Parents


One of the gardening blogs (Garden Rant) that I read regularly had a guest post this morning about getting rid of your lawn to facilitate children getting outside to play. Here’s a little excerpt:

The good news is that means the yard is yours! Even you young parents can feel justified in ripping out the lawn and remaking your yard to your gardener’s heart’s content.

The really good news is that doing so can actually make your yard more enticing to your kids than a lawn ever could.

Here’s why. Kids like big rocks to climb on. They like bushes to hide under. They like trees to climb. They like water to splash in. They love trying to catch lizards and holding out a sweaty hand to see if a passing butterfly will land for a moment. They love riding trikes and scooters on circuitous routes through a garden, the junglier the better. They like digging in dirt.

You should absolutely go read the whole thing. I think part of it is our mentality as adults. We think that if we put so much time and effort into a non-lawn garden, then it needs to be kept pristine and we can’t let the kids “ruin” it. We also do default to the “space to play ball” mentality, but there are lots of parks for that. Thinking about it, we had a huge “lawn” area south of the house (actually it was mowed weeds – farm, you know.) Yes, we occasionally went out and played kickball or baseball, but more often than not we were playing in the windbreak, in the vegetable garden where there was lots of mud, or in the tall weeds behind the barn.

What do you think? Would having something other than just lawn actually facilitate more outdoor play?

(P.S. – The guest post I linked to above is written by a woman who actually wrote a book on the subject and is promoting it in the post. I haven’t read the book and so I am not recommending it or otherwise. It looks interesting, but who knows how applicable it is to Kansas?!?)

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Okay, so I realize that spring break is almost over, but I figured I should post this article anyway. Dr. Peggy Drexler answers the question, What to Do with Kids over Spring Break? Her answer: NOTHING. Let them be bored. Let them learn to play on their own. Don’t over organize their activities. With only a couple more days of spring break, you might be tired of trying to find things for them to do, so let them find their own things to do!

Read the rest of the article: What to Do With Kids over Spring Break?

 

With most local schools on their 4th snow day, it can be tempting to think about how much wasted “learning” time that is for our kids. Even though their official “school” activities are very important to learning, there is so much learning that takes place during free play time! With g2g Outside, we always want as much of that free play to be outdoors as possible!

Here’s a couple quotes about play from Exchange magazine:

“Historically, play has been viewed as a frivolous break from important endeavors like working and learning when, in fact, a child’s ability to fully and freely engage in play is essential to their learning, productivity, and overall development,” observe Steve Gross and Rebecca Cornelli Sanderson in their article, “Play is the Way,” in the Beginnings section of the September/October 2012 Exchange magazine. They continue:

“A natural drive to play is universal across all young mammals. Children from every society on earth spend time playing. Why? Because play is a crucial vehicle for exploring and learning, developing new skills, and connecting with others. From an infant’s first smile to a preschooler’s careful construction of a tower, children use play to engage with and learn about their world. Play has key neurological, cognitive, socio-emotional, and physiological benefits for children’s health. Most importantly, play is the way in which children form loving, trusting relationships.

“People often think of play in terms of specific ‘play activities’ such as tag, soccer, or playing in the sandbox. In contrast, they think of work in terms of activities like raking leaves, cooking, cleaning, or doing homework. It is our belief that any activity, as long as it is done with a playful approach, is play. In other words, it’s not about what you do, it’s about how you do it.  Playfulness is the expression of our natural drive to freely and joyfully explore, engage, and connect with the surrounding world.”

I think it is important for children to learn to view work as “play,” because it is part of them exploring, learning, and being part of their world. I grew up on a farm, and I still view many of the “chores” that I had to do as fun. I have positive memories of even things like cleaning out calf pens in the spring and pulling weeds in the garden. Somehow, I associated them with play more than work.

As parents, I also think that sometimes we need to learn to view our kids’ play as “work” as well. We need to respect the dignity of what they are doing as they learn and explore. As much as we can encourage free play (without structure, electronics, or lots of adult interference), the better! It might just seem like a nuisance when a child digs a hole in the yard and comes inside covered in mud. It is tempting to try to direct that playtime into planting flowers or doing something that seems “productive” to us as adults. Yet if we let that child explore that muddy hole until they are tired of it, digging in the dirt to plant vegetables or pull weeds may not seem like a chore when they get older.

What do you think? Do we enforce our views of “work” and “play” on our children too often?

I am a shop early kind of Christmas gift buyer. I did A LOT of shopping yesterday and was inspired to post this to help you this holiday season purchase fun gifts that will inspire outdoor play and exploration.

There is so much plastic and electronic entertainment that glues kids inside.  Fight the urge to buy only indoor toys and remember a few things that motivate youngsters to get outside.  The cool thing is that most of the these gift ideas are also low cost.

Kids Gifts to Encourage Outdoor Play!

For Imagination & Learning:

  • Kids garden tool set
  • Binoculars
  • Magnifying Glass
  • Tent
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket & Picnic Basket
  • Make a Safari Vest or Adventure Belt (kids can help create it, use your imagination)
  • Fort Making Supplies & a Kid Space in the Backyard to Create  (wood blocks, tarps, paint, clips & clamps, long branches or sticks, etc)

For Physical Activity & Cooperation:

I love toys that let the child use their imagination to create stories or games. The more simple the toy the greater value it has in the hands and mind of a child. 

What toys have you given your kid(s) that have motivated them to play outdoors?

Are you interested in getting the family in to water sports?  Thinking about going kayaking or canoeing with your family?  If so then making sure you are safe on the water is important.  Check out the upcoming Red Cross kayaking and canoeing safety courses

Open up a whole new world of outdoor fun with your entire family!

Another Pinterest find!  There is a good blog out of Kansas City, KC Edventures!

Here is a great article about teaching even young kids science concepts in a fun interactive way.  There are activities to try, books to read and discovery waiting to be had. 

Try these this week with your kids!  You can learn about pollination, hibernation, evaporation, migration and condensation.

Tuesday, August 28 is Tot Tuesday at the Sedgwick County Zoo from 10:30a-11a.  Tot Tuesdays are FREE!  Siblings are welcome but classes are geared to 3-5 year olds.  Pre-registration is NOT required.

Class will be held at the Cargill Learning Center (do not go to the regular admission gates).  This FREE educational activity for your 3-5 year olds will happen every 4th Tuesday at the Zoo.  Future dates are:  Sept 25, Oct 23 and Nov 27.  Mark you calendars and join the Zoo-Tastic fun!!!  The class will go rain or shine.

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