This Nanny Loves… The Zoo.

I love the zoo. Don’t you? And the zoo is always better with kids, and I mean lots of kids, in tote. Whenever I’m at the zoo with the kids I have a blast! And the more kids there are, the more fun it is. I love the chaos of it all. I love all the different reactions. I love that I have toddlers on ridiculous stuffed animal leashes so that they can explore without getting lifted or lost. I love getting ice cream after we see the animals because zoo days clearly require ice cream. I just love it all. It’s one of the moments I experience as a nanny that makes we excited to have kids of my own someday. (And yes, Sean, lots of kids.) Because more kids  = more fun.

Here were our favorite animals at the zoo. What exhibits do you stay the longest at during your visits?

flamingo feetPenguins at the zooThese sweet little birds always hold our attention spans the longest, making us laugh hard and stare longingly because “no, we can’t take them home with us today kids”. As I watch the kids at the zoo, looking at these animals, I see their little wheels turning and I wonder what they could be imagining? The zoo is a magical place for children. And yes, for nannies, too.

Another Rainy Day Activity: Make Your Own Board Game

When the older kids I watch have a day off from school, one of the first things they ask to do is make a board game.  Of course, I have to agree. 

How it works? Collectively, or alone (depending on how everyone is getting along) I ask them to design a game for me to play with them.  They decide the rules. They decide the layout. They decide the colors and the pieces. They decide EVERYTHING! I sit back and watch it all go on, trying to intervene… never.

How long it takes? This is one of the most time consuming projects I know. Typically every child I have ever done this with stays occupied anywhere from one to four (yes!) hours!

Twists? Sometimes in the summer, we use sidewalk chalk outside to draw a board, then use ourselves as the pieces that move around the board. Don’t forget your sun block!

Materials? This project always leads us to one place: the recycling bin. The kids love making cards, boards, pieces, dice, spinners, you name it! from old homework assignments, boxes, marker caps, etc.  It’s fun to see just how many things they want to upcycle with, rather than use new.

Example: The first time we did this activity we found an old posterboard from last year’s secience project and we completely covered it with duct tape. This was a bit tricky and I offered to help for the beginning stages. Since this first time, however, they have found other ways to make boards without my help.

Here is a board they made the other day…

Make your own board game

Lessons Learned?

#1: It’s best to write down all our directions BEFORE we start playing.  It’s easy to make a few tweeks here & there until it’s perfect, but it’s always best to start with some general guidelines. Also, it’s a great way to start organized, focused and get them to write without realizing it!

#2: Some ideas for our board games are best kept a secret. No one likes when their games turn out exactly the same, afterall.

#3: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Wait, didn’t Thumper say that on Bambi? Either way, it also applies to making board games, too!

#4: Even if we never get a chance to play our games because it takes the whole afternoon and then Mom and Dad come home, that’s okay, too. Most of the fun is creating— and there will always be another afternoon to play!