Wonderful Wednesday – Ad-Hoc Science

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My plan was to spend at least two hours outside today. We are playing catch-up with time outside.

It has been raining lately and I have been busy with different projects, so I did not make outdoorsy time a priority. My children play so well indoors, away from screens, and I did not want to deal with bugs and/or DEET and sunscreen (there, I said it!) – it was easy to forget how important it is for them to be outside.

Well, we ended up spending five hours. We left after two hours because I had a planning meeting with other Sevier County Homeschooling Group moms, then they had swims lessons. On the way back from swim lessons, we stopped at the park again, for almost three hours.  Continue reading »

It’s called Mills Park and it has a playground, a covered pavilion with picnic tables, several benches, a creek running by, a disc golf course, restrooms, outdoor sinks, grills and a wonderful grassy hill, perfect for rolling down on.

Children rolling down the grassy hill at Mills Park

My children rolling down the grassy hill at Mills Park

I don’t know why we don’t go to Mills Park every day. We should.

Oh, I know why. Because I used to be really bothered by their getting wet in the creek or muddy in the puddles around the playground.

I have since transcended that. The more I read about how time spent outside helps children reverse myopia or not develop it at all, the more I want them to spend time outside – no matter what the cost. That’s why we do laundry, right?

The more I read about how time spent outside helps children do better in science, the more I want them to explore and dig and analyze and take note of bugs, bees, trees, birds and everything in between.

Today I heard a mother scold her toddler rather harshly about his getting in the muddy area. I cringed but looked down at my shoes because that mother used to be me. My kids could not help but notice the scene. It was rather embarrassing for all parties involved, but the mother was relentless. I said a quick prayer for her, that she may allow her little boy to get a little dirty – it’s good for him.

Here’s what I have observed about kids in nature: they don’t need toys. The playground gets them started, but they use it differently after a while. Instead of going down the covered slide, for instance, they straddle it. They go up and down on top of the cover. I try not to panic. The ground is soft.

I did bring a soccer ball and it helped break the ice with one boy in the morning and another one in the afternoon. But the ball got put up after the second boy brought his puppy out. The kids let the puppy chase them and ran around on the grassy hill for almost an hour.

Little bird in a cage - my kids observed it and played with it for an hour

Little bird in a cage – my kids observed it and played with it for an hour

Through it all, they learned some science. They observed “small fishes” in the creek. I told them they were tadpoles.

My son came to the bench where I was sitting with my book and grabbed the water bottle. After he quenched his thirst, he tilted the bottle and took a good look at it. “Mommy, why does the water stay flat even though I tilted the bottle?” I explained about gravity and the state of being liquid.

We noticed a cardinal on a power line. He was busy singing and we could see him open his beak and hear him at the same time – always a special treat.

During my planning meeting, which happened at the Sevierville library, somebody brought a small bird in a cage. My children observed it and played with it the way you can play from just outside the cage. I asked them how many “fingers” the bird has. My son said, “Three.” A few minutes later, “Mommy, I was wrong. There are three in the front and one in the back.” I congratulated him for good observation skills.

They should sleep well tonight after this day spent mostly outside.

Mom Monday Week 19 – Get Outside and Play

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How many hours a day do you spend outside? They have a saying in Sweden – I lived there for three years – “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”

It’s so easy to come up with excuses about not being outside: the mosquitoes, the wind, the rain, the snow, the cold, the heat, the gnats, the noise of the neighbor’s mower etc etc etc. The thing is, fresh air does so much for our minds and bodies, we should be thankful it’s freely available.

I love this blog that challenges families to spend 1,000 hours outside each year. I’ll spare you the math… That comes to two or three hours every day. What do you think? Is it doable? I think we were doing that already, but not consciously and, maybe, not every day.

Boy in Tree

Since we took the challenge, we have been outside even in the rain and even when I had a sore throat. The kids put on their rain boots and coats and ran around in the rain. I allowed them to play with umbrellas – which are usually off limits for them. I sat under the roof overhang, on a comfortable outdoor chair, with a wet cotton sock covered by a wool pashmina around my neck (natural remedy against sore throats).  Continue reading »

My son pulled himself up and down our backyard hill on a rope we tied to a tree. He took me on a walk later on, when I felt a bit better. We sat in this wooded area on our property, in the rain. That’s what rain jackets are made for. He told me about this day when he and his friends sat there and made up a song. I would have never known about that moment in my son’s life, had I not taken the time to be outside with him.

mom monday wk19 get outside and play

Since then, we have eaten more meals outside, we have gone to the playground more, and we have read more outside. We even played card memory games outside. The kids always find something to play with. I either bring a book or my laptop or a broom. Our porch and garage need sweeping almost daily what with all the catkins and pollen.

One day I said, “Let’s go climb trees.” Our neighborhood has an area with a couple of benches and several trees with lower branches. The kids loved it. They said we should picnic there next time.

Girl in Tree

So take the challenge. Breathe fresh air for three hours daily and see what difference it makes.