The Benefits of Outdoor Play For Children
BY MARIA MAGHER • MAY 24, 2015
Many parents today spent their childhood riding their bikes and playing games like baseball or dodgeball on side streets and in neighbors’ backyards. Many children today spend much of their time indoors, playing games on their tablets or watching television. The American Academy of Pediatrics says lots of unstructured outdoor play is critical to the health of children, though many have experienced a marked decline in the time they spend in free play.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says childhood obesity rates more than doubled from 1980 to 2010. One way to combat obesity is to allow children plenty of outdoor playtime. Outdoor play gives children the opportunity to run, jump, climb, swim, dance and more, all of which provide aerobic exercise and strength training. Outdoor physical activity also strengthens the immune system and improves vitamin D levels, which can provide protection from osteoporosis and health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recommends that children get moderate to vigorous activity that adds up to at least an hour per day.
It may be hard to accept that children could experience stress or suffer from conditions like depression or anxiety, but these issues are becoming more common for today’s children, who have busy schedules with school and extracurricular activities. Physical activity in the form of outdoor play can help kids reduce their stress. The Children & Nature Network says contact with nature can help reduce stress levels and positively impact conditions such as anxiety or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
The neurological benefits of unstructured outdoor play extend far beyond mental health. Encouraging children to get plenty of outdoor play can provide intellectual stimulation, as well. The AAP says outdoor play has been shown to help children focus better in a classroom setting and to enhance readiness for learning, easing the transition to school. Outdoor play also encourages learning and problem-solving skills, which can help children perform better in the classroom. Unstructured outdoor play also promotes creativity, which children can apply to their academic learning, helping them see the material in another way.
When children play with other children outdoors, it encourages their social development. Play gives children opportunities to learn how to work in groups, including learning how to share, how to negotiate and how to resolve conflicts, the AAP reports. Children who are allowed to explore through play can learn new skills and overcome challenges, which can promote self-confidence, resiliency and self-advocacy, all of which can help children learn how to develop healthy relationships and to become leaders.
Indoor Summer Fun
Kids are home for summer vacation and there’s another excess heat warning, what’s a parent to do? If you live in a big city you could go to an indoor trampoline or bounce arena. You could visit a museum or science center or take a ride on an air-conditioned tram. You could even go to an indoor aquatic center. However, if you live in a small town maybe you do not have these options or maybe your budget simply does not allow for these visits. This is where parents may need some indoor fun ideas. Living in a small town in the desert each year we moms rack our brains to come up with ways to entertain our children at home while staying cool. Here are a few of our favorite things to do:
1. Kitchen Science Fun www.modernparentsmessykids.com
2. Stuffed animal hide-n-seek
3. Act out your child’s favorite book
4. Have an indoor picnic
5. Make a fort for coloring and reading
6. Make a mask tape race track
7. Make it a theme day
8. Turn your living room into a drive-in movie theater
9. Make a collage with miscellaneous items
10. Use Ice for arts and crafts www.teaching2and3yearolds.com
I hope you and your child enjoy trying these fun ideas while keeping cool!
“Keep close to nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” — John Muir
Earth Day 2017…It is a beautiful 64 degrees today and I decided to take a walk to enjoy the beauty around me. I find peace and joy in the solitude of nature. How are you inspired by our planet each day? Post your photos in the comments
Enjoy your day!
Easter in the Montessori Classroom
As the owner of a Montessori school, our classrooms have always addressed Easter as a celebration of new life. New life in the spring is indicated in so many ways; budding trees, blooming flowers, baby birds and other baby animals and green grass.
Although there are many stories surrounding the origin of the word “Easter”, to some, Easter is the celebration of spring and to others, it is a celebration of their religion.
My family will celebrate at our family getaway, surrounded by friends and nature. We will celebrate with our traditional Easter egg hunt and are always looking for new ways to color our eggs. I am including a link for natural egg dye recipes. If you have new ideas you would like to share, post the link in the comments.
Happy Egg Dying!
All-Natural Easter Egg Dye Recipes
Use these all-natural dye recipes made from household ingredients to create Easter eggs in beautifully subdued shades. Leave eggs soaking in the dye in the refrigerator overnight for the richest colors.
Buckle Up Children!
Our UMA students are encouraged to create their own original ideas inspired by traditional Montessori activities. Heather Sharma from Winchester, VA submitted this simple, home-made sequencing activity for the classroom, with the willing assistance of her helpful son. The subject of fastening a seat belt not only reinforces personal safety, but also independence (fastening your own seatbelt) and responsibility (always buckle up!). And more…
Indirect preparation for language
Sequencing picture cards are designed to provide an indirect preparation for language (writing and reading). Sequencing cards always tell a “story” through pictures, placed in random order on a tray/basket. The story cards first are placed in order of logical progression (“first, next, then, last”) on a table or floor mat. There is always a beginning, middle, and end. Once this is completed, we then “read” the cards orally from left to right in story form. This activity helps broaden the child’s vocabulary, encourages the spoken language through story telling and elaboration, as well as inspires great follow-up conversation!
Indirect preparation for math and more…
Sequencing picture cards also provide an indirect preparation for math. Math concepts require order and sequence; for example, increasing numerical quantities (1-10), equations (1+2=3). Sequencing activities also help the child develop a sense of time or history, even a simple concept such as yesterday, today, or tomorrow. On a broader basis, this sense of time could be in the form of personal history (from newborn to now) or inventions (from dial-up phone to cell phone), or… ! AND, sequencing cards aid in understanding science concepts such as life cycles of plants or animals, or geography concepts such as islands being formed by volcanic eruptions…all requiring specific sequencing of events.
There are so many ways to introduce sequencing activities in all areas of learning! Thank you, Heather Sharma, for sharing your sequencing cards with us!
For more sequencing (and patterning):