This post was sponsored by Landscape Structures as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. All opinions expressed in my post are my own
I cannot believe it is finally sunny outside here, and we can enjoy staying outdoors a little longer now. We live in a very rainy city, so any time there is a sunny day out, we plan a trip to a playground. This is something we don’t do very often in the winter as it is just so rainy here, but come spring, summer, and early fall, we always take trips to local parks and enjoy the sunshine, and staying outdoors.
When our older kids were little we lived in a different city, and used to go to playgrounds almost every day as well. A typical scene at a playground was like this: a nanny or a Mommy would sit down on a bench on a smartphone, and the children would frolic around the playground. This can be fun and exciting for children as they explore, and learn new things, practice exercising, and their imagination. Sometimes though the playgrounds would be uninspired, have old equipment – simple swings, slides, and exercise bars for parcour.
Everything is different now when we look at the dynamics at playgrounds. All playing equipment is geared towards the correct age, and most playgrounds have signs as to what age they are most appropriate for, with different options for playing and exploring. Mommies are often seen playing with their kids, together, rather than sitting on a bench, and enjoying the games that are easy to create now in this new environment of playgrounds that are nowadays so interactive. Here are a few more ideas that can create engaging activities not just for the toddlers and pre-schoolers, but also for their caregivers, and create those lasting memories, and Kodak moments.
How We Spend Our Weekends
We have a few playgrounds where we live, and some of them are special as they are perfect for our toddler, and that we use the most. One park that we have in our area is called Logan Park with playground equipment by Landscape Structures, and it is perfect for toddlers, so we can take our child there and be confident she will have tons of fun, playing with the equipment, meeting other friends of her age, and enjoying a safe environment with playground structures that has been built keeping in mind her developmental abilities and interests.
When we go to a park, we like to prepare a little bit. This includes taking a water bottle, a few snacks just in case, as well as clean change of clothes, and possibly a towel. We also go to our local library, and pick up a collection of books that is themed depending on what we are learning – we can be talking about the beach, the forest, farm animals, or cooking – and we can enjoy reading outside when we take a break from playing, and essentially be ready to spend a whole day outdoors.
Parks are so well-equipped to have not just an hour of play every day for your children, but to help them enjoy the outside, and create a multitude of options for engaged play, and developmental activities. Check out these ideas for playing outdoors with your toddler or pre-schooler, and let me know in your comments if you have tried any of these games, or similar games, and if you would recommend anything else as well for us to try:
5 Ways to Entertain Your Child at a Playground
Help your toddler pretend to be a pirate
You could bring with you a simple homemade eye patch – cut out a circle out of any black scrap, and sew it on an elastic, or add the patch to a soft hair band.
Help your toddler get the imagination working – teach them to pretend they are happy pirates travelling to new foreign places! You could make a spyglass by simply bringing in a decorated paper towel empty roll! Let your toddler look through the spyglass in the park, and see everything around them, talk to them and ask them what they are seeing. Maybe there is another pirate ship sailing far away? Maybe you could see a dessert island, or a treasure chest hidden somewhere? How about learning directions – sail left, sail right? Or practicing following instructions, drawing skills development by making a treasure map, and then looking for this treasure using the map made?
Read a book about travelling, trains, and cars, and pretend that playground equipment is a choo-choo train or a plane
We have had a few books about travelling on different types of transport that we read to our kids, and it helped the kids visualize playground equipment as some of the advanced technology that we like to use in our lives. It is so easy to help kids imagine a playground to become an airport full of jets, or a parking garage full of race cars, or a freight train coming down the tracks.
Explore sound games and talk about the ability to hear sounds, how and what we hear around us
When kids play at home we don’t always allow them to be loud and make noise. This is a perfect activity for a playground though where children can be children, and enjoy being noisy, and full of energy. Let them yell a bit, run around, and play sound games. Kids can pretend to be wild or domesticated animals, and walk around funny making cool sounds. Sometimes it is even better when playgrounds are equipped with special pipes that you can talk into, and hear a person speaking on the other end of the pipe, even when the other end is far away at the playground. I remember myself playing countless games like this growing up – for hours, in fact. We are lucky the playground we have visited at Logan Park had this cool talking pipe system, and our toddler loved playing with Daddy talking, while Daddy was not nearby, and she was amazed to see that she could still hear him through the pipes – what a great idea for playing at a park!
Play pretend games and imagine running a pizza or a burger shop
One of the most favorite games of our toddler, and even our older kids is pretending to have a little shop at a park making pizza or burgers, or cupcakes. It is great when kids can get a little messy playing with leaves or sand, exploring their environment outside, and pretending to be big people, filling orders, and working hard. I think in this playing it gives them a sense of what it is like to be adults, and they learn and mimic our behavior – how to be polite with customers, how to serve and take orders, how to follow instructions. It is great to play with a cupcake set or a kitchen set these games at home, but there is so much more imagination that is at play when you are outside and have to pretend.
Set up a scavenger hunt at a playground
Another great way to exercise, learn and get entertainment is playing scavenger hunts. We often do that we our kids. They either hide something and then we have to find it, or we use geocaching activities available at the park we are at, and explore the area. It is easy to set up your own geocache in your favorite park – find a good place, set up a waterproof container, put some keepsakes in it that you would like to share with others, specify the instructions, and then check the geocache every time you go to a park again to see if it is still there, or if you would like to exchange the souvenirs in it.
Playgrounds develop children to grow up into strong problem solvers
Ultimately, going to a park does not need to be a chore for anyone – it is a great opportunity for kids to be kids, explore and play outside, and embrace the outdoors! Playing on equipment at parks allows kids to stretch, expend their energy, and learn new exercises – they become stronger, more brave, and able to play in a safe environment. It is amazing how much more improved playgrounds are now compared to what we grew up with – everything is precisely calculated for the right age, and allows children to use the appropriate skills they have, develops the skills they need to move them to the next level. Landscape Structures works with University of Minnesota’s Institute of Childhood Development to implement the latest research information into developing playground equipment that develop children into future leaders, thinkers and problem solvers.
Playgrounds are also helpful for kids to meet other kids of their age, and socialize. My toddler stays home with me most of the time, and doesn’t socialize with other children much, so I feel it is very important for her to meet other kids at playgrounds, and learn to play together, learn to overcome issues, and develop the coping skills – it teaches resilience, ability to face challenges, sharing. Playgrounds are the places where kids learn their first life skills – everyone has challenges, and it is always about how well you are able to adapt to them, and overcome them.
There is a video that the global manufacturer Landscape Structures has created, and it actually made me tear up, believe it or not. My blog and my life is very much like this video – with all of the negativity around us, and the challenges we face every day, whether it has to do with things that are beyond our abilities, or out of our control, we, as humans, have to embrace them, and learn to overcome them. While there are so many hardships we, as humans, as nations, are facing, we have the hope in our kids that they will be able to face the challenges of tomorrow, and be successful. Even in failure there is always a success story – there is the idea of learning on your mistakes, and continuous improvement.
“For A Better Tomorrow, We Play Today” video
I loved watching this video, and it made me think about my kids, and what I am trying to teach them as a parent. Exploring, and trying hard to reach that high achievement goal starts at a playground – so what if you fall a couple of times, you have to keep trying to succeed. Hope you get to watch the video, and enjoy the message. Trying and failing is not the end of the story – it makes you learn to try to discover new ways to go about reaching your goal, and keep trying again, it is just the beginning. Challenges teach us empathy, persistence and bravery, every day.
I remember some of the issues I have dealt with as a child. Being too shy to play with other kids of my age, being afraid of falling. While I did not always succeed in my physical development, and may have developed a fear of heights later on, I have learn how to communicate with people, and try to participate in conversations with others – I have certainly come a long way from a very reserved child to me today. What has been your most vivid childhood memory of trying, failing, and overcoming? Let me know in your comments!
- Landscape Structures Website: http://www.shapedbyplay.com
- Landscape Structures playground locator: https://www.playlsi.com/en/find-local-playgrounds
- Landscape Structures Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/PlayLSI
- Landscape Structures Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/playlsi
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