As adults, we often experience rain as cold, wet, disruptive, and time to spend indoors… but to a child rain is a wonderful sensory experience. Children love to feel water fall and touch their skin, catch raindrops in their mouths and hands, dance and splash in the puddles, and get wet on purpose! Children do not care about staying dry or “warm”. As adults we often forget the pleasure in the changing weather and wonders of Mother Nature, let alone experiencing the sensory pleasures of it. Let your children be free to run in the rain, feel nature, experience life with their bodies, and find adventure in the everyday things. © Jodi Healy
Today I brought a small shopping cart along and empowered my 5 and 3 year old to help pick and carry groceries (taking turns). Half way through my 5 year old said, “Mommy my legs aren’t even tired.” Not only did they get exercise (rather than sit in my cart the whole time bored and full of pent up energy I have to deal with later), they were so proud of themselves. When my 7 year old came home from school my 5 year old bragged she did the shopping! I personally hate grocery shopping and add children to the mix and it often can be unbearable… but I learned by engaging them in the responsibility, making it an activity we can do together, it can be a peaceful experience instead and a great learning one too! – Jodi Healy
With the constant visual stimulus we are all subjected to (through television, digital media, smart phones, digital billboards, IPADS, etc), we often forget the benefits of just listening, pure audio. Children love to listen to music, people talking, and hearing stories! Listening is an important part of development for reading, cognition, problem solving, and more. I found one of the best opportunities I have for this is driving in the car. I figure since we spend so much time there, I could do something positive with that time; expose them to different types of songs, cultures, music, and stories. My children love listening just as much as watching a movie, and I feel good I am doing something educational. They learn and listen quietly, while I have a chance to make those necessary phone calls! A win win situation. – Jodi Healy
Rather than trekking through 3 feet of snow with little feet to go sliding (who would sink, get boots full of snow, and wet feet), we created our own “luge”! The plow and winter left us with huge mountains of snow in our driveway. Simply using a shovel I made steps on one side for easy climbing and dug out a slide on the left. I continued to add snow on the pavement as the kids slid down, and “viola” we had our own easy to access slide. – Jodi Healy
Playing store is a great activity with many opportunities for learning, and setting it up is just as fun! I have my children collect empty cereal, pasta boxes, egg containers, plastic containers, or whatever they can find (that is clean) from the recycle bins or cupboards to sell. I help make fake money, find fake credit cards (old library cards or business cards work great), and some change (my 7 years old can do this herself now and loves the challenge). If you don’t have a cashier a calculator works and an old Easter basket/basket works great if you don’t have a shopping cart. I grab a few old bags lying around for filling up the groceries after someone has paid. I faciliate the first few minutes, play a shopper and explain things… but if your children have ever gone shopping with you they know what to do! I even leave our store set up for a few days and they go back again and again. It is hours of fun and learning (changing money, counting, planning, organizing, role playing, and more).
Often we forget the environment is an integral part of life, even for adults, and that children learn through experiencing it; sounds, smells, sights, and touch of what is around them. A walk in the woods is a wonderful sensory experience for a child. At first I used to worry about them getting dirty, hurt, ticks, colds, and all the other million things mothers worry about, until I realized I was limiting them and buying into the fear based reality (and stressing myself and them out trying to stop them). In the end we are animals and nature is our home! Yesterday after dinner we put on our boots, went hiking in a foot of mud, splashed in the puddles, looked for animal footprints, and slid on ice patches. We were soaked when we got home but a hot bath at the end of the day made everyone sleep peacefully and soundly!