Shannon has a M.S. in Geology, is a teacher in a Waldorf School and has background as a children's yoga teacher.

She is passionate about connecting children to themselves and to the natural world.

About Backyard Mama

Backyard Mama's mission is for every child to spend time outside every day.

The intention of this blog is to offer inspiration to do that. Take this tips and tools and use them, or contact me and I can run a program at your center.

Our programs take many forms:
* classes in your school or childcare center
* classes for camps or nature centers
* professional development through conferences and workshops
* professional development designed for your staff
* community workshops at libraries and agencies

We're always excited to design something special just for you!


Archive for the ‘What’s Happening Wednesday’ Category

What’s Happening Wednesday

Rhode Island

The Film “Where do the Children Play” is being show:

Tuesday, March 30
7:00 – 9:00 PM
University of Rhode Island
Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences
Flagg Road, Kingston, RI 02881

Following the screening, a panel of “instigators”  including Children’s Museum director Janice O’Donnell; Meadowbrook Waldorf School faculty chair Su Rubinoff; RI Families in Nature founder and director Jeanine Silversmith; and URI Child Development Center director Sue Warford will lead an audience discussion.

Around the Internet

I’m not sure which of Debi’s recent posts is my “favorite”, but since someone has suggested that I add more information for city folk, I want to include her Finding Nature in the City post here. And I also want to point you to Backyard Wildlife Watching, cause it doesn’t take a country or suburban setting to find great critters in your own backyard!

This post, All About Bird Nesting is full of resources and information about helping the birds build their new homes this year! What fun!

Everyone I meet is springing with joy for this new season and the new growth of this year, Suzi created this amazingly beautiful post Spring Inspiration, and I gently recommend that all lovers of poetry and pictures take a minute to check this out!

If you strive for a Litter Free Lunch, read this review from My Green Side and check out this special offer to green your snacks!  

In case my post about Gardening with Kids didn’t inspire you, check out this one from Frugal Philly Mom and see how she incorporates learning and gardening!

Another of my passions is childbirth and care of young children. I was delighted to read that the Navajo have some of the best safe birthing statistics in the country.

On that same note, obesity prevention really needs to start when babies are little, even in the womb. It’s really time to look at the nitty gritties of this vicious cycle.  (More time outside would surely help!)

For those of you looking for good reads on your picnic, or perhaps you’re looking to garden or teach kids about healthy eating through reading about gardening here are 5 Great Reads for Kids.

Back Home in My Backyard 

Seeds just came in today!

Kids are all sleeping right now we’ve been playing outside so much lately they are pooped!

Rototilled a new row and planning to pick up some manure tomorrow as additive to our wonderful soil! Yum!

Lettuce has sprouted!

And I am thinking of making some changed to my What’s Happening Wednesday. Time makes it difficult to find all the best articles out there each week… so I want to make this a link up.

It will go something like this: Each Wednesday I will write a post on a specific topic, I will invite my wonderful blogging community to link up to this post so we as a community have a resource of great information on roughly the same topic.

So, next wednesday’s topic is “learning through play in nature“.

Check back Monday for details and all the rules!

Hope you come link up next week!

What’s Happening Wednesday

Rhode Island

The Providence Children’s Museum is open from 5-7pm this Friday the 19th and it’s FREE! Oh it’s so fun!

Coastal Growers Farmers Market is having a fundraiser this Saturday at the Lafayette Mill in North Kingstown 7-10 pm. Great way to bring in the spring!

Around the Internet

From the Children and Nature Network… What’s Your State Doing to get Children into Nature?

The Let’s Move campaign is asking for your suggestions. Might I remind you that the plan is lacking one great link to…. you got it NATURE! 

The Active Kids Club is seeking friends! Check out this video on all the fun they are having! Now who wants to stay indoors?

With spring coming I think we’re all ready to romp and stomp outside, but here are the pictures from one mom’s adventure with her kids… so much fun!

Tastefully timed tribute to the potato! Happy Saint Patty’s Day friends, now sit down and bake a tater!

Slow down folks! Here’s a great reason why… we miss so much when we’re running here and there.

If you’re thinking towards school next fall for a soon-to-be-preschooler (like me!) or re-evaluating educational choices… think about the places where education is free

Back Home in My Backyard

We planted grass for our Easter baskets! Here’s how… and yes, we did this in our kitchen not our backyard….

Yesterday we spent a grand total of… can you guess? 6 hours in our backyard! Here’s what we did:

  • Cleaned up pine branches that had fallen in the rainy, windy storm earlier this week.
  • Ran barefoot.
  • Made mud pies and mud puddles and got totally dirty.
  • Looked for signs of spring we found 1) daffodils and tulips coming up, 2) a small iris flowering, 3) garlic shoots in the garden, and 4) buds on the trees.
  • We planted lettuce seeds (and I am planning to plant spinach today).
  • Played- our jungle gym turned into a myriad of wonderful things courtesy of the children’s magnificent imaginations.
  • When we were tired, we took a “nap” in the backyard on blankets (but didn’t actually sleep because it was too exciting!

Our chickens are producing eggs… yesterday we got two perfect blue eggs and two perfect brown eggs. My son says that the blue eggs are just for him… laid by his special chicken.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day my friends… as a tribute to the day, get grass stains!

What’s Happening Wednesday

Rhode Island

There is a Maple Syrup Festival at the Tomaquag Indian Museum, Exeter RI this Saturday at 1 pm.

I joined the wonderful PlayWatch listserve this week. It’s facilitated by the Children’s Museum of Providence. Contact playwatch-request@LISTSERV.URI.EDU to subscribe.

Other then that, do check out the KidoInfo for ideas for great things to do with the children!

Best of all… spend sometime outside, playing, getting dirty, going to the beach in any weather… be creative imaginative and free!

Around the Web

Need some gardening tips? The Veggie Gardener has it all! Links to 15 great gardening blogs!

PBS discusses the importance of the creative process for children and goes on AT LENGTH about the importance of play! Play is learning!!

Even with our busy lifestyles, it’s still possible to turn to Mother Nature for a healthy, wholesome… dare I say “green” meal. Here is some food for thought!

Another obstacle to nature-play, skyrocketing park-entrance fees in CT- can we really afford to make nature unaffordable?

Ever have kids that just don’t want to go outside? Yeah, we all do. Here are some tips to get reluctant kids outdoors!

We’ve been talking about building our little tree climber a tree-house, and then I came across this post from Slow Family Online and yes, I am so inspired!

Spring is really a time of new beginnings… I have been noticing the bulbs and buds peaking out from their winter hiding places. Part of this newness means new goals. Here’s some outdoor goals from Go Explore Nature!

We’ve been making mud pies this week, have you? It’s so fun and educational also!

Back Home in My Backyard

I have been feeling a little under the weather this week… but fortunately, that’s not all that bad because the weather has been spectacular.

On Monday my son wanted to take out our little pool to splash in the water… it was only 50 degrees my friends, but he’s ready! Yesterday I let him have an early tubby time, so he got in some water play.

I worked with my under 4 year old crew of gardeners spreading composted manure and seaweed on our garden area. It was so fun to be outside in a t-shirt working in the dirt!

I DID IT! I really put in my seed order and my moose tuber (seed potato and onion sets) In a few weeks the good will arrive and then….

we’ll have to wait to May to put most stuff in the ground.

So, all you folks out there planting seeds, playing in the dirt, waiting for veggies to grow. Oh how I wish I live in a different climate zone!

I have spent a minimum of 3 hours a day this week in my backyard… so I am a very happy Backyard Mama!

See you next week and have fun outside!

What’s Happening Wednesday

Rhode Island

It’s maple syrup season!! Head over to Tomaquag Indian Museum March 13th, at 1 pm for Harvest of Maple Syrup. (30 Summit St. Exeter)

Maybe your three year old would enjoy a trip to RISD. Here’s one success story!

Don’t forget about the upcoming RI Families in Nature Hike on March 20th at Trustom Pond in S. Kingstown. (One of my favorite places!)

The Audobon Society of Rhode Island is working to connect folks with nature. There are tons of wonderful naturey things to do through them, and they have scholarships for schools who want to take kids on trips!

Around the Web

Every heard yourself say ” it’s too or I don’t ….. to go outside?” Here are answers to all the excuses so tomorrow is full of nature play!

Take Action! New Jersey congressman has introduced a Farm to School bill.. wow kids eating healthy food at school!… the bill needs sponsors. Call your congress folks today!

Good stuff folks all parents of young children read this! Needs of a three year old… sweet peace!

Wouldn’t these container gardens be great in an early childhood classroom? Can you imagine the glee of little ones eating fresh peas right out of containers they helped make? Try it and let me know!

I’ve been doing some homework on the Let’s Move campaign of First Lady Michele Obama two complains: where’s the recess? and where’s the nature?

Under ever good parent (or adult) is a WILD CHILD… take a walk on the wild side for National Wildlife Week! Yeah!

Try to squeeze a few of these great winter activities into your upcoming Green Hours… cause spring is just around the corner!

Back Home in My Backyard

I love my backyard… the play area is fenced in as a container for children, but it’s expansive and free, not a typical boundary.

We spend a good three hours outside today… even spread some manure on the garden! I got my hands dirty!!!

We also: played in the sandbox, used “tonka” diggers to move the compost, ate a picnic lunch on the back porch, okay foxtail and kick ball, got muddy and tired and trekked dirt through the house.

I must confess folks, I have not yet put in my full seed order… this week I promise! It’s started, the forms filled out… it need to get from the desk to the mailbox, or I really want to just fill it in online.

It’s a good day folks. See you next week!

What’s Happening Wednesday

Rhode Islanders

This week is full of great opportunities for fun and community!

A nature-based, expeditionary learning charter high school is in the works for Rhode Island! Yeah! Support the Green School with donation, ideas, or some good old sweat and muscle!

An Evening of Refreshment is this Saturday 2/28/10 from 7-10 pm; hosted by mommy blogger Erin Goodman.. head over for great music, good food and fun company. Tickets are $20.00 online or $25.00 at the door and proceeds go to support the RI Food Bank and Coastal Growers Market.

The Children’s Museum in Providence is open from 5:30pm to 7:30pm this Friday 2/26/10 and admission is FREE! My handsome chicken farmer loves the Children’s Museum- head over to see us too this Friday!

Save the date March 20th for RI Families in Nature Hikeat my favorite bird watching walk- Trustom Pond.

Saddle Up the Chicken and head over to the Coastal Growers Market Saturdays in North Kingstown and March 20th from 7-10pm is a fundraiser for the market and celebration of the Vernal Equinox.

Around the Internet

Challenge your kids to spend time outside and learn how one Headstart Program in Alaska is encouraging nature play for their students. This is a great idea!

Garden lovers, Alison has shared why she gardens; are you ready to chime in?

The lovely pictures and sweet heartedstory by author and mother Marghanita is such a wonderful reminder of one of “mama’s” many jobs.

Lately, I’ve been observing my son as he builds with his blocks incredibly houses and then explains in great detail the forces at work. I enjoy watching him as he finds his passion. Then I read this post and really understood why I want to observe and not push.

I feel lucky to have the ocean so close, but for those further away, here are some great idea for how to heal and relax to the ocean. On a health note: nature needs to be a part of any good health plan.

Gardening is for the kids!I can’t wait to get my hands dirty, so reading this post from a California mom got me looking through seed catalogs.

Back Home in My Backyard

The little addition to our family is crying right now so I have to make this quick!

It’s raining it’s pouring…. we’ve got the rain boots out and ready for some puddle splashing!

I am really going to put in my seed order this week- although I have been saying this for three weeks.

In April 10th and May 8th the Backyard Mama will make her debut as a workshop presenter at early childhood conferences here in Rhode Island. I am excitedly nervous.

And that’s a wrap. I’ve enjoyed scanning twitter this morning for articles from all my favorites and am looking forward to keeping up better this week!

Thanks for the support and the great contributions!

What’s Happening Wednesday

*** Wednesday comes too often.I feel like I just finished the last edition and I’m back at it again sifting through twitter finding all the great stuff from this week. I know I miss huge numbers of awesome articles. So consider this a snippet of what I am taking inventory of this week. Remember too that I forget stuff all the time, so if you read or write something great- send it to me! {Please!}

Rhode Island

Friday the 12th is the Mamaste Mother’s Circle with Erin of Mamas get a little Valentines Day Treat in for yourselves!

Author Pat Hastings {Simply a Woman of Faith} is leading a great program on Monday Feb. 15th on Spiritual Resiliency. She is a very cool woman with style and class… if you can’t make the class- get her book. It’s worth every penny.

Go birding this weekend at any of the great natural places we have in our wonderful state… it’s the Great Backyard Bird Count! Other’s else where please do the same!

Around the Internet

Being able to roam, explore, create and play are some of the greatest skills for children. Sue was inspired to write this post by the Free Range Guru herself.  Did you have a Free Range childhood?

Finally proof! The NAEYC has written about the importance of nature based play and gardening in early childhood. Here ya go! There’s proof!

From Camp Creek Press {this blog was totally new to me this week and I am SO glad I found it – or it found me}. Education is being driven by testing, rather then by raising healthy, happy children. This is a must read for everyone pondering school choices!

What magical characters have inspired you to connect with nature? Toffee the Highland Cow shares some outdoor activities that lots of kids will love! Also from Marghanita beautiful pictures to inspire trekking into the woods to hunt for….

Another great post about enticing kids to play outside more! Nature is such a magical place and Caro writes of this with such ease.

Leave the references at home and go outside, explore, be adventurous, let go of the fear of not “knowing”. Bethe writes of all the great reasons why… and gives us some ways to learn what we don’t know!

A couple from the Nature Mama team, pulled together this week to write about great kids gear tips for those preparing for the snow (oh boy we need this!)

My first guest post over at Loving Nature’s Garden! Thanks once again Alison and all the rest of you, go birding this weekend and learn about some birds!

Back Home in My Backyard

We’re snowed in! We only got a few inches but it’s “wet” snow perfect for making snowman and snowballs.

Today, as the snow fell, we made Valentines Day cookies and Jeremiah painted what will become cards.

We went for a walk, at dusk, in the snow- my little man on the sled, me pulling, the pine trees dumping their little balls of snow on us the whole way.

We made a snowman!

Yesterday, in preparation for this storm, my under 4 year olds helped carry in about 7 loads of wood and had SO MUCH fun. When we needed a break from the work we went on a little walk {also to get the baby to sleep} the kids found a pile of old snow that is mixed with rocks and pine needles and proceeded to climb up and run down giggling!

I have spent less time online this week, but more “quality” time finding great blogs… and I am just in awe of the blogosphere and humbled to be a part of this great network of vast intelligence and information.

What’s Happening Wednesday

Rhode Island

Local nature lover Jeanine has written a great post about wintertime play. To learn more about her read our great backyard chat or visit Rhode Island Families in Nature.

There’s still time to win this wonderful book Steady Days by mommy blogger, enter to win at this giveaway from Erin at while you’re at it, see what’s cooking this February!

Around the Internet

Plan ahead for Valentines Day, instead of Hallmark cards find unique ones like these from Maine based artists.

From National Wildlife, here are some great ways to spend your outside time with children. (BYM Note: The best is always to let the children lead and you follow!)

Everyone doesn’t get snow in the winter, so Adventuroo compiled this great list of lists from around the blogosphere in her effort to find something fun to do with her son when the snow came. How do you spend time in the snow?

For beginner gardeners, or folks like me who just might want some guidance, here is a great offer from Alison of Loving Natures Garden.

In case you are planning a special night in to celebrate February, or any other time of the year, consider greening your next dinner party.

Back Home In My Backyard

We have had a wonderful week of sunshine (and a dusting of snow). It has been delightful to play outside, and absorb some vitamin D.

I am “breaking” from spending tons of time on twitter, facebook and in the blogosphere. My family needs my attention. I need my attention.

My numbers on this blog are really not changing; I am re-evaluating whether or not to continue blogging as the summer comes and I want to spend more time “walking my talk” and get outside!

I will be present a workshop titled Nature Play: Learning through Wonder at the RI Early Childhood Conference  in May! I am very excited about this!

I am thinking about preschools for my little adventurer, Waldorf? Montessori? Stay Home? Nature? These small choices are such a great responsibility.

That’s it folks. If you’re out there reading… have a great mid-week. Many blessings!

What’s Happening Wednesday

Rhode Island

Once again, the Coastal Growers Market is this Saturday and all Saturdays till March 13th in North Kingstown. And although I can’t find it right now, I know that sometime in March there will be an end of the winter celebration.

Betsy and Sarah are having a contest for the local Sweet Cakes Bakery.  I will be so sad to see them go. This is a delightful place to have tasty treats with big or little friends. They will be missed, but who knows who will win the contest!

I am really excited to try these delicious cookies from Hannah’s Harvest yum chocolate chips! (BTW they are really healthy!)

Around the Web

Before you go to Lands End or LL Bean for your spring duds, try a thrift store. Here are some tips from Robin at a little greener everyday.

Many of these thrift stores are locally owned and “putting our money where our mouth is” is probably the best way to save the world one day at a time. Alison has inspired me once again to take a closer look at my own habits; learn more about the 3/50 project.

Anyone interested in learning more about the benefits of nature for children, I encourage you to investigate these resources.  I am especially interested in the Magical Child by Pearce.

The January Thaw will end soon, looks like temps in the 20′s and snow is on the way this weekend. I am excited to try family snowshoeing in our backyard!

Wanting to “cut back” this New Year? Think about altering some habits and becoming more eco-conscious. Even making a point to do a couple of these suggestions this year will make a huge impact on the planet!

In my pre-motherhood graduate school years in New Mexico, I spent a lot of time alone in the mountains being cautious ’cause I didn’t have a cell phone or a pal with me. So, when I came across this post from Natural Papa (of New Mexico) I had a little chuckle, some nostalgia and a great reminder of why I tend to be a lot more cautious as a mother.

I am looking forward to reading about asking for what you want and going for it at this link up over on

Back Home in My Backyard

We had a great day of PLAY today. Loaded up the kids in the wagon and headed to the waterfall. We got a little muddy, and really tired.

I am planning an extension on our garden. Why? My son is eating like a horse. Today he ate PB&J, a grilled cheese sandwich, a bunch of hummus with crackers, a banana, a couple bowls of cereal… still complained of being hungry. He’s 3 how long does this last?

I am busy creating workshops about children and nature to share in upcoming spring conferences here in Rhode Island. But I am really a geologist, so busting into the education community is nerve racking.

My backyard looks like a tornado hit it.  Toys and buckets, gloves, cars, blocks are everywhere. I wish the snow would come and hid the chaos. I just don’t want to spend the little sunny time I get cleaning up outside.

I’d rather be outside playing!

And that’s a wrap. I am always excited for links and fun articles to post here on Wednesday! Until next week…

What’s Happening Wednesday

Rhode Island (and bordering communities)

Just over the CT line the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center is holding a ton of wonderful winter events including night hikes (ongoing), and a bee keeping event (1/28) (for adults only).  The best part of DPNC? It has the only nature-based preschool in CT-RI area and they are having an open house January 23rd 10-12am. Check ‘em out!

The winter is full of excitement! There are some wonderful opportunities to relax, refresh, renew and be in community.

Next month KidoInfo will be a hot spot to keep an eye on… wonder what these fine folks will share? Get some tips on using social media!

Around the Net

For the New Year my family is going to take heed to this resolution  for family walks. I remember as a child walks were so fun… we take lots, but not always as a family.  How about you?

Most of our snow has melted, but it probably gets cold enough (or will again soon) to set out containers to build an ice castle. Doesn’t this sound so fun?

I am all for outside play and here is extra inspiration for how and why.

We’re one month into winter, the days are noticeably longer, and although spring is just around the corner, the corner is there… so here are great outdoor traditions.

Next time you’re heading out the door on a parent-child date, think about heading to a place for nature play! (All kids need special time… this is the best way to give it to ‘em!)

It’s never to early to start planning a spring garden. Everyone can garden and here are three great spring veggies for newbie’s! Need seed? Head to the local garden supply store or order online

Back Home in My Backyard

Just as soon as the weather gets a wee bit nicer, I plan to start my nature path through our back woods.

I want to make the nature path a wonderful natural habitat for lots of animals so we are thinking about what types of homes different animals live in.

We saw a deer in our backyard this morning. Although we have seen signs of their visits, this is the first spotting of the year!

My son came bounding down the stairs this morning saying, “Mommy is it spring yet?” It was 45 degrees today; pretty perceptive.

We went puddle stomping today and got muddy and wet. Oh the joys of the January thaw.

What’s happening in your backyard?

What’s Happening Wednesday

Rhode Island

I have lost track of the great stuff happening in my home state.. cause there’s just so much great stuff on the web.

Remember to check out a farmers market for fresh local produce.

Take a hike in the woods and look for deer tracks in the snow. Or maybe there’s another critter who interests you.

All the usual stuff is happening. Or go to kidoinfo to see what’s happening on their calender.

This weeks favorites from ’round the web

Talking about nature;  haiku style. What is a haiku anyway? Really… show me how you write a haiku.

When do you have those moments when you look in the eyes of your child and fall in love all over again? Here’s the love story of a nature mom.

Looking for great parks in southern California? Look no further, this mommy blogger is reviewing parks in 2010!

Sometimes I forget how lucky my kids are to have meadows, forests, ponds and swamps to stomp through in our backyard.  Here’s how one childcare program created a natural habitat for children.

Planning a summer get-away? There are many types of camping spots… what’s your style? {I’m a primitive/ dispersed kinda gal.}

It’s really the truth… taking a walk in nature is so important for our health especially the brain.

Nature-Deficit Disorder is a big deal. Some say it’s one of the biggest deals of the 21st Century. Taking time outside is a way to change this story.  What did you do today to change this story?

Just out of curiosity, how did you spend the latest snow days? Do kids in your town play outside on snow days?  Or have we truly experienced the Last Child in the Snow?

Back Home in My Backyard

We are so happy to have snow. We’ve started igloos and made fairy houses.

The chickens are happy in their little home (although cold).

We’re cooking lots of stews and soups from scratch to keep warm inside.

Jeremiah has grown 4 inches taller in the past 6 months!

We’re happy that it’s staying dark later cause we get a few more minutes to play outside.

How are you spending those “extra” daylight minute?

Please send me links to your favorite posts about nature- backyard kind of things by next Tuesday so they can be included in What’s Happening Wednesday. Send links to shannon [at] backyardmama [dot] com.

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