Words Tamara Batshon
As technology advances and toys become more sophisticated, children today are becoming more focused on things such as the Internet and video games. Whatever happened to those wonderful games that we played as children? Our sensory world was much more nature-based and our minds were full of imagination when we played. Wouldn’t it be great to revive these games and play them all over again? To actually engage in these old-fashioned, simple activities with our children is a lot of fun. It also goes a long way towards reinforcing the special bond that we have with them. Treating our children well does not have to mean taking them on vacations or giving them lavish gifts. It is about spending quality time with them and engaging in simple activities together. As the weather improves this spring with longer sunny days, plan a few outdoor events and games that are just as amazing to do today as they were back then.
Go on a Picnic
On a beautiful day, go outside and savor the sunshine with your kids. There are plenty of places all over Lebanon that are ideal for picnics. A great spot for children in tow is Horsh Tabet Park, the largest public garden in Beirut, with plenty of open and shaded areas. If you want to experience a more wild natural setting go to Jannet Chouwen in the district of Jbeil. After a big lunch you can take a dip in its breathtaking lake. If you prefer something more structured, Swings in the Mar Mousa (Metn), where you can book your picnic table in advance, may be suitable.
After a picnic lunch, burn away those calories with a game of tag. Pretty much a childhood classic, most people know the rules. First decide who will start out as being “it.” That person chases the other people around, trying to tag one of them with their hand. The newly tagged person is now “it.” There is often the rule of “no tag-backs” whereby you can’t tag the person who has just tagged you. The game ends when everyone is tired of running around!
Bounce a Bubble
It’s simple and so easy to do anywhere! Just go outside – whether in a garden or even your front porch and blow bubbles with the little ones. There are plenty of ready-made bubble gadgets in toy stores, and it is fairly simple to make your own bubble mixture at home.
Fly a Kite
Springtime breezes make it the perfect time to go outside and fly a kite with your kids. With its generous coastline, Lebanon has many sandy beaches you can choose from. Just take off your shoes and run along the beach with your kite on a windy day.
Make Mud Pies
After those rainy spring days the wet ground is the perfect medium for childhood fun: mud puddles! Don’t worry about getting messy and encourage your children to explore the world when it’s wet, to splash in the puddles left behind and squeeze the soggy earth between their fingers. Ideally find a green space near the house so you can usher them back inside to a nice, warm bath!
Actually children were playing marbles as long ago as 4,000 B.C. in Ancient Egypt. It’s still a cool game and the rules have not changed much since. You can just draw a circle in the sand or on the sidewalk, and then take turns trying to knock each other’s marbles out of the circle with your one large marble. To play you just need a bunch of small marbles and one large one.
Use Sidewalk Chalk
Head outside on a sunny day and draw something fun with chalk. Get many colors to make the pictures lively. You can also pour some water from your garden watering can and watch the drawings transform themselves. Or draw a hopscotch board and join the kids for some jumping exercise. Don’t worry about making a mess – the next time it rains it will all disappear!
I Spy Game
This is a great game to play with kids while traveling in the car or on a bus. It gets them to be creative and to engage in the scenery around them. You spot something out the window and give clues by giving them the first letter of the word: “I spy with my little eye something that begins with B.” A word of warning: With several kids playing it can get quite boisterous in the car!
This is a cool game if you are in a garden. Sit in a circle and choose one person who thinks up a sentence and whispers it to the next person and so on. When the sentence finally reaches the last person, that person says the sentence out loud. Errors tend to add up as the sentence is passed on bringing out lots of laughter in children.
A great spring activity is to plant seeds with your kids. Planting seeds and nurturing them as they grow will teach kids the importance of environmental awareness by exploring the workings of nature. If you don’t have a garden area you can use a pot and keep it at home. The children will enjoy the process and feel rewarded when they see their plants grow.