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Posts Tagged ‘Outdoor play’

Keep Outdoor Play Simple: Let Nature Supply the Learning.

Dad and two small preschool children going on walk outside on a path

Daily walks or time spent outdoors have recently become part of many families daily routines as the benefits of time spent outdoorsincluding lowering stress levels and combating hyperactivity, are being experienced firsthand. As such, many parents and caretakers are looking for guidance on worthwhile outdoor activities for their children that don’t require a lot of planning or supplies. Below are some ideas for simple, quality outdoor activities that you and your children can do together that don’t require supplies or much planning. 

Activity One – Taking a Walk Outside 

Taking a walk may seem too simple to have any real benefits, but it has many. It is a great gross motor and physical activity for the whole family, especially those still perfecting their walking skills. Even for older children, taking a walk on uneven ground such as over roots in a wooded area or through a park with slopes, arched bridges or hills provides excellent opportunities to practice coordination and helps them learn to navigate varying terrains safely 

Activity Two – Counting Natural Items 

Head outside to your backyard, a nearby park or natural space. Have your children pick an item that they can see more than one of, such as trees, flowers, rocks or even wildlife. Have your children count how many of each item that they see. For infants, talk about what you see and count out loud to them. Older children may even want to practice adding or subtracting the numbers that correlate to different natural items. 

Activity Three – Watching Clouds  

Find an outdoor space with a clear view of the sky. Lay in the grass or on a blanket and ask your children what they see in the clouds. Point out anything that you see in the clouds. Does one cloud look like a dog and another like a tree? Ask your children what they know about whatever they see in the clouds to help develop their critical thinking skills, and identify areas of interest that you can explore together 

Activity Four – Taking a Thankful Walk 

Take a walk around your yard or community and point out natural items that you are thankful for to your children, such as I am thankful for the trees because they provide shade for us on hot, sunny daysI am thankful for the grass because it gives us a soft place to sit outside or I am thankful for the sun because it helps all of the plants to grow. Then ask your children to point out what they see around them that they are thankful for, and why. Depending on what your children point out, you can dive deeper into any topics that they show interest in and help them think critically about the natural world around them.  

Even the simplest of outdoor activities can have numerous benefits for both you and your children. Use your time spent outdoors as a chance to relax and enjoy some quality time together while the learning happens naturally 

Rorie Wells M.A., CPSI 

Education Facilities Specialist – Playgrounds 

At-Home Learning Activities

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A Short List of Summertime Safety Essentials

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Have you found a summer camp program for your child yet? A high-quality summer camp often means spending a lot of time outside soaking up the sun and exploring the world. While outdoor play is a great way to keep children active and happy (and learning!), there are some summertime essentials every parent needs to protect their children from the potential hazards of summertime.

  • Sunscreen is necessary to protect your child’s skin from harmful sun damage;
  • Children should wear sunglasses to shield their eyes from the UVA and UVB rays;
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children wear a wide-brimmed hat that can shade the cheeks, chin, ears and back of the neck;
  • The AAP also recommends that children wear clothes made of tightly woven fabrics, such as cotton, which is protective and cool;
  • Insect repellent is another important tool in a summer safety arsenal. Current AAP and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines recommend using insect repellent that contains 10% to 30% DEET in children older than two months;
  • Have plenty of water on hand – even if an activity isn’t overly physical, children (and adults!) need to remain hydrated in hot weather.

 

Kids Who Spend More Time Outside Are Happier Adults, Science Says

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Sending the kids outside to play isn’t just a good way to get them out of the house, it’s also beneficial for their mental health. And as a new study from Aarhus University in Denmark shows, children who more spend more time in nature may be less likely to develop various psychiatric disorders as adults.

This scientific research essentially confirms what we’ve always known: Playing outdoors is good for kids’ overall happiness and development. But what this study also shows is having more “cumulative green space” while growing up is associated with a “lower risk of a wide spectrum of psychiatric disorders later in life.”

There are a number of other factors that affect mental health, including family history and genetic predispositions to certain conditions. And the point of this study isn’t to scare city dwellers—it’s to reinforce for the idea that “green space” is good for kids, and integrating natural environments into urban areas has proven benefits as well.

The fact is that kids just don’t spend as much time outside as we did growing up. One 2016 survey from U.K.’s National Trust showed that the average child spent just over four hours a week enjoying Mother Nature, compared to the 8.2 hours their parents logged when they were little. We can chalk it up to our busy schedules and the rise of technology, but that doesn’t change the fact that our kids aren’t getting much fresh air and sunshine.

Many parents are trying to change to this, though. Take Ginny and Jason Yurich, a Michigan mom and dad who started 1000 Hours Outside, an online community encouraging families to (you guessed it) aim to spend 1000 hours a year in the great outdoors.

The Yurichs, who have five children, say that an ideal world, children should be outside four to six hours a day. That’s a lot, we know, and the creators of 1000 Hours Outside are quick to say they’re not spending four to six hours outside every day. Instead, they “aim for 4-6 hours outside at least three to four times a week,” Ginny writes, explaining they do “a little more in the nicer months and a little less in the worse ones.”

There’s plenty of evidence that suggests unstructured outdoor play is key to a child’s development, and we’re of the mindset that every little bit counts. What the Yurichs are saying, though, is that when kids are able to spend longer periods of time outdoors, the benefits are even bigger.

“Children who are allowed this freedom of time outside get lost in nature,” Ginny explains. “They get lost in their imaginations and they get lost in wonder. And then they rapidly develop. There are many factors why but one reason is due to the rich sensory environment that nature always provides.”

Nature also provides the perfect place for kids and parents to be active and explore the world around them. It isn’t always possible to head outside and play, but when the weather’s right and you can carve out some time in the family’s schedule, it’s a wonderful, affordable way to engage those little ones and their developing minds.

 

This article was written by Rebecca Macatee from Parents and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The 5 Best Outdoor Family Activities for the Most Time-Pressed Moms

Outdoor family activities don’t have to require a lot of planning or trips to the store. Here are five easy, low-cost ideas for working moms.

For any mother, time with your family is extremely valuable, especially when balancing that time with a career. You want to plan fun, entertaining activities to do with your children, but you also need ideas that don’t require a lot of time or an unwanted trip to the craft store.

Now that spring is in the air, you’re likely looking for ways to have fun outside as a family. These five outdoor activities are perfect for working moms who need simple yet creative ideas that don’t require much preparation.

1. Sidewalk chalk art

 

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Take the coloring outside! Sidewalk chalk is a great item to have on hand for when your children get bored. You can take turns tracing each other, turning yourselves into superheroes and other fun characters. Develop your child’s gross motor skills by playing hopscotch together. You can also use sidewalk chalk to build your child’s knowledge of shapes, letters or numbers. For example, try having your little one run or jump to circles, squares, triangles and rectangles as you name each shape.


2. Sensory scavenger hunt

 

Children playing in nature

 

Photo: iStock

This can also be an opportunity to teach your kids about nature.

Turn scavenger hunts into sensory scavenger hunts! Identify the smells and sounds of nature together. It’s a simple way to have a scavenger hunt without requiring time to develop clues or buy additional resources. See what your children can find, whether it’s birds chirping or flowers blooming. If something sparks their curiosity during the scavenger hunt, let them explore and ask questions.


3. Car wash

 

Girl washing the car with mom

 

Photo: iStock

A fun activity that checks a chore off of your To-Do list.

As a working mom, your to-do list may be a mile long, so get the whole family involved with chores like washing the car. Your little ones will enjoy splashing in the water and playing with bubbles! They can also wash their trikes, bikes or toy cars! Car washes are fun, and doing them together is a great way to check something off your to-do list.


4. Bubbles

 

Family blowing bubbles

 

Photo: iStock

Kids of all ages love bubbles.

If your children love making bubbles during car washes, they’ll love blowing bubbles too. The best part? You don’t even have to purchase bubble solution, which can go quickly with accidental spills. Homemade bubbles are fun to make and may save you a little bit of cash.

The simplest recipe only requires one part liquid dish soap to 15 parts water. Combine the soap and water in a large dish or bucket and stir gently. Dip your favorite household wand like a slotted spoon or coat hanger. Have some fun cookie cutters available? Those are great for making bubbles into different shapes!


5. Evening walk

 

Family walking together

 

Photo: iStock

Going for a walk is also great exercise for the whole family.

After a work day, get outside with the children for a walk around the neighborhood. You can even grab a couple slices of bread and walk to a nearby park to feed the ducks.

An evening walk is a great way to release the stress of the day and let your children get rid of excess energy before bedtime. Take this time to catch up as a family and learn about each other’s day. You may notice this quality time together becoming a treasured family ritual.

Activities that are engaging don’t have to be complicated or expensive. After a long day of work, you’re ready for quality family time. Make it fun and easy with these activities.

Leslie Marley is the Director of Education and Curriculum at U-GRO Learning Centres, a premiere provider of early childhood and preschool education in Central Pennsylvania. Marley has worked in the field of early childhood education for more than 20 years. She is passionate about serving and empowering children and families.

 

This article was written by Leslie Marley from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Play in the Park

Parks are a great place to encourage outdoor play. Instead of sitting inside watching television or playing on a tablet, plan a day at the park with your little one. Bring lunch, water and snacks so you and your child can enjoy the outdoors all day.

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A few activities to get you started for the day can include playing Frisbee, playing catch and jumping rope. Try to gather a group of children and their parents for a friendly game of whiffle ball. If your park has a walking trail, bring a notebook and ask your child to draw things that you see along the way. Take photos of unique animals, flowers or trees and research them at home for a nice cool-down activity.

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What are some activities you and your children do at the park?

Sufficient Hydration is Necessary for a Healthy Lifestyle

20120920_goddard_TN_0207Most of us are concerned that our children have good eating habits to ensure proper growth; however, not many of us put as much thought into the amount of water our little ones consume. What is the proper amount of water for children?

Water is not a one size fits all commodity. The amount of water children need depends on their age, weight and gender. Although there is not an exact number, we all could use a little more H2O to keep us on the go.

Here are some tips to increase your child’s water consumption.

  • The most efficient and effective way to boost your child’s water intake is to always have it available. Whether she is at home, at school or playing outdoors, make sure your child is always within reach of water.
  • Encourage your child to drink water by simply placing it in front of her without any alternative options. If she does not have soda or other sugary beverages around her, she will be more likely to drink the water without a fuss.
  • Increase your child’s consumption of fruits and vegetables that contain large volumes of water, such as strawberries, oranges, watermelon and cucumbers.
  • Be a good example; increase your water intake as well. This will not only keep you on track with how much water you consume, but watching you drink water will ensure that your child will want to drink it too.

Staying hydrated helps children focus better in school, brightens their mood and improves their performance in day to day activities.

Grab a glass of water for you and your little one, and start increasing your intake today.

Bike Readiness & Helmet Safety

During the summer months, it is important to verify bike readiness by running through this checklist to ensure your children’s safety.twenty20_fc896173-a5ae-4b99-8237-0ab82975d14a

  • Make sure their helmet still fits properly. If the helmet is too small or has previously been involved in a crash or has been damaged, replace it.
  • Clean off all the dust on the bike and check for loose parts, this includes the seat and handlebars.
  • Check and inflate the tires. Also, check for tire wear and dry rot.
  • Adjust the seat. Your children have grown since the last time they rode their bikes. When seated on the bike, your child should be able to stand on the balls of both feet.
  • Check the handlebars. They should be easy to grasp without leaning forward.
  • Make sure the brakes are working properly and there is no wear.
  • Buy the appropriate sized bike. Never buy a bike that your child will “grow into.”

Bike Helmet Safety

Many children do not like wearing helmets because they fear they are “uncool.” Because of this, it is important to have your children start wearing a helmet with their first tricycles or play vehicles to get them in the habit. Let your children know you expect them to wear a helmet every time they ride. Be a role model and wear a helmet when you ride your bike; your children are more likely to wear a helmet if they see you demonstrating good safety.

Allowing your children to choose their own helmet will increase the probability that they will want to wear it. Make sure when purchasing a new helmet that it is the correct size. Never buy a helmet that your child will “grow into.”

  • The helmet should sit level on your child’s head. It should be low on the forehead, about one or two finger widths above their eyebrows.
  • Adjust the straps so they meet in a “V” right under each ear.
  • Adjust the chinstrap snugly under the chin so that no more than one or two fingers fit under the strap. Keep the helmet tight enough so the helmet pulls down when you child opens his or her mouth.
  • Always make sure helmet straps are buckled when your child is riding.

Five Ways to Fend Off Your Child’s Boredom

Sooner or later, your child may utter the phrase “I’m bored.” Should that time come, here are five ways to help your child learn how to entertain herself.

  1. Make a boredom box. Sit down with your child and brainstorm a list of different things she likes to do. Then, write each idea on a different slip of paper and put them all in a shoebox or jar. If your child gets bored, take out the box and ask her to pick out an activity (without peeking).Puzzle_jpg
  2. Play a game. It doesn’t matter whether you play a card game, a board game or a word game as long as you play it together. It will help to alleviate his boredom and strengthen family bonds.
  3. Ask your child to help you with chores. Some children love to help with housework, such as dusting and cleaning. You can make a game out of seeing who can fold the laundry the fastest or who can sweep up more dust.
  4. Head outside. Take a walk, go on a geocache hunt or play catch if your child is old enough. Just remember to bring water and use sunscreen.
  5. Let your child be bored. Some artists and writers say that boredom inspires creativity. Boredom might inspire your child to try an activity she hasn’t explored before. Who knows? Boredom may bring out your child’s inner Picasso!

Five Ways to Prevent “Summer Slide”

Summer is an awesome time of year. It’s full of family get-togethers, trips to the pool and vacations. With all that awesomeness, though, sometimes learning falls by the wayside. Research has shown that some children experience summer learning loss, also known as “summer slide” because their minds aren’t as engaged as they are during the school year. You can help to keep your child’s brain active and prevent summer slide with these five fun learning activities:

  1. Read, read, read. Read to your child or encourage him to read for twenty minutes every day. Taking a trip to the library on hot, humid or rainy days can be fun, too. Also, listening to audio books is great during car trips.
  2. Learn a new word every week. Make this a game by seeing who can use the new word the most times throughout the week. You can even make a scoreboard and stick it on the fridge. Encourage your child to look through a picture dictionary to pick out new words.
  3. Get cooking. Cooking with your child is a fun way to teach your child math and reading skills as well as how to follow instructions. Look through a cookbook with your little one, and ask him what he would like to make.
  4. Hit the road. Take a field trip to a museum, a zoo or an aquarium. Before you go, read a book with your child about the sights at your destination. When you return, you and your child can write a journal entry about your adventures.
  5. Go outside. Embrace the nice weather and go on a hike, nature walk or bike ride. Pack a magnifying glass and/or binoculars, and take breaks along the way to take a closer look at things. You and your little one can even take notes on interesting objects or animals and look up more information about them online or in an encyclopedia when you get home.