Summer is upon us and that means kids are going to be getting a lot more playtime. Parenting expert and owner of Bella Luna Toys Sarah Baldwin has some suggestions for making sure your kids make the most of their summer.
1. Plan a slow and purposeful nature walk with your child and point out the different homes and habitat for wildlife in your area - e.g. birds nests, rabbit holes, mole holes, bee hives, fox dens, seal rocks, frog ponds etc.
2. Build a Fairy House with your child that will deepen your child’s connection to nature and engage his or her imagination.
3. Create a special kids garden or a window box where your child can dig and plant seeds – flowers, herbs or even vegetables.
4. Go to the Library and check out books on your area’s plants and wildlife. Weather-permitting, organize a picnic and play ‘I spy’ looking for trees, plants and birds from the book.
5. Organize a scavenger hunt that has kids looking or leaves, twigs, flowers, stones, bark, feathers etc.
6. Make and bake mud pies outside, taking the time to explain how soil is made and that it’s the basis with which we grow food.
7. Some fun tools, toys and books, include:
a. Fairy Garden Handbook is the new companion to the Fairy House Handbook, by local Maine author, Liza Gardner Walsh. Building fairy houses and growing fairy gardens is a wonderful way to get kids outdoors, and interested in the natural world and gardening. This guidebook for children and parents includes the basics for young gardeners, such as preparing the soil, planting, and watering. $15.95
b. Muddy Boots Book Here in Maine we have a fifth season known as "Mud Season." Mud Season is not the favorite season for most adults, but it's a highlight of the year for kids! Muddy Boots is the perfect activity book for families who value nature exploration. The book includes many hands-on, outdoor activities for kids, such as: Mud Play, Fort Building, Animal Tracking, Forest Wisdom and Lore, Foraging, Insects and Worms, Bird Watching and Feeding, Arts and Crafts. $16.95
a. Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots Muddy Boots is an award-winning book by author and illustrator Sharon Lovejoy, who presents easy ideas for theme gardens that parents and children can create together. More than a gardening book, this is a treasury of creative tips that could very well plant a lifelong love of gardening in your child! $16.95
b. Before We Eat Book Whether picking berries, passing roadside market stands, visiting farmer's markets, or tending their own backyard gardens, children in Maine are lucky enough to the experience the abundance of the Earth during the summer and early fall. From farmers, to migrant workers who harvest, to fisherman, and the truck drivers who deliver this beautiful food to market, Before We Eat recognizes all the hands that help put food our table. $16.95
c. Metal Sand Pail + Tools Set Whether planting a garden, sifting for shells at the beach or playing in a sand box, this four-piece Metal Sand Pail and Hand Tools Set is a useful kit for industrious children! $39.95
d. Kids Gardening Tools are high quality, real tools. Made in Germany, they're built to last and tough enough for real gardening work. Sized for small hands, they're perfect for young children who want to get their hands dirty and help their garden grow. $79.95
e. Mini Fairy Garden Kit will inspire a child's imagination to create their first fairy house or fairy garden anywhere outdoors with tiny accessories to complement objects found in nature.
f. Wooden Tree Branch Blocks cut from natural tree branches, are classic toys that will encourage hours of open-ended and imaginative play. The organic shapes and texture of the natural bark sides are nourishing to a child's sense of touch. Your child will not only have fun creating fairy homes, hideaways for gnomes, and building towers, but will also be building early math and metric skills. $34.95
g. Nature’s Art Box Book is a treasure trove of fun projects children will love to make, using materials from their own backyards. The author explains how to use shells, moss, seedpods, and cones to decorate objects; how to embellish picture frames, birdhouses, and keepsake boxes with forest treasures; how to make inks and from plants and flowers; how to build fairy-sized furniture; and how to dig clay, weave vines, and make natural dyes to decorate T-shirts. $16.95
h. Wooden Bird House Kit has the perfectly sized nesting box, drainage, ventilation, and door size to attract bluebirds and other small birds such as starlings, wrens, tufted titmice, chickadees, and swallows. $29.95
i. Wooden Bug Box is a nature observation station featuring a screened wall on one side and a crystal clear, easy-access panel that enables you to catch, observe, and release little creatures unharmed. Simply slide open the clear panel to place them inside or release them back into nature. A convenient, soft handle makes this bug house easy to carry. The Wooden Bug House is produced by a small company who has been manufacturing products to connect children with nature since 1986. $16.95
j. Far Out Giant Bubbles Blow Far Out Bubbles, bigger than yourself, with this amazing kit. These incredible bubble wands use the power of a natural breeze to make giant bubbles! Just dip the circular wick into your bubble mix and slowly spread the two wooden wand tips to let gentle breeze blow perfect, huge bubbles. $21. 95
k. Organic Sidewalk Chalk A child can unleash his or her inner Picasso with this colorful, all-natural Organic Sidewalk Chalk. The thick and chunky sticks are made from organic plant-based ingredients, such as spinach, turmeric, paprika, and hibiscus, turmeric, and paprika. 100% natural, and safe enough to eat! 11.95
l. Sarah’s Silks Sky Tails Three feet of shimmering silk make Skytails from Sarah's Silks so much fun to throw and catch! A bouncing ball is safely sewn inside, so when the Skytail lands it gently bounces. A fun throwing foxtail toy— it's very easy to toss and catch by the silk tail. Soft ball is safe for inside or outside use. Throwing toys like Skytails from Sarah's Silks, allow children to develop their large motor skills. Outdoor fun for the whole family! $19.95