Kids have been spending 50% more time indoors in comparison to the generation before them, even before social distancing began. No one is stranger to the notion that electronic devices have taken their toll on “the good old days” of climbing trees and playing outside until the streetlights came on. Add digital distance learning into the mix, and the amount of time that the average child spends indoors (often in front of a screen) just continues to rise.
Setting aside more time for outdoor play can sometimes take an intentional effort. There’s a reason that video game companies and children’s streaming services are in good business. They make it easy on adults!
Luckily, occupying kids in more active, mind-stimulating activities doesn’t have to be difficult either. The makers of OFF!® Repellents have partnered with WeAreTeachers to help make it easy for teachers and parents to engage kids in educational, backyard fun. They have launched “The Never Starting Tales,” which is a compilation of reinterpreted fairy tales that emphasize the adventures one misses out on when they stay inside.
My own children love fairy tales, and it was powerful for them to see the cause-and-effect twists in otherwise familiar stories. In “The Never Starting Tale of The Three Little Pigs,” the mother pig tells her three children to go outside and play. The two older pigs rush out the door, but the littlest pig just wants to stay inside and play video games.
While his brothers are out, they end up earning a key to the city for defeating the wolf! The littlest pig realizes that by choosing not to leave the house, his chance to become a local hero completely passed him by.
After reading the story, my daughters were excited for THEIR chance to get out and have their own adventure! We used one of the hands-on STEAM activities designed by WeAreTeachers. Each Never Starting Tale has its own language arts or STEAM lesson to go with it, and kids can do them right in their own backyard.
My kids were very focused in building their own miniature houses, just like the two older pigs in the story. They used sticks (toothpicks), straw (plastic straws), and bricks (sugar cubes).
Their favorite part was testing the durability of their creations in the “weather” outside. We went into our yard and tested how the homes would hold up in rain, wind, and snow. We used a handheld fan for wind, and poured cups of water and ice over the houses for the rain and snow.
This sheet was perfect for recording observations, and it naturally led to some discussion about construction and weather patterns.
Another story we read together was “The Never Starting Tale of Hercules.” Hercules opts to stay inside and play on his “stone tablet” in favor of getting out and seeing the world of wonders that his Father Zeus created. In doing so, he becomes a mortal and loses his god-like powers, instead of achieving his destiny of becoming a hero to his people.
After reading the story, my older daughter was inspired to think about what kind of superpowers would be great to have in a world full of wonders. It sparked a lot of creativity and imagination as she played outside with her sister, and also provided some good context for a persuasive writing activity.
As a mom who is also a teacher, I know that my students would greatly benefit from this collection of stories too. A question at one of our Morning Meetings earlier in the school year was, “Would you rather play inside or outside?” and even though I know how much they love their video games, I was still surprised at how few would rather play outside. It’s unfortunate, especially since studies have proven how beneficial it is for children to spend time outdoors. It awakens their senses, gets them actively moving, and is even known to reduce stress.
If you are a teacher who would like to share these FREE Never Starting Tales and lessons with your students for remote learning, or a parent who would like to try them out with your own children, you can find everything you need right here to easily get started:
Adventure shouldn’t be something that exists only in fairy tales! The mission to promote outdoor play and adventure starts with parents and educators. With the help of the makers of OFF!® Repellents and WeAreTeachers, it’s as easy as just getting one’s foot out the door.
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