Why Nature is the Best Playground: Guest Post by Taylor Hansen of Experience Childspace Early Learning

Our guest blogger today is Taylor Hansen is a mother and early childhood educator who has worked in the field of Child & Youth Care for over 10 years. She has a Masters in Child & Youth Study from Mount Saint Vincent University and is passionate about nature-based learning and creative experiences. She is the creator of Experience Childspace Early Learning, a unique ecocentric early learning program based in Herring Cove.

Playgrounds are great. They are outdoor spaces created for children that aim to encourage play, being active, and getting outside. All great things for little ones. However, there is a lot that play in the natural environment can provide that traditional playgrounds cannot.

What the kids are reading these days: Midsummer 2017

It can be hard to keep finding new books that your kids will enjoy reading, especially over the summer when schedules are off, routines go out the window, and (if they're like my kids) they're going through books like crazy. I decided to get my kids involved in this post by asking them what books they're really enjoying right now as suggestions for other kids to read. We'd love for you to share your recommendations in the comments as well!

All Hail Loose Parts: Guest Post by Alex Smith of Playgroundology

Our guest blogger today is Alex Smith, the founder of the CanadaPlays Association and the award winning blog PlayGroundology. Alex has been working with a small team of volunteers over the last 3 months to prepare Pop-Up Adventure Play’s visit to Halifax.

‘Loose parts’ skirt the edges of nirvana. Ask any kid. Now they probably won’t call them ‘loose parts’. They’re more likely to use the generic and all encompassing ‘stuff’ prefaced by cool, awesome, or great. It might even go the way of ‘this stuff is epic’.

Wood, rope, tarps, tires, milk crates, cardboard boxes, fabrics. PVC pipes, pallets and all manner of scrap materials can make up a loose parts inventory. Kids take them and create. They build up and pull down. They improvise, they move, groove and PLAY!

The Land Beyond The Wall: Itsy Bitsy Nimbus Book Club

The Land Beyond the Wall: an immigration story by Veronika Martenova Charles is about a young girl named Emma who lives in a land “where people speak in whispers and no flowers grow.” She escapes to Halifax and lands at Pier 21, knowing the cost of her journey is to lose everything, including her voice. She uses art to find her place in her new home and discover her voice.

This is the July pick for the Itsy Bitsy Nimbus Book Club and we've created a couple reading extension activities and adventures for this book to help children better understand the story and the plight that many refugees still face today.

A Very Classic Halifax Summer Fun List

I know the official first day of summer was technically a couple weeks ago but now that school is out it feels like it finally is really summer!

Every year our family creates, what we call, our Summer Fun List, also known as a Summer Bucket List. This year we were driven by our plans for a simple, retro-inspired summer (along with a few new favourite places to visit) that also celebrates our region.

Here are thirty ideas to get started!

Free Summer Reading Club in Halifax

Librarian: Have you given any thought to how many books you'd like to read this summer?

Miss M: Yes. One thousand.

Mr M: Eighteen.

We compromised on one hundred each but I have no doubt they'll do that and more in the library's summer reading club program.

Today the libraries across Halifax have their summer kick off parties for their free reading club. We're always eager to hear about ways to entertain the kids all summer and, you know me, if it's free, fun and educational ("edutainment!") I'm all over it. Our first stop in this quest for summer fun, as it often is, was to the library to sign up for the summer reading club and to grab a copy of their free (yes, it's free, all free! wheee!) programming for the summer.

Here are all the details on the summer reading program...

I'm Failing at the Family Dinner

It seems the common understanding amongst professionals now is that whether or not your whole family sits down to dinner together once a day is the benchmark for how functional your family is. Whether or not it's true that's eating together is an essential element of family functionality, it's still something I want that for my family.I feel it's important. It's something my husband and I talked about and agreed was a value we wanted to incorporate into our daily lives. The reality is somewhat different though...

Learning How To Take Time For Myself

When I tell people I'm a stay-at-home parent who also works from home as a writer and blogger, I often get that faraway dreamy gaze that seems to suggest I've reached the Top Level of the Parenting Game for managing to do what many parents dream of doing while on mat leave: figuring out a way to stay at home with the kids and make money.

Unfortunately, it's not always quite as idyllic as it sounds.

Don't get me wrong, I count my blessings (along with my hats) every single day. But that doesn't mean it's not a challenge. And, while I'm busy trying to keep track of everyone else's needs, my own needs often keep getting pushed further and further down the priority list...

Be A Night Detective Evening Scavenger Hunt & Constellation Scratch Art: Itsy Bitsy Nimbus Book Club

Be A Night Detective by Peggy Kochanoff encourages children to explore the natural world around them. It answers all those questions that kids ask us which, let's be honest, we adults really don't know the answers to (why don't lightning bugs get hot like light bulbs? Are shooting stars really stars falling from the sky?). To explore the book further we created a night time Scavenger Hunt and constellation scratch art for the Itsy Bitsy Nimbus Book Club that we're sharing with you today.

Why you need to visit playgrounds on your next Canadian road trip, no matter how old you are (and here are 150 of the coolest to get you started!) #Canada150

There are themed playground, accessible playgrounds for people with special needs, and natural playgrounds inspired by and made with elements found in nature. But the main reason you need to incorporate playgrounds into your Canadian road trip is because so many of these playgrounds have taken cues from their home communities and incorporated the local values and history of the area into the design.

Critter Collages with Atlantic Animal ABC: Itsy Bitsy Nimbus Book Club

Atlantic Animal ABC, our May Itsy Bitsy Nimbus Book Club pick, introduces children to collage art. The author, Angela K. Doak, uses all sorts of found materials for her collage work - from junk mail and scraps of fabric, to candy and gum wrappers! This art activity will teach little kids how to create their own Atlantic Animal collage art.

Matching & Fishing Game with Atlantic Animal ABC: Itsy Bitsy Nimbus Book Club

The Atlantic Animal ABC book by Halifax artist, Angela K. Doak, is our pick for the Itsy Bitsy Nimbus Book Club this month. This fishing and matching game was inspired by the book's brightly coloured artwork and teaches little kids their letters, develops their fine motor skills (not to mention they'll have lots of fun doing it!). **Information on how to enter to win a copy of the book AND a print of Doak's artwork in the post**

4 Classic Ways To Celebrate Mother's Day in Halifax

To make this easy on everyone, I've rounded up a few of my favourite ways to spend a day with my family in Halifax and included a list of supplies and details needed to make the day happen AND a suggested little gift to go along with it.Now all you need to do is forward this post to your day planner who can pick one, follow the directions and you're good to go.