Thursday, June 16, 2011

We're Moving!

Hello to our followers! Please follow us to We've decided to make the move over to WordPress and link up with our website. We'll still be bringing you great information on early childhood education and our related products, just at a new home. You'll be able to conveniently view all of our company's blogs and view our products at the same time. So please, make the move with us. It's going to be an adventure!

Thank you,
The Adventurous Child Staff

Monday, May 2, 2011

“… when the world is puddle-wonderful”

e.e. cummings referred to springtime as “when the world is puddle-wonderful.” What a marvelous expression! May is a lovely time of year for enjoying the outdoors with your children.

For example, why not create a scavenger hunt? Ensuring each group has at least one adult supervising, hand out lists with pictures of crocuses, daffodils, and violets along with other native flowers. You could also list ladybugs, butterflies, and ants. You might even list small frogs or toads if you’re near water. A scavenger hunt would be the perfect activity for your outdoor classroom or a nearby park.

While hiking with your children, engage them in discussions about this particular season. Are they wearing different clothes from the winter? Why? How have the trees changed? Does the air feel different?

Karen Miller, author of our favorite The Outside Play and Learning Book, suggests the following:

“Find a tree in the springtime that is just showing its first tiny leaves, just out of the bud. Pick a few of these leaves and encase them in clear contact paper to preserve them. Visit the same tree once a week for three or four weeks in a row, and each time pick some leaves and encase them in clear contact paper. The children will notice how each week the leaves get a little bigger.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Painting Fun

Q: Our preschool teachers would like to allow children to explore letter writing with various textures. The children commented that they like using shaving cream at home. We are not able to use this at our center. Do you have any ideas?

A: Here is a good alternative to shaving cream. You can keep the clear, uncolored thickener in the refrigerator for quite awhile. It also makes a good paint extender. I pulled the recipe from the following website: There were over 100 recipes on the site. Many did contain soap, but others were cooking ingredients. Some great textures were offered.

Cooked Home Made Finger Paint
· 4 cups cold water
· 6 teaspoons of cornstarch

Mix a small amount of cold water with cornstarch until smooth. Gradually add the remainder of the water. Cook the mixture over low heat until it is clear and the consistency of pudding. Add tempera for color.

This would be a lot of fun to use on an outdoor art easel! In fact, I just may round up my TAC pals right now to make some paint and then make some art.

Monday, April 25, 2011

DIY Rain Barrel

April showers bring May flowers, it’s true, and those showers can be pretty fantastic – and not just for your tulips and daffodils! Why not create a rain barrel to store that water? There are a lot of great reasons to create a rain barrel, including water conservation and saving money.

Our friends at have a lot of ideas about this very topic! Here are some reasons to create a rain barrel:

· Water conservation
o When you conserve water, you are not just helping yourself, you are helping your community and the planet.
· Saving money
o The primary advantage to using rain water over municipal water is that you are saving water and money.
o You can use the water you collect to take care of your garden, lawn and outdoor cleaning tasks.
o This means that even when your community is on a water restriction you can still water plants and your lawn because you are not using public water

Including a rain barrel in your outdoor classroom is a wonderful lesson for your children. You will be setting the examples of conservation in more ways than one, and you can use the water you collect for the plants in your garden! What’s not to like about that?

Check out the following sites for tips and instructions for creating your own rain barrel:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Composting (Part 2 of 2)

On Monday we discussed the fantastic benefits of a compost pile in your outdoor classroom. Today, we’re doing to talk about how to create that compost pile!

These tips came from the BBC article “Make Your Own Compost.”

You will need:
· a compost bin with a lid
· old plant waste
· kitchen waste
· soil

1. Help your children to set up the compost bin or site, ensuring the bin is placed on earth and not concrete.

2. Fill the bin with dead leaves, green waste from the garden, old plants you've pulled out, fruit and vegetable peelings from the kitchen - even eggshells!

3. Next, sprinkle in some soil.

4. Cover the bin with an old piece of carpet or a doormat to keep the heat in and leave it alone until you have some more waste to put inside.

5. After three or four months remove the cover and help your child to dig the compost over. Leave it to rot down further.

6. When the bottom of the compost is brown and crumbly, it is ready. You and your children can dig it into the garden - your plants will be really pleased!

Tips and advice
· This is a joint project for adults and children together. You will need to provide the physical manpower for a lot of it, but the children will often provide the motivation to keep filling up the bin.

· When preparing a meal, why not ask your children to help you sort out which pieces they can put in their compost bin? Vegetable and fruit peelings are great. Don't put in cooked food or meat, as it may attract rodents.

Happy composting from The Adventurous Child!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Composting (Part 1 of 2)

This spring The Adventurous Child has been talking about seasonal activites to enjoy with your children. Some of our previous suggestions have included gardening and natural playscapes. Today we are going to talk about composting!
Okay maybe composting isn’t very glamorous – but it IS the foundation for a nutrient-rich garden, which makes it a big deal. Karen Miller, author of The Outside Play and Learning Book, explains: “For plants to grow well, the soil needs to be loose to a depth of at least twelve inches and rich in nutrients. It is probable that your playground soil will need enriching. There are many ways to do this. The children could be involved in breaking up the soil with a hoe or shovel, as well as mixing in compost…” (p. 238).
By creating a compost pile, you are teaching your children several great lessons. Blogger Kaitlyn Wessels explicates some of those lessons:
Money in the Bank: “From a financial perspective, it reduces the cost of purchasing topsoil and fertilizer for your plants. Why buy a big bag of dirt when you can make it yourself? Chances are, your composted material will be a lot richer and healthier than anything you buy in a store because you know exactly what's going into it.”
Green is Green: “From an environmental perspective, you will significantly reduce your household waste. Between our recycling bin and our composting container, [my husband] and I have put out only one bag of trash for the weekly collection, compared to two and even three bags a week.”

Healthy Living: “Your composting bin will even encourage you to eat healthier. I don't know what it is, but there is something very rewarding about filling up our compost bin every week. To do that, I have to buy (and consume) more fresh fruits and veggies, which is ultimately better for my health and well-being anyway!”
On Thursday, we’ll talk about how to start up your compost pile. Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Natural Playscapes

Last month I talked about Nature Deficit Disorder and its potential harm toward children’s wellbeing. Awareness of this problem, thanks in part to Richard Louv, has led to the increased popularity of natural playscapes. A natural playscape incorporates nature into its outdoor learning environment.

Cheryl Charles, CEO and co-founder of the Children & Nature Network, commented: “These play areas are appealing to children and their families. Different kinds of flowers, bushes and plantings add a sense of beauty and place and are very stimulating for kids’ intellectual, emotional, social and physical development.” Moreover, “Academic achievement is enhanced when kids get nature-based settings and there’s an improvement in standardized test scores if outdoor learning is part of a school’s curriculum” (italics mine).

Kaija Clark (2010), author of “Is Nature the Next Wave in Playground Accessibility?” added to Charles’ beliefs, stating “In fact, time outside has been shown to help increase cognitive ability, something that might help multiplication-weary children. Brief stints to stretch their legs on a nature walk ease tension and enable kids to regain focus for more intensive learning when they return to the classroom” (italics mine).

Clearly natural playscapes are here to stay. If you’d like to learn more about designing one for your outdoor classroom, just click here.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Springtime Fun: The Adventurous Child Digs In

If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder … he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in. – Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

As we talked about last time, gardening with kids is totally do-able. It’s just a matter of education, preparation, and just a little patience.

There are a lot of options when it comes to gardening. A mini garden allows children to access all sides of the garden to plant seeds, pull weeds and water the plants without actually stepping into the garden. (Great for staying neat.)

They can dig, plant, nurture and harvest a variety of plants. This is the perfect size for planting some flowers by the front door; or planting vegetables that the children can grow and eat for a healthy snack.

Speaking of “yum,” why not consider adding a pizza garden to your facility? Make a delicious pizza to share by growing pizza herbs, onions and tomatoes.

Have you ever wondered about the underground world of roots, worms and insects? Jump into that world with a root garden! Children can learn about the growth process as the plant seeds, water, weed and harvest the crops. Periodically, children can open the Observation Doors and study the underground world of the root garden.

Check out The Adventurous Child to learn more about our gardens!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Springtime Fun: Gardening

Home gardens are making a comeback in the United States. Everyone from the First Lady to moms, dads, and teachers on the home front are planting flowers, vegetables, and herbs. There are a lot of reasons for this. Partly, it’s a great lesson in economics and saving money by growing your own food. Gardening is also full of teachable moments about healthy eating. Finally, it’s just plain fun. Victory gardens were all the rage during World War II. This was due to the shortage of public food supply, as well as an effort to boost public morale. Today, “victory” gardens (fruits, vegetables, and herbs) are a fantastic way to teach children how to be “green,” economical, and nature-oriented. By introducing children to the wonderful world of gardening and to the intricacies of nature, you will open their worlds to new ideas and experiences. Is there a greater gift?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Springtime Fun

Wow! Is winter really over? In Ohio, we’re starting to see the trees bud and crocuses are rising out of the ground. Spring is just around the corner!

Springtime is a wonderful time to take your children outdoors to experience nature and its verdant transformation. In the next few weeks, The Adventurous Child is excited to share the following: - Gardening tips - How to get started composting - Rain barrel fun - What to do on a springtime hike Join us Thursday for information about victory gardens and going green!

Nature Deficit Disorder

As the days get longer and warmer, the outdoors begins to look inviting. Perhaps you have already begun dreaming of frequent outdoor class time, nature walks, and stomping in puddles with your children. If you have, you may belong to a select group of people. Richard Louv (2008) coined the term Nature Deficit Disorder – the concept that children are spending less time outdoors, to the detriment of their intellectual, emotional, and physical health. Swati Popat (“There’s Nature in Our Nature!” January/February 2010) stated about NDD: “This disconnect from nature is unknowingly contributing to hypertension, hyperactivity, and attention problems. We need the calming, cooling connection with nature.” Have you noticed any trends in your own school or day care center? When you take your children outside, how do you encourage them to interact with nature?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Art: Weaving Panel (Part 4 of 4)

The Adventurous Child likes to create products and equipment that are multipurpose in nature. A great example of this is our weaving panel: It encourages artistic development, use of prepositional phrases, and it promotes cooperative play!

Children can intertwine various materials through a weaving panel, such as ribbon, yarn and string. This unique piece of children’s playground equipment allows children to use their imaginations to create an artistic design with the weaving materials. Using a weaving panel demonstrates directional words (in, out, on, off, here and there) as well as spatial relationships with objects (over, under, beside and through). Children can work independently or they can work cooperatively by passing the material back and forth through a weaving panel.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Art: Easel (Part 3 of 4)

After discussing the colors that are being produced by the wheel, encourage your children to paint a picture with some (or all!) of those colors on an easel. Even better: a double-sided easel allows children to socialize and work with one another while drawing, painting and writing. Our extra wide outdoor art easel allows two children to paint side-by-side, or gives children the opportunity to paint from the back side while other children paint from the front side. This helps develop cooperative and parallel play, and assists in developing greater social interaction skills. One of our favorite preschool art ideas is to have a child stand on one side of the art easel and have another child trace their outline or shadow. Soon you will have an entire classroom of Da Vincis and Michaelangelos!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Art: Color Wheel (Part 2 of 4)

The whole world, as we experience it visually, comes to us through the mystic realm of color.Hans Hofmann - Artist

Consider adding a color wheel to your outdoor classroom. Its unique design allows children to mix sunlight with primary colors to create secondary colors. One of the wheels remains in a fixed position while the other wheel turns. As the child turns the wheel and the light shines through, different colors are created. For example, when the light flashes through the yellow and blue sections, green is produced.

The color wheel is a great addition to your outdoor classroom. After discussing color with your children, encourage them to draw or paint pictures displaying their favorite hues. On Thursday we’re going to take a look at The Adventurous Child’s art easel – the next great step for budding artists!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Art (Part 1 of 4)

Art is not just ornamental, an enhancement of life. It is a path in itself, a way out of the predictable and conventional... a map to self discovery. (Gabrielle Roth)

To wrap up our series on fine arts, we’re going to look at visual art this week. The Adventurous Child wants to help you create a wonderful outdoor “studio” for discussing and creating art with your children. Studying art is integral to teaching children about color, perspective, composition, and encouraging imagination and passion. As Gabrielle Roth said, art is “a map to self discovery.” With a few pieces of equipment, you will give your children all the tools they need to learn about the world and themselves.

On Monday we are going to look at the color wheel… but if you’re ready to mix some colors today, just click here!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Infants and Toddlers: Toddler Climber (Part 4 of 4)

As I mentioned recently, infants and toddlers need separate play areas from each other and from older children. Toddlers may be more ready for a playground that requires climbing (see below), but they still need manageable heights and closeness between platforms.

The climber below is tricked out with all kinds of fun things to do. Check it out….

  • Tunnels for play that teach the concepts over, under, behind, beside, and inside

  • Dual slide for enjoying the company of a friend

  • ADA entrance and stairs that allow easy access for all children, regardless of their abilities

  • Lower ground deck for two levels of play

The Adventurous Child is committed to building playgrounds that are age-appropriate. Contact us here if you have any questions. We would love to hear from you!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Infants and Toddlers: Infant Play Corner (Part 3 of 4)

According to “Babies on the Move” by Rae Pica in Young Children (July 2010), experiences and opportunities to move may be more important for infants than for older children. Here’s why: “… Beginning in infancy, physical movement plays a vital role in the creation of nerve cell networks that are actually the core of learning…. [M]ovement, because it activates the neural wiring throughout the body, makes the entire body – not just the brain – an instrument of learning” (Pica, 2010, p. 48).

A special play corner designed for your infants will activate their brains and bodies. An Infant Play Corner provides different activities for infants to do while crawling on an open-ended surface that is not tactily defensive to the children’s senses. Included are a bubble panel, a ball drop panel, a mirror panel with bar, and a shape spinner panel. Each activity panel is the perfect height for someone just learning to stand, or for someone who’s content to sit in front of the mirror or ball drop panel.

On Monday, we’ll wrap up this series by taking a look at toddler climbers. (Too eager too wait? Click here.) Ready, set, go!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Infants and Toddlers: Infant Play Gazebo (Part 2 of 4)

The Adventurous Child simply cannot get enough of Young Children magazine! Recently I read an article about infancy demands for a responsive approach to care (July 2006). The following passage really spoke to me:

“Development is a continuous process through which a child gradually grows and changes. But as early childhood professionals we need to keep in mind that each developmental period has its own challenges and opportunities. As brain development research has reached the general public, most of us have become aware of the infant period as an important time when neural pathways that influence learning and development are formed” (Lally & Mangione, 2006, p. 14; italics mine).

The hexagonal Infant Play Gazebo provides five different activities for infants to do while crawling on a rubber surface. The heights of the panels are set so that an infant pulling herself up can see over the panel into the real world. The best activities are those that interact with the senses, such as: a sound panel, a ball drop panel, a mirror panel with cruising bar, a shape spinner panel, a bubble panel, and a gate. These activities will stimulate infants’ neural pathways and at the same time, delight their senses and occupy their interest. Who knows – the gazebo may occupy you as well!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Infants and Toddlers (Part 1 of 4)

According to the states’ early learning standards, infants and toddlers need different kinds of playgrounds and classrooms than older children. Infants and toddlers are smaller than preschool-age children, and need to be able to reach their activities and toys easily. They are also far more vulnerable to heights and flying objects, which is why day cares and schools are required to have separate outdoor play areas for their younger friends.

At The Adventurous Child, we are devoted to designing, manufacturing, and installing playgrounds for children six months through six years of age. We also understand that infants and toddlers need different kinds of playgrounds than older children. Infant and toddler play areas are some of our most popular! Check back with us on Monday as we look at some of those corners and gazebos which are perfect for your children.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Nitty Gritty: Gravel Panel (Part 4 of 4)

Add a gravel panel to the truck pit for increased learning and fun in your outdoor classroom. The Adventurous Child’s Gravel Panel Add-On provides three different ways for the gravel to shoot through and fill the trucks and containers below. Pouring gravel through the gravel panel allows children to observe and demonstrate directional words—in, out, on, off, here, there, beside, next to and between. (These prepositions will surely lead to a wonderful conversation about keeping the gravel in the pit!)

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Nitty Gritty: Truck Pit (Part 3 of 4)

There are so many things to do in the truck pit! Children love digging, pouring, sifting, sorting, counting and manipulating pea gravel in the truck pit. Animals aren’t attracted to the pea gravel, so unlike sand, the gravel doesn’t have to be covered. The 9-inch-wide wide roads, hills and tunnels of the truck pit are large enough to accommodate medium sized Tonka trucks and set the stage for dramatic play. A great addition to any outdoor play area, children will love traveling the roadways, hills and tunnels of the truck pit.

Everyone at The Adventurous Child agrees, a truck pit is the way to go for equal parts entertaining and educational!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Nitty Gritty: Sand Table (Part 2 of 4)

You don’t have to go to the beach to have fun with sand. A sand table is a unique piece of children’s play equipment that is designed to allow children to stand, rather than sit, as they explore and manipulate a multitude of sensory items. Children can change the physical properties of the sand by mixing water with the sand then pouring and sifting it dry. Adding water to the sand also allows children to shape and create land and water forms. They can make molds, sift the sand, and draw in the sand with sticks to make unique shapes.

Our personal favorite thing about the sand table is that this is a great way to help children bond with each other: the table is long enough for several children to stand together as they work and play. Moreover: “In the sand [table] the children have the opportunity to become giants. They can create roads and mountains and houses. In a world where they are small and vulnerable, it is comforting to have a place where they can be big and in control” (Karen Miller, The Outside Play and Learning Book).

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Nitty Gritty: Fun with the Elements (Part 1 of 4)

Sand and gravel: two of the most basic elements in our world, and yet most people wouldn’t consider them educational. When adults think of sand, they may think of a fun day at the beach or something to watch pass through an hourglass. As teachers we understand that these are fantastic elements for allowing children to learn about pouring, counting, manipulating, and more. Watch the children as they investigate the feel, sound, and smell of these tiny particles. Conversations about their physical properties and measurements will abound – all while they are simply having fun playing and pouring! On Thursday, we will show you some of our fun products utilizing sand and gravel.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Snow Day

Nothing beats that first snowy day of the year: the crunch of snow underneath your boots, the taste of snowflakes. Did you know that a snowy day is just about perfect for your children to enjoy time in their outdoor classroom? Nancy Fusco Castaldo, author of The Little Hands Nature Book, has some fantastic suggestions for winter fun. For example, take your kids outside to your outdoor classroom. As you begin walking, ask them to look around the path. What is different in the winter than in summer? How do the seasons change where you live? Then, have a winter scavenger hunt: “Look for things such as a bush with red berries, a pinecone, a bird, an icicle, a fir tree, animal tracks, and a squirrel. Look for something beautiful” (p.136).

Another fun game is called “snowflake snooping.” All you need for this game is a dark piece of fabric or paper (allow it to chill outside for a few minutes) and a hand lens (or, just borrow a magnifier from your nature center). First, collect falling snow on the fabric or paper. Then examine the snowflakes with your hand lens. Are they all the same? Look at all the different shapes. How many sides does each snowflake have? Watch the snowflakes melt. How do their shapes change?

Finally, you could also mix some water and food coloring, pour it into a spray bottle, and encourage the children to “color” the snow! Not only is this fun, but you could also share a conversation with the children about mixing colors and creating new hues.

Have fun, and enjoying kicking up some snow! I think I’m going to build a snowman now….

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy New Year!

Can you believe that it is already 2011? Time sure does fly by. I hope you had a fun and safe New Year’s Eve celebration. Between singing “Auld Lang Syne” and toasting with my family to 2011, I started thinking about my New Year resolutions. When I got back to work this week, I asked my pals at The Adventurous Child what our collective resolutions ought to be. Here is what we came up with:

10. Learn more about child development
9. Interview a local professor about early childhood education
8. Research how basic elements such as sand can be educational
7. Be prepared with a list of fun winter activities for the next snowy day
6. Come up with a list of springtime activities
5. Make a compost pile
4. Learn how to go “green” in our outdoor classroom
3. Read one book every month for “fun” in our literacy gazebo
2. Learn about “whole language”
1. Have fun!!!

As I continue to write these entries, hopefully you will see some of my resolutions come to life in the blog. If not… well, please remind me!

What are your resolutions for 2011? This could be a great conversation to share with your children!