Dr. Craft’s Active Play Book: Review

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Spring is in the air and along with it the cure for cabin fever! My girls were so anxious to get out in the yard and play once the warm air finally decided to visit the South. I’m happy to let my kids go out and play in the backyard and I join them most of the time, but I typically let them play while I relax and watch on the porch. I’m not very good at structured play to encourage specific skills. 
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Dr. Craft’s Active Play Books equip adults caring for young children with 52 different active play activities. For $39.00 you receive Active Play! Fun Physical Activities for Young Childrena spiral bound book and DVD with incredibly clear instructions. There are pictures of children playing the activities throughout the book and video of real kids (not little paid actors) participating in all the fun. I do think it would have been nice for the pictures in the book to be in color. Sometimes it was difficult to clearly see what was going on in the black and white pictures. 

We used several of these activities for outdoor fun with my girls. While the intended target age is toddlers and preschoolers, my 5-year-old kindergartner and 7-year-old 2nd grader genuinely enjoyed participating with their little 3-year-old sister. I wasn’t sure how much they would want to participate, but they surprised me by wholeheartedly getting on board! Some of our favorites were Egg Farmer, Sock Tails, Outdoor Obstacle Course, and Sock the Cans. 

Egg farmer was a lot of fun because we had so many eggs left over from our neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt! The girls rolled eggs down our backyard slide into a white tub. Because the list of items are basically everyday household things they are easily substituted if you don’t have something. It took some time to find just the right egg catcher for the bottom. Another fun variation was to have one of the other girls be the egg catcher. They had fun trying to catch the eggs as they slid down!

Grace in particular really liked this activity. She became quite good at this activity. It was a great team-building time for my girls. They would cheer one another on, encourage one another if they missed, and took turns collecting the eggs and toting them back up to the top of the slide. I know thy all liked it because after we  were “done” with our official playtime the girls kept on playing this one.
Sock Tails turned into Towel Tails because I found this first. We actually named this game Catch the Bunny Tail for our spring-theme. The girls have been searching for bunnies under our shed because they know they lived there last spring. The only uh-oh portion of the activity was when Grace (3-year-old preschooler) dropped her pants right in the middle of the yard because she couldn’t find the tail! Oops! You can tell our neighbors are close so I’m glad no one was outside. (At least not that I know of!) They had a great time with this one though and it was a fun variation on tag, which I’ve never really enjoyed that much. I joined in the fun too and Grace really liked catching the tail when I was wearing it.
Soon after this the pollen hit full-force, so I asked my husband to take over the Active Play portion of our days. I love spring, but boy does the pollen get to me. The neat part about this was I got to let another adult try out the book and sure enough he enjoyed it as well. (Thanks to my mother-in-law who was in town to take some shots of the fun too!)
My husband first set up Sock the Cans. I didn’t want to use the girls’ new socks outside and we didn’t have cans…so once again we got creative! He pulled out some containers from the recycling bin and Grace used a softer bouncy ball. She loved this! I think it may have felt like a carnival game to her. 
My husband had a good time setting up the obstacle course using what we had just laying around the yard and in the shed.
 Here is the layout…
Down the slide…
Under the lattice…     
Around the table…
Over the bridge…
And onto the swing! (All my pics of the swings turned out blurry!)
One of the things I really liked about the book was the list of materials presented before the activity explanation was given. This made it easy to make sure I had everything I needed before beginning. I also liked that the goals for the activity were listed at the top of each activity. This way if I wanted to focus on a particular skill, like galloping or jumping, I could quickly scan through the games to find what I was looking for. The demo DVD was fun because of the real kids doing the activities. Although I felt like the instructions were very clear, having the DVD in case something wasn’t clear to me was helpful. Seeing real kids having fun was great!
Don’t forget to read other reviews from my Crewmates!

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