Sunday, November 10, 2013

Holiday at the Mill

What a beautiful day for Holiday at the Mill at Bonneyvill Mill sponsored by Elkhart County Parks! We're all for combining nature studies and fun with recreation and this is a great setting to do just that.

The area looks so different than just a few weeks ago. Many, many leaves are on the ground. It can be a great time to look at the different types of leaves, colors, etc. We talked about the tulip poplar tree. I recently read the leaf shape looked like a cat's head--I had never noticed that before! The leaves from the state tree are often a gorgeous yellow in the fall.

The kids spontaneously started having a leaf fight! This is a great way to "experiment" and play with nature!

We walked over to the One Room Schoolhouse first to check out the crafts. To be honest, I think the kids enjoyed hiding in the tall plants and climbing the rocks the most out of the day. I provided an opportunity for them to play outside. My oldest was hesitant to come to this, but once he was out, he was enjoying himself. My motto is to push through the complaints! Within 10 minutes or so, they are almost always engaged and finding ways to have fun outside. If I say, let's try it for 15 minutes, they forget I just said 15 minutes and are out for much longer than an hour. 

Inside there were crafts for the kids. A couple made oatmeal cookies for the birds. I asked if they were good for humans, too, but then saw the recipe had egg shells as well. This is a similar recipe, with blueberries added. We'll have to try making these at home for 31 Days of Nature Kindness in December. 

They baked paperclips in the cookie to hang it up with a string. They look happy with their results!

Another craft was making pinecone animals. Cute options! We did a program with him for these before, making interesting pinecone creatures.

Upstairs, some of the kids and their cousins tried dipping candles. We've made these several times, dipping wicks into melted wax and then into water to cool. The crafts were free, but donations were gratefully accepted. 


It was fun seeing a whole family we know from programs at Elkhart County Parks and Junior Indiana Master Naturalists volunteering for the morning. Several craft vendors were selling wares. I really liked these pretty painted gourd leaves! I picked up some hickory scoops--very natural looking! 

Other vendors were downstairs with painted ceramics, beadwork, and knitting. I've often bought simple earrings from this vendor. My favorites are clear beads that I can work with anything. 


I noticed this simple corn husk decoration--how cute! I just pinned and idea for corn husk "puff" garlands on Pinterest. Great ideas for fall decorating!

As you can see, the kids really just enjoyed playing outside near the one room school house. I don't think the kid on the guard rail is with me. :-)

My oldest liked this HUGE leaf, picked it up, and started eating it. Hmm . . . maybe this is taking wild edibles a little too far! 

As we walked back toward the mill we saw lots samaras (maple helicopters). The kids enjoyed exploring their aerodynamic properties!

The mill was gorgeous as always, but very different than early fall. Inside, it was decked for the holidays. 

Our picture with Santa didn't turn out very good with the lighting. The kids still enjoyed their candy canes! Hint, maybe Ronda took a better picture she can share with me! :-) 

We checked out the grains and the grist mill. 

I enjoyed seeing the various plants drying in the eaves and matching up the different types of grains with the names. We have a grain mill at home, so knew most of them from grinding grains at home.

There were cookies and drinks available (once again, donations gratefully accepted), so we took a break outside.

We checked out the store which had 10 percent off. I always check the clearance bins and find things I want each time at a discount. 

While waiting outside for the reindeer, the kids noticed many things, like the round balls and bird's nest up in the tree. 

They also saw that the bark was peeling on this tree. They found an interesting hole in the side of the tree as well. 

We took advantage of the break and snapped a few pics by the waterfall. It's a popular place for pictures if you didn't notice already.

Two sticks pass the time as the boy tries to sharpen them.

We saw the pony all decorated for the holidays. My nephew didn't take my threat of "Smile if you want lunch" very seriously. ;-)

It was neat to see the reindeer up close. We thought it was much smaller than we imagined, though we've seen them before. We learned that both the male and female grow and shed antlers each year.

Thanks for the visit, Candy Cane! 

While we enjoyed the festival, we also enjoyed having an excuse to visit a beautiful place on a lovely fall day. I encourage you to combine a bit of nature study and outdoor time with these fun activities! 

We've gone the last couple of years--the boys fought Santa with swords last year! 

We also enjoyed a fun day there this summer. It looks so different right now!

Bonneyville Heritage Day (previously Bonneyville Celebration) is also fun in September.