Posted in Education, Family, parenting, summer, teaching, teen, toddlers, Uncategorized

Outdoor Education and Camping!

Tablets, smartphones, laptops, eReaders, television, game systems: There are so many reasons for your kids to stay inside and stare blankly ahead not absorbing the world around them (note: I put eReaders on the list because a lot of times I see kids using them they’re playing games, books are okay 🙂

I’ve posted a few articles about being outdoors with children and how it’s educational for them, but this weekend is our first attempt at taking our three year old camping. I am nervous and excited but it also prompted me to look up educational reasons to take your kids camping that I wanted to share. (Update: we didn’t make it through the night. We did get to do some of these things though it was fun for awhile just playing in the woods so…still worth a shot!)

1) Outdoor Education- this is an educational initiative all its own now. Many countries (Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway come to mind) have outdoor education as part of their normal school curriculum. It consists of everything from hiking trips to playing more outside, to having several recess breaks throughout the day, to fishing trips. In the New Zealand Curriculum Framework, they state that providing outdoor education gives students “opportunities to develop personal and social skills, to become active, safe, and skilled in the outdoors, and to protect and care for the environment.”

2) Problem solving- many spur of the moment issues can arise while camping. Is that poison ivy? Is there rain coming? Taking children camping can help them better their problem solving skills and quick thinking techniques. To prep for the trip have your children be involved with packing their own supplies. Obviously, guide them to pack essentials but let them really decide what they want and what they do not.

3) Imaginative play- camping provides ample opportunities for imaginative play. Being out in nature surrounded by trees (or the ocean if you choose to camp on the beach) gives them a backdrop they aren’t used to at home. The campfire is also a great place for imaginations to take off. Take turn telling stories. If you are having trouble starting, try making up new endings to stories you already know. Like what if Little Red Riding Hood didn’t realize that the wolf was pretending to be her grandmother? What if they lived together for a while, how would the wolf act?

4) Unplug! Along the same lines as imaginative play, being outdoors and camping really gives you and your family a chance to unplug together. It may be tempting to break out the phones or bring the iPads but don’t. Spend your time together, together. You are not home so you shouldn’t be worrying about work and things that can be dealt with once camping is over.

5) Cooking in a new atmosphere- cooking is a great learning experience. Measuring, mixing, and playing with different textures and ingredients. Camping provides a completely new way to experience the learning process of cooking. Bring some pre-made items like pancake mix and let your child help with pouring it on the pan over the fire. In addition, being outside instead of in the kitchen might help you not worry so much about the mess.

Here are some activities to do with your children while camping to make the experience fun and educational!
Scavenger hunt- there are many available online if you don’t want to create one yourself
Frisbee or catch
Fishing or crabbing
Bubbles
Crafts- a lot of ideas out there on Pinterest. Here are some I really like.
Sand toys

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Posted in Education, Family, Gardening, parenting, Social Change, Uncategorized

Simple Living for Teens

My husband and I have been trying to buy a house for almost a year now (although I assure you it seems like decades). While doing so I started to become obsessed with this hole small house movement that is going on. I know I’m a little late on the trend and it’s all over the place now but I still was on Pinterest finding anything I could about tiny homes and how to convince my husband it was a good idea.

Well we did finally find a house and it’s not tiny by the tiny home standards (1,120 sqft) but some would consider it small so I am calling it a win! However, what got me thinking about the tiny homes and why they’re so great is that fact that they force you to live more simply. I didn’t have much in the way of material items growing up and I lived in a small home. But that made me more apt to go outside, spend time in the living room, and not accumulate things. I think now it’s easy for kids and teens to get swept up in this “he/she has more than I do” competition that happens.

Just the other day a mother was talking about taking her son to a birthday party. She had gotten the friend a generous gift but during the party he received a new iPod touch from a different friend. The woman’s son was upset thinking maybe they didn’t give his friend enough. This is a problem in my opinion that affects a lot of young people. Here are some ways I have read about to help your kids and teens understand how to live more simply. I think that understanding the concept and it’s benefits will help them in the future.

 

For an example of a tiny home built by a young person (college student but still) check out this article.

 

1) Let your kids start helping you shop early on. Show them that it is a process to narrow down what you really need. If they just see you come home with a trunk full of food then it would reason that you just go to the store and throw a bunch of stuff in your cart all willy nilly. Take them and show them how to be selective so you don’t end up getting things that will cause waste.

 

2) Get your kids (especially your teens) more excited about the outdoors. There’s a lot to do outside all year round. The more people are active outside their homes the less likely they are to keep acquire stuff for inside. Gardening is one great activity. Sports, walking, owning an outdoor pet or one that needs to be walked, hiking, playing in the snow and rain, animal hunting, swimming, water balloon or shaving cream fight, catch fireflies. There’s endless things to do in the outdoor. Like…

Cartoon of tents and campfire.

3) Go camping. We are huge camping lovers here and there’s nothing like getting back to the basics to unwind. There’s something about turning off your phone and leaving your computer at home and just sleeping in nature. Totally cheesy I know but I can’t wait to get my daughter into camping. Seeing how relaxed and how much fun it can be doing something so simple will help instill that way of living.

 

4) Decrease your family drama. Living simply doesn’t just mean reducing your clutter, items, and wants. It also means getting to a more easy going state of living. Having open communication as a family and reducing the amount of stress and tension is a benefit of simple living.

 

5) This idea isn’t for everyone. When I was in high school I heard someone give a speech at the church I went to at the time about a program called CFCA (Christian Foundation for Children and Aging now called Unbound). It was a Christian nonprofit that worked in several countries. It wasn’t a typical sponsor program. They actually built towns and farms for people to work at and live in, in addition to providing monetary help to sponsored children and elderly. I talked my mom into sponsoring a kid (his name was Johnathan) who we helped from age 10 to 18. We went to visit him in Guatemala when he turned 18 and talked to him about how our support had helped throughout the years. We had been writing him at least once every other month for all that time so I felt like I actually knew him. Growing up with that helped me when I got a little greedy. Even as an adult when I decided to sponsor my own, it really keeps you in check when you start to get overwhelmed with what really isn’t important. There are other nonprofit and volunteer ideas available that will have the same affect on your teen and family.