Monday, April 20, 2015

Outside with our Children - resources

A MOPS Talk...
A Conversation with Young Moms – Part III
{A Conversation with Young Moms - Part I}
{A Conversation with Young Moms - Part II}

Some resources and fun things to do outside are listed at the end to encourage you as you play in the open air and splash in the puddles!

Here were our questions to get us ready to head out of the house and into the world around us.

How can you be more deliberate in planning free play outside?  What are some ways you can make that easier?

What benefits do you notice or would like to see from being outdoors with your children?

Think of some times when you see how playing together strengthens your relationship with your child and the family.

How can you help foster an interest in the created world?  In what ways can you see being outside as an opportunity to help foster a love for the Creator?

All Things Bright and Beautiful
by Ms. Cecil Francis Alexander

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,

All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Practical ways to make it easier to get outside.  Some ideas and resources.
Here are some of the resources, book, and activities I shared when we were together.  I hope you are inspired to get outside!

Children don't need to be taught to wonder, they only need opportunities to walk in its path. ~ Walking in Wonder: Nurturing Virtues in Your Children by Elizabeth White...
and my friend Marcia would add that they need an adult to be willing to wonder beside them. She says…
I encourage people to put their phone away and get down on the level of their child to see things up close.  And bring a few treasures back home to display on the kitchen table for memory...

Create a Nature Table/shelf when you bring those finds back home.  It's easy; use a coffee table and place everything on a tray to set it apart from the other items.  What about an area on a placemat in the center of your kitchen table?  Use some clear mason jars if you need to keep something contained like pebbles or sand or crumbles leaves and acorn caps.  Teach your child to be gentle and let them feel and touch and experience.  Encourage them to look and tell and draw about what they see. 

It's spring.  It is supposed to rain!  Puddles ARE fun to jump in & why not? Dress appropriately for the temperature, put a tub of water by the back door to wash feet and some towels to dry up with and make sure the washer is ready for a new load--no excuses, out EVERYONE goes! 

Right now is a great time to take yarn, embroidery threads cut into strips, small strips of cotton fabrics and put them loosely in a suet frame and hang it for birds to use for nest building.  Then see if you spot any material from your stash in the nests when you go on a neighborhood walk.

Even really little ones can scoop birdseed into a feeder and will love to see who comes to your tree to find food; maybe even some squirrels might try to get your seeds!  Merlin Bird ID is a great app for your phone or ipad that Cornell University has created to easily identify that bird you just saw.  I use it all the time when I'm traveling to new areas with new birds I don't recognize.  It's easy enough to use if you are just getting started noticing birds with your children too!  Then you can look him up in the bird guide when you get home.

If you are planting a garden, grow some kid friendly plants too.  Sunflowers usually grow well if the bunnies don't eat them before they get bigger.  (I usually grow ours inside in cups until they are 10-12 inches tall, then transplant them.) Just one or two by the fence or up against the house will work.  If you are ambitious and have plenty of room, grow a sunflower hut like ours.

Get everything ready ahead of time.  Put your 'Nature Back Pack' together with a couple of water bottles, a few nature guides, some colored pencils and basic spiral drawing pad.  Add some hand wipes and a bug jar--what more could you need? It is a good start anyway and will certainly get you to the park or around the block and back! Get all those outside walking shoes together in a basket in the garage or front closet then they are ready to go next time little feet get too antsy to be inside or everyone is grumpy and needs fresh air!

If you need something to get your nature inspiration and creativity going, you can find many ideas here: & Outdoor Hour Challenge, The Kid's Nature Book by Susan Milord, or Nature All Year Long by Walker are great for year round ideas.
Discover Nature Close to Home by Lawlor or The Handbook of Nature Study by Comstock are two of my favorite resource books for moms.   

Wild Days, Creating Discovery Journals by Rackliffe is wonderful if you can find a copy and Red Mountain Community School has a Calendar of Firsts (see posts: Signs of Spring & Calendar of Firsts follow up) that is a wonderful way to keep track of when things happen in nature each year.  Or just start your own on a wall calendar or a spiral notebook!

I'll share some of my favorite kid's books in a new post of Nature Stories for Children that spark imagination and curiosity.

But remember you don't need specific plans.  Be simple! You don't have to have an elaborate project.  As a matter of fact, it's better if you don't!  Remember - unstructured free play, not mom's 'fun' project!  Just do whatever strikes your child at the moment.  Hop, run, roll, jump, climb...take a walk.  That's the point anyway, getting outside to begin to notice the things around you and the sounds and smells and intricate details that it takes time to learn to look for and discover!