Nature is the Best Playground for Kids

play outside

Each year we parents spend a lot of money on toys and activities for our kids. Many times, these things are great for keeping their minds and bodies engaged, but as eco friendly parents we have to ask ourselves if all this plastic we are buying for our kids is really necessary. Yes, our kids need structured play, but they also need free time, spent outside in the the world’s largest and best playground. So let’s let our kids play outside.

Stimulating and Educational

All the toys and books we buy our kids have been created and designed to be cool and entertaining for our kids, perhaps even educational. But nature is automatically stimulating and educational, as well as endlessly entertaining. It can even teach our kids a bit about specific topics like science, economics, beauty and creativity.

Nature can come at the right price, depending on where you live. Usually you can find a place where exploring is inexpensive, if not free. Consider your own backyard, the nearest park, even a nature center or state park. Instead of paying for expensive toys, which children can quickly become bored with and leave in the cornor, start thinking of nature as a source of stimulating and educational play.

Best Playground

Lately there has been in trend in child-based education towards inquiry based learning. Some findings indicate that if children explore and experiment to determine both questions and answers, they are going to learn more and retain their new learning longer. This type of learning also sets up children for developing the kind of skills that they will need later in life and helps them to retain their sense of curiosity. Nature allows for children of all ages to investigate the world around them.

Basis for Being Environmentally Friendly

Learning about nature leads to caring about nature which is the basis for being environmentally conscious. When we give our kids the gift of loving nature early, who knows how that sense of fun and curiosity might lead in terms of a career, or green invention.

Both structured and unstructured outdoor play can be fun for kids. Unstructured time allows for exploration that gives kids licenses to to just be kids. And many parks, zoos and museums offer kids classes around specific topics like trees or bugs. Often these types of classes are very affordable since they are generally not for profit.

Spending time in the outside world is so important for developing minds. It can also be a great escape for us adults as as well.

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Art for the Earth: Mystic Dreamer

Mystic Dreamer Art for the Earth Moonrise

Today I am doing an interview with Ann Kruglak from Mystic Dreamer: Art for the Earth. Ann is an artist inspired by the Earth and all its beauty, other artist’s work, her dreams and her customer’s visions of what they want.  Ann uses Polymer clay as the basis of all her work, but adds other elements, ranging from paper to natural items (rocks, twigs, etc.) to steampunk components, to glass. Ann’s unique artistic vision and her heart for rainforests combine to create an outstanding shop.

Mystic Dreamer: ClockFish

Mystic Dreamer: ClockFish

Tell me a bit about you and your business

I’m a retired techy, living in the mountains of Boulder CO now with my soul mate, and having fun and a challenge with my art. I am concentrating my retirement years on my art and on service to the Earth. All of my art income goes to saving rainforests, and has since 2008. So far over 183,000 acres (287 sq. mi.) have been saved this way, and the number climbs daily, which makes it all the more fun. I sell on Etsy and at shows, where I post the acres saved prominently and update it regularly. On Etsy I also tell each customer how many acres they’ve saved so they can join in the good feelings of making a difference.

What is your ultimate goal with your shop?

I have several goals for my art project. One is to save as many acres of rainforest as possible in my lifetime. Another, equally important is to raise awareness of the environment and create a fun easy way for others to participate in saving acres of rainforest for future generations. Also, my project sometimes inspires others to take action on their service project of the heart – whatever that may be, and that is a key goal of mine. And then there is the ongoing fun of creating and keeping my mind and skills sharp for the rest of my life.

What do you do with your profits?

I donate 100% of my art income (not just profits) to Rainforest Trust, a 501c3 charity dedicated to environmental land banking in South America (www.RainforestTrust.org). The world has been very good to me, and I feel a strong need to give back all that I can in gratitude.

Why have you taken the route of being an artisan/businessperson rather than the route of mass production and large distribution?

Mass production and large distribution are an entirely different energy and way of interacting with the world than calls to me. My career was in corporate (technical) work, and it was wonderful, and made the switch to art possible, but it never spoke to my heart in the way that art does.

Mystic Dreamer: ClockFish

Mystic Dreamer: ClockFish

Here’s how it happened to be this project and this type of art: A month before I retired, I did a silent alone meditation in nature and asked for guidance on what I should do with my retirement – and the answer was instant and clear, and I must say, completely shocking! The answer was Polymer Clay. At that time I had had no experience with polymer clay (other than seeing an old lumpy piece of it with animal hair at a friend’s house once, and being rather grossed out by it). I didn’t actually know what it was, but since the instruction was so clear, I decided to give it a go. And the Universe just put everything in line for me. I went to a local guild meeting one time, and met a woman who became friend and mentor to me, even living with me for the first 6 weeks of my exploration into polymer – and got me through all the initial road blocks that might have made me drop it. By then I was hooked, and self-motivated, so it just took off. Then over time most of my main design strategies have come through my dreams, developing as I mastered various skills and techniques.

Whats been the best comment anyone has made about your work?

I’m not sure I can pinpoint a single comment. The ones that come from the heart, regardless of content are the ones that touch me most deeply. Ones that say my work inspires someone to their own service, and ones that say they lift someone’s spirits are at the top of my list.

Art for the Earth

Mystic Dreamer Moonrise

How to Contact Ann of Mystic Dreamer

Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/mysticdreamerart

Email: dreamcd@usa.net

Website: www.MysticDreamerArt.com

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