The snow is melting, the soil is warming up, babbling brooks and streams are lively and full, and birds and butterflies are on the move. The days grow longer, and there's more time to play outside. Everyone needs sturdy shoes or boots, a hat, sunscreen, binoculars, and water. Okay, now you're ready to get outdoors!
Take a Day Trip
There's probably a botanical garden or nature preserve nearby that you've never been to before. Visit its website, and see what activities are scheduled for spring.
Plan to participate in one that sounds interesting, and put the date on your calendar to make sure it happens. If you take a walk in the woods, watch for baby animals, but don't get too close to a mother and her young. Admire wildflowers, but don't pick them, so others can enjoy them too. During your visit, or even over time in your backyard or neighborhood, play springtime bingo. Make a card listing some of the birds and plants your child might spot (use pictures for smaller kids), and then mark them off as you encounter them.
Closer to Home
Shake off the winter cobwebs, and have a party for your friends and their dogs; dogs are always ready to celebrate. Set up a small obstacle course — the kind you see in dog agility shows — and have each child run her dog through its paces on a leash.
Or have relay races in the driveway. (Put boxes, bikes, or garbage cans across the end of the driveway so no one drives in.) Have kids create and bestow prize ribbons in various categories, so each dog gets recognized. Categories can include cutest, best-behaved, liveliest, most laid back, most mature. Kids can think up more accolades on their own. As a parting gift, each person-and-pet team goes home with some dog biscuits in a plastic cleanup bag.
And be sure to try one of our backyard projects.