Contributor Archive

Unplugged Play: No Batteries. No Plugs. Pure Fun.

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

710 Games and Activities for Ages 12 Months to 10 Years
by Bobbi Conner

You will never hear the words ”I’m bored” again from your children if you own this extraordinary book. It would take years for anyone to play all the games and do all the activities within its pages, so there’s the grand feeling of always having something new and marvelous to play, learn, or create. It is set up so you can begin when your child is a year old and keep going for ten years, adding more and more ways to imagine and create, run, jump, skip and exercise, be outside with nature, laugh and be silly, and share good times with others. All this instead of watching TV, surfing the Net, or playing video games that aren’t really about being connected, happy, and alive.

What a gift this book is. There are great pages with information about what children need at every stage of growing — how creative play helps children develop healthily and with joy. Each age range has sections: Solo Play, for the times you need children to play on their own; Play Ideas for Parent and Child to do together; Playing with Others, and Birthday Party and Group Play. The appendixes support family game nights and creating a well-stocked toy cupboard to be ready for fun at any time. I can’t imagine a childhood without this book now, so I am giving one to every child I know and love.

Mindful Movements - Thich Nhat Hanh

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) teaches mindfulness, meditation and awareness, gratefulness, and knowing how to live life fully in the present moment. His simple approach works well with both children and adults. This wonderful little book is perfect for families. The illustrations and simple language will appeal to children, yet the movements are profound and deeply effective for all ages, and we can do them the rest of our lives.

In the included DVD (video clip below), the exercises are taught outside beneath a beautiful willow tree by one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s students and then re-led by Thay himself. ”The practice of the Mindful Movements is to bring awareness and enjoyment into our bodies and into the movements we make with our bodies. Mindful Movements are very simple but very deep. They have been taught and practiced in Plum Village (Thay’s retreat center in France) for over two decades.”

I have been doing the Mindful Movements every morning and can feel how much my body, mind, and spirit are benefiting. I especially like the emphasis on breath. ”We often assume breathing is a natural skill. But breathing is a miracle. Being aware of our breath not only helps us manage the difficulties in everyday life, it also helps develop our wisdom and compassion.”

I plan to give this book to all my favorite people. A portion of the proceeds goes to nonprofit projects in Vietnam, and purchasing the book supports Thich Nhat Hanh in continuing to bring his profound gifts to the world.

Enjoy this video clip from Thick Nhat Hanh’s DVD Mindful Movements:

Containers of Connection & Love

Friday, November 7th, 2008

One could say that everything we do for the holidays is an effort to create ‘containers of connection’ — ways to ensure Light and Love are present in the cold and wintry darkness of the year.

My family’s special ‘container of connection’ is a cluster of old log cabins in the backwoods of Alabama — our homestead for over thirty years. Our entire wild and wooly clan descends on Papa every December — children, spouses, grandchildren, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and a cockatiel named Tuck. Mama found the land long ago and convinced her high-powered attorney husband to live intimately with the natural world. She died awhile back, and nowadays Papa is gardener, farmer, and beekeeper. Mostly he spends his time figuring out how to co-inhabit with the wild creatures who really own the place.

As the longest night approaches, our land grows still and expectant, serenely waiting for the return of Light. But inside the cabins, chaos reigns. Inflatable mattresses have new holes to patch; children find the candy stash and fly around in sugared frenzies; tempers flare over non-stop eating and mounds of dirty dishes. Unresolved issues from childhood pour out over dinner; doors slam; people pout and yell, and we are left wondering why in the world, once again, we agreed to participate in such madness. (more…)