Happy summer! Were you told that “only boring people get bored” as a kid, too? As much as I’ve tried to take this to heart with my own parenting, these are unusual circumstances and some of our everyday routines are starting to feel a little stale. Time for some fresh perspective!
Then, head OUTSIDE:
- Paying attention to smaller things takes practice. Creating a tiny ant playground or building a fairy house are both activities that ask us to pause, stay in one place, and work on a smaller scale. This type of play can lead to unexpected discoveries as children search for and consider materials, and the storytelling that often accompanies this play makes it worth staying in earshot!
- “Camouflage” is a favorite hide-and-seek variation in the outdoor education world. What makes it different is the (admittedly hard to learn and enforce!) rule that all hidden “prey” must be able to see or peek at the stationary “predator” from their hiding places. Playing this way leads to the thrilling feeling of seeing while being unseen — I love to ask kids afterwards how they felt while hiding. To play, have the predator choose a spot to plant their feet, close their eyes, and count to 20. Each round, the predator should call out any prey they can see. When they can’t see anyone else, they shout “camouflage come closer” and count to 15 for the next round, then 10, while those hiding scramble to a closer spot. At the end of the game, the predator shouts “camouflage come home” and the first person back wins and becomes the next predator.
- There are many tools we can use to change how we see things, even beyond the usual magnifying glass or pair of binoculars. Try bringing a kaleidoscope, mirror, camera, or even a cardboard frame along to explore a familiar place and enjoy looking at it in a different way!
To change things up when you are INSIDE:
- Pretending to be an animal is one of the best ways children can begin building empathy for wildlife, and adding a mask is a surefire way to add some extra fun to that pretend play! You can download printable fox or owl masks by clicking on the links, or make your own out of sturdy paper or half of a paper plate.
- Has the view outside your window changed over the past few months? Time lapse photography is a great tool for better noticing and appreciating incremental changes. Commit to taking a photo from the same perspective daily for a few weeks or even months. Then scroll through the photos in order — what changes do you see? You could make a second set of photos of your child(ren). What changes more dramatically — the view or the kids?
Our educators, scientists, advocates, and naturalists are committed to keeping you connected to the natural world as we deal with the coronavirus situation together. Check in every weekday on our Connections page for family activities, parent/teacher tips, backyard birding, nature exploration at our sanctuaries, and more.