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Benefits of Outdoor Play for Kids

Free play is beneficial to all kids, but nature-based play is even better because it allows children to develop a range of science, math, and engineering skills.

As we move into spring and the days become warmer and longer, it’s only natural to want to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. What better time to take the kids and head to a local park as spring unfolds around us? Children are spending half the amount of time outdoors as children did in the ’70s and ’80s. Their free time has declined dramatically over the last 20 years and the amount of unstructured activity has decreased by 50 percent.

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TIME TO BE LITTLE AGAIN

We’re led to believe that our kids need to be scheduled, their time accounted for. But, what if they really need is freedom. Blank space. A time to be little.

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Earlier this month I found myself looking at old photos from my childhood. I was reminded of how simple life was. I wasn’t enrolled, entertained, scheduled, supervised, coached, or assessed in adult-directed activities to be happy. I took my time. I collected sticks. Climbed trees. Rode my bike. Got dirty, and had FUN! Taking that step back in time left me craving more. More of that same, simple, beautiful life. It was a wonderful reminder that my own children need a slow childhood as well.

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But, in our modern world, I’m acutely aware that I’m the odd parent out. And that makes it hard. It’s so sad to see all of our parks completely empty during the day (even in the summer) because kids are too busy with organized sports, gymnastics, music classes, etc. It’s not the organized sports and activities themselves that destroy creativity but the lack of downtime. Even two hours per week of unstructured play has the ability to boost children’s creativity to above-average levels!

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One of the things that stop a lot of people from simplifying is fear. Fear that their kids might miss out on something. Fear of being judged for not “socializing” with other children. Fear that we may be impending our children’s success. Fear of what others may think.

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It takes a brave parent to trust that simplifying our children’s lives and giving them down time to play and connect with their families is what they really need!

 

 

 

Our Favorite Games for Littles!

“By playing games you can speed up your learning curve to help develop the right kind of thought processes.”

-Nate Silver

 

#1. Spot it!

 

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Spot it! is the addictive, feverishly fun matching game for every generation. The first thing to know about Spot it! is that there is always one, and only one, matching symbol between any two cards. Got it? Now all you need is a sharp eye and a quick hand to play all five party games packed into the grab ‘n’ go tin. Including up to eight players, Spot it! is a cinch to learn, plays fast, and is irresistibly fun for all ages!

 

#2. Rock Paper Scissors The Card Game

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Here’s the fast & fun CARD VERSION of the game kids have played for generations. Each player lays down a card. If your card beats your opponent’s card, you take it. When all cards have been played, the player who has collected the most cards wins the game!! 2 players, ages 4 and up!

#3. Keekee The Rocking Monkey

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Works on Balance notions • Dexterity fine motors • Weight notions • An adorable all wooden balancing game for 1 to 4 players, ages 3 and up. 

#4. Gobblet Gobblers

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Like tic-tac-toe, line up 3 of your Gobblers in a row to win! • Players can gobble up their opponent’s pieces to take their place. • Gobblet tests critical thinking while training memory skills and spatial awareness. • All wooden strategy game for 2 players, ages 5 & up.

#5. Ring It!

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Race to ring the bell first when a winning combination is shown on the table! • This fast pace game will be filled with chaos and laughter • Includes: 90 cards, a bell, and illustrated rules • For 2-9 Players, ages 5 & Up

#6. Pengoloo

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This is one of our favorites!! Works on Memoery skills • Color Recognition • up to 4 players • Go on a South Pole Egg-spedition with this all wooden memory game for 2 to 4 players, ages 4 and up. • Roll two colored dice and lift two penguins to search for colored eggs that match the dice. Collect six penguins on your iceberg to win! • Strengthens color recognition, visualization, memory and social skills. 

#7. Sequence for Kids

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Play a card from your hand, place your chip on a corresponding character on the board. When you have 4 in a row, it’s a SEQUENCE and you win! Use a wild card to place your chip anywhere. Remove your opponent’s chip with a DRAGON card. Have fun with your friends playing SEQUENCE® For Kids™! Includes: folding game board, 42 playing cards, 21 red playing chips, 21 yellow playing chips, 21 green playing chips, 21 blue playing chips, and instructions. 2 to 4 players. Ages 3-6.

#8. Shape Your Story

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A game that brings a twist to oral storytelling. Use the 3 shapes (Circle, Triangle & Square) to draw objects/characters. Let your imagination take a flight and make thousands of stories with drawings. Roll the number and the shape dice to pick your shape cards. Draw different objects with the shapes. Use the objects that you have drawn to tell a story. Play a game of telling stories by yourself, time your story and challenge another player or draw and create stories together in a game of cooperative story telling!

#9. Bananagrams Game

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The Bananagrams anagram game will drive you and your friends bananas! It requires no pencil, paper or board and provides educational family fun!

#10. Ticket To Ride-First Journey

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Start your trip across Europe with ticket to ride: first journey (Europe)! ticket to ride: first journey takes the gameplay of the ticket to ride series and scales it for a younger audience. During the game, players will collect train cards, claim routes on the map of Europe, and try to connect the cities shown on their tickets. The first player to complete six tickets wins! with the same gameplay as the first ticket to ride: first journey game, but now featuring a map of Europe, this game is perfect for any young conductors!

 

 

 

 

 

A Nature Inspired Valentine’s Day

There are so many adorable nature-themed Valentines Day crafts for kids! Take some time this weekend to create some of these adorable keepsakes!

#1. Nature Valentine’s Card

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#2. You Rock Valentines

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#3.  Valentine’s Bird Feeders

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#4. Love Bug Valentine

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#5. Toad-ally Awesome Valentine’s!

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#6.  Valentine’s Tree

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#7. Plantable Valentine’s Heart

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#8. Heart Stick Mobile

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#9. Valentine’s Tree

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#10. Birch-bark Heart

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10 Ways to Study Nature in Winter

We absolutely love nature study in our home, however as soon as the cold weather hits it seems to get a lot harder to keep it up… continue reading

 

Sensory Play with Nature

One of the best ways littles can learn is through sensory play. There are so many wonderful things to learn, and littles learn by doing!

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Here are a few of our favorite hands-on learning activities for children!

 

 

 

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The winter sensory garden from barley&birch!

 

Full Moon Schedule for 2018!

January makes getting outdoors even harder, which also means cabin fever is starting to set in. This is why we love this full moon schedule! It gives us a fun January activity!

Gear up with some blankets and a thermos full of hot coffee and enjoy some night sky gazing! alex-6726

  • January 31- Wolf Moon

  • March 1st- Worm Moon

  • March 31st- Blue Moon

  • April 29th- Pink Moon

  • May 29th- Corn Planting Moon

  • June 28th- Strawberry Moon

  • July 27th- Thunder Moon

  • August 26th- Green Corn Moon

  • September 24th- Harvest Moon

  • October 24th- Hunter’s Moon

  • November 23rd- Frost Moon

  • December 22nd- Long Night Moon