Archive for the ‘Boys Activities’ Category

I’m not usually into buying too much stuff, but my bug-mad kids went crazy for these roly-poly playgrounds (at REI).  They’re perfect for letting toddlers look at bugs without hurting them, and kept my kids occupied in the garden for hours.

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Last week we spent a whole morning inspecting Stanford’s Stone River, or not so much inspecting it as climbing all over it. The Stone River is a 320 foot long sculpture by British artist Andy Goldsworthy located in a ditch (it’s meant to look like an excavation site) on the Stanford campus next to the Cantor Arts Center.  I love the details of its creation:  the river was constructed out of rubble from Stanford buildings destroyed in the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes and was shaped by a team of expert dry stone-wallers brought in from England and Scotland just for the task.

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Having spent three hours standing in the rain in a park I didn’t think it was possible that the boys could get much wetter.  But they could.  All the precipitation made them super excited to check out our local creek again this weekend, and to see if it had got any higher.  And of course ‘checking it out’ cannot be accomplished without actually getting in the water.  It was cold but they had fun, and The Monkey spent a long time sailing his cactus leaf boat down the new rapids.  I think I’m ready to be dry and warm again now even if the boys love this weather…

Rule 17 of parenting three-year-old boys: They can always get wetter.

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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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