Sunday, June 12, 2011

Park Fun Time

Snooping around for a summer family activity that we would all enjoy and somehow also integrate writing can be a difficult task. Both the Things hate to write and it shows in their projects at school.  Thankfully the latest Family Fun magazine showed up at our door and the seed was formed.  The Family Fun talked about making a summer passport of all your adventures, Boise has a pretty amazing Park system and there are playgrounds and public art structures throughout the park system. A quick Internet search brought up the Boise Park and Rec website, this site has a great filter that gives just a list of the parks with what you want, playgrounds and public art was our search criteria. One draw back when you go back to the list after open up the link to a specific park your filter is gone.  After a little searching we came up with a list of parks with their locations for our first adventure, that had both public art and a playground.  At a garage sale we picked up a little beanie baby hedgehog, this was declared the family stuffie by Thing Two and he became the ambassador to our summer park passport program.  Lastly I picked up some decorate your own notebooks at a craft store and let the kids go nuts decorating them. 

The first time we went out the goal was 4 parks in one day, we packed up a lunch and headed out not really knowing how this all would go. In an attempting to encourage writing skills I made up some guidelines.  They were as basic, at each park we will take a picture of the park sign, and the things we were there to visit, the first parks were playgrounds and the public art.  The Things would write the name of the park in their journal on one side of the paper and on the next piece write a few sentences about what they liked and didn't like about the park.  The blank piece of paper with the park name would eventually get a picture of them at the park.  The writing part didn't go over great, but visiting a ton of parks was too tempting to pass up.

We learned a lot that first day out and this will impact how we continue this going forward. We are early risers and we know now if we can avoid it; don't hit the sub division based parks early. Go to the larger parks where a 'outside' voiced Thing Two can't wake all the neighbors within a mile.  Another tip, when the playground equipment looks crappy it usually is, don't waste too much time the kids just get frustrated.  If there are very young kids playing on the older kid playground equipment, don't stay long someone if bound to get injured and it is better to just not be
there when it happens.  Always be ready to stay at the really cool parks a little longer, we found an amazing playground at Borah Park, a three story playground structure, and hung out there for about an hour.  Bring a ball, Thing Two really wanted to throw around a football and at every park with a basketball Thing One asked if we could we play.  Be ready for anything, we ran across a great farmers market/local artist market at Bond Crossing and ended up taking on the traffic to see all the great art.  Take books and do your daily reading during lunch, this gave us a great break and the Things loved reading outside.  Our first foray out was really successful and everyone came home tired and happy.

We visited all four parks on the first visit and hit another three this weekend. We are running out of parks with public art and playgrounds so are going to start mixing it up with playgrounds at some parks and art or open space at others.  Boise has a few really cookie parks, like a round about on a busy street that we want to hit too.  There are over a 100 facilities listed on the Boise Park website, so we figure we can keep this up most of the summer.  I am going to have to think of something really cool if we end up hitting all the parks. 

Next on my agenda, making the PVC sprinkler kid car wash, in this month's Family Fun magazine, and finding more parks.

What are your summer family fun activities?
This is the Public Art at Helen B Lowder Park, it is suppose to encourage people to create their own game.

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