Play Right: Springtime Activities for the Kids

Bug's Life PJ Short Set

New Jammies Bug’s Life PJ Short Set

To spring means to move or jump suddenly or rapidly upward and forward, so it’s only appropriate for New Jammies kids to get out and get some exercise this month. Enter Spring, and Earth Day on April 22, and the chance to establish an active lifestyle while celebrating Mother Earth.

“Regular exercise in nature is proven to improve children’s physical and mental health. Outdoor activity helps kids maintain a healthy weight, boosts their immunity and bone health, and lowers stress,” says letsmove.gov, a government initiative to raise a healthier generation of kids.

“Kids need at least 60 minutes of active and vigorous play each day to stay healthy, and one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to meet this goal is by playing outside. By linking parents to nearby parks, trails and waters – and providing tips and ideas – Let’s Move! Outside can help families develop a more active lifestyle.”

Let’s Move! Outside was created to get kids and families to take advantage of America’s great outdoors. Earth Day and Spring are the perfect moments to try some new games and activities outside with the kids, including biking.

“Biking is a fun, family-friendly activity that can help improve endurance and balance,” says letsmove.org. “Use your bike as a means of ‘active transport’ to get places faster while also getting healthier. Explore your community by bike with your family and get everyone active.”

Walking and hiking around, exploring the outdoors, and collecting found items while learning about science can also be great springtime activities for the kids.

“Traveling by foot is a fun, easy and affordable way to get moving and get outside. From a walk around the block to a mountain hike — there are a lot of new places to explore,” says letsmove.org. “Activities like hiking and walking have been shown to improve cardiovascular health and build stronger bones. Stay healthy by making physical activity a part of your family’s routine.”

New Jammies StripesOn PBS.org, PBS Kids encourages children to turn off electronics and play, offering a variety of games to play outdoors. One includes Clothespin Tag, a game submitted by Craig of Moultonborough, New Hampshire. Here are the fun and easy rules:

• Keep your clothespin to win.
• This game is for 5 or more players and should be played outside or in an open area.
• To play, you need one clothespin for each player.
• Clip a clothespin to the back of your shirt. On the word “Go!,” try to steal the other players’ clothespins without letting anyone get your clothespin.
• When your clothespin is taken or falls off, you’re out.
• The last player with a clothespin wins.

Another creative game to encourage imagination outdoors is Snake in the Grass, sent in by Alexis of Texas:

A slithery game of tag, this game is for 4 or more players and should be played in an open area.

• To play, mark off an area to be your playing field.
• One player is the snake. That person has to crawl around and move like a snake.
• The snake tries to tag the other players, who run around trying to stay away from the snake.
• If the snake tags you, then you become a snake, too. (That means you have to move like a snake and try to tag the other players!)
• Snakes and runners are not allowed to go outside the playing area.
• The last runner left is the winner.

This game challenges the mind and stimulates imagination as well, and can be played indoors if the spring weather turns to rain or cold:

Casting Call, sent in by Lyndsay of Blythe, California
If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. To play, you’ll need at least 3 people.

• Pick one person to be the director.
• The game is played like Simon Says. The director tells the other players what to do.
• Instead of saying, “Simon Says,” the director will say, “Action!”
• The other players will only stop when the director says, “Cut!”
• If the director says, “Act like a chicken, NOW!” and a player acts like a chicken, he’s out because the director didn’t say, “Action!”
• The last person left in the game gets to be the director in the next round.

Lastly, from allfreekidscrafts.com, these activities are perfect for Earth Day, Earth Month and all year long:

Mason JarsMini Mason Jar Grass Heads
By Jennifer Martin from Mom vs the Boys

Your kids can learn how to grow grass in a jar with this craft idea for kids. A great spring craft idea for all ages, you and your little ones can use these Mini Mason Jar Grass Heads to celebrate the coming of spring or to celebrate Earth Day. This easy kids’ craft also doubles as a cool science project idea. This recycled craft is budget-friendly because it gives you the chance to reuse empty baby food jars, and it does not require too many crafting supplies. Your kids can use whatever materials they wish to create their funky and fun jar faces. Each jar turns out with its own, unique personality!

Materials: Nature Crafts, Recycled Crafts, Mixed Media/Miscellaneous
Age Group: Preschool & Kindergarten, Elementary School

Read more at http://www.allfreekidscrafts.com/Kids-Outdoor-Crafts-and-Activities/Mini-Mason-Jar-Grass-Heads#9MfL4twrs5RRh6RB.99

Homemade Chalk PaintHomemade Chalk Paint Adventure Trail
By Craftingconnections.net

“Sidewalk chalk paint is a great way to enjoy these cooler summer days (when you dont melt every time you step outside) and is a fun twist on your typical outdoor chalk. Take it a step farther by letting your little one take you on an Adventure Trail that they create. By letting your toddler or preschooler lead the way, you both are sure to go on a grand adventure. And when you are ready to head back? Just follow your trail home!”

What you’ll need:

• 1/4 cup of corn starch
• 1/4 cup of water
• Fold coloring
• Container with a tight-fitting lid
• Paintbrush
• (Optional) Bucket

Age Group: Toddlers, Preschool & Kindergarten

• Pour the 1/3-1/2 cup of water into a container.

• Add 1/4 cup of corn starch to the water.

• Add a few drops of food coloring, making it as light or dark as you would like.

(Psst – we tried this with washable tempera paint too, but found that the tempera-colored sidewalk paint didn’t wash away easily, so we suggest that you stick with food coloring. If you are concerned about staining, use just a little bit of food coloring – your paint will be more pastel, but will easily wash away.)

• Shake it up and paint!

Read more at http://www.allfreekidscrafts.com/Kids-Outdoor-Crafts-and-Activities/Chalk-Paint-Adventure-Trail#fQVjc0TDdjp0C9hz.99 and craftingconnections.net

Eat Right: Honor Mother Earth with Green Earth Day Recipes

New Jammies Butterfly Magic Sleep SackOn April 22, New Jammies and the world celebrates 45 years of Earth Day, an international event that advocates for the environment through education, public policy, and consumer campaigns. More than a billion people participate in Earth Day campaigns every year. This spring, you and your kids can take part in many ways, including what you eat.

Reducing our carbon footprint and buying, or growing your own, organic in-season fruits and vegetables are one way Earth Day can be a lesson for kids. Following these Earth Day-inspired recipes can be perfect for spring and made with organic ingredients. And best of all — healthy.

Parsley, Kale, and Berry Smoothie
Courtesy bonappetit.com with recipe by Seamus Mullen

Ingredients
Servings: 2
1/2 cup (packed) flat-leaf parsley (leaves and stems)
4 kale leaves (center ribs removed)
1 cup frozen organic berries (such as strawberries or raspberries)
1 banana (cut into pieces)
1 teaspoon ground flaxseed

Preparation
Purée ingredients with 1 cup water in a blender until smooth (add water if too thick).

Editor’s note: The comment section of this recipe suggested using coconut water for the water, so that could provided added flavor to this vitamin-packed snack.

Healthy Green (and Blue) Fruit Kabobs
Courtesy SparkRecipes.com

Ingredients
Serving size: 12 skewers; 1 per serving
1 large Granny Smith or other green apple, cored and chopped
1 T lemon juice
2 kiwis, peeled and chopped
2 cups honeydew melon, chopped
1 cup seedless green grapes
12 wooden skewers
New Jammies Earth Day idea: 1 cup blueberries for added color

Tips
If you skip the green apples, you can make these up to 24 hours ahead of time. Even after they are coated in lemon juice, the apples will start to oxidize within hours.

Directions
Toss the apples in the lemon juice.
Thread all the fruit onto the skewers. You want 5-6 pieces (8-10 when adding blueberries) per skewer. Refrigerate for up to 6 hours.

Bright Spring Day Asparagus Pasta
Courtesy motherearthnews.com

Ingredients
Serves 4 to 6
2 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, quartered
12 ounces bowtie pasta
2 pounds asparagus, trimmed, chopped into 1-inch pieces with tips left whole
1 cup peas
1 cup fresh cooking greens (e.g., spinach, chard, dandelion), stems removed
2 tbsp olive oil
10 ounces smoked ham, such as Black Forest, diced (optional)
1 large leek (white and pale green parts) or sweet onion, chopped
2 to 4 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 cup lemon crema (see recipe at end of recipe)
2 tbsp coarse brown mustard
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Garnish: 1/4 cup chives, chopped

Instructions
Bring stock and mushrooms to a boil. Remove from heat and let steep. Add pasta to boiling water, and cook for 7 minutes. Add asparagus, peas and greens, and cook 3 minutes more, or until pasta is al dente. Drain the liquid and return the pasta and veggies to the pot with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking.

Heat remaining oil in a deep skillet, then sauté ham (if using), leek and garlic over medium heat for a few minutes. Stir in the crema, mustard, stock and mushrooms, and cook over medium heat for a couple minutes. Toss with pasta mixture, season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with chives, and serve immediately.

Lemon Crema
Crema is a zingier cousin of American sour cream.
Ingredients:
2 cups cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Dash sea salt
Twist freshly ground white pepper

Instructions:
Heat cream to about 90 degrees, then remove from heat and stir in buttermilk. Cover and allow it to sit at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours, until thickened. Whisk in the lemon juice and zest, season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate.

Blueberry Kiwi Fool
Courtesy recipe.com

Ingredients
Servings: 6
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
3 – 4 kiwifruit, peeled and cut up (1 cup)

Directions
In a shallow dish mash 1 cup of the blueberries with a potato masher. (Or puree with a mini food chopper, food processor, or blender.) Stir cinnamon into mashed blueberries.

In a medium bowl beat whipping cream and sugar until cream is very thick. Fold in mashed blueberries.

In individual 6- to 7-ounce glasses or dishes, layer whipped cream mixture with remaining blueberries and kiwifruit. Serve immediately or cover and chill up to 2 hours before serving.

Editor’s note: This recipe is only 122 calories and 8 grams of fat per serving and is a great source of fiber, calcium and Vitamins A and C.