Welcome to Green Spiral Tours:

an eco- adventure school

designed to connect

families with nature,

and people with their planet,

through fun family field trips,

and adventure maps.

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Field trips spiral the calendar,

 and are one-of-a-kind,

off-the-beaten track adventures

in the Greater Saint Louis area.

Typically a $10 / family donation

is requested as a tip

for the trip leader.

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2010-09-22 Citygarden Rainbow Umbrella Arch

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Founded by nature teacher

Jessie Hoagland in 2008,

Green Spiral Tours offers a way

to supercharge your learning

about all things green in Saint Louis,

in the company of curious

and like-minded others.

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Feb 2017

marks the beginning of

Year Eight

for Green Spiral Tours,

and while families remain the central focus,

everyone is welcome

on any adventure at any time.

We have plenty of grandparents, nannies,

architects, landscapers

and yoga teachers on

any given adventure.

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To find out about the next field trip,

join the Green Spiral invitation list

by submitting the form below.

Emails come out about once per month,

or when inspiration and synchronicity

strike.

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The emails are fun and educational —

they give you the bigger picture,

while the field trips bring

big ideas

down to practice.

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Lots of people are inspired

to follow along

with their own adventures,

at their own pace,

and on their own schedule,

based on the newsletter.

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Unplug, play with your city

and get connected

to nature and each other.

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Scroll down to see where we’ve been,

and to collect ideas

about where you can go

on your own.

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2016 Best Photo

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Or!

Buy the Green Spiral Adventure Maps

on Amazon.com

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Urban Wild Covers 2017-05-02

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Because “less is more,”

keep a sharp eye out

for Green Spiral emails,

and know that your email address

will never be sold or shared.

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Let the Wild Rumpus Begin!

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2016-06-11 Trip Date
Scouting Trip # 283

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The Sustainable Backyard Tour began in 2010 in Saint Louis.  It’s a grassroots event, one of the first of it’s kind, and it just celebrated it’s 7th anniversary in 2017.  Known affectionately as the SBYT, this is a free event by locals, who throw their garden gates open to the public each year, to showcase best practices in organic vegetable growing, beekeeping, chicken farming, native habitats, water retention and clean energy.  Typically, over 40 hosts showcase their backyards and gardens every year.  Green Spiral Tours took advantage of the SBYT to visit the celebrated Urban Harvest Food Roof in downtown Saint Louis.  The Food Roof is fantastic!

2017 Food Roof Logo

Located downtown near the City Museum, and above Wave Storage, you can easily park on the street next to Wave Taco, which offers a volleyball tournament arena, several tons of white Florida sand, and a tiki bar serving tacos, beer and margaritas.  To get to the Food Roof, enter through the doors at W-ave Storage, and make your way up the stairs to roof.  When you pop up, expect to be impressed by an exceptionally well designed space and vibrant scene.

2017 Wave Taco

5 staff, 15 interns, 300 volunteers, and several master gardeners help make the Urban Harvest Food Roof what it is today.  It’s a beautiful rooftop farm, showcasing best practices while collaborating with a cluster of food partners.   The Food Roof is the brainchild of Mary Ostafi, an EarthDance Farm graduate; Mary is a trained architect, who brings high design and great intentionality to everything she touches.  The Food Roof is the first rooftop farm in Saint Louis, and is growing into a localized network of farms, gardens, educators and food distributors in north Saint Louis.

2017 Urban Food Roof

There’s a chicken coop and greenhouse on the roof, plus hydroponics, a community garden, test garden, and gathering space for events, educational functions and weddings. It’s incredible, and, it’s beautiful.

2017 Food Roof Chickens

70% of the food generated is donated to partner organizations, including the STL Metro Market (the Food Bus), the Fit & Food Connection, St. Patricks and the kids at Flance. Green Spiral has hosted field trips to both St. Patrick’s and Flance in the past.  St. Patrick’s serves under-priviledged populations, and has one of the first “kitchen incubators” in the country. Flance is a Platinum-level preschool – only the 4th such school in the world – and what happens inside the building is as impressive as the green building structure itself.  It’s exciting to watch these world class, cutting-edge sustainability programs grow, right here in Saint Louis.

2017 Food Roof GreenHouse

Now here’s the best part: if you want to visit the Food Roof, and missed the chance during the SBYT, you can drop-in any Saturday morning from 9 – 12, when the Food Roof is open to the public. OR, you can attend any number of special events, such as workshops, Happy Hours, Harvest Dinners, or yoga.  The events serve as fundraisers to help fund the many programs.  Find the time to visit this incredible and beautiful farm –  on a roof! –  in downtown Saint Louis; you’ll be glad you did.

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Here’s the link to go on your own: Urban Harvest Food Roof

Here’s the SBYT link:  Sustainable Backyard Tour

Here’s Wave Taco on Yelp:  Wave Taco – Yelp

Here’s GPS to Wave Storage: 1335 Convention Plaza; 63103

 

Trip Date: 2017-02-27
Trip #50
GPS: Address: 5025 Pattison; 63110 (at Kingshighway and I-44)
Search Words:  Chocolate Factory Tours

2017-02-01 Chocolate morsel

Surprisingly, Saint Louis has a high concentration of award winning chocolate makers; probably due to our immigrant roots. There are many chocolate destinations worth visiting in Saint Louis, but the Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate Company has the “best” chocolate tour in Saint Louis for kids, only because it’s the shortest and the sweetest, and thus the easiest for busy families to visit.  This is a 20 minute “tour” with a piece of chocolate waiting at the end.  The tour is free.  Over 50,000 people come from all over the world visit this chocolate factory every year.

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Drive to the GPS address at Pattison Avenue listed above, and wind around to the front lobby, which is right up against the highway.  Inside awaits an oasis of delights.

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Tours launch every 30 minutes from the spacious ‘Chocolate Shoppe’, and everyone is required to wear a “hairnet,” which doubles as a rather cool souvenir.  Guests get a little giddy as they gather, and then enter through the doors marked “Chocolate Heaven”.

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Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate is a third generation family business started by the Abel family in 1981, near the famous Ted Drewes ice cream stand on Route 66. They moved to the current location in 2012 in order to accommodate their expanding business. This is a Greek family who got their start with help from another Greek family, and are thus now continuing the American Dream.

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Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate uses the term “clean chocolate” to describe their products. Listen carefully when they list their ingredients:  chocolate is sourced from the Ivory Coast, vanilla comes from Madagascar, sugar from Belize.  Anything worth doing, like making chocolate, is worth doing well, and making fine chocolate is harder than it looks.

Doing Well

Take special note of the solar panels on the roof, the LED lights throughout the factory floor, and the Goodwill employees to packaging the finished chocolates.  Ask about the creation of jobs, as local jobs increase the multiplier effect of money — basically meaning that money circulates throughout the local economy instead of whooshing away and into the pockets of people who are already rich. Handcrafted local chocolate is an example of “Slow Food”;  every chocolate you buy brings you closer to a “Less but Better” world.

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Keep an eye out for Oompa Loompas on the factory floor.

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Back inside the “Chocolate Shoppe”, be sure to ask about specialties and sample any award winning chocolates. Also ask which holiday drives the most sales.  Don’t miss the “Oops Shelf” which is full of perfectly imperfect chocolates.

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The science of happiness is a relatively new field, but it’s really, really true that some things make you happy.  It’s not the weather, or your salary, or your kids that make you happy, but rather flowers, dinner with friends and adventures to new places that bring happiness. Take your friends and family on a tour of a chocolate factory, and follow Green Spiral Tours in enjoying all the goodness that Saint Louis has to offer.

Happiness

Scouting Mission: 2017-Jan-06

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The Old Courthouse, located in downtown Saint Louis, is an incredibly magnificent and historic building, and the best time for locals to visit is on January 6th, which is Epiphany, the Twelfth Day of Christmas. On this day, the Old Courthouse comes alive with music and dancing from 1768, as period actors in military uniform, and ladies in long gowns, throw a party for the public.  The event is called the “Twelfth Afternoon Ball” and it comes complete with little cakes and cookies for visitors to enjoy.  The public is also invited to join in the line dancing, which is easy to learn, and a blast. The whole thing is free.

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The party culminates with a sharing of the “King’s Cake” — little cakes that have been baked with three beans inside.  Gentlemen eat the cakes, and whoever gets a bean, gets to be King, which means the honor of throwing the party next year.  It’s a jolly festive atmosphere inside the Courthouse, but the real reason for a family adventure is to climb the stairs of the magnificent rotunda, and get some exercise in winter. Parking is easy in winter, or, ride the Metro to the 8th & Pine station and walk four brisk blocks to the Courthouse.

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Explore until you find the cast iron staircase, and climb each set of stairs — up three ascending balconies, each time hunting for the next set of hidden stairs — until you’ve reached as high as you can go. Most people who visit the Courthouse never climb the balconies, and never get to experience the ingenious design that amplifies sound without electricity.   In this case, music and laughter float up, while you climb ever higher, and peer over at smaller and smaller dancers below.  The Old Courthouse was crafted by hand, at enormous expense, and it’s impossibly beautiful and grand by today’s standards.

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The skylight at the top of the cupola is called the “eye”, and allegorical figures are painted on the walls depicting law, liberty, justice and commerce.  If you know your architectural order, the columns ascend from Doric to Ionic to Corinthian. Some of the columns are weight bearing, made of cast iron, and some of the columns are decorative, made of wood. Knock on a few to see which is which!

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Look down on the dancers below, and peek inside the old courtroom doors.

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Because it was the setting for the Dred & Harriet Scott case, which helped spark the Civil War, the Old Courthouse stands as a touchstone for the ongoing struggle for Civil Rights. Be sure to visit the Dred Scott exhibit, and look for the underground railroad map.  The Old Courthouse is a local treasure, as well as a National Park, so buy or bring your National Park Passport, and get it stamped. Look for the sculpture of Harriet and Dred Scott just outside the East Doors, which face the river.

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Be sure to visit the gift store, which specializes in books on Lewis and Clark, as well as  children’s books on African American history.  From the East Steps, you can see the Arch and stand on the spot where slaves were sold. The Eads Bridge, which inspired the Arch, was also sold on this spot, as well as the St. Louis Dispatch — to Hungarian immigrant Joseph Pulitzer.  This is a good spot for a family photo.

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Because of the Twelfth Afternoon Ball, not to mention easy parking, Epiphany is the perfect time for local citizens to visit the Old Courthouse, to get some exercise and some cultural appreciation at the same time. The event is free and suitable for all; toddlers will get a lot of exercise, and surprisingly, even teenagers will like it. On your way out, hunt for the turtle motif on the fence, an homage to a quirky custodian who once kept a turtle in the fountain.

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Every child from Saint Louis should visit the Old Courthouse at least once, to touch a monument to the dream of equality, and to reinforce the shared value of governance by the rule of law. Go anytime your schedule allows, but if you go on Epiphany, the adventure is twelve times the fun.

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Trip #46
Trip Date: 2016-09-17 Saturday 3:30
Attendees: 7 adults + 8 kids
Message: Be Kind to Animals
Wildlife Rescue Center

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A trip to the Wildlife Rescue Center, located near Castlewood Park, is fantastic, and Green Spiral Tours ventured forth on a Saturday afternoon in September.  The best time to visit the Wildlife Rescue Center is in June, when lots of “May Babies” are in residence.

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The Wildlife Rescue Center cares for over 2,500 injured, sick or orphaned animals per year, and releases them with permission on private property.

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Green Spiral has hosted a lot of scouting missions and field trips over the past seven years, and we don’t think we’ve ever seen a better nature program for kids.  Director Casey Philips, who led the tour, is especially skillful with kids.  We had warm-up exercises in the conference room, followed by a tour of the facility, some veterinary practice on stuffed animals, and a quick hike around the lake.

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The WildLife Rescue Center is volunteer run, and volunteer funded; the place is surprisingly big, and it’s all very clean and orderly.  There’s an x-ray machine and a small operating room for treating fractures and emergencies.

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If turtles get run over by cars, or whacked by a lawn mower; the Wildlife Rescue Center zip-ties their shells back together and nurtures them back to health.

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If squirrels get orphaned or injured, they are put into hammocks, and hand-fed by volunteers.

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We got to see a baby opossum who tried to scare us away with his tiny sharp teeth, and we also got to see a baby fox.

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We took a nature walk around the small lake, (actually a bog), full of mallards, frogs, fish and duckweed.

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There’s always a lot of magic, and some bit of mischief on each Green Spiral field trip. The magic was seeing the animals. The mischief showed up in the form of poison ivy, which we narrowly averted when we popped down to explore the creek.

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Poison ivy is tricky, because it can look like a bush or a vine.  Look for jagged edges,  leaves of three (leave it be), and especially, look for an extra long stem on that middle leaf.

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We took about 15 people, which was the perfect sized group, although the facility can handle up to 30 people.  The fee is about $50 fee for 10 participants; each additional participant is $5 per person. Because this is an animal hospital, folks need to be calm, and the age range is limited to Kindergarten and up. To get maximum benefit, definitely organize this as a small group tour; if you have a scout group or classroom, divide the group in half.

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What you can do:

Visit the Wildlife Rescue Center with kids; you will be delighted and learn all sorts of things. Here’s the link to begin organizing a tour: Wildlife Rescue Center

Keep cats indoors. Cats kill and injure a great number of wild animals, notably songbirds.

Sign petitions to protect habitat and clean water.

Give generously to the Wildlife Rescue Center, as they are completely volunteer run, and they are doing such great work: http://www.iGive.com/WildlifeRescueCenter/?p=19992&jltest=1 #iGiveDoYou

Urban Wild Adventures – Trip Date: May 31 & June 2 2016

To know your city is to love your city, and Green Spiral has long known Saint Louis to be home to some of the most amazing parks and playgrounds in the country. As the world becomes a more hectic place, nature places and quiet oasis will play an increasing role in the identity of this Great City.

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We have many treasured parks in Saint Louis, but the crown jewel of parks is certainly Forest Park, recently named the #1 Best City Park in America: https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/the-15-best-city-parks-in-america.

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World class destinations like the Zoo, Art Museum, History Museum and Muny are easy to find in Forest Park, but for those of you looking to get off the beaten track, here’s a short loop we’re calling the “Crawdaddy Walk”.  It’s a two hour excursion at a very leisurely pace, suitable for all ages, including the stroller set.

2016-06 Forest Park Map

Park and meet your playgroup at the Inclusion Playground next to the Visitor Center, and be sure to pack your own water, unless you like paying $2 for bottled water.  Know that the playground is the first inclusion playground built in the city and there is a secret pollinator’s garden nearby.

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Call up Jean Turney, education coordinator at Forest Park Forever, and have her meet you at the blueberries growing right next to the building. Jean’s job is to help folks learn how to use the park for fun and educational purposes, and she organizes Teacher Academies in the Summer.  561-3287

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Begin your walk between the parking lot and the tennis courts and head for the Mary Orr MacCarthy Bridge, or the “Love Lock Bridge”. On your way, you can have kids pick clover; tie them together to make some clover crowns!  Know that there is a famous bridge in Paris, the Pont des Arts, which has grill-work laden with locks.  Lovers carve their initials into padlocks, affix the locks to the bridge, and throw the key into the river, thereby sealing their love forever.  Looks like we now have a “Love Lock Bridge” in Forest Park, so if you’re a lover, go ahead and affix your lock, it’s the “good kind of trouble” to get into.

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Continue walking along between the creek  and the Boathouse, an area we call “Cottonwood Corridor”.  If you travel through in June, the cotton puffs will be floating through the air like snow; see if kids can catch some cottonpuffs.

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Stop and sample the service berries growing on bushes to your right.  Service berries are important bird food, and edible for humans too.  The service berries ripen in early summer, and get their name from the “olden days” when the ground was too frozen to bury the dead.  When the service berries came ripe in late May, the ground was warm enough to excavate a deep hole, and a service could finally be performed. Thus the name” service-berry.  Thank you Bellefontaine Cemetery for the story!

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Continue following the path until you find the water-play area on your right.  This is a great area to play in the water.  Our creeks and waterways are in bad shape, and questionable for young children for a multiplicity of reasons including sewage and radioactive contamination. But because the River des Peres was long ago used as an open sewer and buried under the park in advance of the World’s Fair in 1904, the surface water in Forest Park today is pretty close to tap water, and the cleanest natural water-play area we can find for kids.  It’s kind of sad that we’ve contaminated so many waterways as a society; therefore, it’s important to educate yourself and thus join the fight to clean up and protect our waterways, if nothing but our own enjoyment. Technically, there is “no swimming” in Forest Park, but Green Spiral happens to know that the park rangers will turn a blind eye towards kids frolicking in the water.  If you do get in trouble, put big tears in your eyes, and say “…but I want my kids to touch a creek at least one time in their lives before they grow up,” and put on your best and most sad pouting face…  Back to the self-guided tour:

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“Crawdaddy Cove” is a great place to fish for crayfish.  Bring a paperclip on a string, and fix some cheese to the open “hook” of the paperclip.  Drop the paperclip in the water, and when a crawfish clamps on to it, hoist the little feller out of the water. We forgot our paper clips, but did find a dead crayfish. By the way, Missouri is a hot-spot for crayfish biodiversity, due to our plethora of magnificent spring-fed rivers.

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“Crawdaddy Cove” is a great area for a family picnic, and you can almost always find frogs, turtles, minnows, green herons and egrets. This is the best place for spying wildlife with kids that we’ve found in Forest Park so far. Remember to bring your hand sanitizer and sun protection. This is a wonderful destination for a picnic dinner in the evening, thus avoiding the “witching hour” at home. On the official map, this place is really called the “Post Dispatch Lake Riffles”, but we think “Crawdaddy Cove” is more romantic.

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When you are ready to depart, walk towards the main road, and over the “Bridge of Swallows”, which has lots of swallow nesting under it.  Continue walking past the Dwight Davis Tennis Center, and ultimately back to your car.  This is about a two hour adventure, conducted at a leisurely pace. Many thanks to talented nature guide Angela Wildermuth for scouting and leading this adventure with her Spring series of adventures called “Urban Wild Adventures”, which takes families on nature hunts at parks and playgrounds all over the Saint Louis area.

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Now here’s your homework:

  1. Count how many creatures you can find on your walk and have the kids make a note in a journal you keep in the car.
  2. See if you can name any plants, or make a crown made of clover.  Simply tie them together as you would make a “daisy chain.”
  3. Come back to the Visitor Center someday and ask for the free ipod walking tour that teaches you about the history of Forest Park, and walks you past the Art Museum and Picnic Island. It’s very well done; many thanks to the Trio Foundation.
  4. Comment below with your observations and improvements on the map and adventure for the benefit of others.
  5. Love your City. Get out and get to know it. To know it, is to love it.

TripDate: Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Use this Green Spiral Map

along with the blogpost from

“Becoming a Wild Family”

to explore Shaw Park

in Clayton.

2016 Shaw Park Map

This is part of the

Spring Series of

“Urban Wild Adventures”

featuring fabulous nature guide

Angela Wildermuth

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Becoming a Wild Family

We went on our weekly park tour today!

Kentucky has their horse derby 🏇and we have the leaf race 🍃…

… Read on to find out who won…. 😉

We began the tour of Shaw Park at the playground. It’s quite a fun park that tries to draw upon the aesthetics of nature!

Angela always engages the kids right away by telling them what the park has in store for them!  She quickly drew the kids’ attention to the Sensory Garden.


She passed around samples of the plants that could be found in the sensory garden and had everyone touch and smell the leaves and flowers.

She also had a scavenger hunt list for the kids to check off.

Simone was in charge of our family’s findings.

She took the hunt very seriously…

The boys listened and hunted but in a much less organized way.

Some of…

View original post 488 more words

Follow Green Spiral Tours nature guide Angela Wildermuth and this beautiful Wild Family into the parks and playgrounds of Saint Louis…

Becoming a Wild Family

Angela led us on another fantastic park tour today… And the kids were so engaged and excited to hear all that she had to teach!

She began by leading a child-led discussion about spring and any interesting things found so far in the wild. She then passed out some hand drawn maps and gave the kids a sort of preview of what to look for! This really got the kids excited!

Then we were off to the creek!

This rock is limestonewith lots of potholes – made from a rock, trapped in a crack, and swirled around and around and around by moving water.

After that- we were on the look out for a sideways sycamore tree.

Next on the map to find:

ring-around-the gigantic Burr Oak Tree

Back to the creek bed… To find Quartz!

Task:

  • knock two rocks together and sniff
  • If it smells like smoke, it’s…

View original post 220 more words