Trampolines, Encouraging Natural Play

Parents, remember the days of your youth?

When your summer or days after school were filled with running through the neighborhood, playing in backyards and parks, and gathering friends for night games? I watched The Andy Griffiths Show with my kids the other day, no joke! I like to show them a different pace of life. A time when life was slower, not really less productive, but slower. I said to my seven year old who loves to fish, “Tyce, can you imagine running with bare feet from your house to the river to fish?” It is sort of an untouchable world for us and for most people that live in modern times. Fishing happens when we camp. Bare feet only really happens in our backyard. Times are different. 

Growing up,

my backyard was filled with a playhouse, swings, a slide, some simulated cars, a tram; which is a tire swing on a cable that went across my backyard. We had tons of grass and sometimes my parents would park the camper near the backyard. In it we would play house, with going in and out of the “house” and out into the “real world” which was the backyard. We had a fantastic hill that would have been great for a slip & slide. We didn't have one so we tried to make one out of trash bags! It never really worked, but we had a blast in the creating of it. I have fond memories of sitting on the top of the shed after gathering cupfuls of maple seeds. I would throw them from the top of the shed one at a time and watch them spin like a helicopter all the way down to the grass. It was in those quiet times that I thought everyone should be able to play like that so I started selling the seeds for 10 cents a piece at school! 

My kids definitely have a little different life. The outside time is still present but a lot of it is us seeking it. Today we have the battle of pulling our kids away from the electronics to expose them to outdoor play. 

I love this quote by Richard Louv in his fantastic book, Last Child in the Woods, “Natural play strengthens children's self-confidence and arouses their senses—their awareness of the world and all that moves in it, seen and unseen.”

Natural play...

Its not really that much different for adults, there are many things competing for our attention. Natural play and being in nature feed us in so many ways. I feel in my gut that it is so vital to expose ourselves to only a little electronic time. I glory when we leave it all behind and go to places with no electricity or cell service. It is time that is precious and time that feeds our souls. For me it is therapy.  So at our house my quest is to create things my kids want to do where they won’t notice the struggle between natural play and electronic time. To create things for them in their own backyard that bring that therapy to them in small doses on an everyday basis. This is the reason that I have loved creating a backyard space that is inviting. We have hung swings, placed soccer nets, added hammocks and outdoor games, and our latest addition has been adding a trampoline. My kids via for it. They run to it. They play together more. They play alone more. They are creative with it. They think of new games. They add water when they are hot. Their Dad goes out to “play” with them more.

Richard Louv also states, “Parents are told to turn off the TV and restrict video game time, but we hear little about what the kids should do physically during their non-electronic time. The usual suggestion is organized sports. But consider this: The obesity epidemic coincides with the greatest increase in organized children's sports in history.”

In my opinion kids have to learn how to be active through their own desire not only because they are part of a team. We have to teach them how to be creative, how to play, how to glory in the words, “i’m bored!”

Nature is out there.

There may be less of it than when I was growing up but all the same it is there. Encouraging kids towards natural play allows children to let go of the control that is placed upon them in the environments they are in. Coupling natural play with nature will feed their soul. Plus it reminds them how to play and crave nature even as they go into their teenage years which is hopefully a habit that will stay with them throughout their life. 

I love the addition of our trampoline. I love the memories, the bonding and healthy habits it will create and probably my favorite of all, will be simply laying on it gazing at the stars with my children. 

Check out the trampoline we choose and the reasons why….

License Plate Race

I have some pretty great sisters. The kind that are like second moms to my kiddos. They have always made life just a little dreamy for my boys. Not only do they play with them & spoil them but they are always doing super random things with them that are the kind of activities that stimulate their brains. They are those wholesome kind of things you know?? I guess it helps balance out the spoiling! 

My sister Shelly is the one who put this fun one together. She printed a sheet of all the license plates. You can find it for your clan below by clicking on "PRINT." Get this, she printed one for my kids, one for her and one for my sister April. She told them it's a race and the winner gets a prize. Knowing her they will all go for ice cream or something fun, and my kids know that but they want to win all the same!

So it has ignited eyes on the road. More desire to join me if I am running errands. Driving through hotel parking lots to see who is visiting our city. Conversations about how long that person must have been driving! It has promoted awareness for my kids paying attention to their world and at the same time distraction at just the right time, say during a fight on the road and a call to check out that license plate! LOL!! OH it has also provoked lots of texting with Aunts showing off the license plates they got and receiving similar texts back leaving my kids saying, "dang we have got to find Alaska!" 

Here is their progress or "bragging rights" so far.... My sisters are good sports, they have had this picture, with a growing number of purple x"s, text to them so many times!! 😂 

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Print yours and make it fun. Use it as a summer theme or as a game for a long road trip. Get into it and have fun!

Simple Summer Games

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Summer is so much fun!  But lets be honest, part of it is intervening before kids take the "messing" with each other too far! I find that if my kids have something fun going on then it shifts their energy from messing with each other to playing with each other. 

Here is a list of some super simple games that kids can play with just a beach ball, or two, and some things you probably have at home. 

Count the bumps. 

Divide into two teams. Stand in a circle and see which team can get the most bounces without letting the ball drop. You can also do this one holding hands in a circle only using feet and having to restart if the ball drops or if you have to break a hand hold.

Play beach ball soccer.

Place two laundry baskets at the ends of the field for goals. Play with one ball and pass it to each other while keeping it off the ground. No running while holding the ball, only passing, bumping the ball the way you would in volleyball. If it hits the ground it defaults to the other team. A goal is made when the beach ball lands in the laundry basket. 

Steal the beach ball.

Divide into two teams. Each person on each team gets a number, starting both teams with the number one. Place the beach ball in the middle with each team lined up behind their boundary line. As soon as their number is called they run to the middle to grab the beach ball. There should be one runner from each team. They can score a point in 3 ways. #1 - If a runner grabs the ball and makes it across their boundary line without being tagged. #2 - If a runner tags the person with the ball before they make it back to their boundary line. #3 - One point to the opposing team if a person drops the ball before they make it back to their boundary line. 

Play beach ball volleyball.

Set up a net and get some towels. If you don't have a net you can just use a rope. Divide into two teams. Have everyone on each team get into two's and give them a towel. With the towel they catch and return the ball over the net. Score like volleyball.

Keep it simple with things you can do to make your house fun where kids are focused on playing! Happy Summer!

Grandma Ginger Stories

Can I just say, trust me? Because I am wondering how my words can do these stories justice. There is so much value in Gingers work. She has gathered and recorded, for audio listening, stories for kids. Stories that make them think. They also make them laugh and they learn a lot. Plus I enjoy listening to them as well, which is a huge plus.

(Sometimes we really do things for our kids that might not be our first choice for listening! Jake and I were laughing about this the other day. Take a normal young couple, give them a baby and its funny how many more music genres are opened to them and the new songs that they learn word for word! We love our Raffi days!) 

So many incredible conversations have stirred with my kids as they listen to the stories by Grandma Ginger. They are great for kids at any age.  Even the tiny kids, her voice is comforting and has a way of calming them. Anytime I can elicit this, 

the stare that I love. The stare, or drishti, if you will. The focused gaze of concentration. When you know that they are listening AND thinking.  They are calm and giving their brain good stimulation. This is the same look I have seen on all of my kids as they have listened to Grandma Ginger. 

When they are about four, the stories start to hit home. They start to open doors that allow conversation on their level. Even as they grow older, I love to sneak these stories in. It is tough to compete with main stream music but I tell them we do it for our youngest, Tyce. Not sure what I will do to sneak it in for Tyce! 

Ginger has Stories That Make You Think, Bible stories told on kids level and she even has recorded some of her families stories that are still great lessons for all of us.  Reminders that bring us back to earth, teach us to be kind, to share, to respect grandparents, be true to yourself, to pay attention to your own gift of discernment, knowing how to pass when offered something you don't want in your body, being aware of others and what they are going through. You guys, so many things!  They are incredible. She is incredible. So good for trips or just carpooling around town.

Plus they are FREE!

My only wish is that if you download them and love them, please tell her! You can send her a comment on the page you download from. Hope you are over the moon with them!