Archive for the ‘Boys Activities’ Category

I thought today was going to be one of those looooonng days where the kids are going crazy trapped inside by super heavy rain.  Especially after we had inside preschool in the morning. They are, after all, Outdoors Kids right?  But it actually proved to be a really fun afternoon.  The weather vaguely co-operated and we were able to get outside for a few hours.  I also discovered that rain days make perfect science days, which little boys really enjoy.

The boys are fascinated by rain.  They haven’t seen too much of it this year, so it’s novel, and it makes everything — in their opinion anyway — so much more interesting.  First, we decided to see how much rain was falling this week and whipped up a quick rain gauge. It wouldn’t win any prizes for beauty or scientific accuracy, but it did the job and was constructed entirely from items we found in our recycling bin.  The Monkey is fascinated with numbers and measuring things, so he loved explaining how the gauge would work and finding a good spot for it in the garden.  It better rain enough over night to make it satisfying to look at tomorrow.

Five pounds of rain Mom!

Then we went to our local park and noticed all the changes the rain had made in this familiar landscape.  We talked about why the wood chips and sand had changed colour and why some areas of the park had remained dry.  We talked about how and where puddles form. Then we pondered how different the creek might look after rain.  The Monkey, after his current favourite TV show, likes to make hypotheses (“Mommy, a hypothesis is an idea you can test!”), so I encouraged him to guess how the creek would have changed from our last visit.  He suggested it would have more water and be running faster.  We clambered down to the creek to check and he was delighted to discover he was right–the creek was running really high and fast.  We then spent a happy thirty minutes paddling in the creek as we had our rain boots on anyway.  Rain? It’s just an opportunity for science, right?


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The boys were at a loose end in the garden for a while today.  They gathered up their ride-on cars, a bucket of water and brushes and set up a car wash.  I think it’s a great idea and, once the weather warms up, we may expand the car wash.

Nice and clean

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We decided to make ‘cloud dough’ today, slightly adapting the recipe from Tinkerlab.  I put 6 cups of flour and 1 cup of oil into a large tray and let the boys mix it up and play.  We tried all our play dough toys and several items from the kitchen and, of course, cars.  The boys loved it.

Cloud dough is all very well

But after a while they decided it need an additional ingredient. Rainwater.  So the boys transferred the rainwater that had collected in their water table into the cloud dough mixture. At first it was such a sticky mess that they were both put off.  After they’d worked it for a while, however, it became very dough-like and they had great fun shaping it into snakes, balls and pancakes.  It was an important lesson for me in embracing the process and not aiming at a particular product. It also reminded me why we do these projects outside–my kids make everything extra messy.

but rain dough is better

Now we can make a real mess

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We really need rain at the moment and, if it must rain, today was the best sort of rainy day for toddlers.  It was wet overnight and in the morning, but temperatures remained mild and the skies brightened in the afternoon.  This meant it was perfect weather for puddles which, for toddlers, is what rainy days are all about.

I really don’t like taking the boys to indoors play areas at any time–they just have too much energy for those places–but I really hate taking them to indoors play spaces on wet winter days when they are crowded with frustrated and often sickly kids.  It always ends in tantrums or fevers.  Plus, the boys love the wet. So now when it rains I just take the kids outside.  What is it the Scandinavians say? There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes?

tracking the run-off

Sometimes we do a Serious Wet Weather Hike on the weekends. Stevens Creek is one of our favorite and super muddy destinations as the rain really brings the wildlife out.  Hidden Villa also has awesome puddles after a storm.  Other times we just do a rain walk down the street which is what we did today.  It’s a little disappointing that the City of Palo Alto put storm drains in our road last year as this has had a deleterious effect on our street’s puddles, but the little ones had fun following the run-off down the street and working out where it fed into the creek.  And the local park still had puddles galore. In the end, we spent just about the whole day outside as usual.

When do boys grow out of this?

Where do you like to take your kids to enjoy some outdoors rain time? I’m always looking for inspiration on this one. And the more puddles the better.

[as a side note, I often find the weather forecasts exaggerate the chance of rain round here and I’ve come to relay on this radar program to let me know what storms are actually in the area. It’s pretty good at forecasting the following 6 hours – perfect for planning toddler outings].

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Latest scientific research concludes video games (even including the wii) do not make children more active or improve their fitness.

Maybe instead of trying to make more active/interactive video games we should just put the consoles away and go outside if we want to get our kids active and keep them healthy?

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Sometimes I have to work hard to remind myself how different the world looks to my toddlers.  They’re often intrigued by things I would never have thought about.  The bushes at the end of the garden are a good example. Now these bushes are especially big and, well, bushy and have been a source of fascination and anxiety for The Monkey ever since we moved in.  They’ve long remained unexplored territory, however, and he’s been happy to inspect them from a safe distance. If his ball went behind them, he needed Mommy or Daddy to venture back among the leaves to retrieve it.

Do we dare?

But no longer. Today was the day The Monkey explored the bushes.  When his ball went back there this morning, instead of running to me and asking for help, he slowly crawled in among the leaves.  He was very excited by his own bravery and delighted to find a hidden path and shady hiding places between the bushes and the fence.  The Monkey spent the whole morning exploring, gradually enticing The Puppy Dog, who is rarely daunted by anything, to join him.

Plunging in

To me, they’re just bushes.  To the little ones, they’re a whole world to be explored where daring and independence can be tested and adventures enjoyed.

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We found this one in Memorial Park. The boys played here for the longest time. I’m finding many of our most successful hikes are those on which we stop and make time for unstructured play if that’s what the boys want to do.

Clambering around their forest stronghold

It's all mine!

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I can’t quite believe how wonderfully warm and sunny it was today. I think we set a record for February, managing to enjoy a full day (8am-5.30pm, minus a nap in the car) outside.  We spent much of the day on the Stroller Hike’s expedition to Bravo Ranch playing in the fields, woods and the creek.  It’s a magnificent and remote spot, perfect for toddlers to explore with a play area, animals, tractor rides, water and mud.  If you fancy joining the next Stroller Hike’s trip to the ranch–their annual camping trip in July–see here to make reservations.

Rustic beauty everywhere

All sorts of things to explore on the ranch

Did someone say mud this way?

Spot the baby in the wilderness

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It’s meant to be beautiful this week with temperatures into the 70s and 80s, so here are a few ideas to get the kids outdoors:

Friday 24th February

Visit the Bravo Ranch with Stroller Hikes.

Details: Friday, Feb 24 at 10:30 AM: Day at the Ranch (Soquel) – Join Liza, Sasha, and Nico for a day at her family’s private ranch in  Soquel.  We’ll visit all of the animals – pigs, chickens, rabbits  (including new babies); check out the garden and orchard, and visit the  creek if it’s not too cold.  This won’t be a trail-following hike, but  kids are bound to get a lot of walking in, checking out everything at  the ranch.  This is the famous site of our Stroller Hikes Annual Family  Camping Trip (July 20th to 22nd this year).  Bring a carrier/pack for  non-walkers.  Directions: From Silicon Valley, take Highway 17 South  towards Santa Cruz.  Exit right on CA-35 Summit Road.  Veer right  following Summit Road over Highway 17.  Go 3.8 miles.  Turn right at San Jose Soquel Road (just past Summit Store).  Go 7.8 miles. The entrance  to ranch will be on your left hand side directly across from Casalegno  General Store. Look for the big yellow mail box, 3490 San Jose Soquel  Road (watch out – Mapquest and Google Maps will sometimes send you on a  wild ride!). Don’t try to make the left turn. The driveway is narrower  than it looks.Pull into the parking area for Casalegno & then cross  over Summit Road & go down the driveway.  The property is gated, so  see the sign on your left before the gate for the code to get in.  The  gate will close behind you automatically.  You can also access this  easily coming from Santa Cruz – just drive to downtown Soquel and head  towards the mountains on San Jose Soquel Road – you’ll see the Casalegno General Store on the left and the yellow mailbox on your right

This is a free event, but register with Stroller Hikes so they know to expect your family: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/StrollerHikes/surveys?id=13124526

Friday and the Weekend

This week there are 2 historic sailboats moored at the Port of Redwood City: The brig Lady Washington and topsail ketch Hawaiian Chieftain. They have walk-on tours this Friday afternoon. $3 donation per person. And all sorts of other exciting activities over the weekend. See here for details.

Saturday 25th February

Don Edwards S F Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Family Bird Walk 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Visitor Center, Fremont Let family walks become a shared time of nature learning. We’ll begin by helping kids create their personal bird watching field guides, and then head out onto the trails to find those birds. A limited number of binoculars are available to borrow. Recommended for children ages 5-10. RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. Call 510-792-0222 ext. 363.

And I would suggest this is a perfect weekend for a beach visit…..

Advance Notice – These events fill up fast:

Hidden Villa has a nice looking ‘toddlers on the farm’ class in March (three friday afternoons) for toddlers aged 1.5-3.5.  To reserve a spot, see here.

Elkus Farm has a couple of open days coming up – March 14th, 15th and 17th. The 16th is already closed for further reservations. If you’re interested, see here.

Tiny Treks is now registering for its summer programs. Comes highly recommended!



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than playing with water?  I got the paint brushes out so the boys could paint the house with water (a favourite activity) but they soon put their own boy spin on it and started to ‘splatter paint’ the fence. Very Pollock.

Mini Jackson Pollock in the garden

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