Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Nature Play

Is play out-of-fashion these days? Do children get enough free time outside to explore their natural surroundings and build connections with the environment? Are days of making mudpies, searching for bugs, climbing trees, and taking nature walks on the brink of existence? Articles in popular magazines, blogs, and newspapers (see The Washington Post's recent article, "Getting Lost in the Great Indoors") have discussed the debate. What do you think?

The subject of play and children's connection to nature is a topic addressed in the following books.:

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv.

Author Richard Louv argues for the benefits of nature in childhood: creativity, science, connection to the Earth. He calls attention to a study indicating that 8-year-olds could identity media characters much more easily than they could identify the names of trees or insects.

The Geography of Childhood: Why Children Need Wild Places by Gary Paul Nabhan and Stephen Trimble.

These naturalist authors describe their childhood experiences and offer an argument for why they believe experiences with the natural world are so important for children.

Nature for the Very Young: a Handbook of Indoor & Outdoor Activities by Marcia Bowden.

This book offers a variety of fun, nature-inspired activities geared for the preschool through second-grade set.

Janice VanCleave's Play and Find Out about Nature: Easy Experiments for Young Children by Janice VanCleave.

A practical guide for bringing nature experiments home to your young child.

Get Out!: Outdoor Activities Kids Can Enjoy Everywhere (except indoors) by Hallie Warshaw with Jake Miller.

"This guide to outdoor activities in the park, playground, schoolyard, or sidewalk encourage children to get outside and play. Activities include games with balloons and Frisbees, pet shows, running a lemonade stand, being a street artist, and much more."

Nature Spy by Shelley Rotner and Ken Kreisler.

A photographic picture book that encourages exploring the outdoors.

Check out your local library for more books on the subject of outside play and exploring nature.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Sand and Water Play!

Now that the weather is steadily growing nicer, children are playing more and more outside. This time of year, sand and water play can be a great activity to get creative, explore science concepts, and build problem-solving skills. Not to mention, it's just plain fun! Here is a website on sand and water play that I just encountered from A Place of Our Own - a PBS series dedicated to the needs of the people who care for children. You'll find expert and practical advice on this topic. Check out the rest of the website for advice, activities, resources and videos relating to a variety of topics concerning caring for children.

Check out this book at the library:
Sandbox scientist: real science activities for little kids by Michael E. Ross
A guide for adults in setting up activities for children ages two to eight to discover scientific facts about water, matter, air, light, etc., using familiar materials
Getting busy playing!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

What Can You Do With a Box?

As many a parent knows, the box that the toy came in is often the source of more fascination, play, and fun for the child than the toy itself. As a small child, I remember constructing everything from trains to puppet stages to dollhouses with boxes in my house. One of the most treasured play structures at my preschool was a rocket ship constructed from an old refrigerator box and a generous application of paint and aluminum foil stars.

Here are some staff recommendations for books about boxes!

Creating Clever Castles & Cars from Boxes and Other Stuff by Mari Rutz Mitchell

"Kids ages 3 to 8 make their own pretend play spaces."

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

"To an imaginative bunny, a box is not always just a box."

My Book Box by Will Hillenbrand

"A determined elephant creates his own book box and discovers all the magic and fun of books and reading."

Thank You Bear by Greg Foley

"Despite the criticism of others, a bear finds the perfect gift for his mouse friend."

The Birthday Box by Leslie Patricelli

"An imaginative young child has a wonderful time playing with a box he receives for his birthday."

The Big Brown Box by Marisabina Russo

"As he plays in a very large box in his room and turns it into a house, then a cave, then a boat, Sam is reluctant to let his little brother Ben join him, but then he finds the perfect way for them to share."

A Box Can Be Many Things by Dana Meachen Rau

"A girl and her brother retrieve a large box from the garbage and pretend that it is a cave, car, house, and cage."

La Cajita por Marta Vicente

"Un perrito encuentra una caja bonita e imagina qué podría ser."

Use your imagination and the possibilities are limitless!

Monday, June 4, 2007

June Spotlight: Play!

From the very beginning, children are ready to play. As the experts at Zero To Three acknowledge, "You are your child's favorite toy." Playing with your child is not only enjoyable, it serves a very valuable purpose. It's through play that a child learns about the world around him. Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers learn concepts through play. Your child also gains communication, literacy, social, motor and cognitive skills. As Maria Montessori noted, "Play is the child's work." Regular active play and exercise is important for children's health. Unstructured play also builds creativity and imagination. But, most importantly, play is fun!

The Corvallis-Benton County Public Library's Birth to Six site is spotlighting the importance of play during the month of June. Check out the Birth to Six site for information, ideas, and links on play.

This summer, make sure you have time for old-fashioned play with your child. Enjoy!