Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Play Time: Learning and Wonder

Everything seems to be amazing to my son right now. He’s a very curious explorer and examines every toy, rock, and person that comes in to view with puzzlement and joy. It’s like he’s always unlocking new information, and it’s so much fun! Lately I've been trying to encourage this wonder with fun outdoor activities. It’s interactive and cheap (if not entirely free)! Here are some fun summer ideas you can try with your intrepid little one!

Bubbles - Blowing, popping, chasing, and counting!

If your kid hasn't yet seen bubbles, get your camera ready! Whether they are thrilled and excited, or maybe a little scared at first, the picture opportunity is guaranteed to be priceless. My son loves them, and tries so hard to chase and catch them! You can always make your own with some dish soap, water, and a straw for blowing if the pre-mixed stuff is out of season. Right now, they seem to be available for around $1 everywhere. Try your local Walmart or dollar store for something as simple as a tube, or as elaborate as sets multiple shape producing handles. Keep them in your diaper bag for impromptu picnic fun or as a distraction waiting in line for the swings!

Sand - Sifting, sorting, packing, and piling!

Whether you're at the beach, or in your own backyard, sand is seemingly unlimited plaything! It has a lot of features of water, but might make the bath shy baby a little more comfortable. The different textures of wet and dry make for a variety of learning opportunities. Try hiding objects, then sifting or digging them out. Mound castles and play with toys in a different environment. If you have limited access to sand, or are concerned about safety (those pesky cats), why not try an indoor bin of a grainy material like cornmeal or barley! Pour it back in a bag for later, or put the lid back if you have a dedicated bin!
Rocks - Collecting, examining, stacking, and banging! 

Rocks have an appeal for kids of all kinds of temperaments. If your child is a more calm and quiet type, collecting a group on a nice walk and talking about sizes and colours can be fun. Look for fossils and make towers as high as you can until they fall down! If sitting still is the last thing on your baby’s agenda, make it fast and funny. Race to get as many as you can, pile small pebbles in a bucket to shake, and parade around your findings! If you find some interesting shapes, older kids might like to clean and paint their rocks as a decoration for their room, or a present for grandma! 

Water – Splashing, sliding, pouring, and dancing!

Many cities now have wonderful splash pad additions to some local parks. They look like mini-water parks, and offer so many interactive water features for those hot summer days. They can make new friends while running around and cooling off. The best part? These locations are usually free! If your town doesn't have one, or they happen to be closed, make a fun water park of your own! There are water tables at the perfect height for toddlers, often which come with fun toys. You can purchase small pools for kids that can even fit on an apartment balcony. Rainy day? Who says you can’t have a bath just for fun? Throw in some toys, plastic storage containers, or whatever you have handy. Make bubble beards and tell stories about the depths of the bathtub sea!

One of the very best parts of being a mom is the chance to use your imagination in ways you haven’t done since your own childhood. Take your usual environment and put an interesting twist on it using only your surroundings. Find a big stick and be pirates, be dinosaurs, be fairy princesses! You will create a fun filled day for your little one and fantastic memories for both of you! Look through your child’s eyes and make the ordinary extraordinary!

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