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Nana says, “Go outside!”

In summer, she always wears clothes with pockets, in case of spontaneous walking. Nana also has a backpack ready with plastic baggies, paper towels, small notebook and pencil, and permanent marker.

“It does wonders to exercise kids’ minds in the fresh air,” she says. “We love finding tiny things, like bits of quartz or the smallest pine cones. We crack open pine seeds that look like miniature cups—and notice how the most minute hairs on a piece of moss make it look like a wee forest.”

Outside walks work even in town—just move slowly and pay close attention for evidence of nature all around you.


 

LEARN BIRD CALLS

Nana teaches every walking companion about birds—because it is so delightful when birds converse. “Lots of birds call back if you whistle to them,” she says. Chickadees are especially responsive—and their spring call is quite easy, just two notes.” Nana says that some six-year-old kids she knows have successfully chatted with chickadees. Go online, listen to the calls of birds in your neighborhood, and practice!

 

OPEN THE WINDOWS

No matter what time of year, opening the windows clears the air inside your home. Let the breeze whisk away residual stuffiness from heat, air conditioning, colds and flu, pets, cooking, and just general life. In this part of the country, we can rely on the fresh air’s carrying smells of afternoon rain, cut grass, and scents of everything from prairie grass to flowers. To maintain that freshness, consider diffusing lavender oil in your children’s rooms, the bathroom, laundry room, and kitchen.

 

 


While lots of kids are lucky enough to have a “Nana,” we have a very special one who knows just about everything about children and grandchildren. She fixes clothes and cooks heavenly food and builds houses—with her bare hands. She also gardens and invents stories and creates magical spaces in ordinary corners of the house. She knows every plant and herb and animal in the forest—and can identify any footprint. She knows all the best spots for hiking. We have never found something this Nana cannot do, and so we asked her to tell us some of her very favorite secrets.