Unbabbled: Coronavirus Resources (Part 4)

Keeping Children Active with Loose Parts Play

Stay-at-home orders are now in place for much of the U.S and the world. This may leave many parents feeling stressed about keeping children entertained and busy. One simple  way to keep your kids active while home is to introduce loose parts play.

Jill Wood, MLIS, explains what loose parts play is, how to implement it in your home, and the importance of play in a child’s day. She also provides ideas for everyday household items that can be used to start your loose parts play at home. This conversation will empower parents to embrace boredom and spark a bit of creativity in their child’s day.

About Jill Wood

Jill Wood is the Director of Adventure Play at The Parish School, as well as the school’s librarian. She holds a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Texas at Austin. Jill has been the Director of Adventure Play at The Parish School since 2008. Outside of The Parish School, Jill is the co-founder of Bayou City Play, an organization that sets up inclusive loose parts playgrounds at Shriner's Hospital for Children and pop-up playgrounds throughout the city of Houston. Jill believes that play is an integral part of a child’s educational and developmental experience, and, like exploring library shelves, it’s much better when there are a lot of choices and no one is telling you exactly what to choose!


Helpful Links

Loose Parts Materials

  • Cardboard tubes and boxes
  • Milk crates
  • Egg cartons
  • Plastic bottles and caps
  • Fabric – small scraps large enough for capes or fort-building are both great
  • Pieces of string or ribbon
  • Clothespins
  • Pool noodles
  • Cardboard packing material of odd shapes
  • Oatmeal containers/other empty and washed food containers, including soda bottles
  • Wooden spoons
  • Mixing bowl
  • Saucepan, cooking pot, muffin tin, bowls
  • Corks
  • Wrapping paper
  • Tennis balls

Activities to try with and without loose parts:

  • Den building
  • Pirate Adventure: See Jill's Video
  • Playing "store" or "hospital"
  • Marble maze
  • Potion-making in the yard
  • Extended bath time with loose parts that float and hold water
  • Wrestling
  • Tree climbing
  • Bike rides
  • Long walks
  • GoNoodle, dance parties, Cosmic Kids Yoga

Podcasts for kids:

Stephanie (00:05):

Hello and welcome to Unbabbled, a podcast that navigates the world of special education, communication delays and learning differences. We are your hosts, Stephanie Landis and Meredith Krimmel and we're certified speech language pathologist who spend our days at The Parish School in Houston, helping children find their voices and connect with the world around them. Hello and welcome to another special episode of Unbabbled. Where we are coming via video and our regular podcast this week we have Jill Wood. Jill is the director of Adventure Play at The Parish School and our school librarian, she's been the director of Adventure Play since 2008 and helped start and develop the program. And on top of that, outside of Parish, Jill is the co-founder of Bayou City Play, an organization that sets up - or used to set up, right now they're not - weekly loose parts playgrounds all around the city. So welcome, Jill. We're so happy to have you here today and we thought that you would be the perfect guest to talk to all of us about how to set up loose parts play, the importance of play and how we can pretty much set up play here at our homes without having to like go on Amazon and quickly try and buy a bunch of things.

Jill (01:23):

I have some suggestions, but there are going to be like two or three things that are worth the online purchase.

Stephanie (01:30):

Okay, great. Let's just start off with, can you tell us what loose play is?

Jill (01:36):

Sure. So loose parts play is a term that was, um, that was created by Simon Nicholson, a landscape architect in the 1970s. And um, the idea is like, at the heart of it is that children respond best when their materials are really, really flexible. So, and when their materials can be a lot of things. So the classic example is a cardboard box can be a den or a car, your train, it can be a place to hide and hide and seek. It can be all of these different things. And, um, the child is the one who determines what it is. Whereas if you have a big plastic car, it has a single use. So the idea is just that loose parts be flexible but also non precious. So that's something that we talk a lot about that you don't want your loose parts to be too nice because you want children to have a lot of agency with them. So you want to be sure that they can combine them in whatever way they want, but they can crush them if they need to, that they can. And so the less expensive or free the better. And then finally we always talk about how loose parts are only as good as they are loose, meaning that if you hand a child a bunch of materials that they can use in whatever way they want, um, it's important to also hold back a little bit as an adult and let them really explore that material. And it might look a lot different than what you expect. And it can be hard, particularly for us parents. I have a six year old, but that freedom with the material is, is another really important component so I can show some you want to see some right now?

Stephanie (03:33):

Sure. Will you grab some?. I like that you say that they can do whatever they want with them and to hold back because sometimes I feel pressure to come up with really cute, interesting activities for them to do with all of our recycled materials and I'm like put extra pressure on myself, but when I just kind of dump it and say have at it, then it takes that pressure off of me and then they actually come up with way cooler things than I would have.

Meredith (04:02):

I'm glad you're going to show us loose parts because I am really good about using cardboard boxes when my kids meet, when we have them. And I'm wondering what else I could use. I'm really excited to see what other, what other materials you're going to pull out of your box there.

Jill (04:18):

And I can, I can also send a list after this that we can post related to the podcast. Um, and Stephanie, that's such a good point because I don't think we can ignore right now the context that we're doing this podcast, which is with a stay at home order and we are in week 3, 2?Oh wow. Everything right. We don't even know where we can, but it is so important too, to recognize that this is a pretty unusual situation. And the way that we, the way that I see it, because I'm a play worker and I run an adventure playground, is that when children first come on to our crazy junk playground with spools and crates and rope and fabric, and there's so much freedom, a lot of times what they do is, um, sort of deer in headlights. They aren't sure what to do. And we're so used to it. It's just something we assume is going to happen. Every child is going to come onto our adventure playground and just sort of like try and figure it out and they're going to walk the playground. They're gonna, you know, sort of like take inventory of everything that's available. They're gonna meet other kids. And, um, and then we hear that they go home and they sleep heavily. And I feel like that is a really good comparison for where we are all now with a stay at home order. Um, that, you know, in these first weeks we've just been trying to figure out what's possible. We've been trying to take inventory of what we have at home. Um, and we are trying to, well, I can also tell you I am bone tired at the end of every day, so I feel like a child in their first weeks on adventure play. And that's comforting to me. But the other thing is that, um, you know, this is unusual in the sense that we're also, you know, in a lot of situations when children are struggling, the adults in their lives are really grounded and can support them wholeheartedly with all of their attention and effort. That's the ideal anyway. And right now everyone is experiencing a loss of this so much. Of our routines and our patterns, our rhythms, everything. And so I think, um, that it's awesome. Also important to give ourselves some grace these first weeks as we figure this out. Um, and also to recognize that play is really important for alone. A lot of reasons. But right now I can tell you it's really important cause it buys me a little bit of time too cause I'm working at home. So I think that that's another huge benefit of play. But this is one of my favorites. Um, and toilet paper is a hot topic right now.

Meredith (07:21):

These would be the most expensive thing that you're suggesting we buy.

Jill (07:27):

I know, I know, I know we have stash and some here, but these are so great. Toilet paper rolls can be costumes, they can be, you know, ways to investigate like the house, go on treasure hands, they can um, be great for um, Marvel runs all of that. So toilet paper rolls are great. Any tube in your house is gold. Um, tube plus gravity equals fun in our house. And then, um, if you have the kind of, um, can opener, that doesn't leave a rough edge. Um, these are so great. They're musical instruments, they're things you can walk on and tidy your feet. They are, I mean there are a million things you can do with a can. And then something that we've been doing is we just have a box near our house. I mean near our front door and we um, as we unwrapped things that arrive yet in Amazon, we've been throwing the packing into it. Isn't this cool? Yeah. Interesting. Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Stephanie (08:35):

Fantastic. We turned, um, my husband actually laughed at me because I pulled out of the closet a whole sack full of paper towel roll holders. And you think, I can't believe you've been hoarding those like, yeah, exactly. Or this moment of course they were empty toilet paper so it didn't totally help us. They turned into puppets and something else in our house recently other than a Spyglass. But yeah,

Meredith (09:05):

Or the yogurt tops and applesauce tops forever. And I don't, my husband's like, I don't know why you're hording them. But now that we're all home, I've like, we could sort them, we can count them, we can glue them on things that make them like my son was using them like a little rock climbing holder for his little action figures.

Stephanie (09:26):

Well that's such a cool idea. Like, yeah.

Meredith (09:28):

Yeah. They're way more creative than I am. So when I sit back and let them, it's amazing what they'll do.

Jill (09:34):

Right? That is the key. And you know, there's this magic place before children come up with great ideas that looks like boredom. And I think that so many of us jump in at that point, particularly now, like my nurturing instinct is on hyper alert because there's so much happening. I'm worried about my daughter all the time. And so when she tells me she's bored, my instinct is to entertain her. But what I know as a play worker is that is the sweet spot. That's right before something incredible happens. So knowing that I can push through it, but it can be a challenge.

Stephanie (10:15):

And especially now with us, so many of us also trying to work could be, I'm bored. It's like maybe they'll have a fit or like I need you to not be worried so I can get things done. But that's great to then take a breath and be like, okay, well we'll let them figure it out for a few minutes. Like boredom's not a huge panic time.

Jill (10:33):

Yes, absolutely. And I was going to thinking of sweating, I was gonna to her. These are my faves. So my daughter always torts with egg cartons, um, or makes costumes, you know, like really great robot front. So many possibilities. Yeah. I want to just show you guys like, this is the thing, this is um, something we created as part of this. I'm a librarian as well and I sent a video story time and we made a pirate segment for the story time, but really this, this what happened when we had paper, duct tape straws, pipe cleaners, and you know, coloring materials and it's not Pinterest ready, right? Like, nobody's going to click on my way for this, but it took us like two hours and she loved doing it. And, um, I'm going to send you guys the link to the pirate play because it wasn't that it looks good. It was that it was really engaging and it felt like a space of control for her. And that's my other sort of, um, the importance that I want to get across is that, um, play is where children have control. And I think that that's really one, one of the most important reasons to schedule it in because, um, my daughter's in first grade and we have a ton of work coming home and some of it is great and some of it is really, really hard. Um, and I think that, um, it's just, it's really important to be flexible in the, in those moments and to be able to find our way to, um, to something that feels good because that place of control within play is where children become resilient. It's where they challenge themselves, um, and where they're safe. I know that like when the stay at home order started, there was a lot of concern about the children's coronavirus play. And I thought that it was really healthy because within a play context you can control coronavirus you can't in the world, but in a child's mind. And within a play scheme you can make it manageable. You can fight it, you can make it funny. You can, you know, it's a child space in play is where they, they take control. And um, it's so important right now.

Meredith (13:16):

Last night my children, my children were playing there. It was their first time to play out the sickness going around. Owen, my five year old was calling it Corona virus, but my two year old wasn't. But they had their baby dolls and they were getting sick and then they were taking them to the trampoline, which was the doctor. And then they were coming back. And you know, sometimes they had to stay there for one day, but sometimes they had to stay there for two days. But you know, they were really playing it up. But the baby dolls always came back. And then so it was like control over the situation.

Jill (13:48):

Absolutely. Yeah. I, I think it was a couple of days ago, my daughter was doing this strange thing where she was attending to me as a doctor and it was so neat to see and I kept imagining this is so comforting. I am comforted by this. She had her doctor monkey go in my mouth and go through my body to identify the coronavirus and eradicate it. And then she would come back out and I was like, wow, you're there and I have a pair of wings, you know, could I get some, some, you know, sparkly, sparkly ears or something. And it was great. It was this strange in between place of like dealing with something really serious but also knowing that it was play so it was safe. And um, yeah, I think it was really important for both of us, which brings me to, to make sure that we're taking ourselves care of ourselves and playing as adults. Um, I think that all of us are grown ups, just juggling so much right now that, um, it can be easy to run ourselves ragged during the day and if we aren't taking care of ourselves, we can't give our children the safe space and happy, content space that they need right now to, to thrive. So that's another thing I've been telling myself that's a mantra is just keep playing, which for me is my morning walks or my fiction. I'm reading a book that I love at night and I will not give up that time. And in the mornings I'm exploring different parts of my neighborhood early enough so that I don't run into other people. And I mean that's really important as well. Okay. Have you guys seen mochi containers? Anyone like mochi? They're great fabric is so magic. Um, we have some of this sort of tool at our house. If you have anything colorful, um, even if it's clothing that you know is in the Goodwill pile or something, as long as it's got lots of flowy possibility, it's, it's really great. And then we have, we pulled out all of our old sheets, um, for den building. So we've made chair forwards and we've made capes and all sorts of things that um, that have a lot of possibility. Fabric is a great loose part. These are the things that I was going to recommend for an Amazon purchase. If you don't have pipe cleaners, they are the best. Um, and so yeah, if you're going to go on Amazon and buy something, make it a pipe cleaner because pipe cleaners are so great for connecting things to other things and they're really child friendly so they can, um, you know, if you'd look at this when she was, when my daughter was making her bird costume, she just stapled these on for structure to the paper feathers. And I think that's so important to make it easy and quick. A staple and some pipe cleaners. Very helpful.

Stephanie (17:07):

Yeah. The other day my kid, my younger son found old dog leashes buried in the bottom of a basket that he was digging through and they've been playing with these two old dog leashes for about a week in the backyard. Just like different play ideas, connecting them to different parts of our play structure outside. We had to draw the line at like putting them on the dog back yard to try and control her, but they've turned into like ours, not at a time but in chunks of really great like collaborative, imaginative play where I was able to get quite a bit done while they just played with dog leashes and I sounded so bizarre when my husband was like, what have they been playing with all day? And I'm like, we should, but it's fantastic. It's something new to them that they haven't played with in a long time and it was free and easy for me, so we just went with it.

Jill (18:09):

So great. Novelty is so important. Um, so bringing out new loose parts is kind of a trick, holding back, I mean some of your earliest parts and then waking up one day and being like, look, I have these shoe cardboard shoe things, inserts or whatever.

Stephanie (18:27):

Here, I found bubble wrap. They always get in our closet. I just didn't tell you.

Meredith (18:35):

So you've showed us and told us about some really cool loose parts. And, and I, you've mentioned kind of holding back and letting the kids take the lead, but how do you recommend for parents where this is maybe a little uncomfortable and familiar, how do you recommend that we introduced the loose parts? Just Oh look what I found and then hand them over or what's your recommendation from that?

Jill (18:55):

So one of the things that I wanted to mention here is that we have set up kind of zones in our house that are free play zones. We have my daughters, and this might not work for everyone, but it's working really well for us. We have a table that where she does her academic stuff and we have it set up, but we have sort of Lego's out all the time. One of my favorite loose parts. Um, and then we have a room where her, these parts like this and this and this are just out. Um, and that sense of agency for accessing the materials I think is also really important. Um, kind of deciding when and how to, so we keep them in boxes in that room and they're just there. Um, and you know, because I'm a play worker, my daughter knows that everything in there is for free play, but you might want to introduce it and say, you know, none of this is precious. It can be what you want it to be. It can be inside, it can be outside. Um, and if you want me to play with you, come and ask. So I think that the other piece of this is that everything we know, everything I know about play is about play within a context of access with peers because I run a playground and I do these pop up playgrounds and um, and so now we're in this strange situation where, where, you know, my daughter doesn't have her friends, um, to access all this stuff. So the other thing that I wanted to talk to you guys about is, um, and mention that's been working really well for us are play dates on the phone. And it felt really weird first. But I have, um, I've taken some video of it cause again, I'm a play worker and I was so amazed at how cool it was. My daughter called her friend who's five and we put the tablet up in her room and we sort of perched it and she played with her friend and it was an hour y'all. It was so cool. And they would do things like I'm feeding my baby right now, holding it up. You know, the other one's like my baby has wings kind of performing it for that. But it was amazing cause that can actually, keys is really missing right now. And um, so other things we've been doing in a playful way is, um, she's got these dance competitions going on with her cousins where we video her. Like she'll sort of choreograph a whole thing to music and we'll film it and then send it to our cousins and they try to like beat her out, you know, do a cooler dance dance offs. Um, we got her an email account that's very monitored. I just want it really clear. We used. Um, there are lots of them out there, but ours is a Zoomba account and so all of the outgoing and incoming comes through us. Um, and that way she can email her friends from school, which has been really good. She sends them pictures. Um, we've been making presents for people. So anytime you can give children that sense of community, um, and connection through this play. So good. And the play dates have been incredible. They've been lifesavers so, and it helps if it's someone that they know really well. So cousin is or really good friends.

Meredith (22:44):

Yeah, Meredith. You said that you've been doing plays like Facebook messenger plays, so we, yeah, we downloaded Facebook messenger for my five year old and it goes through my Facebook messaging app. So I get to see everything coming in my mouth and he and I get to choose his friends. So he's friends with this cousin and it is like the funniest, they have little built in games. So they get on and then they can push a button and then it's like crack the egg and they take turns cracking the egg and whoever gets the snake loses, you know, that kind of interactive. But sometimes they call each other and then they're doing their own thing with the tablet, just looking. But it's like that sense of being together. They don't have to talk the whole time. And I think our instinct as parents is, okay, well you're done, so hang up. But it was kind of nice to just let them be, they were doing their own thing but they were together or it film like, yeah. So it's a pretty good one. I, I, it's nice to hear about all these cheap or free, um, loose part things. I know a lot of people, for instance, my best friends are trying to buy a trampoline. They're stuck at home. They have two young boys, uh, and, and they're like sold out everywhere because everybody's trying to do this. So it's nice to know that you can entertain your child for hours with pipe cleaner and paper and tape. Um, and you don't necessarily need to go out and buy these nice play structures. I mean you can if you want to, but it's not necessary. You can, I wait. Yeah.

Jill (24:10):

Important. I will say in my experience that there's no replacement for that. The swing set at the park or that's what we're struggling with right now. So we've put up a hammock. Um, we, because of the work we do, we haven't had the fire hose, so we're gonna try to, you know, attach it between two trees in our front yard. Um, but that is the challenge we've been using. Um, different dance games online. Um, GoNoodle, it has been really helpful. Um, and familiar cause she uses it at schools so she can, um, do the dances that feel familiar and again and like be connected to something that's important to her. Um, but wow. Yeah. It's, I get the trampoline impulse big time cause we're trying to figure out how to get that big body play that children really need. Um, we happen to like be really comfortable with and be big fans of wrestling. And so, um, we've been wrestling on the bed and it's pretty cute. I'll be up here working and I can hear, um, my husband and my daughter, you know, wrestling or playing airplane on the bed and that's become a necessity. I will say that's actually not even sort of icing on the cake, but really just the functional way to get through her school days. Her distance ed school days is she'll look at me or my husband and say, can we go wrestle? We're like, yes, wrestle time. And um, but then we've also been running like we never went for runs before and now we've run or ride bikes as a family. Um, cause you can really maintain social distancing pretty well in your neighborhood. At least in ours. We can do it without, you know, violating social distancing recommendations. Um, but those big body things, those are hard, right? They, if you have siblings, I think that helps

Meredith (26:22):

Lots of wrestling in my house. Yeah. It generally ends in tears.

Stephanie (26:28):

It's good for balance because my kids have decided now that they want to start wrestling on the couch. And so we've had a set in places where like, okay, we can take the couch cushions off and you can wrestle on the cushions on the floor. Let's not wrestle on top of the couch. Maybe the big King size bed but not the couch!.

Jill (26:48):

I think that's so smart because we're all, our homes are not playgrounds. We we're not, we're not set up for this. So yeah, we have rules too. I love putting cushions on the ground. That's awesome. So smart. I think we're going to do that, but I, yeah, a lot of it is um, kind of figuring out, you know, in our house that's been key to set up areas where play can happen and is always there and we aren't concerned about the cleanup. We're not concerned about the loose parts getting done some them, um, just sort of a place of permission and then, you know, but also maintaining our own space. So, um, you can probably see my office, you know, my office is not a play zone for one thing. We don't fit in here, both of us. But I think yeah, it's important for us adults to, to have ours spaces that are that self care piece again. Yeah.

Stephanie (27:48):

So I have a question about age. What age do you start introducing loose parts play with kids?

Jill (27:54):

You know, this last summer we did a lot of events with um, Harris County public library and it was the first time that I'd seen a lot of 2 year olds coming to our events because they come to toddler times and Oh, it was great. The only difference is just that we had to make sure that there weren't loose parts that were choking hazards, but that was easy enough. You know, we use the elbow rule and I'm no smaller than your elbow. And um, it was really cool. I learned a lot about how you know, how much possibility is in, you know, when you have a ball that would fit inside of a hand and you have those two things in a place that are accessible to a toddler, they can spend, you know, 20 minutes just sort of exploring how the ball goes into the can and the sounds it makes and how it pours out, how it can go back in. And I mean there's so much that can be learned through a loose part. And if we're not worried about them getting destroyed, then they also can learn, you know, what happens when you are not going to tear it, cause we don't have a lot of these right now. But you know, when you were a kid, did you ever unravel these girls? Yeah, they spiral down and then we used to make bracelets out of them, um, and like, you know, wonder woman, that kind of thing. Um, so I think the last precious, the better, the more we can leave these areas that are set up. Um, and then with really littles we might need to be more present. Um, but if you have a laptop, maybe set up nearby and see how much you can get away with being hands off, you know.

Meredith (29:37):

And anybody can play with a box, right? Yeah. Right. I mean, yeah, even one year olds could enjoy parts of a box.

Jill (29:48):

Yeah. And I think too, that's another thing is um, we've been doing a lot of den making and I think when you're in a space that you have to share with other people, 24, seven, it becomes all that much more important to have a place that's yours that, um, is too small for grownups to climb into. So maybe you put a, you know, you can have a box and drape a piece of fabric over it and have a flashlight in there and you know, it feels like it's, there's that little bit of space that you know is magical.

Stephanie (30:20):

I like that you also brought up, um, the destructive part of it. Cause I feel like parents sometimes get a little uneasy when kids start playing with the box and then maybe they start like punching holes through the box or ripping things. But destructive play can also be really productive.

Jill (30:40):

Can, yeah, particularly really, I mean for so many reasons, but I know I, as a child, I have kind of an engineering brain and a lot of what I discovered is as a child came about because I destroyed something and I wanted to put it back together or I destroyed something. And then I realized that the parts were really interesting. I will never forget, um, when my brother took apart his entire bike in the garage and, and there was this moment of panic, but then we all work to put it back together. And that was such an important part. But also, I think destruction too, is going back to that lots of the swing set and the monkey bars like, whew, kids are going to have a lot that they need to express and feel and punching a box doesn't hurt anyone. Um, you know, if you can set it up so that like figuring out how to put a hole through a box might occupy a kid for a long time and it might really satisfy some of the frustration that's that kids are invariably feeling right now. Um, and it is uncomfortable. That's why the less precious the better. And then we feel more permission to say yes. And that's, that's hard for me even, you know, for me as a parent with all of my training, it can be hard for me to let go of really cool loose parts. Like we are not going to get one of these anytime soon. I buy like two pairs of shoes a year, you know, so they'll be, it'll be hard to watch her, you know, destroy it. But I've got to, if I gave it to her and it's a loose part that's part of the processes.

Stephanie (32:22):

For older kids, do you find that they will do loose parts play or do they lean more towards like the teen green, like you said, taking apart old things?

Jill (32:30):

I think it depends. Um, some kids are going to be doing the tinkering and then you want to make sure you have some of this duct tape. So that's another thing that if you don't have it at home, duct tape is so amazing because it's so powerful. And um, you can really put a lot of, you know, torque, something that's attached with duct tape. You can really pull it and um, it's a pretty easy process if your kids are too young to rip the duct tape, which I know can be nice. You or if are fine motor issues. Um, what I'll do is, is put a bunch of pieces on the edge of a glass table or something that it won't stick to. I'll put 20 pieces out. Um, and that way they have access to it without having to struggle with the fine motor piece. Cause we're not, that's not our goal, you know. Um, but the other thing I was gonna mention is that I think when we think of screen time, I know this is such a hot topic, but like when I think of screen time for my daughter at first I was struggling so much with how much time she's been spending on the screen cause all her schoolwork is there. But for me, I had to make the shift that when she called her cousins and was dancing with them or was playing dolls with them, that that's really different. The purpose of that is very different. And I think the same can be true for meeting friends in Minecraft. I'm like, if kids, older kids are able to meet their good friends from their classrooms in Minecraft, I think that can be a really meaningful connection the kids really need right now. Assuming that that's already set up and you already have your family rules about it and all of that. Um, but I think that a lot of older kids there, that connection piece, is this going to be more important to them? Um, so time with their friends calls, um, Hangouts, even just like, um, even tinkering with somebody on zoom or Skype or whatever, there is going to be really important right now.

Stephanie (34:45):

Yeah. I just know that my kids are on the younger end so they love playing with these things. But I'm thinking of like my niece and nephew are like more 10 and 13 and sometimes will do it, but I think my nephew would be more inclined to, like you said, like open up an old laptop and take apart the inside. Yep.

Jill (35:03):

Yeah. Oh my gosh. If you have old electronics at home. Yeah. That, that's going to Goodwill. That is a treasure trove we say on our adventure playground all the time. Thank you for mentioning that because Oh, they love those. And I think costuming is one of those things that we think of as for really young children. But I would say that's pretty universal on our playground for our 8, 9, 10, 11 year olds is creating costumes out of paper or paper, airplane folding and contests. Um, you know, there's a lot of the more, maybe specific intent at the outset because you can, because the skills are there to decide what you want to make and then make it. Whereas with the younger kids, we often see this sort of ambling thing that will happen and arrive at this really cool thing. Um, but the process of getting there might look pretty crazy.

Stephanie (35:58):

So yeah, that's important to note too, that younger kids probably when they set out aren't going to tell you exactly what they have in mind to make. They're just in the process of it and figuring it out.

Jill (36:11):

Yeah. Yeah. And that's such an important skill in life that I know I use every day when I work with kids. It's sort of being in the moment and figuring out what's good about that moment and making the best of it. And that is tinkering as the best way to learn that.

Stephanie (36:31):

Do you have anything else you want to say for parents who are kind of stepping into this for the first time at home?

Jill (36:39):

I think really like the most, um, I'll, I'll send some, um, I'll, I'll put together a resource page. There's so much good stuff out there but also balance it with you guys, know your kids best. I'm speaking to all the parents out there, um, that I know if I get on social media right now, there are so many suggestions and some of them are great, some of them just stress me out cause I can't do them right now. So I think, um, to balance out providing these opportunities for your kids with um, also making sure that you're doing what you need to do for yourselves. And um, I also in the first weeks there was so much out there about kind of maintaining routine and I think that's important. We still have our morning routine. We still, you know, um, have our bedtime routine and our bathtime routine. Ooh, that's something else y'all extended bath time for younger kids has been a life saver. Now we'll just kind of like let that draw out for 20 minutes and it buys us time and she comes out on the other side being so happy and content. So extended bath time, um, but also, um, like balancing that with flexibilities. So for every kid that wants to do a math lesson every day, there's another kid in, you know, your kid who is going to, um, need you to say, don't worry about the math lesson right now. Let's go look for doodle bugs or, um, here's your box of loose parts, or here's your Legos. So I think that, um, I would say routine, you guys know your kids. If routine is a huge comfort to them and it's working for your family, stick with it. But in our family, we had to kind of let go of some of so that we could adjust to the, to the now because it's been amazing how some mornings all of us will wake up and feel like we're ready to like tackle this crazy day. And other days we wake up thinking I'm exhausted. I don't, you know, maybe movie day at two o'clock is where we all are today and we're going to do that. I think it's really important to let ourselves balance that out.

Stephanie (39:06):

I feel excited and prepared and ready to go. Let my kids build an Explorer to destroy some things in one specific area of the house.

Jill (39:18):

Make a yes space. That's what we do in the library. Cause you know, we can't let every single part of our library via tinkering station or maker area. So we have a yes. Area and we have a don't touch the books area.

Stephanie (39:37):

Yeah. I love the idea of having a yes area too, because I feel like lately I've been telling my kids, no, no, no, no, no. Can't do that. Can't do this. Nope. Nope. Not now. But a yes area seems to like positive and relieving.

Meredith (39:52):

You're right. They're hearing no so much. No, we can't go to the park. No, we can't go to the school. No, we can't see your friends. They don't really bring a lot of really hard nose.

Jill (40:01):

They really are. They really are. And I think too, um, probably, um, the other piece is just, um, to make sure that, um, you know, that boredom piece is, is there that we give that time and space, so have a yes area but also access to the yes area and plenty of time to get past that boredom to the side where your flooring things and figuring it out. Um, and then the other thing that we've been doing a lot of is, and I have to say this as a librarian, is, um, pleasure reading. So, um, now is this amazing time where, um, where we can read with our kids. We can do, there are so many online resources for pleasure reading right now that are free, whether it's audible or TumbleBooks. Um, and so, you know, reading instruction has a great time and place and I think probably at Parish they're doing a lot of that. Um, but one of our favorite ways to play is to read a story and then be inspired by the story to do loose parts play after. So I think that's great.

Stephanie (41:15):

For my younger kids, we've been putting on story podcasts in the background. I love listening to stories and they can do that on their own. I don't know. You have to be there to read them the book. They can listen to it. We listen to it and yeah. Out. Yeah, we just story pirates and stuff. That was great ones. Yeah.

Jill (41:38):

So good podcasts are great because they create this kind of space that is, um, this imaginative space. But we could, they can do it without us. Which again, that's the other. Okay. One more thing is that our children are so accustomed to having time without us, right? Like there are so many hours in all of our children's days that are normally spent without us. And I'm a huge proponent of villages raising children and right now they have so much of us. So, um, for every cuddle that they need, they're also going to need us to say like, scooch, go, go do your thing without us. Um, that balance is important to you.

Stephanie (42:23):

Well, we appreciate your time so much and all of your great.

Jill (42:28):

Thank you. Pleasure. Thanks. You hang in there.

Meredith (42:37):

If you're not already, don't forget to subscribe to the Unbabbled podcast on your app of choice, and if you like what you're hearing, be sure to leave a rating and review a special thank you to Stig Daniels, Amy Tanner, Amanda Arnold and Stella Limuel for their hard work behind the scenes. Thanks again for listening.