Getting outdoors on a family adventure is not only a great way to bond as a family; it can also be highly educational! It’s a great time to explain to your kids a little bit about what they’re seeing around them. It’ll be a memorable science lesson that will stay with them a lot longer that what they hear in a classroom!
Front Royal is a great place for your family to get out in nature, with Shenandoah National Park right in our back yard. We’ve rounded up some ideas for bringing your family to the National Park, as well as some fun fall information that you can share with your kids as you explore.
Two Little-Known Tips for Getting Kids to the Park
Many families don’t know about the fantastic initiatives in place to make the parks welcoming and fun for kids. Kids in Parks has created fun “TRACK” trails at parks throughout the nation. Families can follow the activity brochure at the trailhead to bring their hike to a new level of fun and informative. And the fun doesn’t even stop when you get home. Kids can log their TRACK trails at the Kids in Parks Website to win fun prizes and more! Find three TRACK trails at Shenandoah National Park: Fox Hollow Trail, Limberlost Trail, and Blackrock Summit Trail. Explored them all and looking for more? Shenandoah National park has a helpful list of kid-friendly hikes here.
Did you know that fourth grade students and their families can even get into the National Park for free? Every Kid Outdoors in a government initiative to get kids out and exploring our wonderful outdoor world. Go here to print out your pass, and enjoy free entry for the whole family to National Parks throughout the U.S., including our very own Shenandoah National Park!
Three Sights to Explain as Mother Nature Gets Ready for Winter
A fall hike can be a fun time to explain to kids a little bit about the changing of the seasons. Unlike humans, with constant access to food in grocery stores brought from miles away, animals and plants must make do with a smaller supply of food in the winter. A fun way to talk about fall sights to kids is to explain that we are watching Mother Nature get ready for winter. Read on for simple ways to explain some of the famous sights of fall.
1. Colorful Leaves
Trees eat too, just like animals and humans! But a tree’s source of food is sunlight. As hours of daylight shorten in the winter, trees have to make do with less food, just like animals! A leaf’s job is to collect sunlight and process it into a form that gives energy to a tree. But in the winter, there isn’t enough sunlight and the leaves are out of a job! That’s why we see them change color and fall to the ground. Trees will stop growing and rely on stored energy supplies until the spring.
2. Squirrels at Work
Squirrels are a common sight in Shenandoah National Park in the fall. You’ll see these busy little creatures scurrying to and fro in many spots throughout the park. Squirrels are busy in the fall because, just like the trees, they’re getting ready for a time of lower food availability! They’re famous for burying nuts in the fall so that they can come back and find them when they’re hungry. See if you can spot any squirrels digging holes to store a tasty nut.
3. Deer Getting Fat on Purpose!
Like many animals, deer store extra food on their bodies in the fall. It’s a time of heavy feeding, as they gain fat to support themselves through the lean times of winter. Fall is also the time of year when deer mate, and when bucks are sporting magnificent antlers in their efforts to impress the ladies and claim dominance among other bucks. Whitetail deer are a common sight in the Front Royal area in the fall, and if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a majestic antlered buck!
Plan an educational outing to Shenandoah National Park this fall! There’s plenty to see as Mother Nature gets ready for winter, and you and your kids can have a fantastic time learning about it together.
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