Go Play Outside

 Go Play Outside: Resources, Book and Apps to Get Your Family Back into Nature

I’m over at The Art of Simple today sharing about how our family plays together. From the post:

This morning we donned our winter wear and hit the mountain for a few hours on skis with our children, ages four and seven. This is a typical day for our family.

On several days a week throughout the year, you will find us out in nature on our bikes, kayaking, hiking, camping, snowshoeing or skiing. The kids call it fun – I call it therapy.

Visit me there to read the rest and then visit the resources below to get your own family back into nature.

Books

The book that jump started the conversation: Last Child in the Woods, Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. If you need a reason to go play outside (and you have kids), this is your book.

If you’ve already read Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv followed it up with The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age. It’s on my to-read list.

Not for the already adventurous parent, this is a great introduction for anyone on the fence about taking their kids into the great outdoors:  Let Them Be Eaten By Bears: A Fearless Guide to Taking Our Kids Into the Great Outdoors.

3 great books for inexpensive, go outside and breath fresh air ideas for parents:

Parents: take your kids camping. Of all the amazing vacations I took as a kid, camping trips were the ones I remember.  This book gets excellent reviews (and I love the cover design). The Down and Dirty Guide to Camping with Kids: How to Plan Memorable Family Adventures and Connect Kids to Nature.

Technology & Apps

Technology gets a bad rap for keeping kids from nature, but there’s some great apps out there to use in your quest for nature.

Here’s a great article on why we need to bridge technology and nature for our children.

This report from the NWF provides real-world advice to help parents serve as positive role models and teach children to use technology in moderation.

The Wilderness Society suggests 9 free nature and wildlife apps for kids.

The NWF compiled their favorite apps where you pretend to be animal or naturalists.

Go Play Outside: Resources to Inspire Your Family to Get Back into NATURE

Online Resources & Blogs

Children & Nature Network : News, research and more about the movement to connect kids to nature. I enjoy following the C&NN Facebook page for the highlights.

The National Wildlife Foundation has a great Nature Finder tool for finding local parks, trails and other nature sites.

The Be Out There Campaign, also by NWF, provides inspiration and ideas for outdoor play.

Join thousands across the US during the Great American Backyard Campout held annually in June and here’s 10 backyard campout activities.

A great Pinterest board featuring places all over the US for families to ride their bikes.

Nature Rocks has a great tool to help you generate ideas for getting outside in any weather or environment. Let’s say it’s raining today and you are going to a local park, Nature Rocks suggests playing games such as 20 Questions, Puddle Jumping and Guess What’s Inside Nature’s Mystery Bag? All come with instructions.

Outside Magazine (one of my favorites) has a blog titled, Raising Rippers, chronicling a mom’s journey to living outdoors with her kids.

Gadgets and gear for kids to play outside. How fun!

To make outdoor exploration more interesting and for gift ideas for little nature lovers, check out my 10 Favorite Gadgets and Gear for Outdoor Play.

Please share your own ideas to encourage others to get a fresh breath of air today.
 

Gadgets and Gear for Outdoor Play

These are great gift ideas for getting our kids back out into nature.

It doesn’t take much but a sense of adventure and a comfy pair of tennis shoes to play outdoors but a few gadgets and gear fit for kids makes it that much more interesting. Here are my favorites for little nature lovers.

Gadgets

Carson Hawk Child Binoculars : perfect for bird identification and viewing animals from afar.

Mini Microscope : my kids love to investigate leaves, insects and tree bark with these petite weapons of exploration.

Whistle and Compass : we have a similar version of this whistle and compass combo allowing us to teach the kids safety measures while out in the wilderness.

Petzl Headlamps : small enough for kids, we use these primarily for camping and playing outside at night.

Julbo Kid’s Sunglasses : this summer, my optometrist reminded me that children should have sunglasses on just as much as adults. Gulp. Julbo makes a durable pair for little ones, now if we could only make sure they don’t get lost.

Gear

Camelbak Kid’s Mini-MULE Hydration Pack : both kids, ages 4 and 7, tote these along whenever we venture outdoors. They not only hold water but snacks, sunscreen, sunglasses, and other gadgets we bring along. I do not leave home without them.

Lifetime Youth Kayak : without a doubt, one of our favorite pieces of gear for kids. My son was 3 when he started paddling on his own. Perfect for weekends at the lake.  I recommend making sure it comes with a backrest and paddle.

Balance Bikes : skip the tricycle and training wheels and go straight for a balance bike. Just make sure you get the right size by measuring your child’s inseam first. Popular brands includes FirstBIKE and Strider but TykesBykes is my personal favorite for geometry and components. Oh and please don’t forget a helmet.

Motorola Walkie Talkies : skip past the cheap children’s walkie talkies, they will be broken before you know it (speaking from experience). We got the kids this Motorola pair for Christmas and have been using them for our winter outdoor play: sledding, skiing and snowshoeing. They will get even more use this summer.

RoadID : this wristlet comes personalized with emergency contact phone numbers and information, just in case something might happen. My 3-year old got his own RoadID this past year, here’s why.

Visit me here for my favorite books, online resources, blogs, and apps for getting our families back into nature.

 

It’s Date Night: 20 Questions to Reflect and Dream

Love these ideas for our next date night!

I’m over at The Creative Mama today sharing one of my favorite date nights. From the post:

When my husband and I are able to slip away alone for a few hours, we often spend time reflecting on the past and dreaming about the future.

We’ve examined what’s working in our life and what’s not. We’ve designed our life lists and planned how to cross each one off. It’s one of my favorite ways to spend our time over a glass of wine and dessert.

Please join me there to download a free printable for your next date night!

 

2014 Guide to Safer Bath Toys – PVC Free, Phthalate Free, BPA Free

Safer Bath Toys : Your 2014 Guide to BPA free, PVC free and Phthalate free Bath Toys

While I’m no expert, I do avoid PVC, phthalate and BPA when I purchase bath toys for my own children or as gifts for others. Over four years ago, I had a hard time finding such products so I researched and published one of my most popular posts on safe bath toys.

I still get emails asking whether a specific bath toy is considered safe and sadly, I find a lot of bath toys still do not meet this criteria. I’ve finally updated our list of safer bath toys so we can all shop smarter, enjoy.

BOON – One of my favorite brands because all of their bath toys are PVC, phthalate and BPA free.  I particularly love the Boon Water Bugs.

B.Toys (Battat) – All of their toys are both BPA free and phthalate free. The squishy toys do have non-phthalate PVC in them, they are softened with a food-safe citroflex.

Green Sprouts – The Stacking Cups, Stacking Ducks and Sea Friends are all PVC free, phthalate free and BPA free. The bath mitts are also a good option.

Green Toys – Another of my favorite brands because everything is created with recycled milk jugs. The submarine, tugboat, ferry boat and sea plane are PVC, phthalate and BPA free and also get great Amazon reviews.

Hevea – Their toys are made from natural rubber which is free of BPA, PVC and phthalates. Their toys are also biodegradable.

Milliwik – These clever bath-friendly playing cards are BPA, PVC and phthalate free. Super fun.

Munchkin – The only product from Munchkin that meets the test is the Caterpillar Spiller.

2014 Favorite Safe Bath Toys

sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

Nuby – Customer relations told me that “all Nuby product including bath products are BPA Free and PVC/Phthalates Free.”

Rich Frogs - Their bath toys are BPA free, phthalates free and use phthalate-free PVC. I particularly like their terry towel mitts and tub puppets.

Sassy – All bath toys are BPA, PVC and phthalate free except the Snap & Squirt Sea Creatures and they are non-phthalate PVC.

Skip Hop – The only bath toy that meets all 3 conditions are the Stacking Toys. Their other bath toys are phthalate free and BPA free but not PVC free.

Sprig – All toys are made from recycled materials and do not contain BPA, PVC or phthalates.

Zoe b Organic – This biodegradable and made in the USA bath and beach toy set is one of my favorites. Also free of BPA, PVC and phthalates.

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What I’m Reading: Books That are Changing Me

What I'm Reading: Books That Are Changing Me

Today I’m sharing several books that are changing me over at The Creative Mama. Come on over and say hello. From the post:

There are those books that get under my skin… the books that I dog ear, make notes in or constantly quote to my husband… the ones so meaty that I have to digest before continuing. Those are the books that shape me.

You can get the whole list over on the post, but here’s a couple that make the list: Zero Waste Home, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and  Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally.