Risky Reads: The Acorns and Leaves Galore Edition

basket of acorns

Well, it’s that time of year again … the two months out of the year where we simultaneously gaze in wonder at the fall beauty of our wooded backyard, while at the same time shaking our fists at the flurry of leaves falling to the ground. We filled 12 giant bags with leaves on Sunday, and by Monday morning you couldn’t even tell we’d raked. It is a family affair, though, and it gets us all outside and working together. Silver linings, right?

I’ve raked up a few things around the web over the last month that I thought you might find interesting, too!

Now that you know our leaf situation, I imagine we could spare at least a few said leaves for this sweet Fall DIY wreath.

With cooler weather on the horizon, I love the idea of putting together a tinkering station for young builders and aspiring engineers.

” … and on it goes, a million zigzagging what ifs, and I think that’s what drives some people to become nasty judgmental parenting-topic trolls, it’s the belief that you can actually control all that sh*t.”  Three cheers for this essay from All & Sundry

As if we needed more convincing to play games … but this is a cool piece on how family game night can make kids into better students (bonus: it has some great game suggestions you might not have heard of).

Over at Bedtime Math, we brought back a cheesy game, took a hammer to our bushel crop of acorns, and worked on our target practice.

For more risky inspiration, follow us on Pinterest and like us on Facebook.  And if you ever see anything you think we’d like, please share it with us!

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Risky Reads: The Puppy Edition

Homework is better with a buddy

I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned it already, but last month The Risky Family grew! We added a four-legged member to the club, a lab-mix puppy. He’s 5 months old, and full of energy! But he’s also full of licks and snuggles. We adopted him from a local agency that fosters animals, and he was rescued from a shelter in Alabama just hours before he was to be euthanized. It took us 4 days and an intense family vote, but we settled on the name Gus. Puppies are a lot of work, but seeing the kids rise to the responsibility, and the joy he brings to them, makes it all worth it.

When wasn’t pulling socks or acorns out of the puppy’s mouth, I managed to find a few things online that I though you might find interesting:

Relax: when it comes to feeding your kids, chances are you’re doing it right (filed under: There are many paths in this parenting journey).

Did you know you can call worms? (Yes, but what should we call them?!)

Need something to make you smile? Check out these photos of children playing around the world.

Have you ever tried to make a stop motion animation movie? It’s a great activity that merges imaginative play with tech (which means my kids love doing it). Here’s a great tutorial from TinkerLab.

Interesting article on why modern parenting is in crisis. Can you relate to any of these parenting dilemmas?

Over at Bedtime Math, we’ve whipped up an ooey, gooey, stinky, sweet potion to attract moths at night. We saw some pretty cool moths, but the coolest was the big luna moth we discovered the next morning. We kept the ooey, gooey, sweet theme going, only this time we made homemade marshmallows (hint: it’s way easier than you think!). And just in time for Talk Like a Pirate Day this Friday, check out the latest pirate-themed printable!

For more risky inspiration, follow us on Pinterest and like us on Facebook.  And if you ever see anything you think we’d like, please share it with us!

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A Summer Bus Route Just For Kids

kids using public transportation

If only she had access to public transportation she could use on her own in our hometown.

Just on the heels of my post about unaccompanied minors, and how we might make the towns and cities we live here in the US more accessible for kids to get around without always relying on adults, I came across this:

Nashua Announces Summer Recreation Bus Route

The city of Nashua, New Hampshire is operating a pilot transportation program this summer aimed at providing free public transportation to various recreational spots around the city. Kids ages 6-18 whose parents register them for a free bus pass can ride the bus to places like the park, ball fields, the pool, the library, and the Boys and Girls Club. They can go to the skate park, meet friends at the pool, visit the library to play Dungeons and Dragons or take a soldering class. Dang, I want to be a kid in Nashua, NH!

While it specifies that children under 10 can’t ride the bus alone, they are allowed to ride with someone over 10. I’m so envious! If we had a service like this in my town, I could send Elena and Eli to the library on their own. It’s these kinds of interactions – learning how to use public transportation, learning bus/train etiquette and manners, going on errands solo and interacting with librarians, shop owners, and other adults – that build a solid foundation for knowing how to be an independent, fully-functional adult. How forward thinking of Nashua to realize that by providing a service like the recreational bus route, they are giving kids a safe, age-appropriate stepping stone to be able to handle adult responsibilities later in life. It solves a myriad of problems, such as boredom, and dependence on cars and adults to go where they want, while also empowering kids and boosting their confidence.

Nashua’s town slogan just happens to be “Dare to Begin.” How appropriate, as providing this bus service aimed at youth they seem to be saying, “Let’s dare to begin treating our kids as capable individuals, instead of keeping them in a bubble and fearing the worst.”

Would you welcome a service like this in your hometown?

(A link to the Nashua Summer Recreation Bus Route first appeared on the Free Range Kids blog. You can read Lenore’s take on the service here.)

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Risky Reads: The World Traveler Edition

granada mirador san nicolas

We’ve been home for two weeks now, and we’re still walking around in a fog. We have alternating feelings of happiness at being back home, utter disbelief that we spent an entire month traipsing about Spain, a yearning to go back, and sadness at the rapidly approaching first day of school. I’ve given up at any semblance of a routine, and instead we’re just winging it every day, a fleeting luxury that will soon end. I’m a scheduler by nature, so this is a big stretch for me … but darn if it doesn’t feel good!

The photo above was taken in Granada, Spain. We’d walked through El Albayzín, with its narrow, winding streets, tea shops, and Moorish architecture, to the lookout point (Mirador San Nicolás). From there we had an amazing view of the Alhambra, which we’d spent the day exploring. There was a little outdoor market where artists were selling handicrafts, several bustling cafes, tourists milling about, and kids running everywhere. I’m not sure what this structure is actually for, but all of the kids had decided it was perfect for scaling, sitting on, and jumping from. It wasn’t small, so climbing it was a feat. And if you made it to the top and decided you wanted to jump off? Well, you faced about a 6 foot jump onto a sidewalk or the cobblestone street.

And yet … I didn’t see a single person yell at the kids to be careful or to get off. I didn’t see a single kid get hurt. But I did see lots of jubilant faces and I did hear lots of laughter.

Now that I’m done reminiscing, here are a few things I found around the web that I thought you might find interesting!

In the midst of this lazy, routine-free summer, this is another thing I’m trying to embrace: not squawking at the kids to constantly tidy up or following them around and doing it for them. Sometimes the best and most inspiring play moments come from something that evolves over a few days. So maybe don’t clean up!

I love a good checklist, and this one from the National Trust of 50 Outdoor Activities to do as a child is very inspiring.

There’s still time to get a road trip in before school starts! This fun, interactive map can help you decide where to go based on where you’ll be traveling and the kinds of activities you like to do as a family.

Board games are back! (But did they ever go away?)

It doesn’t look like we’ll make a camping trip happen this summer, but when we do, I’ll definitely use some of the tips in this post on stress-free camping with kids.

You can still find me over at Bedtime Math, along with other fantastic bloggers sharing some really cool activities. Last month we got muddy, cooled off with ice excavations, and made ourselves a sweet treat. The daily math problem is always fun, and Eli loves doing them as we get ready for bed.

For more risky inspiration, follow us on Pinterest and like us on Facebook.  And if you ever see anything you think we’d like, please share it with us!

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Risky Reads: The Bonfire Edition

Boys watching bonfire

Mike built us a new fire pit last month, so of course we had to break it in right away and make sure it worked. We had a bench the previous owners left behind that was falling apart, so into the fire pit it went! Another neighbor brought over a dilapidated chair. Needless to say, the kids were fascinated! Here’s to many more evenings spent in the company of good friends sitting by a summer fire.

When I’m not burning things, I’m reading some really cool stuff on the web. Here are a few things I found that you may enjoy:

” If you can’t afford to risk anything less than perfection at the age of 15, then for heaven’s sake, when is going to be the right time?” What our quest for steering kids to be the best from an early age is doing to their desire to takes risks in the fabulous article “Go Ahead, Let Your Kids Fail.”

I’m terribly guilty of doing the exact opposite. But we must remember there is undeniable power in doing nothing.

I am SO excited to be able to see this exhibit in person!

These photos of the magical world of snails are crazy cool! The kids will love them.

Just in case you’re not the master of building fires like I am (much to the chagrin of my husband!), here’s a handy guide for how to get those fires burning.

Over at Bedtime Math they have a fun new road trip printable. This past month our wacky math adventures included counting tree rings, flipping coins, and making a hummingbird feeder.

For more risky inspiration, follow us on Pinterest and like us on Facebook.  And if you ever see anything you think we’d like, please share it with us!

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Awesome Games to Play for National Backyard Games Week

National Backyard Game Week

Today kicks off National Backyard Game Week! You know how we feel about the rules here at The Risky Kids, so if you want to play your backyard games in the front yard we won’t tattle. The important part is to get outside and play some games! We’ve taken the time to round up some inspiration to get you outdoors and playing this week.

The-ULTIMATE-backyard-bucket-list1

32 Fun DIY Backyard Games & Activities via Listotic

10 Playground Games Every Kids Should Know via Spoonful

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15 Fun Backyard Games (with printable game cards and instructions) via iMom

clif kid backyard game of the year

CLIF Kid has a great tool on their website where you can plug in the number of kids who want to play and what you want to use to play your game with (nature, household items, toys, water, or your imagination) and it generates a game for you to play (a game of Card Sharks, perhaps?!). Of course, you can always enter your own game in the CLIF Kid Backyard Game of the Year contest!

It’s still a little chilly here, but last summer we had lots of fun playing squirt gun cup races in our backyard:

Squirt gun cup race

What awesome backyard game will your kids be playing this week?

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Risky Reads: The Egg Toss Edition

Egg Toss

My neighbor and I hosted the neighborhood Easter egg hunt in our cul-de-sac last month. We thought it would be fun to get the parents involved and have a friendly little egg toss competition. Kids and their adult partner started off face-to-face. After each successful toss, the adult took one big step back. We’d made a few tosses before one kid piped up, “WAIT. These eggs aren’t hard-boiled?!” Lots of fun, lots of mess, and something that may just become a neighborhood Easter tradition.

Here are a few things I found around the Internet last month that I thought you might enjoy:

What if we chose practice over perfect? Imagine the message we’d send to kids if we weren’t so worried about perfection ourselves.

This earth loom would be so easy to do, and make such a cool community project in any backyard.

I found another cool photography series called “kids were here.” I think these little reminders that are scattered throughout our homes, yards and cars will be one of the things I miss the most when the kids are grown.

This article on how to motivate teens was very eye-opening. Not only do we need to find ways to motivate our kids to work independently, we need to check our own motivation to shield our kids from disappointment and failure at the door. We tend to think about helicopter parenting in terms of keeping kids safe, but what about the kind of over-involved parenting that seeks to keep us from looking bad as parents?

I want to buy these stickers and plaster them everywhere!

And in case you missed it, here’s what we’ve been up to over at Bedtime Math:

For more risky inspiration, follow us on Pinterest and like us on Facebook.  And if you ever see anything you think we’d like, please share it with us!

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Risky Reads: The Laundry Basket Edition

Asleep in the laundry basket

For about a week last month, Eli became mildly obsessed with the laundry basket. Sadly, it had nothing to do with folding the clothing in the laundry basket. But he did drag it around with him through the house, using it as a boat, a jail for his LEGOs, and a cozy, blanket and pillow-filled reading nook. One evening I checked in on him before bed. He was sleeping in the laundry basket! He did this for a couple of nights. Can you imagine if we tried to sleep like that? My neck would never be the same again!

While Eli found 101 uses for a laundry basket, I found a few things around the internet I thought you might enjoy (and that won’t give you a crick in the neck).

Have a kid that’s interested in coding? Check out this fabulous roundup of 20 resources for teaching kids how to code.

Homework can be such a burden on some families. This dad worried about the amount and intensity of his 8th-grade daughter’s homework, so he decided to do her homework for a week. The result is this essay, “My Daughter’s Homework is Killing Me.”

If that has you down, get ready to be inspired! Have you seen Childhood Unplugged? A group of photographers submits photos monthly of kids engaged in the art of play. All is not lost, friends.

This insect hotel, made of natural materials, would be a beautiful and practical addition to a natural backyard. What a great project for kids to study beneficial insects in their own backyard!

I love this DIY Upcycled Inventor’s Box. It would keep my kids busy for hours, and I’d love to see what creations they’d come up with.

I write for the parenting blog over at Bedtime Math. Last month we explored tessellations, made our own lava lamps, and created some cool domino cascades. This week we found a way to color Easter Eggs volcano-style. Lots of cool stuff going on over there – be sure to check it out!

For more risky inspiration, follow us on Pinterest and like us on Facebook.  And if you ever see anything you think we’d like, please share it with us!

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Pop-Up Adventure Play: Adventures in Cardboard

Cardboard box play via The Risky Kids

Have you ever heard of child-directed play? You may not have heard of it, but chances are you’ve probably engaged in it with your own kids. It’s spending time playing with a child, but letting the child decide what to play and how to play it. The adult can observe, take directions from the child, and interact with the child, but the main focus is letting the child lead the way. The adult doesn’t make suggestions or ask lots of questions about what the child is doing, they simply let themselves get swept along in the magic that is play.

In order to foster child-directed play, a child needs to have play things around them that inspire them to play, create and build. Loose parts (materials that can be combined, taken apart, moved, and put back together again in multiple ways) are the perfect inspiration for child-directed play. Items such as stones, blocks, fabric, balls, buckets, sticks, PVC pipe, rope, tape are the perfect things to keep on hand for child-directed play. Of course, the grandaddy of them all, the one thing that will set off a child’s imagination like nothing else, is the cardboard box.

Pop Up Adventure Play

Pop-Up Adventure Play, whose mission is that “together, we can all support child-directed play – one cardboard box at a time,” is an organization dedicated to supporting play in all communities. I first heard about after seeing photos from one of their Pop-Up Tours this winter. I loved the idea of communities getting together and giving kids free run to play as they wish, with loads of cool, upcycled materials, in the presence of supportive adults.

The tour is almost over, and I was bummed that it wasn’t coming anywhere near me, but that doesn’t mean that you and I can’t encourage this kind of play as well, either with our families or in our own little communities. Pop-Up Adventure Play wants to help get you started. Sign up for their mailing list and they’ll send you a free Mini Pop-Up kit. To learn more about Pop-Up Adventure Play, visit their website or follow them on social media. In the meantime, I’m gathering all kind of loose parts and hoarding cardboard boxes for our own pop-up adventure this spring!

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The Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights

Our Spring Break begins today, and as I look at the 10-day forecast it seems as if our break will have at least a few days of the wonderful spring weather we’ve been dreaming of. As the kids and I brainstormed and made a list of things we’d like to do over the break, I was reminded of another list I picked up while attending the Indiana Children and Nature Network meeting a couple of weeks ago.

It’s the Indiana Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights, and you can download a copy for yourself from the Indiana Department of Natural Resource’s website. While it’s geared toward getting Indiana’s children outside and connecting with nature, it obviously translates to children all over the world. I love the list format. I don’t know about you, but my kids love a good list! There is such satisfaction in checking off the things you’ve done.  And how satisfying will it be to finally get outdoors again without layer upon layer and check this fun activities off one by one? Here’s the list:

1. Explore and play outdoors in a safe place.

Follow a nature trail via The Risky Kids

2. Follow a trail and discover native plants, wildlife and history.

Fishing with kids via The Risky Kids

3. Experience traditional outdoor activities like fishing and hunting.

4. Discover and celebrate Indiana’s past (or whatever part of the world you call home).

Camping with kids via The Risky Kids

5. Camp under the stars.

Climb a tree via The Risky Kids

6. Climb a tree.

Visit a farm via The Risky Kids

7. Visit a farm.

8. Plant a seed or tree and watch it grow.

Play in a stream via The Risky Kids

9. Splash and play in streams, lakes and ponds.

Geocache Tree

10. Enjoy the outdoors using all the senses.

11. Ask questions, find answers, and share nature with a friend.

What would you add to your own Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights?

 

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