sign at the library. So... in honor of both these things the kids and I have written outdoors inspired haiku this week. 

Brienne and I wrote this earlier this week.

Spring time is so bright
New flowers with mud and rain
Baby animals.

Later in the week while all bouncing on the trampoline together we wrote this poem. We had no paper and pen handy so Laurent rustled up some birch bark (from our pilfered wood stash, we have no tress to speak off in our little back yard) and Celine provided a rose thorn so I could write it down.

Jumping happily
is so delightful and fun
on the trampoline

It's been a great week outdoors and I'm looking forward to the rest of this month with plans to build a bird feeder, clean up the yard and work in the flower and vegetable gardens.


What kind of fun are you having outdoors these days?

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  • nicola@which name?

    nicola@which name? on April 10, 2010, 5:43 p.m.

    Oh, Renee! What a lovely post. Good to be prepared and plan for April this year. I love your photos and outdoor joy. The poems are wonderful. I am not participating in the photo challenge, either, for much the same reason. I just can't force myself to post certain photos daily for an entire month, but there is no shortage of outdoors here, well, ever. It looks a little different every day and as the seasons change, but it is there, regardless. Nicola


  • Earth Mama

    Earth Mama on April 10, 2010, 9:12 p.m.

    Oh my just look at those muddy feet! My kids have been washing their feet non stop these days. It's oh so nice to be outside all day long again, although it is starting to feel more springish this weekend, but still nice enough to be outside. Enjoy your weekend Renee and fam!



  • Hillary

    Hillary on April 11, 2010, 1:47 a.m.

    You know there came that magic switch a few weeks ago when we were all driving each other crazy before I realized we were stir-crazy. I've been heading out with the kids after breakfast & clean-up every day and it suits our family's energy so much better. Then when preggo mama needs to put her feet up a bit in the afternoon the kids are ready to relax and play on their own.

    We've been playing in the sandbox, taking walks around our block, riding bikes and jumping in puddles!


  • Granola Girl

    Granola Girl on April 11, 2010, 2:10 a.m.

    We go to garage sales, purchase useful old stuff and bring it home to take it apart, clean it, and revamp it. Feeding ducks and playing "Pooh Sticks" (stick races from Winnie the Pooh) are high on The Barracuda's list as well. He is also very envious of your trampoline :)


    • renee

      renee on April 11, 2010, 11:35 a.m.

      three kids + small yard = need for trampoline. That thing is the most used piece of family equipment we ever purchased.


  • Constance

    Constance on April 11, 2010, 9:49 p.m.

    We are right with you outside here in Canada! So much fresh air the kids are falling asleep in their dinners! Check out 30 poems in 30 days in honor of poetry month at www.gottabook.blogspot.com. The kids and I love it.


  • lolo

    lolo on April 12, 2010, 4:28 a.m.

    We are right there with you outdoors!!!! So much extra laundry from MUDDY clothes. But the smiles on boys faces riding bikes, hiking, roasting marshmallows. planting flower and vegie seeds, living in the sandbox, swinging on the rope swing and even building and riding on their own homemade zip line! Yes, peace and happiness can certainly be found out of doors!!!!ANd don't ya just LOVE the exactness of that phrase " out of doors"? That is where real life and learning take place so often...just step out of any door...hmmm, Hope your and your family have as much fun as us!


  • kate

    kate on April 12, 2010, 12:24 p.m.

    OH, love, love, LOVE the combination of spring outside joy with poetry month! Outside Haikus are so fun-- there is a great book out there somewhere (can't remember the name though) of a whole bunch of kids' haiku poems dedicated to the world outside. We fall of the school wagon in April too (glad to know I'm not alone)...the kids seem to find their way outside by 7:30 a.m. and come in just in time for bed. Thanks for the reminder that it is so needed, joy filled, and health-inducing for me to be out there more with them!


  • Jackie Lee

    Jackie Lee on April 13, 2010, 1:48 a.m.

    We've been busy building chicken yard fences, planting flowers and veggies, weeding gardens, following butterflies and all around enjoying the warm weather. Thanks for asking ~ I'm going to check out The Great Outdoor Challenge ~ that sounds pretty fun!


  • jenny @ let the children play

    jenny @ let the children play on April 13, 2010, 10:25 a.m.

    I just had to say that your pictures really capture the spirit of getting outside and playing. I've been reading about April being Children and Nature Month on the Children and Nature Network, and loving some of the photos people have been posting on their blogs.


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