Turn off the TV and have a ball

2010-02-08 00:00

FISHING rods, fresh bread, compost heaps and camping. Activities as far away from “screen time” — time spent with computers, video games and cellphones — as it’s possible to be. In an age when more and more experts are expressing concern about the negative effects on children of too much sedentary, techno-centric activity, a new book by two South African parents makes a valuable contribution to the drive in the opposite direction.

Titled 52 ways to Grow Creative Children, its authors Lisl and Tom Barry live in Gampkaberg Nature Reserve in the Klein Karoo with their children, Jade (7) and Kai (5½). Their idea of a happy childhood is a place where the smells and textures of simple pleasures like baking bread and playing in the dirt dominate, and this book is packed with simple activities to encourage this.

Divided into things that can be done in each of the four seasons like making a scarecrow or knitting with your fingers, this book should provide plenty of ideas for what to do once — bolstered with fresh resolve — you’ve switched off the TV and are faced with the inevitable chorus of “I’m bored!”

 

• 52 Ways to Grow Creative Children b y Lisl Barry and her family is published by Jacana.

 

MAKE A DOUBLE-POLE SWING

 

THE main requirement here is a strong overhanging tree branch. Allow lots of space to swing. To cushion falls, if possible, the swing should hang above earth rather than concrete or bricks.

 

YOU WILL NEED …

• Two thin poles, 50 cm each.

• Six strands of ski rope, length as suited to the height of the branch. To give some indication, the bottom pole should hang approximately 30 cm from the ground. Remember too, knotting and plaiting the rope will use up more length, so allow for at least an extra two metres.

 

CONSTRUCTION

• Drill a hole on either end of each pole, measuring four cm from the end of each side.

• Plait three ski ropes to the desired length (from the branch to the upper pole). Thread the middle strand through the hole, the other two strands go around either side of the pole and all three join beneath. Continue plaiting. Plait a 42 cm length and thread through the next pole in the same manner. Tie a strong knot with the three strands beneath the bottom pole.

• Repeat the process, to the same measurements, on the other side.

• Tie both plaited ropes together at the top, so that it swings from a central point. Attach very securely to the branch.

 

 

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