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Bare your Soles

Age: 0 to 8+ Time: <30 min
Materials: camera
Skills: Creativity, Sensory, Empathy

National Go Barefoot Day was inspired to raise awareness and mobilize folks to help provide millions of people worldwide with shoes. 1.2 billion people live on less than $1.25 per day, and 400 million of them are children. This kind of poverty means struggling without essentials like shoes. We wholeheartedly support the cause and cheer for organizations and companies that are tackling this problem.

We also recognize Go Barefoot Day as an opportunity to bring an enriching new tradition to the many of us who feel too far from our younger, more barefoot days. And, given that, for many of us, our children spend even less time barefoot outdoors than we did, the chance to hang up our shoes and head outdoors as a family is an opportunity we cannot refuse.

On June 1st, join us and declare it Go Barefoot Day (or even barefoot hour) for your family. Then, set aside time, go outdoors with your kids, and toss your shoes aside. Be sure to stand on a hot, rough or otherwise challenging surface for some time, wonder what it would be like to need shoes, and talk about how you can help get kids around the world proper shoes.

While you are at it, explore being barefoot using any or all of the ideas below. Invent your own ways to spend time barefoot together. No matter how you spend it, slow down and take in every sensation. And, to further both the cause and your memory-making, take some photos of your bare feet at play. Then, share your photos on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using #Tinkergarten and #gobarefootday. We can't wait to celebrate with you and your family!

The Guide

Here are our top 12 ideas for how to enjoy your family barefoot time. Let us know your favorites! and have a very barefoot day:
  1. Again, be sure to remember the cause that inspired this day. Consider donating shoes through a cause like Soles 4 Souls.
  2. Make a little mud, then squelch and squirch about in it.
  3. Wade into a river, lake or ocean leaving your water shoes on the shore. With as little hesitation as possible, see how the river bed, lake bottom or ocean floor feel.
  4. Stand in cold water. Feel the burn, then the amazing release.
  5. Find the softest grassy spot in the park or lawn. Wiggle your toes around in it.
  6. Climb a rock, tree or other outdoor structure with bare feet. Feel how helpful that awareness can be.
  7. Stomp and splash in puddles, creeks, pools, fountains—wherever you are free to do so.
  8. Try to pick things up with your toes. Pass something to a friend. If you can, draw a picture using your toes.
  9. Bury your bare feet in the sand, dirt or mud. Then, wiggle and wriggle them free again.
  10. Find a smooth stone and press your feet into it at different points. DIY reflexology!
  11. Give your kids some low-5s using your feet.
  12. Indulge in a family foot wash using warm water, natural soap and an old towel. Ahhhh...

Why is this activity great for kids?

Whenever you take time out of the ordinary to celebrate something, you get the chance to build family culture around things that matter to you. Go Barefoot Day gives you the chance to value time together, playful exploration of nature and the chance to contribute to a greater cause and be part of a greater community. If you are able to engage your children in thinking about what it might be like to have no shoes, you also give them the chance to develop empathy. Such a sense of connectedness will not only make them more aware of others, but can contribute to children feeling like they are valued and that they belong—beliefs that will give them fortitude to weather challenging social situations later in life. Taking off our shoes and experiencing various textures and temperatures in new or unusual ways provides an extremely enriching sensory experience. And, new research is telling us that direct contact with the electrons on the Earth's surface has significant positive impact on our health. Finally, taking off your shoes and taking steps outside of the normal routine prepares kids to think outside the box later on—something the world will require of them far more than it has already required of us.

Do This Activity In A Class

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Do It Yourself

We think all families should be learning outside. Try this activity with your child and begin to see the power in outdoor, play-based learning. Have fun!

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