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?!?)

Wichita Parks & Recreation announce a new program that encourages and rewards residents for visiting public parks. The Park Passport program encourages residents to visit 18 specific local parks. A Park Passport can be picked up at any recreation center, Watson Park or printed at www.wichita.gov. To be eligible to win rewards, participants must:

  • Visit as many of the 18 parks listed on the passport;
  • Locate the Park Passport sign at each park, which ensures a participant is in the right area;
  • Answer the park question on the passport and turn in the passport at any recreation center or Watson Park by September 3.

Three winners – one entry per household – will receive one of three Family Fun Packs donated by Academy Sports & Outdoors. The fun packs include items such as camping equipment and bicycles.

Since most ofSnow Kansas seems to have a snow day at this point, let’s throw out some ideas about snow day fun! The nice thing is that it is not frigidly cold. Right now it is 26 degrees (with wind it feels like 13). If you have the appropriate outdoor clothes (coat, hat, mittens/gloves, boots, snowpants (or athletic pants you can layer with other things), you can have a lot of fun outside!

The snow yesterday was mostly a wetter, heavier snow, which is the BEST kind! (Okay, it isn’t as much fun for mom and dad to shovel, but it is the best kind to PLAY in.) This kind of snow packs into snowballs and snowmen really well.

The snow this morning seems to be drier and fluffier, which isn’t quite as much fun, but I bet in a few days when it starts getting a little melty it will work out.

So bey0nd snowballs and snowmen, what are some other fun snow day activities? We always played Fox & Geese in the snow growing up. You could also make snow ice cream (you just need milk, sugar, and vanilla!), or just have fun playing in the fluffy snow!

If you have the materials, you could also make a simple bird feeder with a toilet paper roll, peanut butter, and some seeds. Hang it in view of a window and you can watch birds when you come back in!

What other ideas do you have for outdoor snow day fun?

 

Today we are continuing our list of games that kids can play outdoors that will keep them more interested in playing outside than in.

Let’s Play SPUD!

Spud is a fun, tag type game to play with all the kids in the neighborhood.  It is good for kids of all ages.  Even the little ones can play this with the older ones.

What you will need:  A playground ball (like you use for 4-square) or a nerf ball.  Something that wont hurt if you throw it at your friends.

To start:  All players count-off and must remember their number.  All players have separate numbers.  Choose one person to be “It.”  Everyone crowds around It, and It holds the ball.

Action:  It tosses the ball straight up into the air and the other players run away.  As the ball reaches the top of its toss, It yells out a number.  The player that is that number then must run back and try to catch the ball or chase after the ball after it falls.  Once the numbered player has the ball they yell “SPUD!”  Then everyone must freeze.  The player with the ball must try to hit one of the other players by tossing the ball.  If the ball touches a player that player gets a letter; first S, then P, then U and finally D. (Like missing a basket in HORSE.)  The hit player is then It.  If the player with the ball misses then they are It for the next round. Once someone had spelled SPUD they are out.

If the game isn’t long enough, the kids can make up other, longer words to spell.

I found a really great article written by Richard J. Dolesh, Vice President for Conservation and Parks for the National Recreation and Park Association and a longtime proponent of connecting children to the natural world.

Instructions for today’s blog:

  1. Read this article, “A Living Room in the Woods:  Six Great Ways Parks Connect Kids to the Natural World.”
  2. Comment on this post and us about your favorite park or moment in a park.
  3. In the next 24 hours, visit a park with your kids and just enjoy the place, the peace, the birds, the air, and the time together.

 

 

There are 2 OK Kids events going on in Wichita on Saturday, May 19.  Join in the fun at one or both locations!  See this link for all the details.

#1.  OK Kids at the Great Plain Nature Center will be an outdoor adventure for all.  Saturday, May 19, 10a-2p!

Your Adventure at GPNC will include:

  • Live animals up close and personal
  • Building a fort
  • Fishing (sign up the day of event)
  • Target shooting
  • Building a bird house or bird feeder
  • Bird watching (win a pair of binoculars!)
  • Orienteering
  • Planting a tree (take home and plant)
  • Make a recycled toy

#2 OK Kids at the OJ Watson Park,  Saturday, May 19, 9a-noon.

Your Adventure at OJ Watson Park will include:

  • Fishing & water safety
  • Volleyball
  • Moon walk
  • Kayaks
  • Train rides, pony rides, mini-golf, pedal boats & concessions for a small fee.

Parents, have you been carting your kids around to THEIR activities?  Are you ready for a night where the evening is designed just for you?  Well here you go!

g2g Outside is hosting a Parent’s Night Out on February 6th, 6:30-8:30pm.   We will provide an evening with refreshments, a bit of education, some lively discussion, and a few fun activities or ideas that you can take home and use.

The purpose of the evening is to give parents the time and space to talk about how outdoor play shapes children and benefits them.  We will trade ideas and activities that we use to engage kids in nature.

The event is free.  But, we ask that you please register here.