Simplifying Family Activities: Discovering The World Around Us
Family Fun—A few months ago, we were shopping in one of those big "houseware-clothing-everything" stores and my husband came walking down the aisle with an antiqued gold tabletop magnifying glass in his hands. You know, the kind you would see perched atop the desk of Ben Franklin, Galileo, or your grandfather. As he approached me, I reacted instinctively, “You don’t need that. No new stuff to clutter the house.” He retorted, “I’m getting it so I can use it to explore with munchkin.” After some conversation about how it would break within moments of getting in the hands of our little three-year-old energy hurricane, it somehow made its way into the shopping bag and our home.
Upon arriving home, my husband joyfully shared it with our curious little girl; he talked to her patiently about how to be gentle with this new gift, how to use it to look at the detail of her fingers and how to manipulate the eyeglass to see more of the world around her.
To my amazement, she listened, she focused, and she embraced this precious gift as a window into a new world of detail that makes up the little things that surround us everywhere. So now, several months later, the precious magnifying glass sits atop our kitchen cabinets until our evening walks with the dog, when my daughter lovingly collects rocks, leaves, and palm fronds, both dried and green. Then we return home and joyfully watch daddy pull the microscope down and explore the detail of nature through her own looking glass.
As I watch my little hurricane calm down, focus, and find joy in those things that I pass by without a second thought, I realize—as a parent—I don’t need to buy every fancy, new educational game and puzzle; she does not need to be entertained by me or media at all times. She is content to simply explore the tangible, beautiful detail around us because, to her, it is new and exciting. And, to me, it is a reminder that the world has been given to us to enjoy.
So now, before scanning the newspaper every weekend to find the newest and most entertaining family event, I find myself thinking, “ Where can we go outside? What can we explore around us—down the street, in the park, in the backyard?” And “What can we teach her about our world?”
If you too sometimes find yourself stuck in the trap of toys, media and constant stimulation, here are a few resources for simplified and discovery-oriented family activities
- The National Park Service: Find local spots of nature around you that you may have driven right by in the past. Many are free or very affordable.
- Nature Scavenger Hunt: As temperatures begin to cool, take the kids outside and conduct this hunt in your own backyard (or neighborhood park).
Or ... simply grab a magnifying glass, head outside and find exciting creations of nature to examine with your little ones.
How do you help your kids appreciate the world around them?
Nicknamed “Julia Child” at a young age, Julia Montgomery Stewart is most at home in the kitchen—cooking for her family of three and experimenting with new ways to eat real, whole foods. Outside the home, Julia is a consummate event planner, and spent the first ten years of her career as a publicist before expanding her portfolio of talents with the launch of livepretty.com in 2010 with her family. Live Pretty is a lifestyle blog dedicated to family, food, and entertaining, with a special focus on sharing both the extraordinary and everyday moments of our lives.