Corn mazes are the stuff of nightmares for me. Put one directionally-challenged person in a place that is DESIGNED to get you lost and, well, let's just say it's likely I'd never been seen or heard from again. Luckily the Riverbreeze Corn Maze in Truro has lots of other activities for people who are too scared to try a corn maze...
Our backyard isn't your typical suburban backyard. It isn't very big and it's more bumpy than flat, so it doesn't lend itself to a typical playground set (and y'all know how much we love playgrounds!). However we are completely surrounded by trees and so we've been working on a plan to harness the landscaping and use it to our advantage, and build a natural playground. This is a playground that is built of mainly natural materials and uses the landscaping as-is, rather than trying to bend the landscaping to suit your needs.
We were recently in the Annapolis Valley staying at a family cottage and decided to pop in to the natural playground in Bridgetown for a little research. At first our kids drew up short and didn't really get it. After all, it looked nothing like the playgrounds they were used to. But then they got curious...
This cool rock climbing wall led to a plastic slide that was built into the grassy knoll. Miss M conquered the wall in no time.
Mr M gave it the old college try and got up with some spotting, but his legs are still a bit too short to reach the steps on his own (I Wish I Was A Little Bit Taller is his anthem).
The most exciting part for me was after we ate lunch Miss M saw some kids her age climbing the tree nearby and said she'd like to try. We don't see kids climbing trees in the city and she'd never even considered it as a possibility before I'm sure. It reminded me of what someone whom I interviewed for an article I did on risky play said:
Maura Donovan is a Dartmouth parent who is passionate about allowing children room to explore independently. She says her benchmark of a society’s comfort level of risk in play is how many children she sees climbing trees.
“I think if you’ve got four or five kids in front of you and none of them are that interested in climbing trees, that says something,” she explains. “School-age kids really like to climb trees, if they’ve been exposed to that as a possibility.”
Miss M saw that many of them were barefoot so she asked to go that way too so we obliged and she took right to it. She didn't get very high but stepped and manoeuvred and explored to her heart's content.
Our little man wanted to give it a go too and gamely climbed the gnarled and twisted tree (with a little support from Dad).
We definitely left feeling inspired to start work on our yard and need to narrow down all of our ideas to make a good plan, but I'm hoping the kids will have loads of fun exploring the "wilderness" in their own backyard for years to come. Big, flat, green, grassy lawns? Bah, who needs 'em!
Last year we "discovered" the Trecothic Creek and Windsor Railway and fell in love. My husband loved model trains as a kid, as did my own Dad, and both of the kids are way into Thomas the Tank Engine right now so we clearly have a train crazy house. We've made it an annual tradition to pack up our adventure kit and take the trip down and did this year's visit on Father's Day.
If you haven't been, let me explain. In Windsor, Nova Scotia (about 45 minutes from HRM) there is a model train society. They are all volunteers and have tracks built in to this green space a few minutes from the Windsor Exhibition Park, and large ride-on model trains. Admission is by donation only (though I recommend you donate generously to keep them in operation!).
There are diesels and steamies and it is oh-so-awesome. They even have a water tower with coal that the steam engine will stop at periodically and fill up (I'm sure I phrased that all wrong, I should have my kids proof-read my train jargon).
When your child sees the Conductor chugging along, blowing his whistle on the engine, it's pure magic. The best part? You can all hop on with him and go for a ride around the property.
They are only open certain days of the year and may close due to rain so make sure to check out their schedule and the forecast in advance. They also have picnic tables and a port-a-potty if you decide to stay for lunch. I've heard that they offer their space for outside birthday parties too so if you have a train fanatic this could be exactly what you need!
**UPDATED WITH 2018 DATES** (call or check the website to confirm before you go in case they change) - open at 10, closing at 4 (last train running at 3:30)
June 3 & 17
July 8 & 22
August 4, 5, 19
September 2, 16, 30
Have you ever been to this sweet spot? I'd love to hear your experiences and see your pictures!