via Big Think

One of the most fascinating things about creativity is that the most recent studies are showing that it’s not just one side of the brain or the other side of the brain that everybody will tell you. It really is the most creative people are using both sides of the brain together. So this is an important concept that the brain is subdivided into two major hemispheres. We have two of each structure. Almost all the structures of our brain are paired. So the idea is well one side of the brain is for certain things and the other side of the brain is important for other things. And the one thing we can say for sure is yes, language is on the left side of the brain. But for creativity it actually makes more sense to me that with a function so broad as that you would benefit from having the most cross talk possible between all parts of your brain. In fact that’s exactly what the neuroscience is showing. So then once we start to understand – we’re starting to understand a little bit about the brain circuits involved in creativity that involves a lot the prefrontal cortex as you might expect. Then the question is well how do I up my creativity? That’s what everybody is interested in.

Well there is exciting new evidence that one of the functions of the hippocampus, an area that we know is important for long-term memory is that it’s not only important for long-term memory but it’s critical for the function of imagination. So people have been testing people with other people, patients with damage to the hippocampi for long periods of time. No surprise they had memory impairments. They were amnesic. But one day an experimenter back in 2007 tested amnesic patients on tasks of imagination. And she asked them can you imagine a situation that you’ve never experienced before. In this case it was imagine a tropical beach. And she compared the responses to people age matched and education matched people without hippocampal damage. What she found was these hippocampal patients, these amnesic patients who had normal language abilities were unable to imagine a future scenario. They could say things like well, there’s blue ocean, there might be sand. But they couldn’t elaborate at all. Whereas control patients, or control subjects were able to talk all about, you know, what the beach looked like, the buildings on the beach, the boats going past them. And this led other researchers to image the brains of subjects, normal subjects as they were remembering things. And when they remembered things the hippocampus lit up. But then they asked well imagine something new. And in that situation the hippocampus lit up again. So there’s multiple modes of evidence suggesting the hippocampus is not only involved in memory but is also important for imagination. A key component of creativity. We know that exercise stimulates what we can neurogenesis or the birth of brand new brain cells in the hippocampus. But because of those brand new brain cells in my hippocampus I’m also enhancing my imagination. So the hypothesis that I’m working on in my lab is can exercise actually enhance creativity.

via THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY: Hiking with kids is a great way to get them connected to the outdoors at a young age, but it can also be intimidating for the parent planner.
We challenge you to get the kids in your life out on the trail this summer, because part of preserving wilderness for future generations is teaching youth to appreciate and enjoy nature. Here are ten tips to help:

Keep it easy & feature-friendly. For at least the first few times, select a hike that isn’t too long or too strenuous – remember that for kids, the hike is about the experience. Picking a trail that has some features – be it a lake, stream, waterfall or something else will keep kids occupied and give them a goal to reach. And remember, it’s about the journey not the destination. If your child is more interested in getting down on his or her hands and knees to explore the undergrowth, then that is the experience for the day – there will always be a next time.

Time is your friend – so plan for lots of it. Kids are natural explorers and want to pick up and touch everything. This is one of the greatest things about hiking – there’s so much of the natural world for kids to discover and examine – make sure they have time to get their wilderness fill.

Prepare for anything. This pretty much goes for any hike, regardless of whether or not a child is involved. Always make sure to pack the 10 Essentials. Additional kid-friendly supplies are: wet wipes or tissues; lip balm; binoculars; magnifying glass; field guides (to point things out to kids); camera; and safety whistles for each child (and teach them what they are for and when to use them).

Dress for success. Layers, layers, layers. Make sure that you take ample amounts of clothing in case your child gets chilled while out on the trail. Always bring rain clothes – aside from the wet weather, they can also be great windbreaking clothing. Don’t forget hats and gloves for everyone – even in the summer, mornings can be chilly. Make sure your kids have adequate hiking shoes, depending on terrain, this could range from sandals to tot-sized hiking boots. Finally, always pack a change of clothes for each child and leave them in the car for your return from the trail – chances are your children will be wet or muddy!

Plan frequent energy stops. Hiking requires a lot of energy. Energy-sapped kids often equate to cranky kids. Keep your child happy and motivated by taking numerous small breaks for fluid and food. You can also use energy breaks as a way to keep your child moving by saying, “at that footbridge, we’ll take a break and have a snack.” Chances are, by the time they have had that snack, they will be eager to continue. Also take a medley of snacks in case your child becomes a picky eater out on the trail.

Pick a leader and make sure to rotate. Kids love feeling like they are in charge. Having the children take turns leading the hiking group can help the kids feel empowered – just make sure that the leadership rotates or this could lead to arguments further down the trail. By allowing the kids to lead, you can also make sure that the pace is slow enough so they can keep up.

Make it fun! The key to hike success is to keep the kids motivated and having fun – so why not combine the two? Create games that you and your children can play out on the trail. Have them look for signs of wildlife (scat, bird holes in trees, fur) or count wildflower species. Organize a scavenger hunt and have them find things are bumpy, smelly, small, big, living, wet…the list goes on!

Believe in the power of positive reinforcement. This is something parents excel at and it shouldn’t be left at the trailhead. When hiking, go overboard in telling your child how well they are hiking, how strong they look and how fast they are – even if they aren’t. Kids need to hear that they are doing an awesome job, especially if it’s their first time out on the trail (I’d say adults need this just as much, really!).

Leave no trace. Kids are future stewards of our public lands, so we might as well begin teaching them how to take care of those spectacular wild places at a young age. When out on a hike, make sure that all of your trash is collected – taking a gallon size zip-top plastic bag always works well for this – the “pack it in, pack it out” concept is fully embraced on our trails. To further reinforce this idea, you could also take a small garbage bag and have the kids pick up any litter they see on the way back to the car. While taking a break, make sure to examine the area and see that everything is in its place. If your child dug a hole with a stick, cover it up again before you leave. For more information on Leave No Trace, visit

Hike often! Start a family tradition of going hiking one or more times a month. Kids love the sense of adventure and doing something new. There’s a wide range of trails, terrain and sights for children to behold. With kids spending a good chunk of their time indoors during the week, hiking on the weekend is a perfect way to get them outside – be it an urban park or wilderness area trail.
Now that we’ve shared some of our trail tips with you, we’d love to hear from you! Tell us your tip to taking kids hiking!


Kids have a ton of energy. What better way to harness the energy into an outdoor activity than introducing the kiddos to climbing.

Climbing teaches critical problem-solving and decision-making skills.
Ascending a climbing route is a lot like piecing together a puzzle. Each move requires a constant, iterative decision-making process—where to go and how best to get there. Over and over again. Learning to solve problems, thinking for yourself (the answer is most definitely not in the back of the book), and making smart decisions are taught skill sets desperately lacking in today’s educational environment, where the focus is on memorizing and reciting for testing purposes.

Out on the crag, it’s a constant real-life, real-time lesson in thinking for yourself, reacting quickly and learning immediately the consequences of your decisions. Climbing is life accelerated, where instant feedback is given for every decision or indecision you make on the wall.

It imparts bravery and the ability to adapt and overcome difficult circumstances.
Overcoming fear is a life skill integral to success. Whether it’s fear of the unknown, fear of getting started or fear of failure, all successful adults learn as kids that you must be courageous, bold and daring to make something of yourself in this world. Encouraging your kids to leave their comfort zones and confront their fears will ingrain character and bravery. Bravery is the reward for taking a chance, overcoming nerves, and escaping the dreaded comfort zone.

It promotes healthy life choices.
Ever seen an obese rock climber? Ever encountered a two-pack-a-day smoker at the climbing wall? Okay, well, maybe “back in the day,” but no longer. Rock climbing loves agility, flexibility, muscular strength and muscular endurance. It hates obesity, laziness and weakness. Climbers are typically healthy eaters and cross-train in all sorts of other activities—from cycling and yoga to dancing and surfing. To be a successful climber, you’ve got to eat well, drink water and build a long, lean muscular body. Being fit and strong goes a long way to enabling success on the crag. Getting your kids climbing will give them a reason to trade greasy chips for apples and the gaming console for a bicycle, all in preparation to flash that 5.10 this weekend.

Rock climbing is an adventure sport that can be learned at relative low risk in highly controlled environments.
For better or worse, climbing has a reputation as an extreme sport. While that’s certainly true of the sport’s elite professionals, most climbing is actually rather pedestrian. Beginner climbers learn on a top rope (the rope is run through an anchor above the route of ascent). Falling on a top rope has basically zero consequences when using the correct anchors and belaying techniques; the length of the fall is roughly equal to the dynamic give of the rope and the climber’s weight—or, practically speaking, a few millimeters. Biking, kayaking, skiing, surfing, etc. are all far more dangerous than rock climbing. In my younger years, I guided and instructed all those activities, and climbing was always the easiest to control and make safe. This makes climbing truly unique in the adventure sports world—you can learn the ropes (pun intended) without risking major injury.

It teaches discipline and focus.
Look, I’m no Great Santini. I’m no drill sergeant. In fact, I’m pretty easy going. However, I’ve been around the block enough to know that self-discipline and focus are traits inherent in the world’s greatest achievers. Climbing is an excellent way to impart the basics of discipline because it requires focus and discipline to succeed. There’s no multitasking or messing around when you’re climbing a vertical rock face. Your kids will quickly learn that climbing narrows the world into a single rock line. No matter what’s going on around them, astute focus on the task at hand and the discipline to see it through is thrust on them from the very moment they plant their first foothold.

And it teaches lifelong outdoor skills: knot tying, route finding, anchor building, rappelling, etc.
Sailing, paddling, backpacking—rock climbing’s hard skills are applicable across the spectrum of outdoor sports. Knot tying, along with map and compass skills and campcraft, lays the foundation of an outdoor education. Learning to read vertical rock makes basic route finding all the easier. Anchor building and rappelling are critical rescue skills. Your kids may gravitate to kayaking, skiing or sailing in their later years, but when their skill set begins with rock climbing it’ll remain with them for a lifetime.

It’s affordable.

A family of four can start sport climbing outdoors for relatively little cost: Four harnesses at $50 each, one rope for $150, a belay device for $25, four sets of (used) rock shoes at $50, and a set of quickdraws for $100 gets the family out on a crag for $675. Considering there are no recurring participation fees, and much of that gear will last a decade, climbing is one of the most affordable outdoor activities available. You’ll be hard pressed to find even one used mountain bike for what it costs to start the whole family climbing. Of course, the sky’s the limit when it comes to gearing up, but getting started needn’t be a major financial investment. Along with the perceived danger involved, the idea that climbing costs a lot to get started is probably the sport’s next biggest misconception.

Climbing provides a healthy dose of humility.
I’m as guilty as anyone: I shower my son with love, attention and positive reinforcement. However, it’s critical to his character development that he fall on his butt. So much of climbing is falling, failing and learning to persevere. It’s important to show your kids how powerful Ma Nature is—that summiting even a short 40-foot pitch can take every ounce of mental and physical ability they have—and that at some point in life we’ll all be humbled before Her power. But learning to persevere in the face of failure is a life lesson that will pay for itself over and over again, long past the day your kids start having kids.

The bottom line: Climbing is “super fun.”
To wrap it up, I conducted exhaustive research straight from the source: my 10-year-old son, an avid climber, skier, mountain biker, skateboarder, hip-hop dancer and backpacker. Over dinner the other day, I asked him why he likes climbing. He thought for a solid nanosecond before blurting, “It’s super fun, Dad! Duh.”

So there you have it. You may not care about the healthy lifestyle climbing promotes or all the intangibles your kids will glean from it, but you can’t deny that being a kid ought to be fun, and climbing is super fun. For my money, having a good time with my boy (while he’s still young enough to want to have fun with me) is more than enough reason to convince me that climbing is the perfect activity for kids.

via treklight: It’s a fact: kids love hammocks!

If you have kids, or work with kids, bring a Trek Light Gear portable hammock along on your next trip to the park, playground or wherever you like to take them. The kids will love playing in the hammock and pretty soon you’ll probably find yourself playing (or napping) right there with them!

Chances are, if you grew up with a hammock in your backyard or knew someone who had a hammock in their yard, you have fond memories of playing in it with your siblings or friends. There’s just something about a hammock and the feeling of being elevated off the ground that makes children endlessly entertained.

However, most of those fun memories likely also involve a concerned parent keeping a close eye on the hammock shenanigans, reminding you constantly how easily you could fall out and hurt yourself or get tangled up and caught in the rope.

While you may remember laughing even when you did fall out of the hammock, the truth is that most hammocks do involve a real risk when children are playing.

Trek Light Gear is here to change all of that.

With our safe, No-Flip™ design, you can rest easy knowing that they won’t hurt themselves by getting flipped over and dumped on the ground.

With Trek Light Gear’s kid friendly hammock design, your children can get as close as they want to the edge and the hammock itself will never flip over and put them at risk of getting hurt.

Just as importantly, our soft, parachute nylon design also means that there aren’t any holes, loops, or anything at all for an arm or a leg to get caught in or tangled up in.

While any small child should obviously be supervised whenever possible*, we’ve taken the worry out of the hammock experience to give your children, or the children you’re responsible for, a product that is safer and more comfortable than the hammocks you grew up with – without losing any of the fun.

Trek Light Gear’s portable hammocks hold up to 400 pounds, so your kids can sit in the hammock together, or sit in the hammock with you as you read a book or tell stories.

Our line of Double Hammocks are the perfect size for the whole family. When the kids need a rest from the playground or the game, they can curl up in a portable hammock and rejuvenate instead of getting cranky from too much activity.

Does your child have trouble napping?

There’s something about a hammock that makes the idea of a nap just fun enough that even kids who hate taking naps will be begging to get into the hammock for nap time.

Because our ultralight hammocks pack down small for travel, you can set your hammock up at barbeques, in your kids’ bedrooms, on playgrounds, or anywhere else where you or your kids could use some downtime. If you already have a sturdy playground or swing set in your backyard you can usually hang the hammock right from the playground itself, so you never need to decide between one or the other if space is an issue.

Trek Light portable hammocks can add a great new twist to the summer overnight sleepover – next time the kids ask if they can sleep outside in a tent, let them sleep under the stars and they’ll soon be begging for more outdoor adventures!

Don’t take our word for it, get a Trek Light hammock today and see for yourself – your kids will thank you!

*** While Trek Light Gear’s portable hammocks will never unintentionally spin or flip while in use, it’s certainly possible for anyone (child or adult) to lean or climb too far over the edge and fall out while playing in the hammock. Please remember to use good judgment when small children are playing in the hammock and make sure the hammock is always setup low to the ground and not over any rocks or sharp objects. ***

via Staver Law Group: With the weather warmer, many people are enjoying the outdoors by having outdoor parties and picnics. Picnics are great ways to bring together family, friends, and neighbors outdoors. However, food left outside can quickly get hot and cause food poisoning and other serious health issues. Read on to learn picnic safety tips to ensure your guests have fun – and stay free of food-related illnesses.

Heat can cause foods to develop bacteria. When ingested, these bacteria can cause salmonella and other diseases – some which can deadly. If you developed food poisoning after an outdoor gathering, you may have a potential lawsuit.

Keeping Your Food at Safe Temperatures
Don’t let a trip the emergency room ruin your outdoor gathering. Follow these 10 tips to keep foods – and your guests – safe.

1. Have plenty of water on hand. While you should have bottled water for drinking, it’s also a good idea to have water available to clean tables and other eating surfaces.

2. Wash hands often. Keeping hands clean cuts down on the risk of contamination. If no running water is handy, use hand sanitizer or moist towelettes to prevent cross-contamination.

3. Bring plenty of plates. Have one plate designated for raw foods and the other for cooked foods so you can prevent contamination.

4. Make sure meats are fully cooked. Hamburgers should be cooked to at least 160 degrees and chicken breasts to 165 degrees. Meats should be cooked enough so there is no pink.

5. Keep perishable items cold. Bring enough ice and gel packs to keep meat, eggs, and salads at 40 degrees.

6. Keep coolers in the car. When transporting food, keep it out of the trunk and inside an air-conditioned car. Once you reach your destination, keep coolers in the shade with the lid closed.

7. Pack your cooler full. Add as much food as possible, since a full cooler stays cold longer than one that is not full.

8. Follow the two-hour rule. Do not keep perishable food out for more than two hours. Place it back into the cooler or a refrigerator. If you’re in doubt, toss it out.

9. Exercise caution in hotter weather. If it is hotter than 90 degrees outside, do not leave food out for more than one hour.

10. Follow the rules for takeout foods. If you plan to use takeout foods at your picnic, be sure to eat them right away. Do not leave them out for longer than one hour.

via makeandtakes: Hi I’m Jen of Kitchen Counter Chronicles here for the Make and Takes Get Out and Play summer series! Summer has arrived and that means it is picnic season. Everyone loves a family picnic in the park. Eating and playing outside with a cool breeze and the birds chirping is so dreamy. We picnic a lot in the summer. Our picnic basket lives in our kitchen during the summer months, ready to be packed up at a moments notice.

The reality is that sometimes picnics don’t go according to plan. Things are forgotten. The food might be warm and melted. The idyllic park might be swarming with people. However, with a little preparation and planning a picnic can be an awesome outing for families.

1. Location, Location, Location It is truly possible to picnic anywhere. Spontaneous picnics can be a blast, however if you are planning to picnic with a group of young kids then you will want to do some advanced planning. Does the park where you are going have a play structure? Is there a wading pool or splash pad? What about a washroom…fairly important for kids (and adults). It is best to know exactly what you are getting into ahead of time. Choose your location wisely.

2. When to Picnic Setting up for a midweek picnic at your favourite park can look a whole lot different than setting up on a busy Saturday. If you are planning to picnic at a super popular spot, head out early to reserve your space. Don’t forget to eat the most important meal of the day before you head out – breakfast. If planning a midday picnic, fill up yourself and the kids with a hearty breakfast. Kids with full bellies will be much happier when they arrive at the park.

3. The Picnic Basket I picked up my favourite picnic basket at a local church bazaar – a sturdy, wicker, lidded picnic basket. However, you don’t need an actual “basket” to have a fabulous picnic. Pack up a lightweight cooler or plastic tote. It is best if your “basket” has a lid, if only to keep the critters away from the food. Towels for the splash pad can serve double duty, providing insulation in the picnic basket.

4. The Picnic Blanket Parks can be busy on sunny summer afternoons and there may or may not be any picnic benches available. Bring along at least one large blanket. The blanket can be used as a table cloth for the picnic table or on the ground providing a comfortable spot to sit and eat. Reusable felt-backed table cloths make a great water proof barrier for under a picnic blanket. Sometimes the ground can be a little damp and the table cloth will keep everyone dry.

5. Food & Drink A key part of any picnic is the food…so what to eat? Start off by packing plenty of water. Keeping the kids hydrated as they run around in the sun all day, is important. Not all parks have clean drinking water available – another thing to look for when searching for a good location. Bring plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, which are delicious ways to keep kids hydrated. It is best to steer clear of dishes that can spoil easily in the heat. Recipes that use mayonnaise, eggs and fish are not ideal for park picnics. Swap out mayonnaise based slaws and salads with oil and vinegar based vinaigrette’s – a simple switch. Keep the food cool with lots of ice packs – use frozen bottles of water and juice boxes as ice packs. As they thaw you have plenty of icy cold drinks for everyone. A few things we always pack for picnics are; a small cutting board, a sharp knife and a bottle opener. Don’t forget to bring along some small change for the obligatory trip to the store for popsicles or ice cream.

6. Clean Up Mealtime in the park is not going to be a particularly sterile environment…our cleanliness standards have to be lowered. Pack a few damp wash cloths inside a resealable bag, which can be used to clean a picnic table and little ones’ hands before (and after) eating. Bring along a few cloth napkins too. I like my napkins to do double duty – wrap a napkin around any sharp knife or any cutlery you are bringing. Don’t forget to bring along a plastic bag for any garbage you produce. It is really important to leave green spaces as clean as they were when you arrived.

7. Toys and Games It’s time to have some fun! Take advantage of all the awesome parks in your area that have cool play structures, wading pools and splash pads. Be sure to bring along a few simple toys and games for your kids too. Toys and activities that can be played with groups of kids and that invite open ended play are perfect for outdoor play. Pack along a few different sized sport balls, skipping rope, sidewalk chalk, blank paper, crayons, sand toys (which are fun in the water too) and bubbles for blowing. If your kids are older bring along a camera and send them on a colour scavenger hunt. We love building fairy houses in parks and leaving them for other kids to discover. Blank paper is perfect for taking bark rubbings. The outdoor play options are truly endless.

There are so many fabulous memories to be made at a picnic in the park. Invite a group of friends or keep it to only your family. There is nothing quite like spending the day at the park, eating and playing under the trees. With a little planning and preparing any day can be the perfect day for a family picnic.

We have been looking at the many benefits of swimming for kids. If you are keen to learn about how to teach kids to swim, the following video is for you.

In the video, Clive from Puddle Ducks will demonstrate how to teach your child to tread water for themselves.

Treading water is an important skill to teach to kids simply because it helps to keep kids stay afloat in the water. It is extremely helpful to serve as a basic in letting your kids learn to swim. It may even help to save your kid from drowning.

So, watch this video now for how to teach kids to swim and share it with your friends if you find it helpful!

Skateboarding is a great sport that benefits your kids’ health physically and mentally. If you are keen to let your kids try skateboarding, you should start from looking at the question “how to choose a skateboard for your kid”.

There are many different types of kids’ skateboards which ranges from popsicle boards, penny boards, longboards to even electric skateboards, each serving a different purpose.

In order to help you kid choose the right one, you need to first know about the different types of skateboard and what are they commonly used for.

Check out the following video now for you how to choose a skateboard that your kid will love!

Happy National Yoyo Day!

Yoyo for kids is a great past time activity for kids that your kids’ hand-eye coordination.

Hand-eye coordination is essential for all kids to develop their writing skills and sensory motor.

Yoyo for kids is proven to be an amazing form of stress relief for kids, which makes it a perfect gift for kids nowadays who live in a world with higher stress level.

It is also relatively more affordable as compared to other popular toys for kids.

So are you convinced to let your kids try playing yoyo? If so, here is a video for you.

Watch the following video now to give you some practical guide on how to choose yoyo for your children based on their level of familiarity with yoyo playing.

Kids tap dancing is one of the best kids’ activities you could get your kids to try.

Tap dancing can offer kids a lot of physical benefits including helping kids to strengthen their muscles, allowing kids to develop good balance and coordination.

Kids tap dancing can also help to boost your kids’ self confidence by giving them a creative outlet to channel their energy.

By going to tap dancing classes, our kids will be able to meet more peers of their ages, hence enhance their social skills which will be helpful to them in the future.

Are you interested to let your kids learn to tap dance? Start it off by learning the types of tap dance now, check out this article to find out now!

Via Performing Dance Arts: Different Styles of Tap Dancing for Kids

Tap dance, the dance form that uses the sounds of tap shoes striking the floor, is one of the most unique and captivating styles of the dance arts. Most dance is set to music, but in tap, performers actually create some of the sounds with their dancing. If you’re looking for a tap class for kids in Toronto, then there are several stylistic factors you may want to consider before you decide.

Styles of Tap Dance

Several different styles of tap dance exist that all evolved from unique time periods, vantage points, and cultural roots. Here is a brief list of the different styles of tap dance.

Classical Tap

Also going by the name flash or swing tap, classical tap was popularized through 20th century movies. Consisting of a combination of jazz dance, ballet, and acrobatics, famous tap dancers include the Nicholas Brothers, who are credited with making significant contributions to promoting and publicizing classical tap.

Rhythm Tap

Tap dancing shoes create their own percussion on the floor. This is the focus in rhythm tap, as the shoes themselves are instruments. Sounds can be made by striking the heel, among other techniques. Usually, rhythm tap dancing is performed without musical accompaniment.

Musical (or Broadway) Tap

This style combines both traditional tap dancing with Broadway, and is suited to musical theater-style show dancing. The visual aesthetics of the dance are given more focus here, with an emphasis on using the upper body and arms.

Funk Tap

Taking cues from both hip hop and funk, this is a new, evolved contemporary dance form that is a lot of fun. This is a great style for keeping classes interesting while building jazz dancing skills.

Why Should Your Child Learn Tap Dance?

Learning to dance teaches children about the arts, athleticism, aesthetics, and work ethic. Tap dance provides an environment for learning with a structured method in a fun, creative way. Furthermore, there are benefits to a child’s outlook, self-esteem, self-confidence and social life that can all be gained by taking tap dance classes.