Few places allow children to be as fully immersed in nearby nature as a cold stream on a hot summer day!
There’s so much to do and to explore in and around the water, and there’s no need to bring anything extra along, except maybe a towel and a second set of clothes.
Think back to your own childhood. What memories do you have of summertime stream play? Perhaps you recall the full-body satisfaction of the physical challenges and risks, like hopping from rock to rock or walking over fallen trees to cross the creek. Or trying to stay upright walking barefoot through fast flowing water on slippery rocks. Even braving the cold temperatures to dip in was a feat!
Or did you prefer games of skill, like throwing stones at floating sticks or building stacks of stones that reached way above your head.
How wonderful to create these kinds of summertime memories for the children in your life today! Of course, streams are always changing, and sometimes in a very short timeframe, so be cautious and model for your kids how to be aware and stay safe.
Streamside is a perfect place for kids to create their own games with whatever loose parts they find nearby. A.A.Milne’s Pooh Bear did just this when Pooh “invented” the game of Poohsticks after accidentally dropping a pine cone on the upstream side of a bridge and then noticing it appear on the other side (The House at Pooh Corner, 1928).
There’s plenty of science to learn from a stream, too, of course! And children’s questions can help shape all sorts of adventures.
Where does your stream come from and where does it go; how far can you follow your stream’s journey to the sea?
What floats and what sinks?
Why does the water flow fast in some sections and slows way down, even reversing, in others?
Does the sound of the stream change as it runs over different rocks and at different speeds?
What critters live in the stream and how do they live and breathe and find food under water?
What animal tracks can you find in the soft mud along the streambank?
Here in the dog days of summer, take a lesson from your younger self and share the joy of discovery with the children in your life. Peer into the shallows, turn over some rocks, and see what you can find, together!