Category: Family Adventures

Why Your Family Needs an Adventure Backpack

Why Your Family Needs an Adventure Backpack

Many, many years ago, there was a movie called One Fine Day featuring Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney as two single parents working together to juggle their kids and their jobs. One of the recurring jokes in the movie is that ultra-controlling mom Pfeiffer always has what she needs in her bag, from juice boxes to costumes for the kids. Clooney, more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants dad, even asks at one point, “Where I can get a bag like that?”

I’m not sure why that random movie fact has stuck with me for more than 20 years, but I had a similar moment last week when we met up with some friends at a fairground. One of my girls needed to use the bathroom immediately, so we walked to the Porta Potties right around the corner. As she came out of her little hut, I was waiting with wipes and some hand sanitizer, which made my friend crack a joke about being a Boy Scout. I joked right back, “I’m not a Boy Scout, I’m a mom.”

Our family tradition of carrying a backpack came right after the diaper bag years. Typically, our “adventure backpack” stays in the trunk of our family car, filled with all the supplies we tend to need most.

Whether your family adventures include travel or exploring the outdoors, an adventure backpack can make life with kids easier!

Young girl on dad's shoulders with text: 16 Must-Haves for Family Adventures

What is an adventure backpack?

Our backpack is a simple, two-shoulder bag that holds all the things our kids tend to need when we are hiking, geocaching, touring the zoo, or visiting an apple orchard. We keep it light enough that any one of us can carry it if needed–but not so light that we end up sunburned or covered in bug bites because the sunscreen and/or bug spray is in the other car.

What should we put in our adventure backpack?

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you. You can see our full disclosure policy here.)

The type of backpack your family chooses depends on the types of activities you’ll need it for. Rarely do we hike more than a couple of hours and we typically drive right to our campsites, so we don’t need an actual hiking backpack. A regular school pack works just fine for our adventures, so long as it has lots of pockets for our supplies:

  • hats for everyone
  • sunscreen
  • umbrella
  • insect repellent
  • bandaids
  • wipes
  • hand sanitizer
  • tissues
  • pain reliever
  • flashlight
  • compass
  • whistle
  • water bottles
  • snacks (optional)
  • zipper bags for trash or nature collections
  • notepad and pencil

Where should we take our adventure backpack?

  • Our family loves to go traveling–you can follow our adventures over on Instagram.
  • You can also read our guest post all about family adventures over on BethanyIshee.com {coming soon}.
  • Get lots of destination ideas here on our Family Adventures Pinterest board!

If your family is looking to have more adventures full of hands-on learning and fun memories, keeping a family adventure backpack in the car will be a lifesaver!

What do you keep in your adventure backpack?


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What is a family adventure backpack and WHY do we need one?

8 Simple Fall Family Traditions + Gratitude Journal

8 Simple Fall Family Traditions + Gratitude Journal

Growing up in Texas, cooler weather and changing leaves usually arrived at the same time as Christmas. Now that we have moved to the Midwest, our girls get to experience a TRUE fall: harvest, apple-picking, pumpkin patches, and jumping in HUGE piles of leaves in the yard. We also have been able to start new fall family traditions! 

Image of fall foliage with text: 8 Simple Fall Family Traditions

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you. You can see our full disclosure policy here.)

8 Simple Fall Family Traditions:

  • Visit a pumpkin patch or apple orchard.
  • Rake up leaves from the yard and jump in them. (Bonus points for raking a neighbor’s yard, too!)
  • Go on a nature hike and gather items for a homemade wreath craft.
  • Complete a family puzzle or LEGO set over a few weeks’ time.
  • Listen to an audiobook on the couch while doing a project.
  • Invite a family over for a meal.
    This can be for Thanksgiving (think of someone who doesn’t have extended family nearby) or another meal during the month of November. Have your children help plan the menu, go shopping, set the table, and prepare the meal together. Teach your children about serving others and being hospitable.
  • Do a family service project.
    Gather items for the local food pantry or women’s shelter. Snuggle dogs or cats at the animal shelter. Write letters for veterans. Create small care packages for the homeless (warm socks, toiletry items, snacks). Participate in Operation Christmas Child or Angel Tree.   
  • Bake (or buy) cookies and talk about what each family member is grateful for. You can make a gratitude jar, banner, or start a gratitude journal to add to each year.

Make a Gratitude Journal:

When your children are old enough to understand what “thankful” means, go out and buy a family journal. I would recommend one with unlined pages and a spiral binding.

 

Decorate the cover together with fabric or scrapbook paper. Trace each child’s hand on a page in the journal and allow them to fill it in with markers, stickers, colored paper, magazine scraps, etc. Write down what they are thankful for (or let them write in the journal) and date the entries. Each year, bring the journal out and reminisce about previous years.

Start a new family tradition: create a gratitude journal!


What are your family’s favorite fall traditions? Leave a comment below or join the discussion in our Facebook group!

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Fall Family Traditions | family activity ideas, teaching kids to be grateful, helping others, gratitude journal for families, making a difference

 

 

Join our Fall Reading Challenge:

Reading aloud with your children for 15 minutes a day can have significant impact on your:

  • family bond
  • child’s love for learning
  • child’s emotional and academic success
  • and MORE!

You can grab our FREE printable reading log and get details about our November book giveaway below.

Grab our free printable reading log at rollingprairiereaders.com!

Apple-Picking | Fall Family Field Trip

Apple-Picking | Fall Family Field Trip

When the calendar switches to September, I immediately begin planning our fall family outings: apple-picking, visiting the pumpkin patch, hiking local nature trails, driving to see the changing leaves, and more!

One of my intentions here at Rolling Prairie Readers is making learning fun for all families. The easiest way to do that is to include more family field trips in your calendar. While it can be tricky to fit one more thing on your to-do list, my suggestion is one family adventure each quarter. If that goes well, you can always add more trips as your schedule allows.

Now that we have moved to the Midwest, we are able to experience more “seasonal” activities.  When I mentioned I’d like to go apple-picking, a quick Internet search brought up several orchards within an hour of our house.

(If you don’t have an apple orchard near your town, keep reading to the end! I have lots of fun family ideas, including re-creating an apple-picking experience at home.)


Apple Learning Activities for Toddlers & Preschoolers

Looking for even more apple-themed learning ideas for your toddler or preschooler?

Click here for 5 FREE apple-themed activities!


Apple-Picking | Fall Family Field Trip Ideas | fun family activities, things to do, learning ideas, apple orchard, family adventures, Center Grove Orchard

Last year, we visited Center Grove Orchard, close to Ankeny, Iowa.

The orchard offers a large variety of fun, fall, farm activities. On this trip, we decided to focus on picking apples. We took a tractor-pulled hayride out to the orchard, where we purchased our bag and got a list of the varieties available for picking.

We enjoyed seeing all the different types of apple trees in various stages of growth. Some of the trees were quite mature, while others were really young. We picked 15 apples from five trees: McIntosh, Gala, Blondee, Crimson Crisp, and Jonathan.

Before we left Center Grove Orchard, we made a stop at the restaurant to get a small treat (pie for me, turnover for my husband, and apple cider donuts for the girls) and purchase some apple butter for the fall!

Apple-Picking | Fall Family Field Trip Ideas | fun family activities, things to do, learning ideas, apple orchard, family adventures, Center Grove Orchard

15 fantastic apple-picking learning activities for families

If you are you are planning on taking your family apple-picking this fall, here are some tips and learning activity ideas.

Before Apple-Picking:

  • Check out apple-themed books from your library. (Here’s our book list, Best Apple Books for Kids.)
  • Visit pickyourown.org for a list of apple orchards nearby.
  • Look at a map with your child and choose a route to get there.
  • Discuss the measurement terms “bushel” and “peck.”

During Apple-Picking:

  • Discuss different parts of an apple and its tree.
  • Compare and contrast types of apples available.
  • Count apples as you pick them.
  • Talk about what an apple tree needs to produce fruit.
  • Meet orchard employees and learn more about the work they do.
  • Make a list of products that come from apples.
  • Watch an apple cider demonstration (or watch this video when you get home).

After Apple-Picking:

  • Set up a taste test of the different apple varieties.
  • Make a chart of attributes about each of the apples tried.
  • Cook a tasty treat together.
  • Plant apple seeds and watch them grow.

If you don’t live near an apple orchard, you can still do many of these activities! Go to the grocery store, choose several different varieties of apples, and set up a “tasting” on a picnic blanket in your yard or at the park.


Apple-Picking | Fall Family Field Trip Ideas | fun family activities, things to do, learning ideas, apple orchard, family adventures, Center Grove Orchard