Monday, 14 May 2012

Open-Ended Play in Action

Click on the following youtube link to watch Scrapstore Playpods in which children use their creativity to explore the open-ended items provided:
Scrapstore Playpods in Action

Consider adding some of these items to your outdoor play area to make outdoor time creative and fun.

Outdoor Activities to Inspire Open Ended Play:

Nature Bracelet
Before going outdoors with your child, wrap a piece of masking tape to his wrist, sticky side up.   As you explore, help him attach colorful leaves, flowers, and other interesting discoveries to his bracelet.  When done, take off the nature bracelet.  Display on a bulletin board, shelf, or wall.

Take a walk to the back of the house and ask your children to guess which room is behind each window.  If possible, lift your children so the guess can be confirmed.  Hang pictures or art work on a window and go outside to see them!  Follow any cues that the children give for ways to expand this game.

Pretend Car Wash
Help your children set up a day home car wash.   Give them a bucket of warm, soapy water and a cloth or sponge, and let them wash the riding toys.   They may need help to use the hose to rinse everything when they are finished. Follow any suggestions that the children offer for self-directed play.

Rope Games
Lay a long rope in a zigzag pattern in the grass or on your deck.  See if your child can walk on the rope. Lay the rope in a straight line like a tightrope and have your child hold out his arms to balance himself as he walks.  With the rope still lying straight, ask your child to think of how many ways he can go over it: walk across it, hop over it (on one or two feet), jump across it, crawl across it, or any other way he can think of!

Bubble Fun
Make a bubble wand by cutting two plastic drinking straws in half, then taping the four pieces together. Blowing through the straws will send lots of tiny bubbles in many directions.  Take time to dedicate each group of bubbles to someone you love, or give each bubble group a name of its own as soon as it is created.  Follow any cues that the children give for ways to expand the fun!

Shadow Tracing
Go outside with your child on a sunny day. If your child will stand still long enough, have a peer trace the shadow on the sidewalk or driveway. Have him change positions, then trace his shadow again. Make several tracings, then see if your child can fit his shadow back inside the tracings. Follow any cues that the children give for ways to expand this game. For a fun alternative, trace his shadow on a big sheet of newsprint or other paper. Let him finger-paint his shadow or color it with crayons or markers.

Knowledge of what the body can do begins with learning to move it in different ways and at different paces.  Encourage your toddler to walk in different ways with you--with high marching steps, with big striding steps, etc.  Follow any cues that your toddler gives for ways to play this game.  Use music of varying tempos to play the game.  Try the game in shoes and then barefoot and talk about the difference.

Wet Footprints
This is an easy outdoor activity that provides a fun way to learn about the feet and the length of stride. Cut the paper bags at the seam so that they can be spread out flat.  Step into the water with bare feet and walk across the paper bag, leaving footprints.  Watch as they evaporate and disappear.  Do this activity on the pavement on a warm (but not too hot) day and compare the stride of walking to running;  or repeat the activity making hand prints;  or try to cover the entire page before the prints evaporate; or challenge your child to find other objects outside that they can use to make prints. Follow any cues that the children give for ways to expand the fun!

Clothesline Art Show
Pick a day and time for the show at least a week ahead, so everyone has time to make some art. Invite parents and friends to the show. If you make paper invitations, get creative right from the start. Glue cut-out letters on a paper plate, finger paint on a grocery bag, or circle letters on a page of the newspaper. When the invitations are ready, deliver them. Then get started on your art!
The Show - this is the easy part. Just hang the clothesline between two trees or porch posts (have a backup place indoors in case of rain). Get the snacks ready. Hang your art work with the clothespins. When the guests arrive, serve the snacks, and bask in the talent of the day home artists!

High Space/Low Space
Go outside with the children and talk together about the space around us. Distinguish between high space up in the sky, low space (down on the ground), and medium space (in the middle). What living things move in these spaces? Ask the children how they would move in a high space (like a bird), in low space (crawling like a bug or snake), and middle space (animals with four legs). Experiment with dance movements exploring the space above and below. Follow any cues that the children give for ways to expand the fun!

 One Man Band
Find things that make noise found around the house: bells, beans, milk bottle tops, pan lids, bicycle horns, harmonica, spoons, chains, plastic bottles, whistle, homemade drums, tambourine. See how creative you can be in the search. The idea is for you to become the instrument. As you move around banging your knees together, wiggling your head, and shaking your feet, music will be made! Here are some ideas:
 •Mouth—blow a harmonica, whistle, glass bottle, recorder, or kazoo.
•Neck—hang bells, use string to hang a drum, xylophone, or tambourine.
•Under the arm—a bike horn tied to your upper arm so when you press your arm to your side a honking sound is made.
 •Waist—drum, xylophone, small pots, or metal objects tied together.
•Elbow and wrist—tie on small bells.
•Hands—shaking a rattle, playing drums.
•Knees—tie things to clash against each other like foil plates, cymbals, saucepan lids, or small tins filled with dried beans.
 •Ankles—tie bells, jingles, or a rattle.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

10 Reasons Kids Need Fresh Air

Our accreditation standard 1.6 states: "Children [should] have scheduled daily opportunities for outdoor play in a safe, stimulating and developmentally appropriate environment."

We understand as providers that this is the expectation, but sometimes it is nice to read something that clearly explains the benefits of outdoor play.

10 Reasons Kids Need Fresh Air

  1. Stronger bones and lower cancer risk: Today's "indoor kids" don't get enough sun and are becoming Vitamin D deficient, causing health risks.
  2. Trimmer and more healthy children: An hour of play a day is what doctors say is a basic tool in the effort to ward off childhood obesity and diabetes.
  3. Improved eyesight: Recent studies find that children who get outdoor time have less nearsightedness and need for eye glasses.
  4. Less depression and hyperactivity: Outdoor time in natural settings (even tree-lined streets) soothes kids and lowers their need for medications.
  5. Longer attention spans:Children who stare at TV and video games all day have less patience and shorter attention spans.
  6. Better at making friends: Children playing together outdoors relate directly with one another, create games together, choose sides and improve their "people" skills.
  7. More creative: Outdoor kids are more likely to use their own imaginations, inventions and creativity while playing.
  8. Less "acting out" at home and school: Getting children away from TV violence and video games helps them see that violent behavior does not always solve problems.
  9. Measurably better grades in school: The healthy bodies and minds that come with outdoor play are better able to do well in school.
  10. A longer lifespan and healthier adult life: Doctors estimate that sedentary and obese children lose three to five years from their life expectancy.
A child who spends time outdoors breathes healthier air (than indoors), learns to see the wonders of nature, climbs tress, has more fun and learns a deeper respect for wildlife and natural surroundings.

(Adapted from: "Parents: 10 Reasons kids need fresh air" by Kevin Coyle

So what are you waiting for? Grab your shoes, hats, and sunscreen and head outside - it will do you AND the children good!