Since March of 2013, and for over 60 blog posts–we have been talkin’ about candy, and candy delivery, and candy buffets, and holiday candy, and candy crafts, and candy recipes…and, are you seeing a pattern?  It’s ALL been about candy!  (Which, well, d’uh.  We ARE a candy store, after all. :) )  Today is the day we break from that tradition though.  Today, we visit something both related, and unrelated, all at once.  We’re going to go backwards a bit into warm summer days being spent outside, and into childhood, and we’re going to get a little nostalgic.  (Yay nostalgia!  We love our nostalgic candies–so, this blog post does fit right in with that theme.)

Years ago, while sitting in an Early Childhood Conference, the question was asked, ‘What is your favorite childhood, play, memory?’  All of us in the room took to our worksheet and started writing.  After our responses were jotted down, we had to share.  (I say ‘had’ because sharing with groups of strangers is the worst.  I’m always the one, with my eyes down, in the back, trying NOT to be called on.)  Since the room was filled with folks in their 20’s, to folks in their 70’s–I expected all of the responses to be super varied.  And, to a certain extent, they all were.  However, the one, common thread, that tied together every single memory, was that every memory involved playing outside.  Every. single. one.  (In hindsight…I kinda get why we had to share.  But, whatever.)

So, a couple years later, while I was working as a Traveling Art Teacher, I decided to incorporate that question into a lesson where we were painting birch trees in the woods.  That was kind of a tough lesson to get 8 and 9 year old’s excited about–so, I just wanted something to get their imagination going.  I would ask the question, and then ASK my students to share–you know, if they wanted to.  (Because yup, my hatred of forced sharing, in group settings, translates over  to the everyday.  Anxiety for the win!)  Just like in the group setting with the adults–almost EVERY kiddo who shared their favorite memories shared an outside story.  Then, I would ask my kids to raise their hand if their memory was also about being outside–almost all of them would raise their hand.  Then…we painted birch trees.  This was in 2012, and their answers were incredibly similar to the 70 year old’s in the group I was a part of.

Anyway…fast forward to today, and this blog post.  (Yup.  Finally, I’m getting to the point.)  This blog post actually all started earlier this week.  I was browsing our Facebook feed and came across Anoka Hennepin’s, Parent Involvement page–they post lots of family friendly ideas, links and articles.  Anyway, we came across a share entitled, “18 Free, Cool Features to Add to Your Backyard Play Space”.  As a parent, who’s getting dangerously close to summer vacation, I had to take a look.

Now, I’m used to all of the cutesy, yet not always super practical, Pinterest ideas–yet, this article isn’t like that.  In just reading this woman’s ideas, I was instantly transported back to a simpler time in my own life where everything was an adventure.  From old yogurt containers that I ‘rescued’ from the garbage, which then became the PERFECT mold for the top of my sand castle, to the sheer joy of being allowed to get super messy in the mud, and to the thrill of trying to walk all the way across the log that had fallen from the big tree in the woods, WITHOUT falling off.  It was the simple things that taught me the most, and that I can still remember the lessons from.  (Too big of a yogurt container and the castle will collapse, have clean water by you when playing in the mud–in case your eye gets itchy, and if you DO fall off the log–make sure you don’t fall into anything gross, like a bunch of slimy, wild, mushrooms; also, asking for help, and a hand to hold, will ensure you make it to the other side WITHOUT even worrying a little bit about falling.)

Whether you have children at home, grand kids who visit or stay with you, are an aunt or uncle who like to play, or have neighbor kids who like to stop over–check out this list of ideas.  We are positive that it will transport you to a simpler time too–and give you hope that kids, nowadays, aren’t much different than they’ve always been.  It’s the little things, the simplest things, that make those lasting memories and teach the greatest lessons.

http://happyhooligans.ca/backyard-play-space-ideas

 Also…trips to the local candy store, in a small town, ALSO make good memories.  Just sayin’ ;)  (Come on…we HAD to!)