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Wednesday, 30 January 2013 04:29

Enjoying the snow

Written by Margarita

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Enjoying the snow.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013 04:19

Winter Fun

Written by Margarita

winter1
Winter fun

 

Monday, 14 January 2013 06:51

Waiting For Snow

Written by Courtney

It's January 14th and it feels like Spring in New England.  We waited and waited for snow last year, skiing on a little bit of man made snow on the local hill and trying to occupy ourselves in the cold without the white stuff.  Maybe it was wishful thinking, but I was sure that this year would be different.  The birds chirping and road kill (unfortunately) have proven me wrong so far.  The kids made it out for one meagar day of sledding, but we want more!  At least we have made it out to some playgrounds and have comfortably been navigating around the neighborhood on scooters and bikes since ice has not been an issue.  Has it been an especially warm winter for you?

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Friday, 07 December 2012 15:27

Geocaching with the Kids

Written by Administrator

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Geocaching combines high tech, hiking and a good old-fashioned scavenger hunt to create something new. "Cachers" use handheld GPS devices to locate containers (caches) hidden in neighborhoods, local parks, and hiking trails. Some containers hold nothing more than a logbook, while others contain inexpensive trinkets and surprises.

As an outdoor family event, geocaching has few equals. In addition to the fun of the hunt, you can teach your children to respect the environment, share with others, and use technology in real-world applications.

Finding Caches

 

Start by researching a geocache website for caches near you. Geocaching.com lists thousands of cache locations across the planet. You should have no trouble finding one in your area. Caches have different levels of difficulty; select easy ones for young children. The cache description includes the container's GPS coordinates.

Kids love taking something home from a geocache expedition, so read cache descriptions to see if the container holds small rewards. At the very least, a cache contains a logbook you can sign to prove you found the cache.

Geocache Gear

A handheld GPS device is needed for geocaching. Choose a sturdy model young cachers can operate easily. Dress and prepare as you would for a hike, with sun block, hats and refreshments. Good hiking shoes are necessary.

Caches can be hidden in cracks and dark areas, so pack a flashlight. It's an ironclad rule no cacher takes something from a cache without replacing it with an item of equal or greater value, so have the kids select a small bag of trinkets and small toys to replenish the cache. Oh, and take a pen to sign the logbook.

How to Geocache

Enter the GPS coordinates into the GPS device, and track the cache using the device. The GPS' compass setting will show you bearing and distance. Be sure to look up from the device as you search; cachers should remain aware of their surroundings. Avoid ledges, cliffs, and man-made hazards such as used construction equipment.

Most GPS locators are only accurate to within 20 feet, at which point you have to search for the cache. Containers may be hidden in hollow logs, under rocks or in piles of sticks. Remember animals sometimes live in such areas, so caution children to check carefully before exploring holes and cracks.

After you find the cache, sign the log, swap trinkets, and replace the cache exactly where you found it. Don't leave any hints or markers indicating where the cache is.

Cache In, Trash Out

Cache in, Trash out is a philosophy of leaving cache sites better than you found them. Tidy up before you leave, packing out garbage. Cachers sometimes organize large "Cache in, Trash out" activities, combining caching with organized trail maintenance, garbage collecting and removing invasive species or used equipment. Such group activities are a great way to meet other cachers and their families.

Field Trip: First Grade Outdoor Education

From long summer days spent frolicking in the park to making snowmen in the winter snow, exploring the great outdoors is easily one of childhood’s sweetest pleasures. Research has shown that time spent outside can have a myriad of physical and mental health benefits.

Fortunately, most kids are driven to discover the wonder and mystery of nature. This makes it easier to find plenty of exceptional educational opportunities that are great fun for the whole family.

 

Flora and Fauna: Fun with Plants and Animals

Nature offers the chance for young kids to see the cycle of life firsthand. If you have their own backyard, you can easily share the miracle of life with your little ones by simply opening the backdoor. Neighborhood parks and nature areas are also a good spot for spotting different animals and plants.

You may choose to discuss animal and plant species with your kids before heading outside, making it a game to see who can identify the names of the organisms discovered. If space allows, planting a fruit or vegetable garden and tending to it year round is another phenomenal way to expand your young child’s knowledge by using hands-on experience.

 

Taking Advantage of Learning Resources

While some parents have a knack for sharing the gift of learning, you may feel stumped when it comes to teaching your kids. Fortunately, there are a myriad of resources available that can prove invaluable when it comes to expanding a child’s brain.

From library books and websites on spiders and slugs to those covering complicated subjects like prototype machining, tools are available for all ages and education levels.

 

Incorporating Technology

Technology has radically redefined how children learn. Now kids and adults alike can use gadgets and apps to help solidify comprehension and understanding. When used in tandem with experience outdoors, Internet sites that feature games and quizzes covering topics previously studied can be a powerful way to boost your child’s capacity to retain information.

Cameras and tablet computers are versatile enough to be taken outdoors and used on-the-go. Some parents ask their children to snap photos of the things they discover. Tablets equipped with intuitive apps can even be used to research unfamiliar discoveries in the field.

Apps cover a diverse range of educational topics, from science and math to artistic endeavors like custom machine design, making it easy to find an one that is wellsuited for your child’s interests.

Spending time as a family outdoors is a surefire way to equip your child with learning tools and comprehensive knowledge ... the perfect recipie for development. Not only are these learning experiences enjoyable for your kids, but they can also help bring your entire family closer together.

Thursday, 06 December 2012 14:52

How to Make Outdoor Chores Fun for Kids

Written by Shane

It's fun now

Excuses usually abound when it’s time to do household chores. Ranging from chronic illness to physical ailments, no child gets excited about washing dishes or cleaning up their rooms. However, outdoor chores can become exciting activities as children splash in their bathing suits while washing the dog, jam to the radio as they garden, or dance along the sidewalk as they sweep. The key is to become inventive and turn an everyday task into an adventure instead of a chore, enticing them through fun, engaging activities.

 

Set up the Sprinkler

Let the kids have fun outside, running and jumping in and out of the sprinkler with the dog as you set up a self serve dog wash. Arrange all items needed for the pet wash into stations, starting first with the shampoo, bucket and a rag or sponge. Next should be a towel and a brush, and third, treats and a pull toy.

When the dog is good and wet, have your children massage in the shampoo, scratching the dog in his favorite places and laughing as he tries to wriggle free before they can rinse away the bubbles. When he is completely clean, give him a treat and let them have fun playing tug of war with his favorite pull toy.

 

Dance with the Leaves

Turn raking leaves into Dancing with the Stars by having your child use the rake as their dance partner. With each sweep of the handle, they can hop, skip and jump across the lawn as they gather leaves into piles while pretending to be their favorite TV star.

For even more fun, the tip of the rake’s handle can be used as a microphone, allowing them to sing and dance as they work. This game can also be played while sweeping the leaves and pine needles off of the sidewalk or driveway.

 

Enjoy the Garden

Play music while gardening. Whether watering plants, spreading dirt, pruning bushes or picking fruits and vegetables, your favorite tunes will make the time go quicker and the chore much more enjoyable. Fast-paced music is the best, urging your children to move quicker, sing louder and forget about the dullness of the activity at hand.

You can also turn weeding into a competition for your children in countless ways. For example, the child who has pulled the most weeds can be awarded with a prize — but be careful, this could lead to random pulling of greenery — or you can look for the prettiest/ugliest weed, the one with the most bulbs, etc., when all weeding is completed. It doesn’t matter. Just give them something else to focus on as they work in the garden.

Kids - We love ice cream

From Spongebob Squarepants on TV to can’t-get-their-eyes-off-the-screen smartphone apps, kids have plenty of incentive for staying inside on the couch instead of playing baseball in the park. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2011 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed 12.5 million children between the ages of 2-19 to be obese; the number tripling since 1980.

We have to turn that number around. I work for a big 3pl company and am unfortunately traveling a ton.  So I'm always in need of some serious family time, thank goodness my wife is a stay-at-home mother, and bless her soul, has come up with a couple of simple — and cheap — ideas for our familiy to get out outside, a little exercise and have some fun bonding.

 

Enjoy the Yard

Have fun playing catch with a Frisbee, hula hooping or jumping rope, or set up a bean bag toss. Other simple games, such as horseshoe, croquet and badminton, are a blast and can be found at the average store.

For the bean bag toss, start by laying the hula hoop out on the ground. Step 15 feet away from the hoop and toss the bean bag; 1 point if it makes it. Step 20 feet back and try to make it into the hoop; 2 points if it makes it. Alternate between players and keep going back as far as you wish, adding a point each time. You can also make a smaller circle to throw at and stay in one place.

 

Join a League

Let’s face it: Many of us do better when tasks are scheduled into our daily activities. Either we’ve got too much going on, or we don’t really have enough desire — like many of our vows on New Year’s Eve — to follow through.

Sports such as soccer, beach volleyball, baseball, cricket and tennis are competitive and can be played in leagues. They each teach kids how to strategize, work in teams and spurn leadership skills, inspiring them to take charge and accomplish tasks needed to achieve a goal.

Research has also proven sports to show an improvement in academics, sharpening their focus, improving their overall attitude, confidence and behavior.

 

Explore Nature

Take your kids camping. This can be done at a particular camping site or just in the backyard. Either way, be prepared with ghost stories, campfire food and a sturdy tent.

If there is a lake, river or pool nearby, let them go splash around and have fun diving for rings, playing tag or just floating along. Bring along bikes to get a good look around and tell your children the history of the area, naming trees, flowers and birds that you see or hear. As the night falls, roast weenies and marshmallows over a campfire and tell tales about things that go bump in the night.

You don’t need to spend a lot to enjoy the outdoors. But your kids — and you — will reap major benefits.

 

Wednesday, 05 December 2012 16:14

How to Find Outdoor Activities on Zero Budget

Written by Shane

fall

You don’t need a swing set, fancy equipment or even a local park to have fun with your kids outside. No matter what the weather, there are plenty of fun outdoor games and activities that involve only your family and imagination. After all, kids (of all ages) look forward to building the first snowman of the year. Check out these other ideas for free outdoor fun.

Fall Fun

If you live in a region with four seasons, take advantage of it. Remember when we were kids and the piles of leaves were just too tempting? Take the chore aspect out of raking leaves and turn it into a backyard amusement park. Sure, it’s a job that has to get done, but no one says you can’t enjoy the process.

Summer “Sports”

A bucket of sidewalk chalk can fill a summer’s worth of excitement. Depending on the age of your children, you can create hopscotch games of varying difficulty or simply take to the streets as artists. Your entire neighborhood is your canvas. Just don’t forget to slather on the sunscreen.

Of course, the classic sprinkler play is something that never goes out of style. You can up the ante with a slip ‘n’ slide, which can be picked up for under $10 at your local store. There’s no better way to cool off during the hot summer months. Pick up a bag of balloons to create water grenades for a cool game where everyone wins.

Getting Into the Winter Wonderland

Building a snowman isn’t the only winter activity. Creating snow angels and sledding are also essential winter activities. Don’t worry; you don’t need a professional sled in order to take advantage of the slopes. If it snows in your area, find an open area with an incline and make sure there are no hidden posts or other obstacles before playing.

The top of a recycling bin or any disc-shaped device can double as a sled. If you have inner-tubes or pool toys, these are also great for sledding. If you're looking for something more relaxing you can always check out the spa for some massages, or give acupuncture a try -- probably the best idea so that the busiest professionals can squeeze in some much-needed family and relaxation time.

The Transitioning Months

Both autumn and spring boast the best weather where it’s not too hot or cold. That means it’s prime time to get outside. Visit a local corn maze in the autumn. Make a serious game out of egg hunting in the spring. See who in the family can find the best pumpkin for carving. Indulge in the traditions of the holidays.

Sometimes just switching up the location can make a huge impact on your family’s health. Why not take the dinner prepping (and socializing) outside? How about having your kids read to you while picnicking on the porch? It’s the little things, like backyard camping, that stick with us as our favorite childhood experiences.

Tire swings may be what most people think of when talking about tires in playgrounds, but Ontario Tire Stewardship (OTS) is working hard to change that. A recent study by OTS found that over a third of Ontarians surveyed feel that public spaces such as playgrounds, parks and recreational facilities in their communities are outdated. It may come as a surprise, but recycled tires have the potential to revitalize outdoor spaces, and far beyond that tire swing!

OTS helps recycle each of the 12 million tires introduced yearly in the province, and works with manufacturers to convert those tires into useful new products. Talking to children about tire recycling and showing them some of these products is a great way to start educating them about sustainability, and to get kids thinking about the lifecycle of the products they use day-to-day.

From Black to Green: The Lifecycle of a Tire

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When tires reach the end of their lives, they get recycled and find new life in the form of innovative products. This educational, animated video demonstrates exactly how the tire recycling process is rolled out. It is typically a three-step process.

First, tires get dropped off at a local tire disposal collector where they are sorted and sent to a recycling facility. At the facility, the tires are cleaned and broken down into smaller and smaller pieces until eventually a fine material called crumb rubber is created. The crumb rubber is then used in the manufacturing of a variety of products including playground surfacing, decorative stepping stones, athletic flooring, walkway pavers and more. See the photos below to view these products or visit www.GreenMyTires.ca. Teaching kids about tire recycling is a fun and creative way to engage them on sustainability and will help mold them into environmentally-progressive citizens.

For more information on tire recycling and Ontario Tire Stewardship, visit www.RethinkTires.ca and follow us on Twitter @RethinkTires.

Products made from recycled tire rubber:

SofSURFACES SofTILE

SofTILE is a durable, slip-resistant playground surface made entirely of recycled materials.

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Kids playing in the Kate’s Kause playground in Elmira – playground surface created using SofTILE.

Multy Home Stepping Stones

Multy Home’s envirotile™ Stepping Stones are made entirely of recycled tires. They are used as pathways and decorative accents in gardens.

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Reversible, decorative, and environmentally-friendly.

Heffco Mulch

Crumb rubber mulch doesn’t fade, compress, or rot. This makes it cleaner and safer for gardens, landscaping, and playgrounds than traditional mulch.

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Rubber mulch costs 65% less than wood mulch over a five-year period.

 

Friday, 23 November 2012 02:22

Yay us!

Written by Kristen Mawell
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Yay! I hope you all saw our picture in the Burlington Post on Wednseday - we look great!  Way to go!
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