Get Back to Nature: Gold Bar Park Stream

While Gold Bar Park is an amazing place to explore (largest urban park in Canada!), our favorite spot within it is a shallow stream that empties out into the North Saskatchewan River.

 

We first discovered this fun spot while visiting Rundle Park and seen people along the shore of the river on the other side.  We crossed the pedestrian bridge to Gold Bar Park and followed a narrow path through the trees that came out at the stream.

Get Back to Nature: Gold Bar Park Stream

The girls had fun wading in the water, picking up cool rocks and watching the minnows swim by.

Get Back to Nature: Gold Bar Park Stream

On our second trip back there was a summer recreation group exploring the river shoreline, so we went a bit further back along the stream.  We found a narrow bridge and more trails to explore on our next visit!

Get Back to Nature: Gold Bar Park Stream

There is plenty of parking in Gold Bar Park and also a small parking lot close to the pedestrian bridge on the Rundle Park side.  For detailed trail information, check out the City of Edmonton River Valley Trail Map.  

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Worldschooling From Home

We are homeschoolers, we learn at home instead of in a brick and mortar school. I would also classify us as unschoolers, our lifestyle facilitates child led learning and exploration. Those two terms are becoming more mainstream, but there’s a new group of learners taking the world by storm (quite literally!).

Worldschoolers are people that learn from the world around them, and this can be accomplished in many different way.  Some families prefer slow travel and spend many months or years in their new home away from home, some do short trips abroad and return to a home base, or some spend a short amount of time in a new area and then move on to the next.  Some families have sold their house and belongings and packed up their clothes to hit the road, while other families like ours are still planning out their future world travels but use every opportunity locally to learn more about the world around us.

Worldschooling From Home

The Cambodian Coconut Dance at the Heritage Festival

I love road trips and can’t wait to travel internationally with my family, exploring ancient ruins, famous landmarks and museums, and fully immersing ourselves in local culture. But the reality is we’re still tied to jobs in our home city and until we can break away from that, our travel is limited to weekends away and week or two week long vacations.

Thankfully we live in a city that is a cultural melting pot and where festivals are plentiful (Edmonton isn’t nicknamed the Festival City for nothing!). From the Flying-Canoe Volant (celebrating French Canadian, First Nations and Metis traditions) during the dark winter nights, to the many summer festivals including Taste of Edmonton (a showcase of local cuisine as well as international food), Heritage Festival (a long weekend highlighting over 60 countries along with fabulous ethnic food, dance, and traditional clothing) or Cariwest (celebrating Caribbean culture), there are plenty of opportunities locally to learn about the world’s people and cultures.

Worldschooling From Home

Indigenous Camp at the Flying-Canoe Volant celebration

Worldschooling From Home

Posing at the Iranian kiosk at the Heritage Festival

Aside from the many wonderful festivals, there are other opportunities to learn about the diversity of our city and people.  We have taken in the Chinese New Year celebrations and lion dances offered in Chinatown and throughout the city. Last year we also had the opportunity as homeschoolers to tour various places of worship including a Islamic Mosque, Buddhist Temple and Sikh Temple. All were very welcoming and gave us a free guided tour. Also, local attractions like the John Walter Museum and Fort Edmonton Park offer us a glimpse of the past and what life was like for early settlers in the area, many of whom immigrated from Europe.

Worldschooling From Home

Lion dance celebrations in Chinatown for Chinese New Year

Worldschooling From Home

Nanaksar Gurudwara Sikh Temple

One day we will hit the road and not look back, but till them we will squeeze every bit of culture and world learning out of our local city.  We crave the knowledge and are awed by the beauty of the world and the smiling faces that want to share it with us. 

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Delicious Campfire Salmon

When we head out camping for a few days, I usually stick to easy to prepare meals and snacks – sandwiches, fruit and veggies, etc. But I like to do up one nice tasty meal and while we were on our first camping trip to Ross Lake, I made some seriously delicious campfire salmon.  

It only took a few ingredients and about 10 minutes, and since we went without a bbq or portable stove, I cooked it right on the grate of the campfire.  My cast iron frying pan (and silicone oven mit for safe, easy removal) were perfect for cooking up this tasty dish.

I melted butter in the bottom of the pan and added my salmon fillet, sprinkled with seasoning I brought from home (salt, pepper, garlic salt and parsley portioned into a small bag) and covered with tin foil to keep any ashes out and to help steam the fish.  Cooking time will depend on how roaring your fire is, but mine was done in about 10 minutes.  

Delicious Campfire Salmon

It was so delicious!  Even the girls ate some and loved it (although I was quite happy to finish their leftovers!).   This is now one of my favorite meals for camping, and veggies or a salad on the side make a great addition! 

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Get Back to Nature: Whitney Lakes Provincial Park

A few weeks ago the girls and I headed out on our first camping trip of the season.  I wanted to go to an area I hadn’t been before, but also one with a place for the girls to splash in the water and try out their new floaties. After some research and a few change of plans, I settled on Ross Lake Campground within Whitney Lakes Provincial Park.  

Located 2.5 hrs east of Edmonton (or over 4 hrs when severe rain, hail and thunder storms cause you to pull over several times) in the County of St. Paul, this remote campground offers stunning lake views, private, treed campsites and soft, sandy beaches with a roped off area for swimming.  

Get Back to Nature: Whitney Lakes Provincial Park

A rainy start but they enjoyed the first campfire and wooded area behind the site for exploring

When we arrived at the campground around suppertime it was still raining with thunder and lightning, so we waited it out by watching a movie.  It soon cleared and we were able to set up, have supper and check out the playground and beach area which were next door to our site, 57. There were only pit toilets close by to us, but there were flush toilets and pay showers at a building a loop away. 

Get Back to Nature: Whitney Lakes Provincial Park

Beach front playground at Ross Lake

Get Back to Nature: Whitney Lakes Provincial Park

Soft, sandy beach at Ross Lake

The second day was sunny and we headed to the playground in the morning and hit the water in the afternoon.  The beach had the softest sand I have encounter yet in Alberta and the water was shallow and fairly clear for them to splash around in. There were quite a few canoers and kayakers on the lakes during our stay as well. In the evening we took a short drive over to Whitney Lakes Campground and checked out another sandy beach and lakefront playground.  

Get Back to Nature: Whitney Lakes Provincial Park

Beach at Ross Lake Campground

Get Back to Nature: Whitney Lakes Provincial Park

Beachfront playground at Whitney Lakes Campground

Get Back to Nature: Whitney Lakes Provincial Park

Beachfront playground at Whitney Lakes Campground

There were plenty of trails in the area, with one running right behind our campsite. After supper we went for a walk and collected the ripe, juicy Saskatoon berries that were in abundance along the roads and trails. They made for a great before bed snack. The girls filled their day in with exploring the forest behind our site, coloring and our recently made slime made a surprise appearance while I was preparing supper (mmmm delicious salmon!). If our stay wasn’t shortened due to rain, we would of picked up a discovery pack available at the front booth for further nature exploration.

Get Back to Nature: Whitney Lakes Provincial Park

Freshly picked Saskatoon berries

Get Back to Nature: Whitney Lakes Provincial Park

Slime!

Get Back to Nature: Whitney Lakes Provincial Park

Free Discovery Packs to sign out at the registration booth

The second morning we woke up to rain so they girls had breakfast in the car while I packed up the site.  We gassed up in Elk Point and checked out the giant surveyor on the north side of town. The girls were also excited to check out the giant sausage in Mundare so that was a must see on the way home.  

Get Back to Nature: Whitney Lakes Provincial Park

Statue of Peter Fidler, a Hudson Bay fur trader and surveyor, in Elk Point

Get Back to Nature: Whitney Lakes Provincial Park

Giant sausage in Mundare, a tribute to Stawnichy’s Meat Processing

Whitney Lakes Provincial Park also offers day use areas at Laurier, Ross and Whitney Lakes, so if you’re up for a road trip, pack a cooler and head to the beach and trails! What new campgrounds have you explored this year?

 

 

 

 

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DIY Slime! A Kid Favorite on a Rainy Day

My girls are kinesthetic learners and especially love squishing things through their fingers!  Kaiana came across this video a few weeks ago and came running to me, excited to show me a cool science experiment she wanted to try.  I though it looked neat and told her I would get the ingredients to make slime!  

DIY Slime! A Kid Favorite on a Rainy Day

There’s been a few rainy days this week and this afternoon was the perfect time to try to make some slime.  I set them each up with a bowl and gathered everything together.  It took less than 10 minutes to make the slime but they played with it for almost an hour, till we had to clean up for supper! The above video is great if you’re into toy videos (like a certain 4 yr old I know) but it doesn’t give detailed measurements so here is what worked for us.  

  • White glue – For each child I used one 7.6 oz bottle, you could also use two 4oz bottles.
  • Food color (optional)
  • Water
  • Borax (can be found in most large grocery stores in the laundry isle)

Pour the glue for each child into a bowl, add food color, stir to blend.  Add approximately 1 tablespoon of borax to half a cup of water, stir until dissolved. Slowly add the water mixture to the glue, only adding a little to start and then stir.  You may only need a tablespoon or two of water.  Stir quickly and the glue with start to thicken up and the stickiness will subside. Kneed on table until a ball forms.   

DIY Slime! A Kid Favorite on a Rainy Day

They had so much fun squishing, stretching, swinging, and covering things in slime! We saved it in an air tight container for more fun squishy play! 

 

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G. Edmund Kelly Park: A Hidden Gem in YEG

With hot summer nights here already, we love to head out after supper for a quick cool down before bed.  But with the larger spray parks jammed packed with excited kids, we sometimes want a quieter experience. 

Then we came across this hidden gem in the Kilkenny neighbourhood, G. Edmund Kelly Park. This park includes a playground and spray park and is located at 150 Ave and 79 Street, Edmonton (easy access off 149A Ave and 82 Street). This spot offers a perfect evening escape with a moderate amount of people. 

G. Edmund Kelly Park: A Hidden Gem in YEG

I love the fact that the playground and spray park are in the same park, but far enough away that the kids won’t roll in sand after they are wet. We went to the playground, set a timer, then headed to the spray park when time was up! Another great thing about this park is the amount of shade it receives in the evening.  Most of the grassy area on the west side of the spray park was shaded and cool and some of the deck was shaded as well. If you didn’t bring a blanket for the grass, there are tables and benches around the deck. 

G. Edmund Kelly Park: A Hidden Gem in YEG

The only downside is there are no bathrooms there, but if you’re just running out for a short visit after supper, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue if everyone goes before you leave home. 

Currently, the water features are on Monday – Friday 3-9pm, weekends 9am-9pm, but since it shares green space with a school, these times will probably increase once school is out. 

Update June 21: There is currently a porta potty on site for the summer! 

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Get Back to Nature: Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park

Named after a former politician and Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, the Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park is a nature escape NW of Edmonton / west edge of St. Albert. Take the short dirt road across from LeClair Way into the parking lot and make use of the outhouse if necessary before heading out on the trail.

Get Back to Nature: Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park

With a boardwalk over wetlands and a scenic trail along the water, there are lots of opportunity for birds and wildlife viewing.  Ducks and geese are abundant, you can see a beaver damn on the edge of the lake, and on our first visit to the park we spotted a moose and two calves across the water. There is a viewing area out over the water and binoculars to take a closer look at the shoreline and Big Lake. 

Get Back to Nature: Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park

On our first visit, a chilly spring day, we made it to the viewing area before turning around. On our second visit we went a bit further past the viewing area and had a picnic with friends beside a bench.  

Lois 3Get Back to Nature: Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park

On our next visit I hope to get a bit further and connect into Riel Recreation Park and visit the playground.  

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Parades – YEG & Area 2016

It’s Festival time in and around Edmonton and with festivals comes parades! Here’s a list of parades that your kids will enjoy this summer.  Click on the links for more information including start times and routes.

June 4 – Farmers’ Days, Stony Plain

June 4 – Pride Parade, Edmonton

June 11 – Devon Days, Devon

June 25 – St. Jean Baptiste Festival, Morinville

July 1 – Canada Day, Fort Saskatchewan

July 1 – Canada Day, Sherwood Park

July 22 – K Days, Edmonton

August 6 – Cariwest, Edmonton

Be sure to bring a bag to collect some candy! 

Feature Photo credit Kurt Bauschardt
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A Day in the Life: Learning Through Unschooling

If you follow my blog, you already know we homeschool.  But you might of wondered why I never talk about curriculum or share pictures of us doing workbooks. The answer is, we don’t follow curriculum and workbooks are few and far between!

We are registered as traditional (parent led homeschooling), but we would fall more into the relaxed homeschooler / unschooler (child led) category.  I even came across recently a new to me learning style that we unknowingly incorporate into our homeschool due to our love of the outdoors and nature hikes – forest school.

A Day in the Life: Learning Through Unschooling

A day of exploring in Mill Creek Ravine.

So if we’re not sitting down at a desk or table each day to learn, then how and what do we cover? Here’s a run through of a day in the life of the Pitter Patter and Constant Chatter family as well as a sampling of our unschooling lifestyle.

7-8am – My 4 yr old and I wake up. Sometimes she wakes up first, depending if I had a late night of crime show reruns, or sometimes I can sneak past her door or slide out of bed past her first (her arriving in out bed in the middle of the night is a 50% guess).

8am-10am – I work from home and the company I work for opens at 8am so I’ll check email and do work while my youngest cuddles beside me watching cartoons with a snack or two. She will usually wander off to play in the basement playroom or her room, or bring a play set to the living room and play on the floor in front of me.

10am – Big sis is a night owl so she’s usually up around 10am, then they have breakfast together.

10am-2pm – This is our free play / playground / nature walk / crafts / field trip / registered class time. If we’re home for the day (usually only 1 or two days each week), the girls will go off for pretend plan till lunch and then we’ll do a craft, science experiment, or some extra reading.  

A Day in the Life: Learning Through Unschooling

They had fun feeding the cows during a recent visit to a farm.

A Day in the Life: Learning Through Unschooling

Painting, patterns and shapes.

2pm-4pm – Quiet time.  I can usually get a bit of time to myself in the afternoon to tidy up, catch up on work emails, blog, or lazily browse Facebook for 10 min (ok, maybe longer). They head to their rooms with snacks and tablets, or play with their toys, and we all get the quiet time we need to help supper and bedtime go smoothly. 

4pm – 6pm – Husband comes home and supper. The youngest can’t go too long without her big sis so she usually searches her out late afternoon and they play for a bit.  Or they will both end up downstairs and want to do something at the table while supper is prepared.  

A Day in the Life: Learning Through Unschooling

Math cubes and learning about 1’s, 10’s and 100’s. The younger one found them in a cupboard and pulled them out to play.

6pm – 7:30pm – Free play or evening walk / playground trip.  If we didn’t get out earlier in the day, we might go out after supper for some fresh air. If we’re at home, the girls will go off and play together or go their separate ways till it’s bed prep time. 

A Day in the Life: Learning Through Unschooling

Fresh air before bedtime.

7:30-10pm – Bedtime routine and sleep preparation – cleaned up, teeth brushed, books read. Youngest goes to bed in the 8-8:30 range and requires me to lay with her till she’s asleep.  Many nights I wish I could be doing something else, tidying up, catching up on work, etc. but I know she needs the closeness at bedtime and she falls asleep quicker if I’m there than if I try and get out of it, so she wins that battle!

Oldest has lights out between 10pm and 11pm. She has quiet time in her room from the start of putting little sis to bed, or she heads out to the playground that’s in eyesight of our front door. In the summertime, the sun doesn’t set till after 10pm so the neighbourhood kids are always out late playing.

Since the oldest isn’t a morning person, nighttime is also the time of day she is most inquisitive. I’m not sure if it’s a stall tactic for bedtime or not, but if she’s asking me questions and wants to learn, I can take some time out to Google and YouTube a few answers, no matter what time of day it is. 

When we first started, my intention was to do more book work, but I quickly realized that wouldn’t work for any of us. Letting the children take the lead has been an adventure! There is so much they want to know and they enjoy participating in fun, hands on learning opportunities that pop up through our homeschool board or the local homeschool community at large! 

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DIY East Coast Donairs

I love donairs!  When I go back to Nova Scotia, all I want to eat is Pictou County Pizza, Halifax Donairs and some seafood thrown in! There are some great donair shops in Edmonton these days, but it’s always more cost effective to make it at home.  I came across this recipe a while back and made it a few times, but it didn’t make enough for our donair loving family and there wasn’t enough flavor in my opinion. So with the kids visiting their grandparents and a large package of ground meat in my fridge, I though it was a good time to tweak the recipe and make some donairs! 

DIY East Coast Donairs

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less depending on your spice level, this left a good kick after each bite but not too overpowering)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp of flour or fine breadcrumbs
  • 2 lbs ground beef (I used a beef / pork blend, very flavorful). Tip – if you get your meat from a butcher, have them ground it again. I’ve also heard of using ground round if you’re vegetarian.
  • 1-2 diced  medium onions
  • 1-2 diced large tomatoes
  • pitas, the fresher the better
  • donair sauce – We buy Mr. Donair sauce from Sobeys but there is also an easy recipe in the original link. Yes, condensed milk, sugar, garlic and vinegar really go good together!)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  In a small dish, add all the dry ingredients and blend. Add ground meat to a large bowl (metal or glass works best to help with the smooth finish) and sprinkle seasoning mix over meat, kneading it in well.  Form a large ball with the seasoned meat and continue to knead and toss the meat hard into the bowl (At least 20 times).  This helps to make it a tighter ball and easier to slice thinly. Form a loaf and set on roasting pan or deep sided pan. Cook for 1 hr 45 min, turning it over halfway for even cooking. Let cool for easier slicing, refrigerate overnight if possible (I couldn’t wait that long, just over an hr in the fridge).

DIY East Coast Donairs

DIY East Coast Donairs

I saved some grease from the pan I cooked the loaf in and used it in the frying pan when reheating the meat. While reheating the meat, I sat the pita topped with cheese on top to warm up. After removing the pita I added meat, more cheese, diced onions and tomatoes and drizzled with donair sauce.  Tuck in one side of the pita, roll up and enjoy! 

DIY East Coast Donairs

DIY East Coast Donairs

This recipe would easily make 4-6 large donairs, or do like we did and make donair pizzas with the leftover meat and pitas. 

DIY East Coast Donairs

So delicious and filling for half the cost! 

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