Journal, Wisdom

Outdoor Play

I used a card table and a sheet

This picture brought to mind how my cousins and I would make do with whatever was handy to create our own environment for play. We didn’t need expensive toys or electronic devices to entertain us, our imaginations did the work. Our creativity flourished in our grandmother’s garage that housed boxes of old clothes that we used to put on plays. We draped a sheet across the wire that held the garage door and it instantly became a theater. We didn’t care if we had an audience or not. A refrigerator box became a puppet theater.

I remember learning about the lifecycle of frogs long before second grade. The little stream near our home was host to tadpoles, frogs and dragonflies. We were keen observers and had conversations about our discoveries. Holding a caterpillar or a snail was a science lesson. The lessons and experiences gained from outdoor play are stored in longterm memory. I think the most important aspect of outdoor play is that it supports children’s problem-solving skills and nurtures their creativity, as well as providing rich opportunities for their developing imagination, inventiveness and resourcefulness.


Nature promotes the use of executive function skills. Executive function skills are the life skills we use at every age, and that help us stay organized and independent. With unstructured play in nature, children are using creativity to solve problems and working memory to make up stories. They work their flexible thinking skills by testing boundaries and learning how to stay safe while exploring, creating, and having fun. They are strengthening and challenging their own life skills just by playing!






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Journal

Making Rock Towers

Who says kids need expensive toys? There’s joy and fun in nature.






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Journal

Make a Wish

When was the last time you picked a dandelion and blew the seeds while you made a wish? Why is it so easy for children to embrace simple joys, while adults rarely give themselves permission to engage in a nature moment for the soul?

At a friend’s house recently, I noticed a group of red flowers that I’d never seen before. I stopped to admire them and asked her what they were. She said they were poppies, yet my image of a poppy was limited to small, orange, roadside flowers. The flowers I was looking at were tall, red and majestic. I asked if she planted them and she told me the birds carried the seeds. She hadn’t planted any of them. I can’t remember the last time I was so mesmerized by a flower. I was overcome with gratitude for the beauty of the day.

On the way to my car I picked a dandelion, blew the seeds and made a wish.







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Book Recommendations, Children's Books, Literacy Resources

Childrens Books on Nature


The bird named Joy promised to come back every year. This brought happiness to the barren, lonely mountain, and over time, many wonderful changes took place.


The reason for a flower is to manufacture seeds, but Ruth Heller shares a lot more about parts of plants and their functions.


A gentle, poetic story that lovingly depicts the special companionship of a young child and her father as well as humankind’s close relationship to the natural world. 


Readers follow a beautiful story of life’s journey―a journey that brings change and growth. A journey of a tiny dandelion seed who was afraid to let go.


 Butterflies for Kids answers all your questions with fascinating facts, photos, and illustrations. Learn about the butterfly life cycle, their unusual behaviors, and impressive migrations.


A Nature Book for Kids About Forest Habitats (A Rhyming Counting Book with STEAM Activities)


A sweet adventure story about three intrepid young female explorers who set out to conquer the outdoors in their local forest.






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Journal

Have Golf Cart, Will Travel

I saw the ad for a used golf cart in my Nextdoor app. There were two available, a red and a blue. The owner was storing them in a horse corral.
I was saving money for a golf cart (even though I don’t golf) because I live in a small beach town with one main street and gorgeous scenery. As a recent retiree, it seemed to be a good idea. I would be one of many golf cart owners in my little town.

I can’t believe I was able to convince my husband to drive out to a horse ranch to take a look. The owner was a gregarious lady who raises thoroughbreds and uses the golf carts to get around her property.
I wanted the red one, but it was out of my budget. The blue one looked like it needed a lot of care, but it was affordable. The owner even delivered it. I couldn’t wait to try it out. It gets plenty of use on weekends and on nice summer days. We have a lot of those.

What joy it brings to take in the often overlooked sights on the way into town. Feeling the air on my face and smelling the salt air while going 22 miles per hour helps me appreciate that I am alive during a pandemic. I realize that a walk would very likely achieve the same results. Yet there was something about saving for a goal, visualizing me riding in it, and then actually finding one.

I know how important it is to slow down. My brain needed to disconnect from the bombardment of negative thoughts that don’t serve me. If a golf cart can remind me to get outdoors, it was worth my small savings. I call it The Bluebird of Happiness.

No matter what looms ahead, if you can eat today, enjoy the sunlight today, mix good cheer with friends today, enjoy it and bless God for it. Do not look back on happiness-or dream of it in the future. You are only sure of today; do not let yourself be cheated out of it. ~Henry Ward Beecher

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