Thursday, August 13, 2009

The story of the stump and the log

Recently I happened to drive past a place where the city's forestry department was doing some tree work. Excited, I lept out of the car and described my grand plan for the back yard. Forester Man just shrugged and said, "Sure.Pick out a couple logs." Then he cheerfully carried them to my car. Hooray! I am so grateful! Thank you Minneapolis Park Board.

Something interesting (and unexpected) has happened. At first, the kids were thrilled. That first day they spent a lot of time climbing, balancing and dancing on the log and the stump. But now, the novelty has worn off. When we're outside playing, the kids seem to forget about them. They often play "around" them, rather than integrating them into their play. When they do "remember" that they're there, they love them, and do lots of climbing, piling rocks on them, lying down on the log, etc. But still, it's as if they view the plastic stuff as "toys" and the other stuff (stump, log) as "not toys." So how do I blur that line for them?

Without making a big deal out of it, I try to include them whenever we play: piling sand and rocks and flowers onto them, sitting on the stump to watch the birds, using the log as a lookout tower. Lining up J's endless collection of vehicles on the log, to see if it can hold them all. This week we'll do some crayon rubbings on the bark and paint with water on the stump. Maybe we'll have a snack on the log. We might gather up all of our rocks and arrange them on the log. We'll see.

With reminders and encouragement, the kids seem to easily incorporate the log and stump into our play. What's more, they really enjoy it. I think it's just going to be a matter of time and habit.
So, at the risk of sounding like a total treehugging freak, I am nurturing the relationship between my kids and the log and stump!


  1. What a great idea!

    My friend has many long (10 ft or so) thin logs in her back yard along with other boards of various sizes. The older kids enjoy arranging the logs against a large tree to make a variety of forts and structures to play on. I like your idea as a way to incorporate logs into the play of smaller children!

  2. We have some smaller logs, and also a couple of planks. Maybe you need a couple of good planks?