Kids or Coyote snacks?

Coyote information to keep your kids safe when hiking or playing in the forest

Enjoying nature with your little ones can be wonderful.  Worrying they are going to be eaten by a coyote, not so wonderful.

How do you keep your kids from being a bite-sized coyote snack?

First, here is a short video on what is called Coyote Hazing, produced by our town.

We tend to stick to the same general area to play in the forest.  This allows the kids to leave bigger projects like building shelters or obstacles courses or bridges they can come back to another day.  In our familiar area of the forest we have never seen a coyote.  However, a mountain biker we see a few times a week, told me that another hiker had been surrounded by a few coyotes just up the trail from where we go.  Scary!

So we have taken a few steps to make sure the kids learn how to deal with coyotes.

  1. We have practiced putting your hands way over your head, (with a big stick is extra points) and yelling “GO AWAY!”
  2. We have played coyote many times, with the above, and making sure no one turns and runs, because apparently that can encourage coyotes to chase you.
  3. The two older kids, who occasionally go a little further than the younger kids, have very loud whistles.
  4. I have an air horn, which should scare off most animals.
  5. We are double checking any new areas we play in for brush or little shelters that could be used as coyote dens.

Has anyone come across a coyote in Oakville or otherwise?

This recent sighting makes me a little extra cautious, but it won’t stop us from enjoying the outdoors, and it seems to add to the adventure.  The kids are even enjoying our new “Coyote” game and have added it to their rotation.




Pooping in the forest

Forest School How-to guide


Forest School

“Oh no, you are not going to post about that!!!?”

When taking young children into the forest for longer periods of time, at some point, someone is going to have to poo, when you aren’t anywhere near a bathroom.

Honestly, hearing about forest kindergartens or forest schools, pooping in the forest was my very first big question…. I can’t be the only one!

My tips:

1. Everyone must go to the bathroom before we leave, whether or not you need to.

2. I aim for about 2 hours of forest play, before we head back in for bathrooms.

But inevitably someone will have to poop 10 minutes into your forest playtime.  So what are you to do?

3. Take the unfortunate child to as private a spot as possible… with the baby… So semi-private.  As far from the trail as you can, for etiquette’s sake.

4. Either find a good log for them to hang over, like a toilet.  But some kids hate sitting on a log because it might be wet, rough or cold,

So instead,

Spend a few minutes practicing a solid squat… you do not want to be using leaves to wipe up legs and pants because they fell over or got it everywhere.  Enough said?  I think so.

5. We use leaves to wipe… but feel free to use Kleenex… but be kind and take the tissues with you.

6. Some people bring a trowel and dig a hole, and cover it with dirt, because it may attract animals.


When we are hiking in forested, but mainly urban areas, I have them “go” close to a log or rock.  Sometimes urgency also dictates whether or not we have time to dig a hole.

6. Then put rocks or logs or leaves over and around it, so no one accidentally steps in it before it has a chance to decompose.

Parents, have courage.  Taking your kids into nature is worth the trouble of dealing with the occasional poop outside!

Forest kindergarten

How to start your own forest school

I have been reading everything I can get my hands on lately about forest kindergartens.

In our family, we try to get our kids outside as much as possible.  I took some outdoor education classes in University and grew up with an enviromentalist dad… so lots of hiking, provincial parks, overnight camp, enjoying nature… and of course learning about composting.

When I heard about forest kindergartens, I have been looking everywhere to see if there is an outdoor school option nearby…. there isn’t.

However, it is really great that there are so many resources available, books, videos and online.

Some of my favourite books so far are:

Richard Louv’s Last child in the woods – which discusses the real dangers of keeping your kids indoors, hint: nature deficit disorder.

Lenore Skenazy’s Free range kids, which puts danger into perspective for the worried parent.

Mike Lanza’s Playborhood, that has many fun ideas for your neighbourhood.

However, my most recent read, which sent me down my most recent rabbit hole of outdoor education and my discovery of forest kindergartens, is the book The Danish way of parenting.  This book struck me as the ideal way to raise children.  Filled with play, a mellow approach, closeness.  This is probably one of my favourite all time parenting reads, along with free range kids, which was really hard to top.

Today, it was beautiful here, so I took the oldest out of school and we had our own forest kindergarten.


How to start homeschooling



We spent just over 4 hours in the forest.  We learned about how trees grow, saw ladybugs, and investigated moss.  We climbed many logs, and jumped in lots of puddles.  The kids sang and worked together to build shelters.  We brought along lunch and took our time playing in a few great spots.  When it was time to move on, I warned them early, then clapped my hands twice, they responded with 2 claps. I then moved along and they followed along behind me, ahead of me, and sometimes stopping to check out the forest near me.