Reach for the Sky at Pittsburgh Parks with Earth Month Activities
“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”
— Bob Dylan
Nor do you need another reason to venture outside when Mother Nature’s breath whips around Southwestern Pennsylvania in April when you’ve got a kite in hand.
Yep. It's a great time to introduce your kids to that quadrilateral-shaped toy of our own childhoods — kites.
Building and flying kites is just one of many free family activities offered through Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy as part of a month-long celebration of Earth Day 2022 in city parks.
“Meet Me in the Park”
Several Earth Day events designed for youngsters will be held in April that offer craft making, scavenger hunts and nature activities. All are designed and presented by the Conservancy’s education team members with the intent of combining Earth Day observances with nature appreciation.
“The activities have an environmental educational impact while giving children a deeper appreciation for the parks, as well,” said Alana Wenk the Conservancy’s director of marketing and communications.
“Meet Me in the Park” children’s activities will be held:
— April 7, 3:30 p.m. at Westinghouse Park, 7051 Thomas Blvd., Pittsburgh
— April 20, 3:30 p.m. at Sheraden Park, 1000 Adon St., Pittsburgh
— April 22, 4 p.m. at Schenley Plaza, 4100 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh (near the PNC Carousel)
The events are free and advance registration is not required, but Wenk recommends parents do so online https://pittsburghparks.org/earthmonth/ where they can check out the other 40 or so scheduled Earth Month activities being offered through the conservancy.
“We really want families to get outside and enjoy green spaces,” Wenk said, referring to Pittsburgh’s most notable and largest spaces such as Frick Park and the smaller parks tucked into the city’s numerous neighborhoods.
The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy was founded in 1996 by citizens concerned with the deteriorating conditions of the city parks. While always offering special programs in observance of Earth Day, the group this year is presenting the most extensive lineup of activities for all ages.
Nature and Crafts
At the Sheridan, Westinghouse Schenley parks this month, identical sessions will be offered to youngsters with crafts and activities geared for those of preschool age and under age 8. The Conservancy staff uses a kite template printed on paper which is folded and fitted with a wooden skewer — most of the tough prep work will be done in advance for the kiddos, Wenk said. After the children are given the opportunity to decorate their kites, they can run with the wind and fly their creations in the park.
If you’re unable to attend the Earth Month activities, there are plenty of online ideas https://www.instructables.com/Easy-Paper-Kite-for-Kids/. that give step-by-step instructions for parents and preschoolers to create numerous styles of kites.
Likewise, there’s a great set of instructions online https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/.toilet-paper-roll-binoculars-4164742 to fashion binoculars out of cardboard tubes recycled from rolls of toilet paper.
Volunteers throughout the year recycle their toilet paper tubes by donating them to the Conservancy for this perennial spring craft which also uses some glue, string and decorative material so the kiddos can customize their optical instruments.
Bird watching should be fairly easy for the tiny tots since the handcrafted binoculars are very lightweight, hang around their necks on a string and fit their line of vision pretty well.
Go Fly a Kite!
Aside from the recreational and health benefits, kite flying and bird watching are beneficial activities in that it gets us outside and away from our electronic devices.
We often hear the phrase: “Don't forget to look up.” This can mean different things to different people. Asking or telling a child simply to look up is way less stimulating than handing them a piece of string attached to a gizmo that can possibly reach (in their eyes) the sun.
Remember back to the day your kite drifted into the clouds, wind at your face, your feet moving as fast as they possibly can?
If you don’t, maybe you should go fly a kite along with your kiddo.
by Lori Waryanka
April 1, 2022