Stuck inside today I've already been sitting here thinking of ways to keep the kids entertained that don't require electronics. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't mind Finn playing educational (and some just plain fun) iPad games, I've been known to hand off my iPhone on more than a few occasions to keep the peace when need be, and they watch movies and play Wii, so we have our fair share of electronic fun. BUT, lately I've been seeing the need to cut back on it. Way back. When I was growing up (prepare yourself, I'm about to get all nostalgic on you guys) I spent a LOT of time outside. My brothers and I were lucky enough to have a big back yard and we would play countless games, mostly without any real toys or props. We had bikes. And trees. We would make up the rest. We would put on our raincoats and play "Fire Station" (still not sure why we thought firemen needed raincoats, but still), we would play Eskimo family in the winter and would build igloos and would make "snow pancakes" and pour maple syrup on them and happily eat them up (they were pretty good actually). We would gather random berries, mash them up and make juice that we would dare each other to drink. Being the youngest I was usually the guinea pig. Thankfully I was never seriously poisoned.
That being said, I feel like my own kids, although they do spend a great deal of time outdoors, might need a little push in the outdoor direction. Some ideas, some inspiration, some motivation to get out there even more and get their hands even dirtier (dirt is good for you, remember?).
Enter The Dangerous Book for Boys (I realize there is one for girls, but Lev is too young for that one, she will try out these adventures with us for now). Written by by Conn and Hal Iggulden and published in the UK in 2006, it is a guidebook aimed at boys from "eight to eighty" with topics like building tree houses, learning how to fish, finding true north, how to skip stones, make secret ink, tie knots, all of that good clean (and dirty) fun. It is also full of famous quotes, stories, battles, and phrases that "every boy should know." This is a how to book not just for boys, but for ALL kids, a how to on getting out there and learning new stuff, building imagination, expanding skills and self reliance, exploring and just having some old fashioned fun. I think this quote from author Conn Iggulden sort of says it all:
"I think we've become aware that the whole 'health and safety' overprotective culture isn't doing our sons any favors. Boys need to learn about risk. They need to fall off things occasionally, or--and this is the important bit--they'll take worse risks on their own. If we do away with challenging playgrounds and cancel school trips for fear of being sued, we don't end up with safer boys--we end up with them walking on train tracks. In the long run, it's not safe at all to keep our boys in the house with a Playstation. It's not good for their health or their safety."
My plan is to tackle this book chapter by chapter and report back on our success. If you want to follow along and try these little challenges out for yourself, you can buy the book here and check out the website here. They even have cool badges and certificates you can download! So let's get out there and get dirty!