I love the outdoors and our family gets outside as much as possible. I run the Boston Area Active Kids Club outdoor playgroup. Come play with us!

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As you already know, we love to get outside.  Going outside can be as uncomplicated and cheap as taking a walk around the block and as complicated and expensive as going on a ski vacation.  Having a lot of interests means having a lot of gear, which we do: kayaks, paddles, skis, skates, helmets of EVERY kind, bikes, bike trailer, scooters- you get the idea.  All this gear, especially with growing children, can add up quickly.  Lucky for us we have two boys that are two years apart, so we just pass down from one to the other, and my husband and I are the oldest children in our family- we have no empathy yet for those who always received hand me downs, so as long as we can get away with it, we will!

Like most people, we do not have an unlimited budget for these things, so here are some strategies I use to get great gear for the best price.


1- Decide what gear you really need to have.  Do you skate so much that you need ice skates or can you just rent them?  We have state run rinks here that don't always have their rental stands open, and if you have your own skates it's free, not to mention skating outside of a rink, so we have our own skates.

2- Decide what gear you'll use the most to see where you need to put a priority on quality.  For instance, I have my own ice skates, but they're basic, CCM figure skates that I've had for many years.  I don't have fancy, fancy hockey skates or anything, we just skate for fun when we are able to get out to the rink.


1- Craigslist!

Craigslist is my favorite.  Sometimes it does take a bit of stalking to find what you need, but that's why you think about it in advance.  For instance, at the end of the ski season think about what you'll need for next year because that's when people like to unload things, or start checking in the fall before ski season gets into full swing.  Last year I scored a pair of skis and boots for my son for Christmas for $60 and they'll get passed down!  His ski instructor looked at me and said, "Those are really good skis."  Score!

2- Second Hand Stores

Stores like Play It Again Sports and other local second hand stores are a great place to go to get discounted gear, you just might have to go back and check on whether they have what you want in the size you want.  Sometimes these stores also place some of their inventory on Craigslist.  Good to know: Play It Again Sports also sells some reasonably priced NEW equipment as well- this is where I got my ice skates.

3- Swaps

Swaps happen in many kind of environments, you just need to be on the lookout to find out about them.  Maybe your local ski area has a ski swap before the season starts.  I worked at a school where the kids went ice skating every Friday morning in the winter, so we always had a skate swap at the school before that season started.  If you can't find a swap near you then ORANIZE ONE!

4- Gifts for Occasions

Are the relatives asking what the kids want for Chrismtas?  Little Johnny needs some ice skates!  Susie needs some ski goggles!  This is probably common sense, but try to be seasonal about it.  My son wanted a scooter, so we waited to give him a scooter for Christmas and he couldn't ride it outside for quite a while because it was covered in ice and snow outside.  He liked riding it inside my parents' house, though!

Good luck scoring some deals!

*Also, let's keep those in mind who can't afford the basic necessities for winter.  Please donate to your local coat drive this season!*SkiGear




I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving.  We had a nice, long holiday where we were able to spend time as a family and time with extended family as well.  We got outside in many ways.  We did a lot of playing in the yard- we even put up some Christmas lights already (after Thanksgiving!).  On Thanksgiving there always seems to be a time when everyone needs to take a break from eating and watching football and go outside to play, even the adults, so we kept up that tradition.

I sound like a broken record, but the weather has been gorgeous.  We went for a hike today with the kids and it was the first time we've really hiked as a family and not had somebody in a carrier- hiking boots for the kids are in our future come springtime!



The prospect of getting outside today was looking bleak seeing that three of us have been sick and it was wet and raw out.  However, just before we were losing light my son decided he needed to go outside. We got all suited up and played for a good half hour.  Sometimes it's nice when they give me a push to get out.



Well, it's that time of year.  Thanksgiving is approaching and before we know it we'll be sending out Christmas cards.  When my first son was little I did bring him in to a studio to get some pictures taken, but once we got a decent camera I decided that I'd take all of their pictures, and we do it outside, of course.  My in-laws have a cranberry bog right behind their house which is also a Christmas tree farm (we got our Christmas tree there last year!)  So it's basically one stop shopping for outdoor holiday photography.  We packed lunch and headed out to wander around and play, hoping that we'd get something good for a card.  Well, we got the money shot about five pictures in, which was great because then I could just relax and I figured anything else we got would be a bonus.  These are some outtakes since I can't reveal the picture we'll actually use on our card!




We had some friends over today in our yard, kind of a rescheduling of events because it was raining last Thursday.  We still got outside on Thursday, but we were unable to do this craft.  We gathered leaves and then the kids assembled them, along with sticks and whatever else they wanted, on t-shirts.  This yellow one is my son's and it's not the best color to use for this project but it's the only one I had in his size, so shhh, don't tell him ;)  Dark colors work best because after the child lays down their design an adult sprays bleach over the top.  I also put a small cookie sheet inside to prevent the bleach from going through to the back.


After the area sprayed with bleach lightens, dunk the shirt in a bucket of water to stop the bleach from eating at the fabric.  Just put it in the water gently and then wash right away in your washing machine or hang it up until you are able to wash it.  Today there were a few that I put in the bucket and I think I squeezed them a little bit to get the water out when I was taking them ot of the bucket which made the bleach spread through the shirt and then the images of the leave were blurred.  Learn from my mistake, don't squeeze!  Below is the test one that we did the other day which turned out well:


This was a good craft to do one at a time with the kids and it doesn't take very long, so it's easy to do while the they are playing in the yard with each other and they can take turns doing their shirts.  We definitely felt a chill outside today, but the children were troopers and they had a nice time playing together.  My next preparation for cold weather play is to look up large thermoses so we can tote cider or hot chocolate along for our friends when we play outside.  I think we're going to need it soon!

Another nice weekend here in Massachusetts!  The boys went in the bike trailer with my husband to our local playground and we got a lot of backyard time in.  I had to make a trip to Ikea where I picked up an easel for the boys.  We have a tabletop one, but I've wanted one they could use standing up for a while now, primarily so they could use it outside- less mess in the house, more time outside!  Can't beat this easel for $15.  My son painted a picture of one of our garden shovels digging into the garden.  He loves to draw and paint so I hope to give him more opportunities for nature and landscape painting.


While they painted I put together some chairs from Ikea, and you know when you commit to that you'll be outside for a while!

We also saw the biggest earthworm that we've ever seen:


And, of course, my son commandeered the camera for a while.  I love when he gets his feet in a photo:


What did you do this weekend?

"Must we always teach our children with books? Let them look at the mountains and the stars up above. Let them look at the beauty of the waters and the trees and flowers on earth. They will then begin to think, and to think is the beginning of a real education."
- David Polis


We experienced many things this week: sunny days, rain drops in puddles, rosy cheeks, the ocean, no coat weather, winter coat weather, mud, sand, rocks, leaves and more!  During our outdoor playgroup marathon this week for Make Every Day a Play Day (a meetup every day!) we had 55 people participate and many came out to play multiple times. We had a lot of fun outside together.  Scheduling time to go outside with other people is a great motivator and it's nice to have company.

What we did this week:

Monday- played at the playground until past dark, pretending to be pirates and doing a lot of swinging

Tuesday- played amongst pretend houses and in the sand, transporting, digging and sculpting

Wednesday- geared up for a rainy, rainy walk at a park by the ocean, playing hide and go seek and splashing in puddles

Thursday- rainy, muddy backyard play in the garden, working together to dig, experiment and just get messy

Let's keep up the momentum and continue to get outside for our weekly meetups and beyond.  Keep the "Make Every Day a Play Day" challenge going into the weekend and get your family outside.  You know you'll hear about our weekend adventures, come tell us about yours.

This morning we rode bikes and scooters around Esker Park with friends- some we hadn't seen in a long time and we are glad they could make it out!





The rain won't stop us from playing outside!


Today was another rainy day.  Well, I shouldn't say that, it was dry until about 20 minutes before we had our scheduled outdoor playgroup today in my backyard.  Many people opted not to join us in the rain, probably because they don't have the proper gear yet, but we'll get them geared up soon!  I watch my friend's children on Thursday afternoons while she is teaching some drama classes, so we had two friends join us outside today.  They were a little hesitant at first- as were my kids, they just wanted to run inside and play with their friends- but when you visit a house that has extra rain pants, you pretty much have no choice but to go outside and play in the rain for a while.  Once I got them outside they had a lot of fun digging in the mud in the garden-pretending they were doing science experiments and finding worms.  We played outside for a good hour, but not as long as we would have had we not been right outside our nice, warm, dry house, which was calling to the kids.  Inside they played very nicely and I'd like to think the outdoor play helped with that.  They were working together outside to complete tasks which is always heartwarming to watch.

In this video my son is trying to dig up some soil to add to their "science experiment".

His friend comes to help him and what they find is a worm, which everyone has to examine very closely, of course!


Tomorrow we'll be at Esker Park at 10 a.m.- a good place to bring bikes/scooters!  See you then.

Ahoy!  We visited one of our favorite playgrounds today that has a big ship and some fun pretend houses.  We've had such a mild fall (minus the snowstorm!) that I'm afraid to see what winter holds for us, but for right now we'll take it.  We had over 25 friends come to playgroup today.  It makes me so happy to have other people who are committed to coming to multiple outdoor playgroup meetups this week.  I hope it gets us all in a groove for when the colder weather comes.
We're heading to Webb State Park tomorow afternoon where we'll meet at the entrance to the park at 3:30 and leave to go for a walk around 3:40.  Now, there is rain in the forecast, but it's supposed to be 60 degrees and humid, so as long as it's not a complete downpour or a thunderstorm then put on your rain gear and we'll see you there!
Our luck with the fall weather continues- no coat today at the playground!  We had a very successful Outdoor Playroup at the Holllis playground where we had at least 30 playgroup members participate in our Make Every Day a Play Day week.  We all had a great time.  Some of us stragglers even "closed" the playground, staying after dark until we were given the final push to go home and start cooking dinner by the burst of a rain shower.
My older son and husband went on a bike ride at Esker Park, one of their favorite spots, and I got in a swim at the pool this morning, one of my favorite spots!  All in all a very active and playful day.  We will see everyone at the Hingham Playground tomorrow rain or shine.  Rain is not in the forecast until the afternoon and Outdoor Playgroup will only be canceled in the case of a downpour or thunderstorm.  Get out that rain gear just in case.  See you then!