Fed Up With Frenzy? Get ‘em Outside to Play!

 

TGSG Note: Hi gang! This week, my friend and fellow nature geek, Suz Sachs Lipman, is stopping by to share some fun activities to help get you and your family outside and connecting with nature. Suz is celebrating the publishing of her new book, Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World. See ya outside! ~ The Grass Stain Guru 

If you find yourself craving a deeper connection to nature, but don’t know where to begin or what to do once we get there, you’re not alone. These simple and rewarding activities can help you and your family slow down enough to observe and experience nature’s small wonders and have fun while you’re doing so.

1.  Name Walk

As lovely as nature is, the instruction to observe it can be overwhelming, especially for kids. Just as birdwatchers focus on birds, other opportunities to focus on specific elements of nature can help children tune into their surroundings.

You’ll need:

• Paper and pencils, optional

Before beginning your walk, instruct everyone to look for things that start with the same first letter as their names.

Lead kids on a route or trail or around a park and encourage them to look in the sky, on the ground, and in trees. Be prepared to walk slowly and perhaps not cover much distance, to allow
deep observation.

Try other observation walks by having everyone look for the same type of thing, such as flowers, leaves, birds, rocks, small items, smooth items, or certain colors. See how many varieties the group can find within one category.

2.  Nature Bracelets

I’ve done this very easy activity with groups of all ages. It encourages people to look all around them.

You’ll need:

• Masking tape, 1? or wider, enough to go around each child’s wrist

Tear off a piece of masking tape, slightly longer than the child’s wrist.

Place it around the wrist with the sticky side out.

Go for a walk or hunt and look for small items in nature that can be stuck to the masking tape, such as leaves, twigs, seeds, acorns, pebbles, and pods. In general, things that have already fallen on the ground are safe to pick. If in doubt, leave something.

Fill the bracelet by sticking the items onto it and wear it proudly.

3.  Kim’s Game

This well-known game has entertained many generations and is easy to organize and play, indoors or out.

You’ll need:

• 20 small items, such as acorns, shells, twigs, rocks, pinecones, or seeds
• Pencil and paper for each person
• Towel or something to cover items

Decide whether you are playing in teams or individually.

Uncover items for two minutes.

Cover items again. Teams or players remember and name as many objects as they can.
Each player earns one point for each correct article named.

Seeking a different way to play? Try Duplication. Uncover items for two minutes. Players go out in nature to find duplicates of the items.

Have fun while you deepen your connection to nature!

Playfully yours, Suz 

 

Adapted from Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World, by Susan Sachs Lipman. The book contains these activities and many more. Follow Suz on Twitter!

photo by: Genevieve Paule

Summer PSA

The stark realization has hit: It’s already mid-July and the incredible summer days and nights we dream of most of the year are quickly passing us by.

GASP. I know.

So consider this a little Public Service Announcement from your friendly neighborhood Grass Stain Guru

GO OUTSIDE & PLAY.

Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. No more excuses. And seriously, the air conditioning will be waiting for you…and will feel even better when you go outside and get your play on!

  1. Catch fireflies
  2. Run through the sprinkler or have a wet sponge fight
  3. Roast the perfect marshmallow or challenge yourself to come up with a gourmet s’more recipe
  4. Head to a nearby fishing hole.  Take a child who has never had the opportunity and watch their eyes light up.
  5. Try geocaching
  6. Have a watermelon seed spitting contest
  7. Camp. Backyard, tree house or nearby county or state park — it doesn’t matter as long as you sleep outside
  8. Eat a popsicle under a shade tree and play The Cloud Game
  9. Find a nearby trail and hike when the sun is not too high — early in the morning or at dusk
  10. _________________ (Use your imagination and share in the comments section! What’s your #10?) :-)

When September comes and the kids head back to school and the summer light starts to fade, you will have such fond memories of time spent in the pursuit of play — and making the most of this gorgeous planet that we call home.

Trust me — this fact will make you happy. The end.

Don’t miss out. Mother Nature has something great waiting for you…

See ya outside! ~ The Grass Stain Guru

photo by: theogeo

5 Fun Things To Do With Kids This Weekend

Some of you will be wrapping up Spring Break/Easter Holidays this weekend, while others are just getting started. Either way, these activities will get you and your kiddos moving and enjoying the great outdoors.

5 Fun Things To Do With Kids This Weekend:

  1. Set up a Bunny-Tastic Obstacle Course! Using hula hoops, cardboard boxes, 2 liter bottles, or whatever else you have around the house or garage, set up an obstacle course in your yard or nearby park/green space. Older children will delight in designing the course(s) themselves. Instead of running through the course, everyone has to “hop like a bunny” – which is actually jumping, because it involves both feet, not just one. But somehow saying,  jumping like a bunny just doesn’t sound right.
  2. Go fly a kite! Head to your favorite park or green space and take your kite for a spin. No kite? No problem! Why not try making one with your kids? Younger children can make a simple kite out of a paper plate that they decorate. While it may not get very far off the ground, they will delight in “flying” (or dragging!) it around the yard, park, or neighborhood.
  3. Go on a nature hike, looking for animals, insects, birds, and spring flowers! Each time you see a new animal, have the children move like that animal. Find a flowerHow many petals does it have? Have the children jump the number of petals the flower has.
  4. Build a fort with sticks and logs. Use and old sheet or tarp to help block some of the wind and keep dry and cozy in the spring drizzle. Help the kids pack a healthy snack to enjoy in their fort.
  5. Is it raining outside? Why not go puddle jumping, make mud pies, or play catch the rain drops? Give each child a small container (an empty yogurt cup or margarine container will do) and run around the yard, neighborhood, or favorite play space and see how long it takes to fill up the containers. Change the ways you move (try skipping or walking backwards) to extend the play. When your containers are full, you can take them inside and make rain paintings using the water you collected with watercolor paints or to mix tempera paints.

Need help finding a park near you? Visit my friends at NatureFind. Enter your zip code to find parks, trails, gardens, and outdoor events near you.

Want to know what wildlife to look for nearby? eNature has great online field guides that are searchable by zip code.

No matter what you do this weekend, unplug and go play outside! It’s good for the body, mind, and spirit.

        

Happy Easter and see ya outside!  

~ The Grass Stain Guru 

 

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