I’ve run across a few articles lately that made me seriously consider how I’m raising my child. Articles like “Children spend half the time playing outside in comparison to their parents“ and “Kids under 9 spend more than 2 hours a day on screens“ caused me concern. I vividly remember enjoying nature and outdoor play as a child and as an adult I find comfort walking among Redwoods or taking a trip to the beach. Other articles like “Using Adventure and Nature to Bring Back Children’s Play“ and “Why Outside Playtime is Critical to Development“ have made me consciously shift our schedule to include daily time outdoors to play.
But it’s actually harder than it looks in the city! Afterall, many of the hip and fun classes for children are held indoors. And, after that most of us run home for lunch, naptime, and other household duties making it easy to spend very little time outdoors.
Last spring, we had the pleasure of attending Apple Star: Outdoor Waldorf Inspired Class with Noe Venable which met rain or shine in Glen Park. Although it was tough motivating myself to put my child in his snowsuit and boots to attend class in the rain, I am forever grateful for seeing how much joy my child had learning about the different types of weather, textures, and temperatures in this way. On sunny days, we would hike and learn about flowers and watch bumblebees, birds, and other animals. As a city mom, I needed the push to get outside and that’s what this class provided for us.
Since signing up for Apple Star, I’ve started exploring other ways to play with my child outdoors in SF. Here are a few of the classes/places we plan to attend this summer that inspire us to go outside and explore SF in new ways:
Meadowlark Outdoor Music Class with Noe Venable: This class meets in a meadow, under sheltering trees. The instructor, Noe Venable, brings along a cart of wonders – drums, guitar, shakers, tambourines… There’s even an interactive puppet show, highlighting the wonder to be found in the natural world. The class includes developmentally appropriate music activities that will delight children and adults alike. The experience includes seasonal songs, play-along instruments, and a gorgeous outdoor setting. My toddler loves Noe’s songs and has even started singing along.
Early Childhood Classes at the SF Zoo: Although the Early Childhood Classes are held inside, the class includes an all-day pass to the zoo. Each class focuses on a different animal and includes a craft, small snack, education animal visitor and an experience full of exciting discoveries. My toddler loves learning about and petting animals in the class and then continuing the learning experience as we spend the rest of the afternoon at the zoo. There is also a beach nearby for even more time outside!
Aki Raymer’s 1-2-3 Connect: 1-2-3 Connect meets in Golden Gate Park and is focused on bringing more connection and parenting skills to parents while providing sensory experiences for children. Aki is the founder of the Positive Parenting (R)evolution Facebook Group and teaches positive parenting to parents while providing an opportunity for in-the-moment parenting advice as kids connect with each other through play. Each class includes music circle, sensory activities, a parenting tool, and bubbles! Learn how to combat tantrums and prepare for transitions while your toddler is engaged in play.
Color Explorers Nature Art Walks: Lani at Color Explorers is a graphic designer and mom who was inspired to foster a love for nature and long-term creativity in children by designing age-appropriate art activities, which include a hike in nature, the gathering of natural art materials, and art activities outside. During the hike, explorers are encouraged to gather materials while exploring their shapes, textures, and colors.
Throughout the hike, the group stops at different art zones to complete art activities creating an engaging and interactive experience. The exploration teaches kids about color, art, nature, and some of SF’s most beautiful hiking areas as Color Explorer explores nature all around SF!
I hope this list inspires you to find more ways to play outside this Summer. I’d also love to hear about your favorite ways to go outside. We hope to see you at the beach, on a hike, or in SF’s beautiful nature soon! Let’s go outside and play!