In this week’s episode, I chat with Martianne Stanger, author of the Training Happy Hearts blog, certified educator, homeschooler and theater instructor. Martianne’s resourcefulness has helped her create the communities that her children need as they have grown. She gives great tips on how to create community for your own family with a focus on outdoor play.
Podcast on SoundCloud
Martianne started the conversation by discussing how she started the Art-n-Nature Hikes series for her kids and her community by going back to the basic components of what makes art (a dot, a line, a form, etc.)
- She looked for a location in nature that had good, free parking
- She asked everyone to bring some art supplies
- She printed out photos of art from the internet with examples of whatever component they were discussing that week
- She asked the kids to look for that component in nature, like a scavenger hunt
- She asked the kids to all create art either from what they could see in front of them or something from their imaginations using the materials
Once the structured activity was complete the parents and kids were free to relax and the kids typically would play by building forts in the wilderness. The structured activity helped people have common ground and take the first steps to forming friendships.
We discussed how some people can be intimidated by starting something if they don’t feel they are an expert. Martianne endorses “approximations toward perfection” or “the ideal and the real”
Somewhere in the nexus between the ideal and the real is what happens, and that’s real life. And that’s beautiful.
Duct Tape Batttle Club
Based on the book Warfare by Duct Tape, their family was inspired to start a club where the kids made a weapon each week and then held a battle with safety rules.
- Find at least one other person who is interested
- Decide on a mutual date
- Choose an appropriate location
- Send out invitations – virtual or physical (this is a great project in itself – designing the invitation, understanding the information needed, calculating the cost of materials, gathering email addresses or physical addresses, etc.)
- Decide on guidelines for battle
Mastermind Adventures has a foam weapons building program every Wednesday at 4 PM called The Hero’s Guild
Try things to see if they fit. Sometimes they will and sometimes they won’t.
When embarking on a new community project, ask yourself, is this right for us AND is it right right now.
If you have some space you can gather “Loose parts” (i.e. what other might throw away that could make great building materials) and allow your child to create with them. If you’re in a small space, gather things in bins that can be transported if needed to a better building location. Don’t be afraid to let your child try some tools and explore what they can make with the Loose Parts you’ve gathered. Try a sponge war. When playing with your children, learn to ask good questions to help them come up with their own solutions to problems.
Whenever Creating an Outdoor Community
- Outline the expectations for kids
- Outline the expectations for adults
- If you’re going to be outdoors, know what Poison Ivy looks like
- Don’t forget the sun block, bug spray, first aid kit if you’re going into the woods
- When hiking, make sure that each person can see the person in front of them when on the trail
- Have a call when choosing directions at forks in the road
- Destination Imagination Website (for warm up challenges)
- First Lego League Website (for warm up challenges)
- Use picture books to enhance programs in Nature
- Check out Jim Arnosky’s Crinkleroot
- See Teacher Tom’s Outdoor Play
- Creative Dramatics programs like Mastermind’s Adventure Saturdays teach real skills through interactive drama techniques