Monthly Archives

June 2016

Lawn Twister Summer Fun

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Here’s a “twist” on the classic twister game! Make it big, and make it outdoors! Great for summer fun!


  1. Get some spray paint. You can go with the traditional twister colours or mix it up!
  2. Make a stencil from cardboard. Trace a bowl on the cardboard and cut out the circles. If you can make more than one circle on a single piece of cardboard, that is better.
  3. Pick an order for your colours and the number of circles you want, then spray! (tip: do NOT do this activity on a windy day or near cars). Repeat sprays to make colours more pigmented if necessary.
  4. Find or make yourself the spinner board that indicates what colour and what hand/foot to place on that colour.
  5. Play!



Featured Book: “Holes” by Louis Sachar

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This week our featured book is “Holes” by Louis Sachar. This book is great for an older reader (grade 4-5). Here is a synopsis of the book from

“Stanley Yelnats is under a curse. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnatses. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the boys build character by spending all day, every day digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep. There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. But there are an awful lot of holes.

It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. But what could be buried under a dried-up lake? Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption.”

For a book trailer check go here:


Outdoor Play: Essential Experience in Early Years

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Outdoor play, as simple an activity as it appears to be, is becoming less and less prominent in todays culture. With advances in technology and the addictive nature of TV, video games and the Internet, today’s children are going outside to run and play much less. However, technology is not the only source of blame. Factors like increased formal instructional schooling; busy schedules and parental fear of harm to their children also contribute to decreased outdoor play. This change in young children’s activity levels can be extremely unfavourable to their physical and emotional development, and it has been found that “children who learn to enjoy the outdoors have a much higher likelihood of becoming adults who enjoy hiking, gardening, jogging, bicycling, mountain climbing, or other outdoor endeavours” (see source at bottom for quote details, taken from website which excerpted from Play, Development and Early Education by Johnson, Christie and Wardle). Basically children need to be allowed and encouraged to play outside not only to practice important developmental skills as children, but also to acquire healthy lifestyle choices in adulthood.

So here it goes…obvious (or maybe not so obvious) reasons to encourage outdoor play:

  • Allowing children to be children: first and foremost, kids should be given the opportunity to act their age. In our current fast paced society school-aged children are often under a lot more pressure than in previous generation. Therefore, they should be afforded the opportunity to fulfill basic childhood needs of play! It really is that simple.
  • Risk-taking: some parents struggle with letting their children go outside and just play because they are concerned they will get hurt or be put in danger. Although this concern comes from a place of love and caring it is one that needs to be put aside. Childhood risk-taking is awesome! It is not only awesome, it is important. Risk-taking play, (within reason of course), is basically the informal childhood version of the scientific method. For those of you who don’t already know, the scientific method is the process of “Asking a Question”, “Doing Background Research”, “Constructing a Hypothesis”, “Testing your Hypothesis”, “Analyzing Your Results”, and “Making Adjusts for Next Time”. So, when children take risks in their play, they are basically learning about themselves and their limits within the environment through a scientific method of play. For example, a child new to the playground is attracted to the shiny red slide. They ask themselves the question; I wonder how fast I can go down that slide. They decide that if they sit with their bottom on the slide they can go pretty fast. They test this hypothesis by doing just that. They get to the bottom of the slid, realize they didn’t go quite as fast as they wanted and go back to the top of the slide. This time they try sitting flat with their back touching the slide to see if they go faster, and so on! In sum, although this process doesn’t seem like much it is really important, and as long as children are supervised so that they don’t take risks that are too much, it is a great aspect of outdoor play.
  • Gross Motor Development: obviously running, jumping, climbing, swinging, and all those other fun things that children do outdoors are essential to their physical, in particular, gross motor development. This means they are practicing the skills involved in moving various part of their body in smooth, intentional ways. The can practice hand-eye coordination and also strengthen their cardiovascular system as well.
  • Inquiry: Reggio Emilia education (the approach we use at Parkland Players) is centred on inquiry-based learning. This means that education is inspired by children’s interests, and where better to find something interesting than in the great outdoors? Outdoor play is great for sparking imagination in children and directing their learning.
  • Social Development: the last reason we will discuss, although not the last reason that exists is the role of social development. Outdoor play, like many other forms of play provides children with the opportunity to learn and practice basic social skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, compromise, taking turns, and simple communication.

At Parkland Players we take children outside to play at least once daily. We strive to incorporate it in our programs and to give children the opportunity to experience their environment and learn on their own.



Colour Changing Flowers Experiment

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This is a fun one for summer from gosciencegirls: colour changing flowers!


  • White flowers (in this example they used gerbera daisies)
  • Small vases
  • Water
  • Food colouring


  1. Fill a few small vases, cups or test tubes with water.
  2. Put a few drops food colouring (approximately 10) in each vase.
  3. Put a different colour in each. Leave one tube without colour for comparison.
  4. Trim the flowers at the bottom so they absorb the water.
  5. Put one flower in each tube and wait, after about a day the colours should change.
  6. If you leave them for a few days, the colours will become even more prominent.
  7. Talk about why and how you think the flowers changed colour



Featured Book: Imagine a Day

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This week our featured book is “Imagine a Day” written by Sarah L. Thomson and illustrated by Rob Gonsalves.

This book with its awe-inspiring and somewhat illusionary artwork is great for encouraging the extraordinary and teaching children that almost anything is possible.

If your child likes this book there are also two followups called “Imagine a Night” and “Imagine a Place”.

We highly recommend this book be read in person to truly appreciate the art but, for some interesting tidbits about the author and the illustrator and a video reading of the book check out this video:


The Importance of Play: Age 24-36 Months

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This is the fourth and final post in a series of posts on the importance of play.

Good Activities for Playing with 24 to 36 month olds:

  • Family and Friends: children at this age are very social. Give them as many opportunities as possible to interact with others of their age. Maybe invite friends over or cousins. Go to the park and let them play with children there. Playing with others teaches them how to resolve conflict and communicate well.
  • Say it With Music: Do musical games with command words, like the “Hokey-Pokey” this integrates language and movement in a very direct way.
  • Quiet Play: play does not always have to be super active, quiet time with simple activities like colouring, reading, and painting are also great.
  • Act it Out: encourage pretend play with dress-up and props. This is great for children’s creativity and self-esteem, and its fun!

Visit the source at the bottom for more great information and tips on early childhood play.



The Importance of Play: Age 12-24 Months

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This is the third post in a series of posts on the importance of play.

Good Activities for Playing with 12-24 Month Olds:

  • Running, Climbing and Action Games: even simple games like “Ring Around the Rosie” and “London Bridge” are good for this age group because they encourage gross motor movement. Also, going to the park or playground or running around in the back yard are good too. Anything to get them moving.
  • Let’s Do It Again…: As annoying as they may get for us, repetitive play is good for toddlers because it helps them solidify how things work. Singing the same songs, reading the same books, even filling a sand toy and dumping it over and over again are good. Knowing what to expect makes them feel secure and in control and helps them master skills.
  • Name That Tune: music is great for linguistic develop at this age, encourage children to sing along and dance.
  • Busy Hands: do sensory activities where they use their hands. Finger painting, play dough, sand buckets, really anything that lets them explore and figure out how the world works through their sense of touch.



The Importance of Play: Age 0 –12 Months

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This is the second post in a series of posts on play.

Good Activities for Playing with Babies (0-12 months):

  • Back and Forth: this refers largely to linguistic back and forth. Coo and talk to your baby, imitate their sounds, let them respond, encourage copying and vocalizations.
  • Peek-a-Boo: young children may not have yet developed object permanence (the knowledge that something is still there even if they can’t see it). However, they do develop this quickly! Peek-a-boo is fun for establishing object permanence, and you don’t have to just place it with your hands on your face! Cover toys or objects and see if your child looks for them or thinks they have disappeared.
  • Sing and Dance: music is great for cognitive development and motor development is essential in the early years, so yeah, just sing and dance.
  • Play Ball: or really anything. Give babies safe, age appropriate and colourful objects and let them explore.



The Importance of Play: The Basics

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This is the first post in a series of posts on the importance of play.

Learning through play is an essential aspect of early childhood education. It gives children the opportunity to explore the environment and learn based on their experiences and own interests, which are central parts of the Reggio Emilia Approach to early childhood education. Playing with your child is one of the most important ways in which you can aid their development. Nurturing, stimulating play is important in many of the early years of their lives. So, here are some tips for playing with your child.

  1. Safety First: make sure the environment is appropriate for your child’s age. Don’t have toys that a small child could choke on. Get down to your child’s level to see what he/she can reach at and check if anything is hazardous.
  2. Watch and Wait: see what your child is trying to achieve and then provide enough support so that you are helping or doing the play task with them but not for them.
  3. Follow the Leader: pay attention to your child’s interests and likes/dislikes. They are the leader when it comes to play, your job is to support them with what will be most beneficial based on their interests.

In our next posts we will talking about appropriate play ideas for different age groups.