Summer was made for playing in the water. Which is why I’ll be talking about just that for the next few weeks. Today it’s all about water play at the river, next week the beach, and lastly, in the backyard.
The focus here isn’t on adventuring into the water for sport (like swimming, rafting or tubing). Instead it’s on simple, unstructured play.
Staying safe around rivers
While nature always has the potential to create unexpected hazards, a little common sense will get you a long way. When you’re around rivers with young kids:
- Pick kid-friendly places to play. Opt for shallow areas where you can see the bottom. Stay near the rivers’ edge and look for natural pools or small areas surrounded by rocks and away from the current.
- Do not leave kids unattended. I know I’m a little overcautious in this area, but I think it’s too important not to be.
- Stay clear of swift-moving water. Avoid whitewater (where streams flow swiftly over rocks) completely.
- Don’t drink the water. And wash hands with soap and water after you play to prevent any potential water-borne illness.
Use hands, feet, sticks – whatever it takes to make a splash!
2. Throw rocks.
Make it game by seeing who can throw a rock the farthest or make the biggest splash.
A word of caution about throwing rocks with kids. Set up a few ground rules before you get started. Decide where it’s OK to throw rocks (hint: away from others) and how big a rock is too big.
All you need is a stick and a long shoot of grass to create a fishing rod. Can you spot any fish?
4. Practice skipping rocks.
A variation on throwing rocks that older kids may enjoy, skipping rocks is actually a lot tougher than it looks. You need to find just the right rock and the right throwing angle to get it right.
5. Float a boat.
Use natural materials to make a boat. Try bark, sticks and leaves for sails. See how far your boat can make it on the current before it sinks.
6. Build a dam.
How good a beaver would you make? Use rocks to try to dam up a small area and find out.
7. Search for signs of wildlife.
We’ve spotted water bugs, spiders and webs – even larva eggs under rocks (accidentally, that is). There’s plenty of wildlife riverside as well, like butterflies and birds.
8. Go on a rock hunt.
River rocks come in all shapes, size and colors. See how many different kinds you can discover.
9. Practice your river crossing skills.
This one depends a lot on how safe and practical it is to cross the river during your visit. But if the conditions are right, it can be a great way to improve kids’ balance (and judgment) skills. Can you cross without getting wet?
10. Create stacked rock sculptures.
Get artsy by creating your own stacked rock sculptures right along shore. The varied shapes, sizes and colors of river rocks make for endless possibilities.