Forever Young at Heart! Playful Adults

One of my favorite ways to get some exercise is to get outdoors and take a walk. And living near the ocean always invites a beach walk. California has finally gotten some much needed rain, bringing with it strong winds and big waves. Driftwood washed up onto the shore and beach literally becomes nature’s playground. Look what my friend and I happened upon on a recent beach walk. Not sure if the driftwood teeter-totter landed that way naturally on the beach or was created by some playful individuals, but we didn’t lose any time taking advantage of climbing on and reliving our childhood memories.

Sharon

I think George Bernard Shaw was right when he said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

Just because you’re an adult, don’t let play get left behind and constantly replaced with deadlines, responsibilities, and the everyday demands of a career and family. Research has found that taking a break and having a little fun improves our problem-solving abilities, engages our imagination, and can increase our creativity.

7 Ways to Become More Playful:

Go Outside. Breathe some fresh air; get oxygen into your lungs and brain. Exposure to sunlight produces the Vitamin D your body needs. Stop and smell the roses literally and figuratively—discover nature’s many wonders.

Be Present and Live in the Moment. Capitalize on opportunities as they appear and appreciate fun when it occurs. Put down the smartphone! Do something spontaneous, preferably every day.

Become More Childlike. And I don’t mean childish. They are different. Childlikeness is play-oriented and generous whereas childishness is defined by an inability to take responsibility and to see beyond our needs alone.

Laugh More. Play and laughter go hand-in-hand. It stimulates the thymus gland, which helps to regulate the body’s immune system, encourages the release of “feel good” endorphins while reducing the production of the stress hormones (cortisol and adrenalin), lowers blood pressure, improves circulation and respiratory function while decreasing inflammation and infection.

Spend Time With Children. Observe and learn from them the ingredients to become more playful—spontaneity, curiosity, and joy. Be a co-player and facilitator of play with children, not only of constructive, exploratory and dramatic play, but also of physical play.

Don’t Worry About Appearances. If you stop worrying about what other people think, you can feel more unrestrained and experience the joy that it sometimes seems only children feel. And the other people observing are probably thinking, “That looks like fun! Why didn’t I think of that?”

Connect With Playful People. Intentionally and frequently spend time with playful friends. Being with others will open your mind to new perspectives, ideas, and new ways of thinking, feeling. Being around people and being friendly and comfortable with them will increase the overall playfulness quotient.

~ Remember to balance work and play ~

Rediscover the child within you and let him or her out to play!

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Cut a Rug with LET’S MOVE BATONS!

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Always on the look out for new loose materials to use for active play, I am totally in love with Discount School Supply’s “Excellerations Let’s Move Batons.”  The six 10” long batons are made of sturdy clear plastic tubes with bright ribbon streamers inside that extend 13” from each end.  They are easy to grip for small hands and user friendly for the toddler and the preschooler.  The minute you see them, you want to pick them up—one for each hand!

Activities:

Baton Dancing

Start the music and bodies start moving.  With a baton in their hand, encourage the children to dance and move about freely in the open space.  Suggest to the children that they move or shake the baton fast, slow, high, low, side to side, and all around.  Tell them that when the music stops, they are to stop and freeze (stand motionless like a statue).  When the music starts again, children resume dancing.  Ask children to follow along as you move the baton across the front of your body, circle the baton in front of your body like a Ferris wheel or circle it over your head like a helicopter blade.  Try to trick the dancers by starting and stopping the music quickly.  They love the element of surprise!  Use all different types of music: fast, slow, classical, rock, salsa.  When playing a slow song, suggest the children twirl, leap and float to the music.

Crossing the Midline (Cross Lateral Movements)

Put on some music and have children, with a baton in each hand, follow along as you cross left hand to the right side of your body, right hand to the left side of your body.  Continue by crossing over and touching feet, etc.  Now with only one baton, have children follow along as you make figure eights in the air, circle the baton around your body, wave it high, swing it low, and so forth.

Follow the Leader

Each child is given a baton.  Children line up horizontally next to each other with a baton’s distance between them.  One child is chosen as the leader and stands in front of and facing the line.  Play begins with the leader making a movement with the baton and the children imitate the movement with the baton they are holding.  Direct the leader to make each movement slowly giving the group enough time to follow.

The Show-and-Tell Baton

The baton is a great piece of equipment to use at Circle Time for sharing and show-and-tell. The baton is passed from child to child sitting at Circle Time.  A child who has something to share with the group, holds the baton and has the opportunity to speak about something that is important to them or share an item they brought from home and tell the group why it is special.  The other children in the circle listen and can ask questions.  The baton is passed around again and the next person in the circle holding the baton has a turn to share.  A child has the option to pass the baton and not speak. Circle Time sharing and show-and-tell is complete when everyone has had a chance to hold the baton.  In this activity, children build self-confidence and practice turn taking, listening, and speaking.

Drum Major or Majorette of Marching Band

Have children pick a rhythm instrument (tambourine, shakers, maracas, rhythm sticks or claves, cymbals, bells, triangle, drum, etc.) of their choice and line up behind the leader of the band—the drum major or majorette. The drum major or majorette leads the marching band, moving the baton up and down to the beat of the music while the children follow behind playing their instruments.  Everybody loves a parade!

Baton Relay

Split group of children into teams and have them stand in a single-file line behind the starting line. Give the leader of each team a baton. To play, the leader runs with the baton in hand from the starting line to a turnaround point (i.e., cone, etc.) and back again, passing the baton to the next person in line.  The game continues until each person of each team has had a turn to run with the baton.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes:

Playing and using the baton promotes and develops…

 

  1. Gross motor development—using the large muscles of the arms, legs and trunk
  2. Fine motor skill (or dexterity)—coordination of small muscle movements, usually involving the synchronization of hands and fingers with the eyes
  3. Hand-eye coordination—eyes and hands working together smoothly to meet a challenge
  4. Spatial awareness—coordinated movement in relationship to other objects in the environment
  5. Directionality—the inner sense and knowledge of where things are in relation to the body
  6. Cross lateral movements—arm and leg movements that cross over from one side of the body to the other
  7. Balance—being able to hold the position of the body through the interaction of muscles working together (maintaining body equilibrium) whether the body is stationary (static balance) or moving (dynamic balance)
  8. Creative movement—a joyful way for children to explore movement through music, develop physical skills, channel energy, stimulate imagination and promote creativity
  9. Cooperation and teamwork—2 or more people working and playing together rather than against one another, just for the fun of it
  10. Fun— playful actions providing amusement and enjoyment
  11. Listening skills—ability to follow verbal directions

 

Product Recommendations:

Excellerations Let’s Move Batons – Set of 6 (CUTARUG)

Cones (CONES)

Claves (CLAVES)

Rhythm Sticks (RHYTHM)

Plastic Maracas (MARA)

Tambourine (TAMB)

Egg Shakers (CHKSHK)

Brass Cymbals (CYMB)

Excellerations Hand Tom Tom (TOM)

Cluster Bells (CLUS)

Excellerations Jingle Wraps (JBELLS)

All I Want for Christmas is…TWISTER!

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Twister® Game

Who remembers this all-time party and family favorite? It’s been around for close to 50 years and just got inducted into the 2015 National Toy Hall of Fame. Anyone can nominate a toy for hall inclusion, But to be inducted, they must have survived the test of time, be widely recognized and foster learning, creativity or discovery through play. I, for one, celebrate toys that do not support children’s wide use of screen play. Twister is a game of physical skill that has the players bending and stretching in challenging ways.

Twister was conceived as a shoe polish ad as a game on a colored mat. The game initially seemed too racy, so Milton Bradley canceled production, but the game was played by The Tonight Show host Johnny Carson and actress Eva Gabor on air in 1966 and became an instant hit. The game was radical for its time, but was simple to play, as long as you knew colors and body parts. It was also the first game that transformed players into game pieces.

Twister is played on a large plastic mat that is spread on the floor or ground. The mat has four rows of large colored circles on it with a different color in each row: red, yellow, blue and green. A spinner is attached to a square board and is used to determine where the player has to put their hand or foot. The spinner is divided into four labeled sections: right foot, left foot, right hand and left hand. Each of those four sections is divided into the four colors (red, yellow, blue and green). After spinning, the combination is called (for example: “right hand yellow”) and players must move their matching hand or foot to a circle of the correct color. In a two-player game, no two people can have a hand or foot on the same circle; the rules are different for more players. Due to the scarcity of colored circles, players will often be required to put themselves in unlikely or precarious positions, eventually causing someone to fall. A person is eliminated when they fall or when their elbow or knee touches the mat. There is no limit to how many can play at once, but more than four is a tight fit.  The last player standing is the winner.

Add a twist of fun this holiday season by giving the classic board game that ties you up in knots!

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Product Recommendations:

Twister® Game

 

GET YOUR MOTOR RUNNING!

Fun Physical Activities for Toddlers & Preschoolers

 

This is the title of the workshop that I will be presenting in Orlando, Florida, at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Annual Conference on Thursday, November 19, 2015 from 8:00-9:30 AM. Why not join me, get your heart rate up, and increase the production of those “feel good” endorphins coursing through your body? There is no better way to jump start your full conference day than with some physical activity!

 

I will be sharing and demonstrating lots of activities that you can do with two-to-five-year-olds in the outdoors or in limited space. In fact, I will be presenting this workshop in a room that holds 350 people set up theater style (i.e., many chairs and not much open space). But, I will have all attendees “up on their feet and out of their seats” as they “Mingle, Mingle, Mingle” around the room meeting other participants, then finding a partner, and playing some simple games (“Back to Back,” “Copy Cat”) using their bodies. Of course, that early in the morning we’ll also have to “Take 5 & Exercise” and then form in groups of three to become an “Exercise Family.” There is no better way to promote physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development than with total engagement of all our senses including the connection with our heart and mind!  This is not just good for the kids in your care but also good for you!

Sharron NAEYC blog post

Parachute Play the Nursery Rhyme Way

Nursery rhymes have been around for centuries and are a wonderful way to promote a variety of literacy skills—oral language development, phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension and vocabulary. Parachute play provides children with important physical activity and exercise while building gross motor skills, coordination, perceptual motor skills and muscle development. And let’s not forget the social interaction that occurs when using the parachute. It creates an instant circle, allowing everyone to feel a part of the group and encouraging eye contact and interaction between all participants. So let’s combine nursery rhymes with body movements using the parachute. Everybody hold on to the edge of the parachute and start singing and moving.


Parachute Play

 

The Wheels on the Bus
The wheels on the bus go round and round (hold parachute with one hand and walk around in a circle)
The door on the bus goes open and shut (pull chute forward and backward)
The horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep (two feet together jump/bounce in place)
The windows on the bus go open and shut (raise parachute above head and lower parachute by touching toes)
The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish (hold parachute with 2 hands in front of body and move arms from side to side)
The babies on the bus go waa, waa, waa (pretend to wipe eyes with parachute—like a handkerchief)

 

The Grand Old Duke of York (Tune: “A-Hunting We Will Go)
Oh, the grand old Duke of York, (all hold parachute and march in place)
He had ten thousand men,
He marched them up to the top of (raise parachute above head)
The hill and he marched
Them down again. (pull parachute down and touch toes)
And when they were up they were up. (raise parachute above head)
And when they were down they were down. (pull parachute down and touch toes)
And when they were only half way up,
They were neither up nor down.  (everyone half-way up)

 

Sally Go Round the Sun
(everyone holding parachute with one hand walking around in a circle, singing)
Sally go round the sun.
Sally go round the moon.
Sally go round the chimney tops
Every afternoon.
BOOM!  (all fall down)

 

London Bridge
(children go underneath the parachute while adults lift and lower it above their heads)
London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down.
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair lady.

(adults move parachute back and forth above the heads of the children underneath)
Take a key and lock her up,
Lock her up, lock her up.
Take a key and lock her up,
My fair lady.

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The Itsy-Bitsy Spider
The itsy-bitsy spider
Climbed up the water spout. (raise parachute above head)
Down came the rain (lower parachute below waist)
And washed the spider out. (with parachute at waist move arms from side to side)
Out came the sun (raise parachute above head)
And dried up all the rain. (with parachute at waist shake it up and down)
And the itsy-bitsy spider
Climbed up the spout again. (raise parachute above head)

 

Ring Around the Rosy
(everyone holding parachute with one hand walking around in a circle, singing)
Ring around the rosy,
A pocket full of posies.
Ashes, ashes!
We all fall down! (all fall down)

(while sitting on ground, holding parachute, singing)
Cows are in the meadow,
Eating buttercups.
Thunder, lightning!
We all jump up! (jump up while sliding voice from low to high and lifting parachute).

 

Pop Goes The Weasel
(everyone holding parachute with one hand walking around in a circle, singing)
All around the cobbler’s bench,
The monkey chased the weasel.
The monkey thought it all in fun,
Pop! goes the weasel. (stop walking, stand in place and pop parachute in the air) 

(everyone holding parachute with one hand walking around in a circle, singing)
A penny for a spool of thread,
A penny for a needle.
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel. (stop walking, stand in place and pop parachute in the air)

 

Product Recommendations:
Excellerations® Brawny Tough Rainbow Parachutes – 6’Dia.
Excellerations® Brawny Tough Rainbow Parachutes – 12’Dia.
Excellerations® Brawny Tough Rainbow Parachutes – 20’Dia.
Parachute Play Pack
Nursery Rhyme Wooden Characters – Set of 26
Wheels on the Bus Book & CD Set
The Itsy, Bitsy Spider Book & CD Set

Active Play: Take a Hike!

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July is Park and Recreation Month, and this year’s theme is, “OUT is IN.” So let’s celebrate and GO OUTSIDE! The outdoors offers an opportunity for our children to play, exercise and grow in a natural way. Our parks play a critical role in nurturing an appreciation for the outdoors in our children. Explore all that the local parks in your neighborhood, community and county have to offer. Then, expand your horizons to include state and national parks and forests. As I write this, I am at our annual family reunion in the Tahoe National Forest, and we are engaging in many fun outdoor activities: swimming, fishing, canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding and lots of hiking. Hiking or walking are healthy sports that almost all people, young and old, can participate in, and which will last you a lifetime.

The benefits of a long walk complement our physical, mental, social, and emotional health.

  •  Improves cardiorespiratory fitness (including heart, lungs and blood vessels).
  •  Improves muscular strength and endurance.
  • Provides opportunities to unplug from digital technology and spend quality time together.
  •  Offers multisensory experiences.
  •  Instills an appreciation of nature and the beauty found in the outdoors.
  • Helps children understand realities of natural systems.
  • Improves cognitive development by sharpening our awareness, reasoning and observational skills.
  •  Increases the production of endorphins in the brain and relieves stress, resulting in a euphoric state of mind.
  • Enhances self-esteem.
  • Sparks creativity and imagination.
  • Fosters language and collaborative skills.
  • Renews our sense of wonder.

Don’t forget to bring binoculars, magnifying glasses, and a bug jar to aide in the observation of your discoveries.

Wildflower Finds
In early summer, Summit wildflowers are spectacular, particularly in the seeps on the north side of Mt. Lincoln.

flowers

Nature’s Sweet Nectar
Grandson Tate showed me how to eat a honeysuckle. As he said, “You don’t actually eat a honeysuckle, but suck out the flower’s nectar.”

  • Pull off the bottom green part that holds the petals together.
  • You will see the tail of a “string” and you need to slowly pull it out from the petals.
  • At the end of that string you will find nectar.
  • Lick and enjoy!

boy and flowers

tate

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Stick Tent
Granddaughter Jill found a tent structure made of sticks in a little clearing. The perfect little hideaway.

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Geocaching
Uncle Tony just found his 5,000th geocache on this trip. He told the grandchildren the GPS coordinates and they found the treasure under a bunch of bark not far from the hiking trail. Treasure hunting is such fun!

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A View From the Top
We finally made it to the top of the summit, and the reward was well worth it. Just look at the view!

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Happy Trails!

sharron

Go Fly a Kite!

Let’s Go Fly a Kite
Let’s go fly a kite
Up to the highest height
Let’s go fly a kite
And send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Oh, let’s go fly a kite

“Mary Poppins” {1964 Disney film}

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The month of April has been declared National Kite Month by the American Kitefliers Association and the Kite Trade Association International.  Kite flying is great fun and a perfect way to celebrate the arrival of spring. You can buy a kite or make your own.  There are many different kinds of kites, but I am going to focus on the simple Diamond Kite…like the ones I remember from my childhood and that you see my grandson, A.J., flying with his grandfather, Papa Steve, above.

Making and flying kites is an educational adventure!  You can learn about science, physics, math, history (think Benjamin Franklin and The Wright Brothers), culture, weather, ecology, art, and aesthetics.  

Kite Basics

A kite is a heavier-than-air object that flies… just like an airplane.  The Diamond Kite has  4 main components:

  1. Frame
  2. Kite covering
  3. Tail
  4. Bridle & line

go fly a kite 2The kite body is made up of a framework and outer covering.  The framework is usually made from a lightweight material like wood or plastic.  Paper, fabric, or plastic is then stretched over the framework, turning it into a sort of wing.  The bridle and the control line help the kite flyer control the kite.  In flight, the kite is connected to the kite flyer by the control line, which is connected to the kite by the bridle.  The kite pivots and dives about the point where the bridle connects to the control line.

How Kites Fly
Kites need wind (moving air) to fly.  When a kite is lifted by the wind, the wind pushes against the whole surface of the kite to lift it up.  To find out if there’s enough wind to fly a kite, go outside and look up. If you see leaves blowing on trees or flags waving sideways, it’s probably good kite-flying weather. When the wind is strong enough to move a flag, it’s moving at 7 to 18 miles per hour. That’s just right to lift a typical kite.  You can make your kite dance across the sky by pulling in and letting out the line.

How to Fly a Kite

  1. Stand with your back to the wind. Hold your kite up by the bridle point and let the line out. If there is sufficient wind, your kite will go right up. Let the kite fly away from you a little, then pull in on the line as the kite points up so it will climb. Repeat this until your kite gains the altitude necessary to find a good steady wind.
  2. For younger children or if there is light wind, have a helper take the kite downwind and hold it up. On command, the helper releases the kite and the flier pulls the line hand-over-hand while the kite gains altitude.
  3. If there is no helper, prop the kite up against a bush, post, or wall. Reel out enough line for altitude and simply pull the kite aloft.
  4. If the kite sinks tail first, there might not be enough wind. If it comes down head first or spins, there might be too much wind.
  5. Adding tails to your kite helps it remain stable in stronger wind. Use light-weight materials so you can use lots!
  6. Be sure your kite is put together correctly or it may not fly.

Kite Safety
Parks, beaches, and open fields are great for flying kites. The more room you have, the more line you can let out.  It is each kite flier’s responsibility to think about safety and what you are doing.

  • Be considerate of others.
  • Be aware of who or what is behind you as well as in front of you.
  • Kite lines conduct electricity so do not fly near overhead power lines.
  • Never fly in rain or lightening.  Electricity in clouds is attracted to damp kite lines.
  • Always fly away from other people, kites, kite lines, and kite fliers.
  • Never fly with your line across a road.  If the kite comes down, you can cause a serious accident.
  • If you do tangle lines with another kite, don’t yank the line or it might break.  Fliers should walk together and the tangle will slide right down the line to where you can unwrap it.

Decorate a Kite
Decorate this easy-flying “blank canvas” polyester kite with paint, markers,  stampers and stamp pads, and stickers. Then assemble and lift that kite into the bright blue sky and let the breeze take it and you wherever it may.  Have fun!

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Product Recommendations:
Decorate a Kite – kit for 12 (KIDSKITE)
Colorations® Super Stamper Classroom Pack (STAMPACK)
Colorations® Washable Stamper Markers Bucket – 44 pieces (STAMPBUCK)
Colorations® Permanent Marker classroom Pack – 84 pieces (PERMPAK)
Colorations® Fabric Paint – set of 12 (FABSET)
Colorations® Fabric Paint Classroom Pack – set of 100 (FABPACK)
Colorations® Washable Chubbie Marker Classroom Pack – set of 30 (COLORMRK)
3-D Gem Stickers – 2150 pieces (RAZZDAZZ)