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At this time of the year, I imagined all the leaves on the ground yelling” Pick me up! Play with me!”
Chances are, when you and your kids go outside, a collection of stones, sticks and leaves comes home with you. Outdoor experiences give us and our kids the opportunity to explore,to think and to feel. We get an emotional connection when we interact with nature. We develop our own understandings of who we are and how we work within the world.
For kids 2-6 years old, leaf prints are always fun to do. Here’s a link that shows you how to do that, step by step with your kids. If you haven’t discovered an online blogger called B-Inspired Mama,she posts tons of arts and crafts ideas for this age group so that kids learn through play and hands- on projects.
Look what else you can do with leaves!
For kids 7-12 years old, take collecting leaves a step further and challenge their attention to details. Collect the leaves with the purpose in mind of using them to create an animal mosaic. Your outdoor trek turns into an art AND a science project.(Sohi). You will develop your kids vocabulary,fine motor skills, body of content knowledge, artist’s eye, an ecological ethic and the joy of connecting with nature’s marvels,through play.
First, take your kids to the library to find books and magazine with lots of animal pictures.
Here are 3 tips to develop a unique art and crafts project using leaves with your kids.
1. Develop Vocabulary
Help kids look for leaves of different sizes, shapes and colors and develop new vocabularies like: -star-shaped, heart shaped, fan shaped, long, narrow and needle shaped, saw-toothed, lobe like or oval. Challenge your kids imagination.
2. Train their Eyes
Encourage the kids to look for tiny leaves that could be used for eyes, beaks, paws, tails or a nose. Collect material that could be used to suggest a setting for their animal.
3. Include science.
Explain the life cycle of leaf and the production of chlorophyll that results in the leaf’s green color.
4. Keep it Real!
Turn the kids work into something of value and share it. Turn their art work into a stationary card and send it off to a friend,cousin, grandma or grandad.They are sure to love it.
Rivkin, M., & Schein, D. (2014). The great outdoors: Advocating for natural spaces for young children (Rev. ed.). Washington, DC:
National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Sohi, M. (1993). Look What I Did with A Leaf! New York: Walker and Company.
With the start of the school year, so too starts the sport teams weekly practices and games. The kids like the organized activities. Depending on what you choose, there are benefits for language development, physical fitness and cultivating the fine arts.
Part of this is done to keep kids safe and to bridge times between when school ends and when our workdays end. Partially we, as parents, are guilty of giving in to societal pressures. We limit giving kids time to enjoy unstructured play.
Walking to school used to be the usual way most children in urban area’s got to school. But concerns about protecting our kids have intensified as roads have become busier. Today parents feel the community is less safe for our kids than when we were their age.
Our lives are busy but it’s been my experience that finding a way to walk to and from school with the kids pays off. Walking to school is a time when the kids get organized, in their own minds, as to what the day will bring. The walk home from school provides me with the opportunity to get all the highlights of their day. It’s usually a jumble of information all at once.
While walking there is no way to do homework, make dinner or clean the house. The focus is on getting from school to home or vice versa. The time is free flowing without other distractions.
On Friday, September 19, 2014 the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) will promote and encourage everyone to participate in the 9th RUN@WORK Day and the 3rd RUN School Day, a nationwide fitness effort to get people moving and getting fit. Walking to and from school helps do that. I believe it has other benefits.
1. There are moments of free flowing discussion.
We’ve sorted out hurt feelings, navigated difficult classroom social situations all through the opportunity it creates for these spontaneous conversations. The kids receive my emotional support and validation for their feelings in a calm atmosphere.
2. It promotes imaginative play.
The kids run, jump, race, hop, skip and chase. They engage in unstructured play. Occasionally we have tears but more often they race each other to meeting spots or pick up leaves, seeds and other natural treasures. I could not plan their adventures if I tried. They simply evolve because kids have the opportunity to be kids. They create their own play.
3. We engage with the world around us.
The common thread of walking results in our talking with older neighbors out walking their dogs. We develop strong connections with each other. We see, smell, hear and feel Mother Nature and unless it’s pouring rain or frigidly cold, we dress for the weather and walk.
We’re fortunate to live in an area where getting to and from school by walking or biking with the kids is possible. My purpose in doing it is selfish and I am unapologetic. I keep them under my wings, for a little while, letting them just be kids. They have a “breather” from the structured demands of society and school. We are distracted from the rigors of daily life. We listen. We share. We talk. We nurture our relationships.
Friday, September 19, 2014 join Road Runners Club Of America in the 3rd RUN @ School day. Walk there too!
Read more about Carolyn, her challenge and her journey to raise $10,000 for finding new cures and treatments for blood cancers . Her letter is below.
This year I’m fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through Team In Training. I am running in honor of my niece, Moira Hogan, who was diagnosed in Spring 2011 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and who successful finished her treatment cycle in August 2013. Below is a picture of Moira taken last week in front of her betta fish, Glub, which she received for her 7th birthday.
Moira was 3 years old when she was diagnosed and by running in her honor, I am also recognizing the fortitude and tenacity her parents, Jennifer & Tom Hogan, demonstrated throughout the grueling three year treatment cycle. The treatment of childhood leukemia has come a long way and with your support we can raise much needed funds for research that will refine the treatment cycle and one day lead to a cure for this terrible disease. I am asking for corporate and individual donations to honor my niece’s battle and raise much needed research funds. Please consider donating $100 to sponsor me for a mile to help me reach my fundraising goal.
The easiest way to donate is to go to my race website: http://pages.teamintraining.org/nca/corps14/Carolyn and make a donation by credit card. It is quick and secure plus you can learn more about my progress. You will receive a confirmation of your donation by email. All donations are tax deductible.
Thank you for your support.
(301) 718-8888 (office)
To explore and to discover the best that is in you, allowing it to grow so that you live a balanced life of love, work and play.
I have my favorite t-shirt. It fits right. It drapes well. It holds its shape. It’s substantial. Children’s play is like that too. Once school is done, the rhythms of our days change. Kids discover their favorite t-shirts, literally and figuratively, growing their sense of well-being.
Come summer, kids slip on delight- filled pleasures like swimming, biking and crawling into bed with a good read and having late “lights out.” Kids explore, discover and reaffirm their personal strengths and virtues in unstructured, self-directed, yet supervised, play during the lazy days of summer.
Among the many favorite t-shirts our 10 year old daughter had, one was reading. One summer she set herself the goal of filling up both sides of her library card. Reading and returning the books to the library, on time, was a simple act. She understood the responsibility and respect for using property that wasn’t hers. She discovered worth in sharing ideas from the books she read.
In the digital age, there is no library card. No due date. Download a book. It’s quick and easy. Ahh… here is the rub! We can’t pass a book on and share the good read with somebody else. Our direct experience is diluted without sharing the physical book. The subtle impact of taking a book, returning a book and sharing it is lost.
Our picture of the 3 piano players exploring, playing and sharing a “feel good” time embodies the #100th reason of our 1095 Reasons to Play: To explore and to discover the best that is in you, grow with it and live a balanced life of love, work and play.
Wearing a favorite piece of clothing ( these twins are still searching) is an emotional choice. Wearing it makes you feel good and changes your mood. You feel positive. You get a positive reaction from other people. Joyful experiences, like play, that fit well have a substantial impact on us socially and emotionally. Everyone wants to be connected. “Play drives language, movement, attention, planning and scores of other essential brain functions” ( Benham-Lewin) . It is this and more. It’s been my experience, that holding our shape and being draped well, socially and emotionally shows results. Our children flourish in love, work and play.
Benham, A. L. (2010). Introduction. Infants & Toddlers At Work . New York: Teacher College Press.
Positive Psychology Center. (n.d.). Positive Psychology Center. Retrieved June 13, 2014, from http://www.ppc.sas.upenn.edu/
Out of personal experience, we have observed that sad stories on the children’s oncology floor at hospitals, become happy ones when we see a sick child playing. A boy diagnosed with ALL ( acute lymphocytic leukemia) spends approximately 3 years in active medical treatment to over come the disease. That is 1095 days. A girl spends 2 ½ years in active chemotherapy treatment.( Numbers may vary depending on the protocol.)
We created LuvABox to realize a goal. We want to serve our children and our medical clinicians and researchers. Our 1095 Campaign advocates and brings life to our belief that structured and unstructured play is a process that children, whatever the reality of their situation, depend upon for their healthy social, emotional, intellectual and physical development.
Play is the life of a child. A cardboard box symbolizes that. We’ve designed and created inexpensive sticker kits for you to purchase and turn an ordinary cardboard box into an opportunity for a child’s imaginative playtime. For parents, the worry and stress of caring for their child with cancer is compounded when they see him/her unable to play. All profits from the sale of LuvABox stickers go to supporting continued research into childhood cancers and the care of children undergoing treatment.
Follow our campaign on FB and friend us. Follow us on Twitter. Be part of our story and leave a comment. Read our blogs. Check out our website. Buy our sticker kits because, “Sometimes, what is on the OUTSIDE does matter.”