Celebrate Kids To Parks Day + Buddy Bison!

Celebrate Kids To Parks Day + Buddy Bison!

We spend a lot of time outdoors and make it a priority to visit plenty of local parks. We plan annual camping trips around birthdays, We have dreams of visiting every national state park one day, we’ve already crossed off a few. If you follow my blog then you know I am passionate about getting kids outside and into nature in any capacity. The benefits are incredible, and with it being “Earth Week” and all (because one day just isn’t enough), I thought I’d share the latest in Kids To Parks Day 2017.

 

Each year, the National Park Trust hosts the annual Kids To Parks Day. A day dedicated to getting kids outdoors for some good old-fashioned play. Kids To Parks Day takes place on Saturday, May 20th. Anyone can participate in Kids to Parks Day, which is a national day of park play. National Park Trust (NPT) urges kids across the country to discover science, history, nature and adventure in a neighborhood park right around the corner or just across town. In an effort to get kids playing outside again, I’m listing a few of the ways you can encourage the children in your life to appreciate outdoor play.

 

Create Opportunity

 

One of the best ways to get kids outdoors is to constantly provide the space and opportunity. Keeping their schedule light and free for unstructured play to take place is crucial. While sports are outdoor activities, it’s imperative to have time for creative play without competition. It doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal, some days we just take a walk after dinner around our neighborhood lake, or local trails. You’d be surprised the type of interaction this environment sparks. Many an important conversation have taken place on a simple hiking trail.

 

Essentially Erika

 

Dress Appropriately

 

Don’t expect kids to stay immaculate in their Sunday’s best all the time. Constantly policing stains on a natural hike will the opposite effect and could discourage a child from wanting to engage outdoors. I keep a spare pair of play clothes in case we happen upon some park play fun one afternoon after school. I change it according to the season.

 

Hiking Shoes

 

This year, National Park Trust is delighted to welcome their new Kids to Parks Day sponsor: Northside. Their generous support will provide park grants for some of the winners of our Kids to Parks Day School Contest. This year we all are taking our Northside Shoes for a spin. They are extremely comfortable and perfect for any elements. We all have matching pairs of the hiking sport sandals to keep us comfortable and safe on any terrain.

 

Last year more than 4,000 students from Title 1 schools benefited from the contest. Kids to Parks Day is the signature event of NPT’s popular Buddy Bison® school program, which teaches environmental education and the benefits of outdoor recreation to children in under-served schools across the country. NPT’s goal is to cultivate future park stewards and outdoor enthusiasts. Read more about the Buddy Bison® school program.

Get Kids Involved

 

I find one of the easiest ways to get our kids interested in something is giving them complete control over it. If the boys are being picky with dinnertime, I begin to ask them what they would like to eat certain days of the week. I take them to our garden to pick the vegetables to cook. The more involved they are in the decision-making process, the more interested they become. By letting the kids pick some of our destinations from time to time, they get excited about planned dates to “their pick”.

Only good can come from teaching our kids to appreciate nature and get outside. After all, they are the generation that is going to have to defend it, and discover new ways to sustain it.

You can find out more about Kids To Parks Day and National Park Trust on their website. You can even schedule a park date of your own using NPT’s free resources. Kids to Parks Day 2017 promises to be bigger than ever! Last year, Kids to Parks Day had more than 730,000 participants in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. This year, the goal is to have 900,000 people enjoy Kids to Parks Day all across the country. To participate you can do the following:

  • Step 1: Pledge to have a park adventure on Kids to Parks Day and be entered to win one of several prizes
  • Step 2. Find or register an event in your area
  • Step 3. Encourage friends and family to join you
  • Step 4. Share photos and adventures on social media with #kidstoparks and #BuddyBison Keep checking back to www.kidstoparks.org as more information about park events and prizes are updated until the big day!

Keep checking back to www.kidstoparks.org as more information about park events and prizes are updated until the big day.

I hope you’ll join me in celebrating Kids To Parks Day this year on May 20, 2017.We’ll be sure not to leave Buddy behind!

Buddy the Bison

In order to encourage one of my readers to participate, I am partnering with Northside to give away a free pair of Northside shoes of your choosing. Simply enter the giveaway below for your chance to win between now and May 1st, and #GetOutside.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Essentially yours,

Erika


National Park Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow. As people spend more time indoors, and as successive generations grow up with less of a connection to nature, NPT wants to build a greater awareness and appreciation for the importance of our country’s public lands and parks. NPT’s Buddy Bison® School Program and Kids to Parks Day National School Contest were selected in 2015 as a National Park Service Centennial Challenge Project. Learn more at: www.parktrust.org or call 301-279-7275.

What is Process Art? A New Spin on Creativity

What is Process Art? A New Spin on Creativity

When I married my husband I knew he was an artist at heart. This means I was well aware that it would be perfectly normal for me to find paint stains on the dining room table, and I’ve even grown accustomed to it over the years. I’ve even learned to embrace his creativity when he decides to focus his capabilities on clothing (RIP to my jeans). He was able to channel his artistic energy and find joy in a profession (men’s grooming) that allowed him the freedom and creativity he longed for.

Between his painting & drawing skills, my musical ear and writing aspirations, we were pretty convinced we were going to have artistic children. I prepared myself for paint stains, and he’s ready to embrace a love for Broadway musicals. Our oldest has already expressed a love for music, while our little guy has been able to hold a pen / pencil / crayon properly since he was one years old. For this reason we’ve embraced the arts and always have fun crafts and materials on hand at home. On any given Sunday afternoon you can find us dancing in the living room listening to vinyl records, or painting side by side with each other at the dining room table (sigh, still no change there).

Since having children, I’ve noticed a change in how society relates to children’s art. We live in a world that expects young children to cut a straight line in pre-school, and color inside the lines. We visited a local library recently for their “Crafter-noon” session and I was surrounded by a dozen parents taking over the entire craft. There was an example at the front, and everyone’s goal was to make theirs replicate the example. The kids looked confused and lost focus, while the parents all compared how well they each did. Where is the fun in that?

Pottery Cool

What is Process Art?

According to Wikipedia: Process art is an artistic movement as well as a creative sentiment where the end product of art and craft, is not the principal focus. The ‘process’ in process art refers to the process of the formation of art: the gathering, sorting, collating, associating, patterning, and moreover the initiation of actions and proceedings. Process art is concerned with the actual doing and how actions can be defined as an actual work of art; seeing the art as pure human expression. Process art often entails an inherent motivation, rationale, and intentionality. Therefore, art is viewed as a creative journey or process, rather than as a deliverable or end product.

This makes perfect sense!

Life, I’ve learned over the years, is all about the journey. Art imitates life, so why wouldn’t art be about the journey as well? For this reason we do not encourage crafts that mimic any particular example, or put adult judgements on children’s art.

Example: “The sky should be blue.”

If that child felt like drawing a purple sky, it’s valid and should only be admired. We also do not estimate their work with praise or criticism.

Example: “That flower is so pretty, good job!”

Pottery Cool

By placing a rank or judgement on the child’s creation you almost steal the moment. We’ve found a lot more success just describing what we see and watching as the pride beams through their eyes. They feel self-gratification for their creation and decided for themselves how they feel about it. This is a really wonderful feeling to watch as a parent.

One of the best ways we’ve been able to encourage process art at home is by getting the children involved in projects that use every day materials, or require a lot of sensory involvement, i.e. touch, smell. This gets the children engaged and if we step back as parents, this is where the real magic begins to unfold. This isn’t possible to see with typical crafts. How much of a child’s personality can we really see shine, when they are all striving to create the same outcome? Art is very much about interpretation, and that’s the beauty of it. Three artists can look at the same piece and see something different. We all have something different to bring to the table and that’s the beauty of art.

Pottery Cool

Pottery Cool

Pottery Cool is an awesome at-home pottery wheel that is putting a new spin on creativity at home. It allows kids to create whatever it is that they want using clay and a unique turntable that lets gravity do the work. Real crafts they can easily create themselves and actually use! They make great gifts for friends and parents, and the clean-up is simple enough to get them involved as well.

Pottery Cool

Pottery Cool provides fun for hours! Just place a clay disk on the turn-table and spray it with water, then watch as they have a blast creating the shapes they want. Once it dries, the fun continues as they get to paint their creation.

Pottery Cool

Here are some fun examples:

This kind of investment can follow kids throughout their lives. Allowing them to get to know themselves and really develop who they are now, will set the groundwork for a secure individual who will always be comfortable with themselves and doesn’t need to follow the crowd.

Pottery Cool

Pottery Cool is available at your local Walmart.

Essentially yours,

Erika

**Pin Me**

Pottery Cool


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Kids Alternatives To Sugar With Mott’s

Kids Alternatives To Sugar With Mott’s

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Mott’s®. The opinions and text are all mine. #MottsMovieBonus

Cooking together in the kitchen has long been a tradition in my family. The Latin culture believe that the kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where all of the special moments are shared. My mother learned to cook from her mom, and I have learned some of what I know from my mom.Essentially Erika

Just because I have boys, I don’t want that tradition to end with me. I cook regularly with my little guys and let them in on the process. It’s always been important for me to model healthy eating habits in the kitchen. My oldest is a foodie just like me and we always joke about how he never let a drop of food go to waste. Not even when we first introduced him to baby food. He took his very first spoonful like a pro and never looked back!

Essentially Erika

My hope is to instill a love for whole foods, and healthy eating choices. That, and perhaps they will one day to grow up to be husbands and fathers who love to cook and feed their own families. Besides, they really do make the cutest sous chefs. I adore our time in the kitchen together, some of our most special moments took place while cooking or baking together.

Essentially Erika

There are so many lessons to learn from these experiences, aside from the obvious. Measuring and pouring ingredients are great for motor skills and mathematics. Mixing can be a wonderful sensory experience with all that they can touch and smell. My favorite is learning patience, as we wait for our delicious treats to finish baking.

Essentially Erika

While I love the recipes I’ve learned from my mother, I’ve worked hard to add healthier options for my own family. Sugar intake is something I am very aware of with my boys and I do my best to find tasty alternatives. I love substituting any sugar in a recipe with Mott’s® Applesauce and/or Apple juice. Its naturally sweet flavor is enough to brighten up any recipe. Any of Mott’s products ( there are plenty to choose from, even Apple Cherry) can be used as a substitute, I much rather prefer this all natural taste compared to refined sugar.  One of our favorite recipe conversions are these light and delicious Sweet Potato Apple Muffins. The perfect afternoon snack!

Sweet Potato Apple Muffins

Mott's

Right now, you can purchase any 3 Mott’s Apple Juices or Applesauces to receive a free child’s ticket for the new “ The Secret Life of Pets” movie, you can redeem your ticket here . Purchase any 5 Mott’s Juices or Applesauces to receive an additional $8 movie voucher – also very easy to redeem your voucher here. Mott’s has a large variety of snacks to choose from.

Mott's

While we love our time in the kitchen together, they can also provide healthy on-the-go snacks.

Mott's Applesauce

I hope you can get in the kitchen with your loved ones and bake some memories!

 

Essentially yours,

Erika

Subscribe to Essentially Erika!

You will receive updates on All Things Organic & Essential!

DON'T FORGET TO SUBSCRIBE!