infographicECEWhen we were kids, we played “in the moment”. We loved playing because of the   excitement and the pure thrill it gave us. Today, as parent’s, we know that play is important in the daily life of a child. Time for unstructured play and recess has diminished in our kids school days. School administrators worry about safety, lost instructional time and supervision of kids. They don’t see that recess is a good way for kids to spend their time.

The good news is that awareness about the benefits of self directed play among children is increasing. Parents are demanding changes in their kid’s school days.We are convincing school boards and administrators to put recess back into our kid’s day. We want kids  to reap the benefits of self directed play that WE had as kids. AND…. we are coming armed to school administrators with data to make it happen.

  •  The American Academy of Pediatrics  supports play, saying that it is  essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical and social emotional well being of children and youth.
  • Independent research shows that recess improves kid’s attention while they do their academic work.
  • Research in public health points to recess as possibly providing activity that reduces childhood obesity.
  • Researchers argue that because kids think in a functional way. Kids play is “best suited for the free play settings” that recess provides.

In our heart of hearts, we know that all these reasons don’t touch the truth about the value of playing. The lasting effects of the interactions our kids have during recess are not measured on any paper and pencil test. The play and the activities that kids create themselves during recess, influence their developing characters.

Kids play baseball, hockey, 4 square,soccer etc  and discover that being engaged in a team efforts is exhilarating and worth the bleeding knees or bruises that become badges of  their courage.

Oh, there are tears. But there is laughter and joy too. The lumps, bumps and challenges of playing develop our kid’s temperament as well as the quality of their character.

Kids discover what they like to do and who they are.They develop a sense of honesty and fair play.They learn to get along with other kids and their accomplishments speak for themselves. They understand the motives and feelings of other kids. They learn how to negotiate with others and diffuse tricky situations. Their future successes depend on how well they learn to play and get along with others in play.

parentskidstobogganing

Today is Global School Play Day. But play isn’t just for the schoolyard.As parents, we help our kids when we play with them.

National Play Outside Day is a movement with one simple goal: to get friends and families to play together. Yes..just go outside and do something fun with your friends and family. Being a great parent is as easy as that! Play with your kids. It’s an investment that gives you an outstanding return. You contribute to the healthy self esteem of your kids.

Saturday February 7 2015 is the next National Play Outside Day. Mark it on the calendar. Make playing together a monthly tradition.

DIY Thanksgiving Turkeys

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Hands on learning  and craft project have proven to increase student learning. The arts and crafts our kids do and bring home serve another valuable purpose. They bring joy to the eyes of many beholders. Bringing our kids crafts out each year, no matter how battered, are not only nostalgic reminders of time past, they contribute to our family story.

The kids identify with each craft they made. These items become part of our family culture and traditions as much as the turkey and pumpkin pie. The paper plate turkeys and handprints serve a purpose that binds us together. Comments and recognition of the crafts from parents and grandparents translate into feelings of acceptance by the kids. An emotional connection is made. A feeling of security and gratitude is created.

It’s the process that counts in these crafts, not the product. That is what makes them so endearing. Here are 3 suggestions for Thanksgiving crafts.

1. Kids 2-4: Tracing hands and turning the outlines into turkeys is a favorite activity.Here are variations on this common theme. For this age group, the tracing, cutting and gluing develops fine motor skills. The final product, whatever it looks like, is their contribution to the Thanksgiving table décor. The process not the product

2. Kids 2-6 : Bubble Wrap Indian Corn from Kiwi Crate. (www.kiwicrate) is a craft the kids literally jump on! Let them break the bubbles. Cut out a turkey shape instead of cornhusks. Then apply paint colors and feathers, their choice. The process is as fun as the final product. Put it on your front door for everybody to enjoy.

3. Kids 6+ will find wire sculpture wooden spool birds created by Joel Henriques, imaginatively fun as well as challenging. Look at newpaper or magazine pictures to develop your kids awareness about how a mood or a pose communicates an action or attitude. Then let the kids create a flock of birds with personality.       3wiresculpturesdancingandwatching wiresculpturedancingbirds

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jane

LuvABox Co Founder

www.luvabox.com

“committed to healthy play and healthy children”

All profits from the sale of our sticker kits goes to support childhood cancer research and childhood cancer play therapy programs.

 

Resources

Feiler, B. (2013, March 16). The Stories That Bind Us. Retrieved November 3, 2014.

Henriques, J. (2011). Play Zoo! In made to play! (p. 33). Boston: Roost Books.

Hallowe’en is just around the corner. Pumpkins on your doorstep  are creating a will-o’-the-wisp mood. Kids are excited and planning their costumes. Now is the time for them to have fun with gooey, gushy sensory experience stuff.hallowe'en fingers2

Older kids can create fun for the whole family.  Blogmemom has more than 15 suggested activities. Be prepared for the mess!

Kids 3-10  will have fun with these FREE printables that add a  bit of Hallowe’en fun in their lunch boxes from Crafting Chicks.
And for dinner, if you still have energy,  serve witches fingers with this creepy idea for bug juice from Real Simple.

HAPPY HALLOWE’EN!

I purchased unfinished brown paper mache coffin boxes online for $6.99 for an added  creep factor.

WITCHES FINGER RECIPE
Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup icing sugar

1 egg

1 tsp almond extract

1 tsp vanilla

2 ¾ cups of flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

¾ cut whole blanched almonds

1 tube red decorator gel.

METHOD

Beat together butter, sugar, egg, almond extract and vanilla. Beat in flour gradually. Add baking powder, salt. Refrigerate for 30 minutes

1. On a piece of wax paper, roll out a heaping teaspoon of dough into a finger shape

2. Squeeze in the center to create a knuckle shape.witches knuckles

3.Let the kids use a blunt knife to make slashes in several places to form the knuckle

4. Place an almond on one end of “finger”

5.On a lightly greased baking sheet, bake fo 20-25 minutes at 350F.

6.Let cool a few minutes

7.Lift almond and squeeze some red gel into the “nail bed”

 

8.Put the almond witchesfingerwithblood-9back in place.

 

 

 

Pick me up! Play with me!

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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!”

photo 1-7Chances 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.

leafprint2For 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!

photo 2-7 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.

TIPS

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.

Resources:
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.