Natural Playgrounds

Why have kids play and explore in nature? Because they already know what to do there – not instructions required. Kids are hard wired to know how to play outside, it is only we adults who interrupt their potential while they are explore. We do this out of our own fears but what if we allow these young explores to take over and investigate all on their own? Just think of what they might come up with. Beyond playing out in a natural environment what if you are interested in building a playground in the back yard for the kids? consider building one out of natural materials. You can keep it simple and put up a few tree stumps to offer space for imaginative play.

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You could create structures that are more complex and offer a fort like set ups so kids feel like they are in their own land and are able to invent new games with new rules. They can build characters and use their imaginations to create whole new worlds.

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Mix nature with richer character development and storytelling by creating an outdoor structure that is a puppet theater combined with a beverage stand or Lucy from Peanut’s Advise stall. Let kids decide how they want to incorporate nature into the story they tell and how they see the world.

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Next time you think “should I let the kids play an hour more on their tech or should I take them to a nearby playground?” consider how healthy it is for kids to have unsupervised, creative outdoor play. Leave them alone because they know what to do out there, just like you did when you where a kid.

Outdoor_Play_Infographic

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Build Outside – Miniatures

Every summer we go camping and spend days, weeks and even months outside playing in nature. And every summer my girls and their friends build outdoor habitats for the magical, mysterious creatures known as fairies.

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We encourage  magic and mystery with the kids while they are in their natural surroundings. Imaginative play through constructing outdoor fairy houses from natural materials such as bark, sticks, stones, flowers, grasses, acorns and pine cones; along with small pieces of trash they find around the camp site like bottle caps, broken sunglasses, pieces of plastic. We use this collection time to have conversations with our mini architects to talk about preserving nature and not littering. We talk about how harmful it is to birds and water life when people don’t properly dispose of their garbage.

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When  building a fairy house think about all of the possibilities: such as creating a pebble path, making a fence out of sticks, a walnut-shell bathtub,  leaf hammock, a bark bed or a stone table.

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You can do this in your own back yard, at a playground or even in a container filled with dirt on a balcony of an apartment. You need only to get outside, take a walk, carry a bag or a bucket and collect things. Bring back the found goodies to the place you will construct and begin the process to create a welcoming home for fairies.

Want more ideas? Check out these books – they are some of our favorites:

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Fairy House: How to Make Amazing Fairy Furniture, Miniatures, and More from Natural Materials

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 12.38.43 PMFairies: Real Encounters With Little People

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Build An Insect Habitat

Getting kids outside and teaching them about insects is an important part of childhood. Encourage kids to not be afraid of bugs. Exploring safe creatures such as the Pill Bug or Rollie Pollie‘s as most kids call them is a great way to start young explorers off with insects. Kids can learn about the stages of a bugs life from egg to adult. They can also do a bit of research at their local library after a day of outdoor play and learn that Pill bugs are actually not insects, they are crustaceans. They are related to shrimp and crayfish, breathe with gills, and need humidity or moisture to survive.

Insect habitats teach kids so many life lessons. Ants demonstrate the importance of working together. Praying mantids teach children about the food chain. Butterflies exhibit the beauty of metamorphosis bot to mention lessons in biomimicry. Bugs and insects make ideal pets for children who cannot own larger domesticated animals due to allergies, housing restrictions, or family finances. There are many prefabricated habitats available in the marketplace, but parents and children can also build their own. Check out this bug mansion:

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With this knowledge they could build a Rollie Pollie habitat to study and observe these creatures.

 

Share nature with kids while they are young and you will create, in them, a life long love of the outdoors. This is important to cultivate future scientists, conservators and explorers along with naturalists and artists inspired by nature.

 

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Local STEAM

I have had the privilege over the last several months to be a STEAM advisor for the City of Tempe to assist on an upcoming family friendly summer series that includes and exhibit and a series of both kid and adult workshops.

 

STEAM

Public Opening Reception: TONIGHT – May 27, 6-9 p.m. | Free

The exhibition runs May 27-Sept 17

STEAM is a movement inspired by the popularity of STEM-based education. It seeks  to inspire creative thinking and collaboration between the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics. This exhibition features art and interactive scientific displays which explore these connections. It also highlights the individuals who are using the various disciplines to transform and make better the lives of everyday people.

Thank you for your support: 

I will be leading a workshop for adult ladies this summer. I list that here first. Then continue to scroll to see all of the kid and adult workshops offered by the City of Tempe around the idea of STEAM.

STEAMY logo pic

July 22 | S.T.E.A.M.-Y Ladies Night Out
with artist Cyndi Coon and scientist Catherine Seiler

Did you know that people aren’t the only things that like “selfies?” Inspired by the work of artist Ernst Haeckel, this hands-on workshop includes down-to earth science talk about diatoms and the opportunity to draw your own mini “Cellfies.” It will be like taking a snap shot of your own cells!

Coon is the Chief Experience Officer and President of Laboratory5 Inc. and Seiler is a Program Manager at the Biobank Core Facility at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.

Family Workshops

Visit a new Maker Space theme every two weeks! Enjoy these free workshops on Saturdays from Noon-2 p.m. in the Gallery.

Bird Sanctuary

Picture3May 28 | Recycled Cardbird Looms
with Madison Creech & Molly Koehn

Cardboard looms can be taken anywhere and made out of any scrap cardboard. Learn basic tapestry weaving techniques.

Picture4June 4 | Birds and Blooms 
with Frank Gonzales

Create a delicate bird and flower drawing with a vibrant splash of you favorite vibrant color.

Insect Lab

Picture5June 11 | Insect Specimen Jars
with Dr. Sangmi Lee

See some live specimens from ASU’s Hasbrouck Insect Collection at the School of Life Sciences and decorate an insect jar of your own.

Picture6June 18 | Frankenstein Moths
with TCA staff

Inspired by the artwork of Alexandra Bowers. Use your mad scientist skills to create and draw a new insect species from different parts.

Body Shop

Picture7June 25 | Hand-Eye Coordination 
with Monica Aissa Martinez

Artists use their eyes, hands, brain and heart. Learn basic anatomy while drawing and making thoughtful connections.

Picture8July 2 | Robotic Hand
with TCA staff

A robotic hand doesn’t need  metal or a computer. Make a moving cardboard hand using bendable straws, string and a lot of imagination.

Maker Cafe

Picture9July 9 | T-Shirt Transfers
with Chandler TechShop

Bring your own t-shirt and create a DIY design that tells everyone how much you love STEAM! (Limited supply of kids and adult tees available for sale.)

Picture1July 16 | 3D Body Scanning & Printing
with ASU PRISM Lab’s Andrew Noble

See a live demonstration of 3D imaging technology and printing.

 

Camera Crazy

Picture10July 23 | Pinhole Camera 
with TCA staff

Did you know that cameras see the world upside down? Learn about optics by creating your own cardboard tube pinhole camera.

Picture11July 30 | Abstract Geo Drawings
with geologist Brad Vance

Rocks aren’t just full of textures and colors on the outside. Be inspired by microscopic images of minerals to create abstract art.

Bridge Challenge

Picture12August 6 | Lego Master Builder

Live demonstration by a master builder from Tempe’s new Legoland Discovery Center. Try your own hand at building a load-bearing bridge.

 

Big Kid Workshops

Why let kids have all the fun at the TCA’s STEAM exhibition? Big Kids like science and art too! Join us for these Friday night events for the 21 and older crowd. Arrive early to grab a cocktail and a snack at  “hello Friday” in the lobby. Then head into the Gallery for an arts and sciences inspired workshop.

Each workshop is Free and takes place in the Gallery from 6-8 p.m.

tee logo copy

June 17 | T-Shirt Transfers
with TCA staff

We’re living in a DIY (do-it-yourself) culture of home remodeling and furniture refurbishing. Why not put your own creative touch on the American classic, the t-shirt!

BYOT (bring-your-own-tee) or purchase one from us. We’ll help you choose a logo on our computer, cut it with a vinyl plotter and iron it on your tee. Walk in with an ordinary shirt and leave looking extraordinary in your new STEAM inspired fashion.

STEAMY logo pic

July 22 | S.T.E.A.M.-Y Ladies Night Out
with artist Cyndi Coon and scientist Catherine Seiler

Did you know that people aren’t the only things that like “selfies?” Inspired by the work of artist Ernst Haeckel, this hands-on workshop includes down-to earth science talk about diatoms and the opportunity to draw your own mini “Cellfies.” It will be like taking a snap shot of your own cells!

Coon is the Chief Experience Officer and President of Laboratory5 Inc. and Seiler is a Program Manager at the Biobank Core Facility at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.

 

Listen In Nature

Many children in this country have lost all understanding that they are part of nature and are connected to nature.We live so fearfully that children will be nabbed or will get hurt that we keep them inside and away from danger. But ultimately we are harming them far worse by robbing them of the experiences that can only be found outside in nature.

“To become stronger adults, kids need to be outside and allow their bodies to do what they’ve been designed for from the beginning. – Kacie Flegal, a chiropractor in Ashland, Ore., who specializes in pediatrics.

In college I studied Ornithology because I was obsessed with the film maker Peter Greenaway. His film A Walk Through H: The Reincarnation of an Ornithologist change my view of birds, film making and visual experiences.

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Some of Greenaway’s other best-known films include:  The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982), A Zed & Two Noughts (1985), The Belly of an Architect (1987), Drowning by Numbers (1988), and his most successful (and controversial) film, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989) also include references to Ornithology, birds and nature.

As a parent this has me thinking about sharing a love for birds with my children and if I want to get them outside to listen more I can start with the sound of various songbirds. Doing this can really can teach a child about the diversity of the natural world.

Once you spend time outside listing for birds why not get creative?  Set up an outdoor creativity studio where you can build and make things! Go grab these Free plans to build a birdhouse for your own back yard from Ana White

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ADDED BONUS:

While building your bird house listen to some classic music inspired by birds.

Laboratory5 Inc. is a small business based in Tempe, Arizona

Visit our website: Laboratory5       Follow us on Twitter: @lab5     Become a fan on Facebook: Laboratory5
Contact Us at anytime – we’d love to hear from you

 

 

 

 

 

get kids outdoors

This week at Laboratory5 Inc. are kicking off a summer long series inspired by our love of STEAM and nature. We will focus on all kinds of ways to get kids out of the house and off of their tech this summer. It can be hard for working parents to take kids out so we are going to give examples of quick walks, small container planting, and ‘gulp’ . . .  unsupervised play.

Want to get started with planning to keep you kids from getting Nature-Deficit Disorder this summer? Start here and read Richard Louv‘s book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder

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From the book:

“I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are,” reports a fourth-grader. Never before in history have children been so plugged in-and so out of touch with the natural world. In this groundbreaking new work, child advocacy expert Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation-he calls it nature deficit-to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as rises in obesity, Attention Deficit Disorder (Add), and depression. Some startling facts: By the 1990s the radius around the home where children were allowed to roam on their own had shrunk to a ninth of what it had been in 1970. Today, average eight-year-olds are better able to identify cartoon characters than native species, such as beetles and oak trees, in their own community. The rate at which doctors prescribe antidepressants to children has doubled in the last five years, and recent studies show that too much computer use spells trouble for the developing mind. Nature-deficit disorder is not a medical condition; it is a description of the human costs of alienation from nature. This alienation damages children and shapes adults, families, and communities. There are solutions, though, and they’re right in our own backyards. Last child in the Woods is the first book to bring together cutting-edge research showing that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development-physical, emotional, and spiritual. What’s more, nature is a potent therapy for depression, obesity, and Add. Environment-based education dramatically improves standardized test scores and grade point averages and develops skills in problem solving, critical thinking, and decision making. Even creativity is stimulated by childhood experiences in nature.

outdoor dance partyOutdoor Dance Party!

Let’s make this the summer of outdoor play and exploration. We need more scientists and engineers and artists who are inspired by nature. The Children and Nature Movement is forming  – Want to know more about how you can get involved? Click HERE

Laboratory5 Inc. is a small business based in Tempe, Arizona

Visit our website: Laboratory5       Follow us on Twitter: @lab5     Become a fan on Facebook: Laboratory5
Contact Us at anytime – we’d love to hear from you

Exquisite Corpse Creativity Workshop

Creativity at MOD Phoenix with an Exquisite Corpse Creativity Workshop

mod nov 2015 workshop

Creativity. We know where it comes from and we know it when we see it. But the trick is to be able to tap into creativity at a moments notice, just when you need it: on the road, at home and in the workplace. How then does one fill the tank? We spent an evening training professionals how to discover their creativity and fill their creative tank with techniques for quick action group process creating. We showed how collaboration, group thinking and using ones hands opens up new pathways in the brain to handle new challenges. Join us at MOD every month as we pave new roads to creativity. Access the calendar HERE.