Hilltown Families


You may have heard of the spreading of joy and creativity via yarn bombs, seed bombs, art bombs, play bombs … but how about kindness bombs?

Explore and learn about your local woods while building forest fairy houses.

What a great time of year to tell stories! Share family stories. What was this time of year like when you were little? What holidays did you celebrate? What special activities did you do? Boost family memories by telling stories about a special day spent together. Create new mysteries and adventures. What if Jack Frost did paint the windows with snowflakes? What does he look like? How does he get around the earth? Spark ideas to get your little ones telling stories and playing fantasy games. Storytelling improves vocabulary, writing and spelling. It’s fun. Stories can lead to hours of pretend play with parents, siblings, friends and visiting cousins using dress up, toy people, construction toys and tiny animals. Stories encourage children to create images in their minds bringing the story to life. Make illustrations! All ages can create stories with spoken words, drawings or detailed written tales.

Where did all the play go? Am I the only parent that is mourning its loss? The new math makes sense to me. I read Old Dogs, New Math: Homework Help for Puzzled Parents last winter after a friend with middle school aged children mentioned the math concepts coming my way. I like to be prepared. Current reading readiness makes sense. At first I was a bit surprised by the way letter… Read More

Play that is unscripted, better known as creative-free play, nurtures a child’s innate creativity and abilities to be resourceful and to problem solve. Childhood summer activities like making mud pies, building forts, making fairy houses and playing with friends in the backyard are wonderful learning opportunities that can lead to boundless discoveries!

This month we take a look back at Hilltown Families contributing writer Carrie St. John’s monthly column, “What to Play? Play Ideas for Family and Community,” highlighting her many wonderful idea on ways to support and encourage creative-free play with your children, any time of the year!

In her debut column, “Let Them Grow: Fresh Ways to Engage Toddler’s in Creative Free Play,” Hilltown Families newest contributing writer, Candice Chouinard, shares a post on ways families can bring the outside inside by creating and using “busy bins.” Bins can be created for sensory, pretend and winter play, just to name a few!

Play it Forward This month we need to spread the play. It’s cold out. People are looking for signs of spring. I think families can brighten a little corner of our world with kindness and have great fun doing it. Many people are helping neighbors near and far. Knitters have made blanket squares for victims of Super Storm Sandy (Knit Sandy). Many observed the National Day of Service in honor of Martin… Read More

It’s a great day to get out into the snow! Here are several ways for creative play in the snow, in addition to the traditional snowy day activities like sledding, building a snow person and snowball fights in “What to Play? Play ideas for Family & Community.”

Alternate Identities: Masks I know a 7 year old that loves to dress up. She rarely wears her star covered, super hero cape to school these days (peer pressure). She does continue to pop out of her room on a Saturday afternoon dressed in a cobalt blue, sequin covered leotard, felt crown and flower twirl skirt to prance around the house and then heads out to hang from the monkey bars in… Read More

QUESTION AND ANSWERS Now that the days are getting shorter, do you have any ideas or suggestion on how to get the kids to enjoy  outdoors even with less light? Community recommendations from our readers include: Head Lamps Glow Sticks Explore the Night Sky Listen for Night Sounds Games Audrey Nystrom Anderson writes, “Getting dark at 5pm gives you the chance to experience the dark in the eyes of a 3 year… Read More

Crazy Collage Our days have changed. School routines. September is in full swing. Fall is definitely here. I put a bit of effort into keeping our days calm. Chaos be gone. Life brings enough automatically. Last year at this time I was chatting with another parent at school pick up. I commented on how busy, crazy and rushed days became after my daughter entered kindergarten full time. This is a parent I… Read More

Clubhouses, Forts, Tents & Hideouts Two summers ago Forbes Library in Northampton had this incredible wooden house on the front lawn just outside the Children’s Department. The installation was called “Little House to Honor a Request for Poems: A Traveling Writing Hut” and was installed by Plainfield, MA artists/husband/wife team, Gene and Susan Flores. Visitors were encouraged to go in, hide out and write or draw a little something to hang up… Read More

Kid Goop and Tactile Play Messy. Yes. But icky, goopy, slimey, mucky, slushy, gooey, mushy, sticky, yucky play is so fun. My favorite part of messy play—it is inexpensive and open ended. We can gather a few simple ingredients, use containers from the recycle bin for storage and work on following a recipe all in the name of fun. There is color mixing, watching what happens when wets are added to drys… Read More

Tiny Playhouses There are playhouses we imagine and run to gather supplies for. Some are played with for hours and hours. Some made and forgotten by afternoon. Some re-emerge weeks later. The Smurf cottage made from an empty oatmeal container and paper bowls gets mixed with horse barns and Rapunzel’s tower. They can all be neighbors. Some we never actually play with like the fairy houses in the woods. Those are left… Read More

Monsters Here are the results of my very informal pole of 5 kids on the subject of monsters: Monsters bite. They are white. No hair. Teeth. They live in caves. Monsters bite everything. Nice monsters don’t bite. They are small, tiny. Why? Because they are monsters. Monsters are brown, purple and pink. Two eyes. Five feet. Ten arms and hands. As tall as a mom (This mom must have a side I… Read More

Puppets Puppets can be very open ended and offer children of all ages the opportunity to re-create favorite stories and often inspire new tales.  They come in all shapes, sizes, materials and complexities. You can purchase them new, or just use odd socks, your hands or paper. You can create a stage, or not. But if you did, stages can be found everywhere, even in the backseat of the car as you… Read More

Debut Column: This is the first of a new monthly post encouraging all to add more and more creative play into our families’ lives and into the local community. Each month I will present ideas to jump start your creative thinking with variations between family interactions at home and ways to get families playing out in the area to “bomb” the community with fresh ideas for play. I will present a monthly… Read More

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS Leading up to the Dr. Susan Linn’s visit last week for the Hilltown Families Community Conversation, The Importance of Creative Play in a Commercialized World with Dr. Susan Linn, we engaged our readers on the topic of creative free play by asking them about favorite toys, how to reserve time for creative free play, and how they feel they can protect and promote play for their kids. We started… Read More

Running on Empty He runs—five to ten miles per day with his cross country team. He jumps-before and after cross country practice-on a super charged pogo stick. He flips-on a trampoline before sunrise and way after sunset. He skates, scats skedaddles—up and down the street and around the block on a skate board, on a long board, on a bike, on two feet. He never stops; not even to fuel all that… Read More

The Power of Play Whether it’s a family checkers tournament or an afternoon spent examining anthills in the backyard, play is an integral part of a happy, healthy childhood. Parent-choice.org has put together a collection of articles and essays to offer a starting point for exploring how children play and how powerful play can be.  Click HERE to read more.

Where Do the Children Play This video takes images from The Lorax and puts it to Cat Steven’s song, “Where Do the Children Play.” An appropriate video for parents to review in conjunction with C&NN’s article, Children & Nature Movement Finds Allies in Advocates for Free Play where readers can find links to articles and resources:

%d bloggers like this: