Tag Archives: Redmond

hungrytreeThis is a picture of the Hungry Tree. It’s a tree at Farrell-McWhirter park in Redmond. On pretty much every Friday morning from October through May, we visited the Hungry Tree and “fed” pine-cones to it. Teacher Ann from Tiny Treks provided the voice effects (“I’m the hungry tree. And boy am I hungry! I want some pine-cones! Oooh – thank you!”)

It’s really simple. And it makes all the kids really happy. Every week. Week after week. Especially my boy who loves repetition.

This week I’m reading a lot about Nature Deficit Disorder, and all the benefits for kids of spending time outside. One expert  said “It’s not about taking your kid to Yosemite once a year. It’s about taking them down to that little scrap of grass in the neighborhood every day. It’s about helping them develop a relationship with nature.” My boy has certainly developed a relationship with nature through this weekly ritual of visiting the Hungry Tree.

After we visit Hungry Tree, we balance on the logs, then go wade in the creek (thank goodness for good boots!), then hike through the woods, then return for a snack and story outside on the tarp. My son loves this routine. I love this routine!

But connecting to nature doesn’t need to mean a weekly 90 minute hike in the woods. You could have a “hungry tree” or similar nature buddy in your yard! My son has a “nature job” – every time we walk to the library or store, there’s an apartment garden we pass where the rocks are always getting kicked out of the garden bed onto the sidewalk. My son really likes rocks, and originally he wanted to take these rocks and carry them away. Instead, he now knows it’s his “job” to return any rock that he finds on the sidewalk back to the garden with its friends.

Does your child have a nature ritual?

Cheap Dates with Toddlers: Farm Parks

Spring is coming, and the baby animals are appearing at local farms.

A few years ago, I took this picture of a 2 week old calf  at Farrell-McWhirter. He was shorter than my 3 year old! (Sorry that it’s not a great picture… my son was really ready to go have snack, so we only got a really quick look at the calf… but wow he was cute!)


At any time of year, toddlers love outings to meet farm animals. Lots of children’s books, games, and videos feature farm animals, so kids tend to be familiar with them, and get very excited when they can recognize and name the “real thing.” Seeing and hearing (and smelling) the animals in person make the idea much more real. At farm parks, you can check out chickens, sheep, bunnies, cows, pigs, and goats. Some times you’ll get an opportunity to see fresh eggs in the coop, or see a cow or goat being milked.  This is a great outing for a child who has just learned to answer all those vital questions like “What does a cow say?”

For my readers in the Seattle area… here are some free outings:

Farrell McWhirter Park in Redmond. They’ve got a small pot-bellied pig and a really big pig, bunnies, chickens, 2 goats, a calf and horses. (You generally can’t pet or feed the animals.) They do offer farm classes and pony rides. Farrell McWhirter is also home to Tiny Treks and Nature Vision preschool, both are great nature-based programs for children. Check out the Redmond Parks guide for more information.  There are great hiking trails, streams, swings, and tire swings too.

Kelsey Creek Park in Bellevue. They’ve got sheep, pigs, goats, horses, bunnies, chickens, ducks, and geese. (Again, they’re on view, but this is not a petting zoo.) They also offer horseback riding and farm classes, including a great program for toddlers called Little Farmers. Their playground is great for little ones, as long as they’re past the stage where they’ll try to eat the bark on the ground. Learn about farm tours and farm classes.

Farms with a Fee:

Fox Hollow Farm in Issaquah.  $10 per person. I have not been there, but hear that it’s lovely… They have bunnies, chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, peacocks, macaws, sheep, cows, goats, pigs, llamas, mini-horses, and horses. They also have rope swings, pony rides, tractors to drive, inflatables, play cottages, and you-pick fruits and vegetables. (Some activities have additional fees.) Opens for spring / summer in early April. Closed in fall and winter, except for Halloween and Christmas themed events. Their schedule is limited, so be sure to check their website for when they’re open.

Remlinger Farms in Carnation. Opens for the season on Mother’s Day – summer schedule here. Approximately $18 per person (babies under 1 are free). They have pigs, goats,  rabbits and more. They also have some amusement park style rides, and a train ride (you’ll see llamas). Plus a hay maze.

Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Adults $22.95. Kids are $13.95. Under two years is free. By the south entrance, there’s the Family Farm area, which includes a petting zoo where kids can meet goats up close. There’s pigs, goats, sheep, cows, bunnies, chickens, and a donkey. Plus, of course, lots of more exotic animals.

When visiting  farm parks: remember bring a change of clothes and shoes for your child! They can get pretty muddy in any of these places.

Prices current as of 4/28/19