Of course my kids and I often do play in creeks. It’s one of our favorite things, hence the name of the blog. But if you don’t normally do this, consider the ways your kids could benefit. Find a shallow creek and allow your kids to play there as long as you possibly can stay. Let them experience the coolness of the water, the way rocks and sticks change the flow of the water. Discover the fish, animals and insects that live in and around the creek, notice the plants and trees that grow there. All of these things could be a springboard for learning. Later, you can follow up with books and internet resources to expand their knowledge.
My kids’ natural tendency to bicker over every little thing usually stops when they are playing in a creek. They soon become allies in making discoveries and helping each other over rocky obstacles. Or they become absorbed in their own little discoveries, focusing on the intricacies of a little water fall or an interesting rock.
Each Spring, we shop for new water shoes. I now buy the closed-toe kind, like Keens, because I feel these are safer for climbing over rocks. They’re pricey, but I’ve found some at consignment sales and I keep the ones my older son wears for my younger son. Flip flops are too flimsy and the kids are too little to keep them from floating away in the water. Ditto Crocs. They slip off easily in the water and can be floating downstream in a flash (yes, we found that out the hard way). So we spring for the Keens with the justification that they are multi-purpose: they also serve as our summer sneakers and our pool shoes.
Around late-March, early-April we get water shoes for whoever needs them, dust off our nets and buckets (essential for closer study of fish, snails, etc.) and venture out to one of our favorite spots. If it’s too cold to go in the water, or the water is too high due to Spring rains, we stay on the shore or rocks. We’ve seen families of ducks with brand new ducklings and enjoyed the beauty of flowering Spring trees, newly sprouted grass and found the seasons’ first worms and frog eggs.
Speaking of animals, we’ve spotted deer, groundhogs, rabbits, geese, turtles, countless birds, and even foxes near the creek. We’ve learned to spot beaver dams and leave them undisturbed, despite their tempting array of sticks that would make excellent splashing instruments. We are often inspired, upon returning home, to try to draw the animals we’ve seen and to write stories about them.
We often bring a picnic blanket and lunch and just enjoy sitting on the banks of a creek, listening to the sounds and soaking up the sunshine.
And we have some fun memories to reminisce about, like the time the Java Family explored a creek with us and Java Mom made a creekside diaper change, in close proximity to, what we later discovered, was goose poop (don’t worry, her baby was unharmed).
Yes, we are so very, very glad that Spring is here and we can get out and discover and explore once again.