Natural Kid Zone – Creating a Backyard Nature Area for Kids

IMG_2256The back yard is the best place for children to explore.  set aside some space just for exploration and you will find your kids outdoors playing and wondering about the world, how it works and who lives here.  Sounds like a great idea, but where do you start, how hard will it be to create this oasis?

Take one small area and remove the grasses so that children can dig.  Allow them to dig and play on wet and dry days as this will create a whole new experience.  Don’t worry about the mess so long as children are dressed for mess.

Kids of course are drawn to water.  Add a hose, sprinkler, bucket and scoops, watering cans, plastic pvc pipes of varying lengths.  Oh, and don’t forget to send them out in the rain so long as it isn’t storming.  take in the senses.  What things do they notice when the weather is wet?  Since water can be dangerous, make sure to supervise, but also stay back enough to allow them to explore without our input into the activity.

Consider adding a few large rocks (large enough so that they cannot be picked up and thrown, but small enough that they can be turned over to explore underneath.  Is there a tree in this environment?  I remember playing for hours in an old lilac bush when I was a child.  So much fun moving about its branches.  It could be anything and it was!

Don’t forget to add plants and perhaps allow children to help in the planting.  In my yard I need to make sure to have shade loving plants, but you will need to choose depending on your yards unique lighting.

Lastly, allow for some building materials.  A sheet for a fort, a variety of boards or long sticks can make for some great temporary forts and doesn’t have to cost a lot.  Have a few boards that you can allow to sit for a day or two and then go back to move these to see who has moved in.  I know in my yard we find all sorts of critters and the children just love it!

If you have enjoyed these ideas, please consider sharing one of your favorite back yard ideas.  I just love adding to our back yard fun and I bet you do too!

Kim Woehl is a licensed real estate agent and early childhood educator.  Please feel free to contact her at 651-214-1459 for information.

 

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Gas Fireplaces, Kids, Ouch!

As a parent I have long been worried about the hot fireplace gas when

Fireplace safety tips

Fireplace safety tips

the fireplace is on.  They make guards but few use these as they take away from the enjoyment of watching the rolling fire.

As a caregiver I have chosen to not use the fireplace when children are present.  This pretty much ensures the safety of everyone.  Its the law to make sure that no harm comes to children.  This being said, homeowners are sometimes very unaware of just how hot the glass becomes.

New laws are being created and will take place in January of 2015 that will put a screen, gate, or protective panel barrier in front of all new fireplaces.  This leaves the eleven million households with older fireplaces as a risk for burns.  Caution must be used to make sure that the screens or other protective devise is approved for your particular fireplace or you may still have a risk of burns or a fireplace that no longer operates as it was intended.

Will these new features still cause a burn?  They may if a hand is placed upon the barrier for any period of time.   The bottom line is that as a parent or a family with young house guests that you make sure to remind and supervise all little persons who would be curious about the fireplace.

Some extra tips to ensure safety might be to:

– read the owners manual or check with a licensed dealer to make sure your fireplace is safe

– Check the surrounding frames and such on the fireplace, these too can be burn hazards

– ALWAYS supervise children, the elderly and pets while using your fireplace and remember that it takes a good while before these are cool to the touch.

– Make sure remotes or switches are out of children’s reach

– Consider adding a lock over switches that are in children’s reach

– Remind all guests that fireplace glass and surrounds can be hot enough to burn

– Lastly – have your fireplace serviced regularly to ensure it is operating properly and to ensure that no new laws have made it a dangerous item in your home.