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Friday, February 14, 2020

8 Simple Resolutions for a Parent to Support Play

Photo by Skitterphoto (pixabay)

8 Simple Resolutions for a Parent to Support Play

We all know how important it is to spend time with our kids, but did you know that parent-child play is a vital part of a child's development? Research shows that children who have parents who play with them have a better vocabulary, do better in school, and have better self-esteem. Of course, independent play is also important: Unstructured play allows children to gain independence, flex their imagination, and work on their problem-solving skills. It also helps kids manage their stress and build their resilience and grit. Whether they're playing with you or on their own, it's important that parents support and encourage playtime. Here are eight resolutions you can make to help your kids get all of the benefits that play provides.

Encourage Children to Play Independently

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Free play has been decreasing since the 1950s, largely due to fears about leaving children unsupervised. But independent play doesn't have to be totally on their own: Keep an eye on them, but let them be in charge and try to solve their own problems. Stand back, avoid making suggestions about how they should play, and praise what they're doing, whether it's making a tall tower out of blocks or trying out the tallest slide at the playground.

Allow Children to Take Risks During Playtime

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Scientists once deprived young rats of risky play during a sensitive time in their development. The result was adult rates that were scared of new environments and displayed inappropriate aggression. Children of all species will sometimes want to try types of play that involve great heights, high speeds, dangerous tools, elements like fire or water, roughhousing, or hiding. All of these things can be scary for parents, but setting up a controlled environment where children can experience risk while playing is important to their development.

Spend More Time Outside With Children

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Playing outside isn't just good for your kids: It's good for you, too. Try to work in some family play time by tweaking your existing schedule. For example, sometimes, when I'm out running errands with the girls, we'll stop at the playground to blow off some steam before we head to the next stop on our to-do list. Try to get out in your own yard or the neighborhood park at least a few days a week.

Advocate for Recess at School

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Only eight states require that students be given a daily recess period, and school districts across the country have been cutting recess in recent years to carve out more instructional time. Not giving children the chance to run around, be outside, socialize with their friends, and play is detrimental to their development. What's a parent to do if their children's school isn't offering recess? Advocate for it. The National PTA advocates for recess and has resources available. Speak with the principal, and then go to your school's PTA to form a plan. You might need to escalate your request to the school board or involve the media.

Play More Yourself

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Instead of micromanaging the kids' play when you go outside with them, engage in your own favorite activities! Did you love riding your bike as a kid? Get it out of the garage and go for a ride around the neighborhood. Enjoy swinging? Show the kids how your proper pumping technique really lets you fly! The kids will see an adult happily engaged in play, and that affirms that their own play is important and valuable. It's also great for you!

Make Sure the Family Schedule Allows for Unstructured Play

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We all have busy schedules, and that goes for both you and your kids. That means that finding the time for free play to just spontaneously happen can be difficult. That's why it's important to make sure there's enough room in your schedule for play. Scale back on your after-work and after-school activities; limit each kid to one sport or after-school activity per season. After all, if each kid has organized activities from the time school lets out until dinnertime, when are they supposed to play?

Provide the Necessary Materials for Playtime

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So many children's toys are meant to only be played with in one particular way. Try to shift your toy-buying to things that allow for open-ended, creative play. A box of dress-up clothes, puppets, small versions of adult tools (a small broom, a small rake, etc.), buckets, balls, and the like will give your kids the necessary physical objects for highly creative play.

Invite Other Children Over

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Children love playing with other children, so make sure they have other kids to play with! A simple way to make this happen is to hang out with your kids on the school playground after classes let out. You can also meet other kids to play with at local parks. As kids grow older, they'll naturally want to start hanging out more with their favorite friends, so make a point to invite them over for play dates. It doesn't have to be anything fancy: Just offer a few snacks and let the kids handle the rest, with minimal adult interference.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Thursday, February 13, 2020

9 Ways That Play Can Help Ease the Winter Blues!

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9 Ways That Play Can Help Ease the Winter Blues!

There's an old Mother Goose rhyme that goes, "It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring." At my house in the winter, it can be more like, "It's raining, or it's snowing, and the girls are climbing the walls." The rhyme and rhythm are off a bit, but the feeling is real! Kids cooped up inside because of bad winter weather can quickly turn into squabbling, bored, unhappy children. But one of the many great things about playing is that you can do it just about anywhere, and another great thing is that playing can help alleviate the winter blues in your kids. You might even find that playing with the kids helps you feel better, too. There are nine different ways that play can help you to fight that cooped-up feeling this winter.

Release Dopamine and Norepinephrine

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Often, play involves movement, and the great thing about moving around is that it releases dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that relays messages between nerve cells, and it also plays a role in how we experience pleasure. It helps us focus, think, plan, and find things interesting, too, so upping the amount of dopamine in your kids' systems is an excellent way to stave off the winter blues. Norepinephrine helps people focus, retain memories, and regulate their emotions. Issues with norepinephrine levels can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety. Fifteen minutes of activity a day can help control these vital neurotransmitters.

Correct Circadian Rhythms

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If you've ever noticed that your kids' sleep routines get thrown off in the winter, causing them to be tired and whiny in the morning, have trouble sleeping through the night, or refuse their regular naps, one possible culprit is the lack of sunshine. It's harder for kids to get enough sunlight in the winter, when there are fewer hours of sunlight overall and bad weather that keeps them indoors, and this can mess up their internal clocks. The solution is to get more sunshine into their lives. Open the curtains and blinds in the morning so they get sunlight as soon as possible. If at all possible, get them to play outside in the sunshine for at least 15 minutes within two hours of waking up. And take any chance to get them outside, even if it's just for a few minutes at a time. The exposure to daylight will help get their circadian rhythms back on track.

Laugh More

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When children play, they often laugh, too, and laughter is a necessary component for good mental health. Laughter makes you breathe deeply, releases endorphins, calms down your stress response, and lowers your blood pressure. There are even long-term benefits of laughing: People who laugh have less pain, overall better moods, and even better immune systems than those who don't. So let the silly games begin and let the laughter fly.

Get Vitamin D

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Vitamin D helps protect us from diabetes, heart disease, and bone issues, including osteoporosis. It's a nutrient that works with calcium to build and maintain healthy bones. Our bodies produce vitamin D, but they need sunlight to do it. Being outside riding their bikes, participating in a sport, or just walking lets kids get the sunlight they need to produce vitamin D and stay healthy.

Build Confidence

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Well-designed playground equipment allows children to use different parts of their bodies to try new challenges and experience new risks. But if you watch children on the playground, you'll see that often, if they're interested in trying something, they'll watch other children do it first. Then, they'll try the activity themselves. They might fail, but most kids will naturally try again and again until they master the skill. Learning from their mistakes and conquering fears helps children build their confidence.

Release Energy

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Kids have a lot of energy, but kids who are trapped inside without a healthy outlet can quickly use that energy to make themselves and everyone around them miserable. Play will allow them to get that energy out without getting into trouble. If the weather's not too bad, send them outside to run around and work off that energy; if it's dangerously cold, rainy, or icy, try some indoor exercise instead.

Release Emotions

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Little kids can have intense emotions, and play is an essential component in learning how to release those emotions and regulate their emotional lives. Researchers agree that children use unstructured play to figure out how to express feelings and learn to deal with things that scare them. Letting the kids turn a play structure into a pirate ship or a big cardboard box into a rocket allows them to work through their feelings in a totally healthy way.

Build Social Skills

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When we're feeling grumpy and out of sorts, sometimes, it can help to go out and have fun with your friends. Spending time with friends is good for you, and it's good for your kids, too. Playing with friends also provides chances for your kids to make new friends, and it lets them practice getting along with children in the group they don't like. Playgrounds typically develop social networks where children learn to build relationships and navigate issues with their peers.

Develop Cognitive Abilities

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Children's brain development depends on play: Researchers agree that free play actually impacts how a child's brain wires itself. Experts from Jean Piaget to Fred Rogers believed that play was crucial for children's development. Letting children play allows them to work on developing language skills, problem-solving, focus, and reasoning skills. It also allows children to flex their creative abilities. Staying cognitively engaged also helps battle depression and can help your little ones conquer their winter blues.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Monday, February 10, 2020

It's Walk Your Dog Month! Here Are 10 Benefits to Walking a Dog

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Ten Benefits to Walking a Dog

It's a simple fact that dogs need walks. Most people think this is because no one wants their dog to have bathroom accidents inside their home, and that's true. But dogs need to walk outside for longer than the average bathroom break. Just like with humans, walks have substantial physical, mental, and social benefits for dogs. That's one of the excuses my daughters use whenever they ask if they can go to a neighbor's house and offer to walk their dog, and I'm happy to let them, knowing that both they and the dog will reap a variety of benefits from the experience.

Health Benefits for Humans

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Medical study after medical study has shown that walking improves your overall health. It leads to a longer life span and more functional years. Luckily, walking also has one of the lowest injury rates of all aerobic exercise. Studies have shown that people who live in walkable neighborhoods have lower rates of cardiovascular disease, ad walking helps improve mental function, too. So lace up your sneakers and grab a leash!

Social Benefits for Humans

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Want to meet new people? Walking your dog might be more effective than joining a local meet-up group or signing up for a dating app. One study showed that a person walking a dog had three times the number of social interaction instigated by another person than did a person walking alone: People who like dogs are likely to approach you if you're out walking yours, meaning that you're more likely to meet people while you're out with Fido than alone.

Community Benefits

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University researchers in Australia, the U.K., and the United States conducted a telephone survey in four large cities to study how pets impact how people interact in their communities. They found that owning a pet means you are more likely to get to know your neighbors. This makes sense when you think about the amount of time you spend either walking your dog or letting them run around at the dog park. While your dog is making new friends, you might make some, too. Walking regularly through your community also gives you more exposure to your neighbors and the daily rhythms of your neighborhood.

Your Dog Will Be Happier

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You could just let your dog run around in your backyard, but that's much less fun for your dog. The different daily experiences regular dog-walking provides are excellent for your dog's mental health. Exploring new routes, seeing unique wildlife, encountering other people walking their dogs, seeing kids at the bus stop, and other new adventures provide needed mental stimulation to keep your dog alert and interested in life.

Your Dog Will Be Healthier

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Regular walks provide many of the same health benefits for your dog as they do for you! How much walking your dog needs to reap the health benefits depends on their breed. Most dogs need a walk at least once a day, although some dogs may need more. The kind of dog you have and its level of fitness will also help determine how long and how vigorous your walk should be to give them the correct amount of exercise.

You and Your Dog Will Have Healthier Joints

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Walking is good for all dogs, even dogs battling arthritis; older dogs can enjoy gentle walks on the grass. Regular walking while your dog is younger will help prevent joint issues later in life, and walking is just as good for your joints as theirs. Get outside and you'll decrease the chances that both you and your dog will struggle with immobility as you age.

You and Your Dog Will Be Less Likely to Be Obese

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Both dogs and people can struggle with obesity, but regular walks can help you and your dog burn calories and fight weight gain. A university study from England published in 2017 confirmed that people who walk daily have lower BMIs than people who walk less. People who consistently walked more than 15,000 steps a day were more likely to be at a healthy weight.

Your Dog Will Be Less Stressed

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Dogs can get stressed out when they spend too much time alone or don't have appropriate ways to get out their extra energy. Walks address both of these issues. Being out and about will let your dog see and interact with other humans and other dogs being walked as well as with you. Regular walks also enable dogs to work off their energy healthily.

Your Dog Will Stay Out of Trouble

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Ever known a dog that ate a sofa or dug up a freshly planted garden? That's because bored dogs quickly become destructive dogs. Dogs need stimulation and regular exercise to prevent boredom and prevent them from thinking up their own ways to amuse themselves. Tired dogs who receive focused attention from their favorite person (you!) and the mental stimulation walks provide are far less likely to destroy your living room.

You and Your Dog Will Bond

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The best way to bond with your canine companion is to spend quality time together. At home, it's easy to get distracted by chores, your phone, or one of the hundred other demands on your time. However, getting outside together and going on adventures will lead to many shared experiences that will help deepen your relationship. Your dog will soon learn the routine of going for a walk, and that, too, will make your relationship seem more solid to your pup.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Thursday, January 23, 2020

9 Essential Tips for Keeping Your Pets Safe in the Snow

Photo by: Ebowalker (pixaby)

During the cold months of winter and early spring, it is, of course, still important that our pets get fresh air and exercise, but it is equally important that we take all measures to properly care for our pets and protect them against the unique challenges of winter. There are nine simple things that we can do as pet owners to help our furry friends stay healthy and comfortable in the cold.

1. Clear the Way

Shovel a clear path to a designated potty spot for your pet. Doing this will help keep them most comfortable and out of deep snow. It may also speed up the process in cold weather as, with training, they understand the purpose of the outing and get on with their business quickly to get back to cozier indoors.

2. Take Care to Remove Rock Salt from Paws

Ingesting rock salt can be harmful and upset your pet's stomach. After a walk on treated surfaces, pet parents can remove salt from their dog's paws by dunking them in warm water and gently wiping them clean. If there's a small amount of rock salt, a wet cloth could work well enough. Note that if you have a walkway or driveway that is treated with rock salt, there are pet-safe varieties that are recommended and available to pet owners.

3. Avoid Contact with Antifreeze

Antifreeze is needed by many during the cold and snowy months, but those caring for pets should be aware that it is toxic and harmful to animals. It has a sweet smell that might pique a pet's curiosity. Always make sure to properly dispose of antifreeze containers, don't leave them in places they could be gotten into by any pets.

4. Don't Forget Our Pets May Need Layers Too

Once the cold weather rolls in, many of us pull out the winter gear for our families. Along with the coats, hats, gloves, and scarves that we bundle our families in, it is important that we consider our family pets and their cold-weather comfort. If you have a smaller dog or one with a light coat, consider outfitting them for winter with an extra layer. Fleece coats and covers come in all sizes, accommodating dogs both big and small.

5. Bundle Up

After a walk in the dog park in cold weather, pet parents may do well to wrap their pets in a warm towel or blanket in an effort to bring their temperature back up. A hairdryer may also come in handy. When needing to warm up chilly paws, use a hairdryer on a low setting and a bit of a distance so as to avoid burning the paws.

6. Condition Dry and Cracked Paws

Moisturizing a dog's paws during the winter can go a long way in helping them stay comfortable. Cracked skin can become painful and bleed if left untreated. Using Vaseline, generously coat the paws and covering them with booties can help condition their skin to better withstand the wet and cold weather of winter.

7. Avoid Walking on the Ice

When out for walks, do not allow your pet to walk on frozen bodies of water. It's hard to tell from a distance how thick the frozen ice may be and it's simply safest to avoid it. Thin ice can crack and break easily under a dog's weight, increasing the risk of a drowning incident.

8. Properly Trim Hair or Fur on the Feet

Untrimmed foot fuzz can cause ice and snow to cling to our pets, collecting as packed snow and ice between the toes and pads of the feet. Properly trimming a pet's fur about their feet and toes to be even with the surface of the paw can help to avoid the snow clumping. This is especially important for long-haired pets.

9. Stay In

Maybe the simplest tip of all, but as with people, our pets are only meant to handle so much cold, even with their coats. Take all proper care of your pets and follow all local cold weather advisories, limiting exposure to the elements. Be aware of the signs of hypothermia in dogs and take care to avoid putting a pet in an unsafe position.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Monday, January 20, 2020

Musical Playgrounds: All About Fiddling

What is a fiddle?

Do you know what a fiddle is? A fiddle is a four-stringed musical instrument. The fiddle is a string instruments and looks very similar to a violin. In fact, both instruments are even played with a bow! (But did you know there is a difference between the two instruments? Learn the difference between the violin and fiddle!) While the bodies of the two musical instruments are the same, the set up of the violin and fiddle can differ. The fiddle is one of the oldest and most basic instruments in the history of music. The first historical mentions of the fiddle emerged from Europe some time in the 10th century. The fiddle is widely played in countries all over the world, and spans just about every genre of music! From folk music, to bluegrass, country and Celtic music, the fiddle is a widely loved musical instrument!

The Origins and History of the Fiddle

Facts About the Fiddle

  • Parts of the fiddle include the fingerboard, neck, bridge, sound hole, strings, back plate, tuning pegs, tailpiece, bass bar, and more.
  • The first manufactures of the fiddle and violin was Andrea Amati in Italy.
  • Depending where you are in the world, the fiddle varies. The Stroh fiddle and violin in Ireland has a horn on the side that the American fiddle does not.
  • It takes fiddle craftsmen over 200 hours to build a fiddle.
  • Fiddles are traditionally made out of wood, but in some countries you can find fiddles made out of metals such as tin cans.
  • In the early years, the strings for the fiddle were made of animal intestines. Today, they are often made from steel or aluminum.

Want to check out some famous fiddlers? Here's a good list to get you started:

Bob Wills

Craig Duncan

Hyram Posey

Aubrey Hayney

Hoot Hester

Justin Branum

Bobby Hicks

Charlie Daniels

Mark O-Connor

Jay Ungar

Natalie MacMaster

And here's a great list of other fiddlers to check out: List of Fiddlers and Fiddle Performers

Old-Style Fiddling

Irish and Celtic Fiddling

Fiddle Playing Guides and Music

Fiddle Clubs, Events, Magazine, Organizations & More!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Get Your Playground in Shape for the New Year

It’s a New Year, time for new changes! Add proper playground maintenance to your list of resolutions this year to ensure the health of your playground, and most importantly, the safety of the children who play there. Small changes to your playground can lead to big improvements in the overall play experience. This creates positive results that include safe, happy children, a grateful community and a lovely playground.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention each year 200,000 children are admitted into the United States emergency rooms for playground related injuries. These injuries include fractures, internal injuries, concussions, dislocations and amputations. Proper maintenance ensures a safe play experience, protects your playground and limits liability if injuries occur.

Inspections and maintenance should be done on a regular basis: daily, weekly or monthly. Now is the perfect time to create a maintenance plan for the new year. Having a plan keeps you accountable and makes maintenance easier throughout the year.

Start small. Look for hazards that seem small but can turn into big issues in the future if not addressed. This includes broken glass, trash, vandalism, exposed tree roots and sharp rocks. These things can not only affect the look of your playground but can impede the fun for children.

Check surfacing for hazards. Make sure that surfacing is at the appropriate depth for the fall height, so that children have soft landing areas. Rubber mulch and engineered wood fiber may need to be raked back into place and refilled. Check Poured-in-Place surfacing for holes or scratches for which you will need to contact your installer for repairs.

Now for the big stuff. Carefully inspect your structure for any potential hazards that can harm the users of the playground. It is important that all equipment meets Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards. Make sure all moving parts such as trapeze rings, swings, bridges or tunnels are secured and are not an entanglement hazard for children. Deterioration can happen over time in the form of rust or corrosion on metal or cracks and breakage on plastic. When these things occur try your best to replace the parts in the affected area. If these are not addressed, it can lead to bigger issues that can be expensive to fix. Also, check for properly tightened and/or missing bolts and clamps and check all barriers and panels and replace them if necessary. Be sure to check out the CPSC Public Playground Safety Handbook for more information!

Like any resolution, its best to track and record your progress. Follow your inspection and maintenance routine by writing detailed notes of your findings. Keep a record of when issues were found and when they were repaired or replaced. Keeping a record makes maintenance even easier for the future, and keeps you covered in the event of an injury.

If you need help jumpstarting your new goal, AAA State of Play offers maintenance services that are specific to your playground needs. We have multiple Certified Playground Safety Inspectors (CPSI) on staff who can help with your maintenance. Contact us to take advantage of our maintenance care specialists.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Monday, January 13, 2020

10 Benefits of Playing Outside in the Winter for Kids

Photo by: Free-Photos (pixaby)

As the weather outside is frightful and the fire looks delightful, it can be so easy to get lost in the rut of the indoors. Rather than venturing outdoors into the cold, many choose to hunker down in their warm bunkers at home. But there are so many reasons why it's worth digging out your winter gear and enjoying the winter wonderland outside. Before you get out to enjoy the unique experiences of winter, it is important to make sure that you and your family have the proper gear: warm hats, water-proof gloves, snow pants, warm socks, boots, and full-coverage face masks are all important winter clothing items that should be worn when playing outdoors for an extended period of time. In addition to proper clothing, it is also important to practice proper winter safety, keeping a close eye on children and other adults for signs that it may be time to retire back to the fire. Intense shivering, stiff muscles, and shallow breathing are only a few signs of hypothermia to be aware of. 

Beating Seasonal Depression - Playing outside in the winter can help dispel winter blues in both children and adults. Being active and enjoying nature are key parts of this.

Winter Fun and Risk Management - Children learn to access and handle risks better as they encounter slippery surfaces, frozen water, etc.

Cold Weather Exercise - Winter play can be more physically challenging as children push through snow, carry around snow, etc. This helps build physical health and wellbeing. It's great exercise.

Building Emotional Resilience - It helps children develop emotional resilience as they make the most of every environment and every season. 

It boosts the immune system  - It is easy for many to fall back on the "you'll catch your death of cold" excuse for not playing outside in the cold but, in fact, getting out into the fresh air and vitamin D can help children strengthen our children's immune systems.

Unique Sensory Experiences - Playing out in the snow and ice offers the children a special opportunity to enjoy and manipulate their environment. Using touch and playing with snow, children can learn and explore in a way that is unique to winter. 

Breathing Fresh Air - Breathing cold, fresh air helps to invigorate and strengthen the body, especially the lungs. Exposing the body to cold air supports respiratory health. Free of seasonal allergens, it offers us the opportunity for allergy sufferers the chance to get out and breathe clean air into their system.

Stimulating the Imagination - The unique elements of winter offer children opportunities that can't be found in any other season. Whether it's building with snow or playing with water and ice, winter play can be a fun seasonal solution for kids cooped up indoors. 

Problem Solving Skills - Navigating deep snow and slippery surfaces present challenges in seasonal play. Challenging kids to come up with their own solutions to these problems can empower them to make decisions and exercise their problem-solving skills, both 

Built-in Environmental Learning Opportunities - Fun lessons about earth science and weather can be done outside during the colder months and offer hands-on opportunities to learn and play at the same time. 

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Monday, December 23, 2019

Unoccupied Play: What it is and Why it is So Important

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Children play in many different ways and for many different reasons, even when it may not look like "traditional" play. Unoccupied play, may appear as random gestures and sporadic movements most commonly demonstrated by infants from birth to three months old. As random as they may seem, they are a meaningful attempt by the child to explore and learn about their environment and personal space. Unoccupied play helps to prepare babies for future play experiences by building their confidence and helping them to learn about their environment.

The building blocks of solitary play

Unoccupied play is precursory to solitary play, during which children play alone rather than others. Solitary play typically lasts through two years of age. The exploration of space and movement during unoccupied play prepared children to play alone and concentrate on activities while beginning to learn about cause and effect and explore creative play.

Sensory experiences

The exploratory movements of unoccupied play allow children to experience different sensations, textures, and materials. They may begin to practice manipulating objects and understand space. The freedom of unoccupied play encourages children to come to their own conclusions and make decisions without organization or expectation.

The development of motor skills

Although appearing as unengaged and stationary, young children are in fact engaged in unoccupied play that helps build a baby's motor skills, preparing children for more refined play in the future.

Understanding personal space and potential

During unoccupied play, infants may explore their range of motion and the potential they have to change their environment. Stretching, kicking, grabbing and gripping help babies build strength and challenge their muscles. These movements prepare them for more complex motions and sequences of movements as they develop.

Parents of young infants can keep in mind the many benefits of unoccupied play as they learn to engage with their children and support their development. It may not look like anything remarkable, but this phase of development is just the beginning of your child's play experience; soon enough they will be enjoying all of the different types of playground equipment.

The Different Stages of Play

Unoccupied Play

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Monday, December 16, 2019

10 Ways to Have a More Playful 2020 No Matter Your Age!

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A new year is right around the corner and many of us are starting to gear up for our annual resolutions. This year, I'm choosing to make 2020 the year of fun and playfulness. Join in on the fun this year with some of these different ideas I've put together.

Explore Exercise as Fun

Many of us make an annual fitness resolution this time of year. Eat better, drink more water, exercise more. We sign up for the gym and by May, we've lost the momentum and motivation to achieve our goals. Let's make this year different by experiment with fitness. Try something new outside of the gym.

Dance Away Dreariness

This year, take time to dance more. Dancing releases endorphins that energize the body and spirit and is a great way to have some fun. Whether you take a dance class to learn something new, get together with some friends for a night out at your new favorite club, or simply dance around your kitchen with your kiddos to lift your spirits at the end of a challenging day, make this year one that is full of dance and laughter.

Walking Work Meetings

When so many of us endure days at our desks, it is important that we take steps to live healthily. Instead of your weekly board meeting in conference room 3, suggest to your team that you take a walk and talk. This might not work for all meetings, but when possible, get your coworkers to lace up their sneakers and join you for a power walk while you hash out the latest updates and progress reports.

Love Your Local Flavor

It's easy to overlook the charm of the town or city you live in after a while. This year, make a commitment to rediscovering your city and all of the wonderful things that it offers. Explore the latest happenings at the local library, visit local museums, support local businesses by patronizing shops in your downtown shopping district, support your local theater, enjoy a night of music with a local band. There are so many fun and unique reasons to love your town and it's time to dive into the scene and experience the unique local flavor around you.

Try a Trampoline Park

Trampoline parks, both outdoor and indoor have become popular among families looking for something new and exciting to do together. One of the biggest draws of these parks is that parents get to play with their kids, rather than standing on the sidelines.


Staycations are a wonderful and relaxing way to have fun with family and friends. Take a few days or a week to relax locally, within a few hours of home; doing this allows for the benefits of a vacation without the stress and drawbacks of expensive travel and planning.

Find a Friend

Make 2020 the Year of the Friend. It can be tough to find friends for adults and families, but with the help of technology, it can be made easier. Peanut is an app made for moms to help them connect with others in their area that they might like to meet up with for play dates at the park or playground. Use online resources and apps to make real-life connections and find friends to share the fun with.

Play in the Pool

Swimming is an excellent way to have fun, relax, and get some exercise. And you don't need to own a pool to enjoy swimming. Many communities offer recreational swimming at community pools. You can also find a local hotel with an indoor or outdoor pool and book a room for a single night. This will give you access to the amenities to enjoy.

Join a Club

Take your hobby to the next level by joining a local club or group with the same shared interest. It can be so much fun to connect with others who share something you are passionate about. It can also help you reach new levels of mastery as you learn from others.

Find the Fun in Family

As with many things, fun also starts at home. Turn to your family, including kids, to brainstorm fun things that your family can do together. Allow for constructive conversation and include the kids in the decision-making to ensure that everyone has a say and the activities are varied.

Habits of Playful People

The Benefits of Being a Playful Person

Find more about the author: Kim Hart