Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Great Outdoors- Cedar Point Park

The Cedar Point Environmental Park in Englewood, FL is a great (free) place for a Sunday stroll. For that matter, it's available any day of the week - but we try to make it a point to take a little extra "family time" on Sunday's in particular.

There are 7 marked trails available on the 115 acre park open from sunrise to sunset every day of the year.  And an environmental visitors center on the premises that is open Monday - Friday from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (except for major holidays).

 Engaging in active learning while enjoying family time in the great outdoors is an effective way to inspire a lifelong love of learning in your children.

There are kiosks set up throughout the park with local flora and fauna information panels and plenty of reading materials for all ages available inside the visitors center.

One of the most exciting and unique aspects of the trails at Cedar Point is that the property is home to several families of Bald Eagles which nest there, generally through the months of October until May.

 Most of the walking trails wind their way through the oak scrub and pine hammocks that eventually lead to the grassy flats and down to the black mangrove coastline of Lemon Bay.

We watched schools of mullet jumping in the bay and it gave the boys an opportunity to use new outdoor gear - like binoculars for a clear view and cameras for recording the experience.

The park staff schedule regular guided nature walks available to the public. Ask them about field trips or group outings.  The number is (941) 475-0769

If you can get your crew to learn to explore QUIETLY- you might actually discover some of the areas wildlife. The Bay is home for dolphin, manatee, and many different species of fish. The area is known for its diverse population of birds as well. Along the trails, you may encounter gopher tortoise, owl, or even a bobcat. Our boys were thrilled to come across an armadillo who didn't even seem to know (or care) that we were visiting until we were right up next to it. They have a funny little way of jumping and running at the same time- almost looks like they are bouncing along- that was extremely entertaining for our crew.

There is a picnic pavillion and pier right on the bay, a playground, and several benches set up along the trails for observation (or resting of course). The trails are not terribly long, so it is a good place for beginner hikers or families with young children. We started our boys out on these treks even before they could walk.
 (It's MUCH easier once they do!)

The trick is to really make an adventure out of it. Our 6 year old was very excited today, and felt totally grown up using his new binoculars that he received for Christmas.

We talk about the Calusa people who lived in the area years ago & get a kick out of any discovery- large or small. Ask questions along the way to get a handle on what your kids already have stored in their little memory banks. They'll probably surprise you. The more interested you are in what they have to offer- the more inclined they will be to listen to your input. 

Try asking them what the various animals who live in the park might eat for dinner or desert! Mostly, just be sure to really BE THERE in the moment- enjoying nature- enjoying each other! 

The park staff schedule regular guided nature walks available to the public. Ask them about field trips or group outings.  The number is (941) 475-0769


Anonymous said...

How beautiful it looks. Your posts make me long to homeschool my children again. We still spend our freetime exploring, learning and growing together as a family. But school schedules make it more hectic. And I miss doing experiments, activites and projects with them. My favorite was the Jelly Belly science project.

Great blog!

Christina Williams said...

Thanks for following The Blog Entourage! I'm following you back!

Toucan Scraps said...

fabulous adveture, great photos

Yusuf Chowdury said...

Really a nice blog. I like your adventure.

Tonya said...

Thanks for the follow! I can't wait till we can get back to hiking again. I do love winter activities; however, the preparation of snowpants, mittens, boots, etc. makes it daunting some days to get outside!