If you want your children to be skilled and creative problem solvers, consider preparing outdoor play spaces for imaginative play! Fantasy play and imaginative role playing, in spaces like fairy gardens, are well established pre-cursers to divergent and original problem solving later in life; skills that are well recognized in highly effective students! Fairy Gardens are a great way to encourage imaginative play and they are perfect for taking advantage of the magical thinking young children bring to their everyday play.
Now that winter is in full swing, it’s hard to imagine spring bursting from the cold, barren ground in a few months. But until then, why not create a terrarium to bring a little life and greenery inside? A homemade terrarium is an easy and inexpensive project you can do by yourself or with your kids in an afternoon. The bowl of year-around greenery, will instantly brighten a room and make the browns and whites outside seem a little less daunting.
I don’t know about you, but my 6-year-old can ask about a million questions a minute. True story. It usually starts innocent enough, but trust me when I tell you, the little guy keeps me on my toes and calls me on any inconsistencies that may creep in because I’m at my question answering limit.
Summer is a perfect time to facilitate learning through entertainment. Remember being a kid and looking in the encyclopedia when you found a mushroom or learned a bit about physics when your fishing rod broke? Let’s get outside this summer and see what nature will teach us!
15 Summer Activities in Nature
1. Go for a hike! It’s a great way to get some exercise and discover new species at the same time.
2. Build forts made of driftwood on the beach. The kids can learn about structures while having fun scouring the beach for the much needed piece of wood for the roof.
3. Go camping! Whether it be at a site or just the backyard, camping is a great way to get outside and learn about your surroundings.
4. Do some gardening! Get the kids involved and give them a small patch in the backyard to create their own mini garden. They can learn what different species need to survive and have fun choosing the plants for their garden at the same time.
5. Go on an outdoor scavenger hunt! Make a list of things to find, whether it be a pinecone, something yellow, or a leaf the size of your hand and get scavenging!
6. Go geocaching! Teach the kids some navigation skills as they hunt for treasure. You never know, there may be treasure waiting for you right around the corner!
7. Go for a family bike ride. On a trail or through the neighbourhood, biking is a great way to be active in nature.
8. Go berry picking! Everyone can do it and afterwards the family can learn how to make a delicious treat incorporating the berries.
9. Fly a kite! You can get crafty and make your own or you can by one at the store. Either way, kite flying is a great family activity.
10. Have a neighbourhood game of soccer! Get the whole neighbourhood involved and play this simple yet fun game in your front yard or the park. You will be teaching the kids about teamwork in a way that just seems like fun and games.
11. Decorate the sidewalk with chalk! The kids can unleash their creativity while enjoying the great outdoors.
12. Take out your camera and go outside for some outdoor photography. Get some shots of your favorite plants and animals to use in a scrapbook!
13. Scavenge the beach for shells and sea glass to use in an art project of the kid’s choosing. Their creativity will not be lost over the summer with projects like these.
14. Go kayaking or stand up paddle boarding! Get outside and breath in the ocean air! Perseverance is taught (especially if it’s your first time) and the health benefits are endless!
15. Set up the sprinkler on those particularly hot summer day’s and watch the endless hours of enjoyment begin.
Well, it’s been quite the week. We were on Spring Break vacation skiing for the beginning but the family took the 30 Green Days Challenge all the way to a condo in Whistler, BC, and we incorporated all of the energy tips we could muster.
Turning off lights and even training the kids that they don’t need as many lights on in order to sleep was key. Our heat turned down or off, and we used a fireplace and sweaters to make up the difference. With towels shoved under door cracks and energy-efficient replacement bulbs stocked for the replacement of burnt-out lights, we felt pretty great about the week of energy saving. One of the best parts of this whole program is that we are focusing weekly on a different green initiative, and as we all know from improving our workout habits – focus and repetition create lasting habits.
Next week, our challenge is to focus on water consumption. My family could potentially be the worst water consumer on record, except for me of course. (As a mom, I somehow don’t find much time to bathe so I suppose I am saving a ton of water with my twice-a-week cleansing sessions. But I probably shouldn’t be proud of that.)
Here are the plans the fam and I came up with for saving water:
- Our house is quite large and the upstairs doesn’t get hot water immediately. We have to run water for a few minutes in order for hot to appear. I will delve into this phenomenon and see if we can remedy the situation. In the meantime, my husband and I will brush our teeth and shower on the bottom floor.
- We live in Rain-Couver. OK, Vancouver, British Columbia, but we pretty much have a monsoon from November until March. Rain barrels could be filled within a few days, so I have been reticent to invest. But in the dead of summer with no water in sight, I would be grateful for a few gallons of recycled water. I will commit to purchasing at least three barrels. Maybe I can get a group discount with my neighbours and spread the environmental love.
- My son actually lambasted me the other day for letting the water run as we brushed his teeth. We will all heed his advice.
- Gardens are a personal passion. This week we planted organic vegetables in a cold frame and took advantage of the sun to plant hardier seeds in the garden. (Well, the kids planted pumpkins while I planed everything else). Starting from seed enables us to use water sparingly and we will also make a commitment to hand water the whole garden so as not to spray sidewalks and paths. And no more noon watering when most of the moisture evaporates in the sun.
- This may sound odd, but the family asks for drinking water all the time. We are blessed that tap water is full of nutrients and flavor, and yet I cringe at how many half-empty glasses pour down the drain. I vow to make our water more exciting by using ice and lemon slices. Maybe also put it in fancy glasses. The kids will sip it (and finish it) with awe.
- Our children’s school supports the Obakki Foundation to raise money for water wells in South Sudan. They have learned about the value of water to human beings and constantly come up with ways to fundraise for more water wells for communities where kids walk miles to fill a bucket instead of going to school. As it is our second week of March Break, the kids and I will come up with a fun idea that will support this fundraising initiative while we also try to conserve our own water.
I have found so far that the SC Johnson 30 Green Days Challenge has put the environment in the front of my mind at all times, and I am so excited by coming up with specific ways that my family can help.
Cheers to water!
While SC Johnson is the sponsor of the 30 Green Days Challenge, all opinions and comments within the post are my own.