Wednesday, June 22, 2011

101 things to do outside with kids!

The first day of summer was yesterday-and it inspired me to try something new with this blog. I got the idea from my friend Tiffany, who did something similar on her awesome blog, Art Food AND Motherhood. She is a fabulous, creative wonder and has been my dear friend for years. On her blog she lists 365 creative and artistic activities to do with and for children.

I'm hereby officially committing to post on this blog, 101 things to do outside with kids.

Since summer is such an "easy" time for most people to get outdoors, lots of these ideas won't come as a huge challenge to many of you, but for some of you they might. Either way, hopefully there will be some ideas and inspiration here for you to get outside with your own children (or others) and try something new.

Remember, you don't have to be doing something "productive" outside for the time to matter. In fact, for the most part, the "less" you are doing, the better the experience. But I hope to offer a few suggestions and examples of fun outdoor things to try, many of which will be free or cost very little in terms of either money, supplies, or time. I want to make it easy and fun for you. I'd love to hear your suggestions and ideas, too. What are your favorite ways to spend time outside with children?

So, without further ado, I present, #1: Wait for a rainstorm.

During breakfast this morning, as the sky rather suddenly filled with clouds, my ever-observant 3 year old said, "Looks like it's going to rain soon!"

Like most young children, mine are both fascinated by and a bit afraid of thunderstorms. All that noise, wind, and lightning can be a bit much, especially at night. Just the other night both my children woke up screaming after a particularly loud clap of thunder that threatened to crack the windows. But a rainstorm during the day, ah, now that's a different story altogether. They love the huge raindrops, and we have enjoyed many rainwalks and puddle dances together during summers past. But most of our daytime storm-savoring has happened outside during the rainstorms, rather than experiencing the energy and excitement of a storm to come.

This morning, since we had both the luxury of time, and the good fortune of knowing the storm was coming, I thought it would be fun to head outside and just experience the feeling of the storm growing closer. It's such an exciting time, when a thunderstorm in approaching, with all the wind, and the clouds, and the change in temperature. I wanted them to experience this anticipation first-hand. We headed out, but only after L and J had donned their "protective suits" (blankies!) wrapped snugly over their shoulders.

I brought out a little mint tea and we sipped, and noticed the way the leaves on all the different trees behave in the wind. Some leaves really shake and "act frantic" (L's words) and others wave only slightly, despite the strong wind. We watched the clouds fill the sky, and grow darker and darker. We felt the wind in our hair and watched it billow and pull on the kids' blankets when they held them up in the air. We listened to the windchimes going wild. We watched the grass in the neighbor's yard ripple like waves on the water as the warm wind blew across it.

We sipped our tea and we waited. The wind kept getting stronger, the temperature dropped quickly, giving all of us goosebumps, and finally, the rain came!

I'd love to hear your ideas for sharing nature with children.

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