Hose Play

This month’s regular guest post from outdoors mummy blogger, Leila Balin, is all about fun with the garden hose……

Hose Play

Little Man, like most pre-schoolers, loves water play. It is one of his top garden activities, whether it be playing with his water table, helping Daddy wash the cars or a spot of puddle splashing. More recently he has discovered the hose and the fact that he can move water away from the tap with this long green snake has him completely enthralled.

His play started off mimicking his Daddy, pouring the hose over the cars, not so much cleaning as moving the dirt around the bodywork. Then he realised he could clean other things too. Thanks to Daddy, Little Man has a small collection of garden tractors, go karts and scooters, all in various states from brand new to barely worth saving but he adores each and every one of them. Once Little Man cottoned on that he could use the hose to clean these too there was no stopping him. He started off moving from vehicle to vehicle using the hose to clean each one. As he worked his way around them he discovered all sorts of ways he cold make the water flow around the vehicles. Poking the hose into the middle of the go kart wheels he looked like a mechanic changing tyres, fascinated by the change in sound as he moved the hose into and back out of the central holes. He found holes in the plastic tractor engines and watched as the water worked its way through the nooks and crannies of the plastic and out the other side. He then moved onto filling the digger buckets up to the brim and then letting the water crash to the floor as he tipped the tippers. All in all he was there for about 2 hours, completely absorbed and oblivious to anything else happening around him.

As he worked a patch of lower ground slowly filled up to form a lovely big muddy puddle around his feet and once the spell of the hose was broken there was lots of lovely muddy puddle splashing too. I have to admit I did feel a tad guilty about the amount of water little man used during his play but he was getting so much out of it I couldn’t stop him.

Taking the time to stop and watch him gave me a well needed rest but it also took me back to a year or so ago when I would stop and watch far more than I do now. It was glorious too see him so deep in play and watching his personality develop, some of his mannerisms are so like his Dads and his determination comes from me, all combining to mix into his own special little self. Watching him play is such a delight and something I need to take more time to do.

What was the last activity your little one got lost in? Did you stop to watch or did you use the time to get busy? If you got busy I would thoroughly recommend allowing yourself some time just to sit and observe, it really is time well spent.

Leila writes a personal, nature inspired blog at Mud Marvellous Mud. She is passionate about connecting children to nature and writes about her son’s experiences as they explore together. She is trained to Forest Schools and Beach Schools level 3 and is currently studying for an Open University Open Degree.

 

5 Outdoor Easter Games for Kids

5 Outdoor Easter Games

Easter is the perfect time to celebrate the joys of spring and wherever kids are involved boundless energy and enthusiasm for chocolate eggs follows. I’m sure my boys could quite happily consume their own body weight in chocolate over Easter (so could I for that matter!). So here are 5 Outdoor Easter Games that should keep them (and you) busy, and might, just might hold off those chocolate pangs until after they have filled up on a yummy Easter Sunday dinner.

Get messy with some flying eggs. You will need at least two teams of two to play this game. Try pitching the kids against the adults or pull names out of a hat for some random family pairings. Beware though, this one is messy and changes of clothes may be required! Start off with both pairs standing fairly close to each other. Each team starts of with a box of six eggs. Once each pair is ready they start throwing the eggs towards each other. After each successful throw they take a step back. The aim is to get as far away from each other without breaking the egg. Once an egg breaks the team takes another from their six and starts from the same position they left off. The first team to break all their eggs is the loser and the remaining team, who are probably slightly less messy than the losers, usually wins themselves some more chocolate eggs, although you could be a little more adventurous and maybe offer them the chance to egg the other competitors with the eggs they have left over. It probably depends on how messy you really want to get!

Have a go at the good old Easter Egg hunt. These usually require a little bit of preplanning but lets face it, who doesn’t love hunting for treasure in the shape of chocolate. Check out our post Easter Egg Hunt Ideas for some alternatives to the traditional style hunt.

Set up an egg and spoon obstacle race. Make this old favourite slightly more interesting by putting a set of obstacles in the way of the competitors. Hard boiled eggs are often used for these races but spice things up a little and use raw eggs. Again, it could get mucky but hey, it’s bound to be fun!

Have a go at egg rolling races. There are several ways to set this one up. You can use a straight course, give each competitor and spoon and see who can roll their egg to the end the fastest without breaking it. You could create a twisty obstacle course the competitors have to roll their eggs around or you could sack off the spoons and get each competitor to roll their eggs with their noses. This last one has to be the funniest option but also much trickier than you might think.

Run around like hens and chickens! This game is a bit like the popular kids game ‘It’. One person starts off as the Hen, everyone else is chicks. The Hen is placed in the middle of the ‘road’ and the chicks at either end. As the chicks try to make it to the other side the Hen must try to gather up her chicks and keep them safe by catching them. Each one that is caught then has to help their mother Hen catch the rest. This is a brilliant one for letting of some steam after some of the more difficult games and what kid doesn’t love running around like a loopy chicken anyway.

Do you have any favourite Easter games you like to play? We would love to hear about them.

Our favourite outdoor play post from the past week is The Magic of the Secret Beach from the lovely Coombe Mill. The secret beach does sound absolutely magical and holds lots of lovely family memories for her and her children. Do you have a special spot that has stolen your families heart?

Spring is Springing

Spring is springing

March has arrived and with it we are seeing lots of lovely signs of spring, getting us all excited about the year ahead. There is just something about the new life in spring that gets us all motivated and looking forward to the sunshine. The warmer lighter mornings are a sign in themselves that spring is nearly here making those horrid early morning starts just that tiny bit easier. Of course it isn’t all sunshine in spring time, rain is often a common feature at this time of year but without the wet stuff all the lovely flowers, fresh grass and new buds that we love about spring wouldn’t happen. Celebrate the rain this spring with our 10 ways to play in the rain.

One of the first signs we have spotted this year is the pretty little snowdrop, peaking through the ground even in some of the worse weather we have had recently. I don’t know about you, but they remind us of fairy hats and conjure up all sorts of images of spring fairies frolicking about amongst the spring blossom.

We haven’t heard them yet but soon enough the air will be filled with the warm fuzzy buzz of bumble bees, taking full advantage of the early nectar. Queen bees will be out looking for new nests with the buff-tailed bumblebee being one of the first to emerge. I do love standing in the garden on a warm spring morning just listening as their hum is carried along the wind.

Another wonderful sound to hear in spring time is the new burst of birdsong that happens as male birds start to sing for their mates, searching out females to bring up new broods with in just a few weeks time.

Probably one of the most iconic signs of spring is the appearance of newborn lambs in fields across the country. These little cuties remind us all that this really is the time of year that brings about an abundance of new growth. Why not grab your family and head on out around the fields seeing how many you can spot. As the season moves on you will see more and more appear and watching their unsteady antics is sure to make you all go ‘Awwww’.

A lesser known sign of spring is the sight of oil beetles. These little creepy crawlies are becoming quite rare in the UK and have a fascinating lifecycle that relies on solitary bees to survive. Once the larvae hatch they head on up the stem of a nearby flower, lie in wait for an unsuspecting bee, hitch a ride back to their burrow and then feed on their eggs. Not too nice for the bees but necessary to keep the Oil Beetle alive. To find out more about these fascinating little beasties check out Buglife’s Oil Beetle campaign (https://www.buglife.org.uk/campaigns-and-our-work/oil-beetles) and get involved in the Oil Beetle Hunt (https://www.buglife.org.uk/oil-beetle-survey) . We think this is a great way to discover more about our micro wildlife this spring.

What signs of spring have you spotted so far? The brilliant Nature Detectives have some fabulous printable sheets to help you head out with the kiddies and get closer to nature at this time of year – http://www.naturedetectives.org.uk/download/hunt_spring_early.htm

If you are looking for more ideas to help you make the most of the warmer weather and longer days then check out our 10 Ways to Play Outdoors this Spring.

However you choose to enjoy this spring we would love to hear about it. Drop us an email at sales@adventuretogs.co.uk or share your pictures on our facebook page and help inspire others to play outdoors this spring.

Outdoor Blog Roundup – February

Outdoor Play Roundup

We have a lovely mixed bunch for you on the Roundup this month with posts about searching for the first signs of spring to fun with crates. We hope you enjoy!

One of the lovely things about late winter is that some of our first flowers start to appear as spring takes hold and gets ready to take over. Wild about here shared a lovely post about spotting colourful flowers at this time of year including a fabulous spotter sheet that is well worth printing out and taking along on your walks with you.

Everybody knows kids love a cardboard box but who knew about crates? Wonderful fellow outdoor play party co-host Learning for Life shared a great post about the amazing diversity of crates in children’s play. So if you can get hold of any for your garden or your school it certainly seems like they will be well worth the very small investment involved.

obligshadow1

Lastly we loved these grass caterpillars shared by Red Ted Art. They are so very cute and so easy to make. The perfect way to get your kids into gardening.

Over on facebook we discovered a fabulous new Forest Schools Kindergarten based in Sheffield. The will be running The Dangerous Adventure Club over the Easter which sounds like so much fun! We would love to see more of these across the country.

 Please do share your posts with us here at Adventure Togs and tell us how you have been playing outdoors this fortnight.

Finally a Snow Day!

This month’s regular guest post from outdoors mummy blogger, Leila Balin, is all about playing in the snow……

Snow Day

Last year I was incredibly disappointed at the lack of snow. Little Man had been born during a very snowy February and I was desperate for him to really experience playing in it. This year, when the snow finally came I was silly excited! I just knew Little Man would love and would be desperate to play in it.

Sure enough, when he woke him, he seemed very excited about how white everything was. I told him we would eat our breakfast, get wrapped up warm and go play. It was still early but as we were eating and getting ready I could already see it starting to melt. We had to get out quick before it completely turned to slush!

Little Man was good and keen to get outdoors so getting ready wasn’t a problem (as it sometimes can be with a strong willed 3 year old!). We were outside in no time and Little Man immediately asked for his bike. I tried to convince him bike riding wasn’t a sensible idea in snow but he knew best. I reluctantly handed him the bike and watched as he attempted to ride it round the garden. At first he didn’t do a bad job, the snow was wet enough for the wheels to cut through with ease, however, it wasn’t long before there was a fall and then the tears came. It wasn’t a serious fall, just a little slip but Little Man was not impressed and the whole world knew about it!

I slowly convinced him that it might be best to leave his bike in the shed and to spend some time playing with the snow but the cold stuff on his hands was too much to take. I wrongly assumed he would like playing with it, he loves to play with ice so naturally I thought snow would be his bag too. He begrudgingly followed me around the garden watching as I made a snow angle, threw snowballs and even made a very silly looking miniature snowman (no pictures I’m afraid!) but to no avail. The white stuff looked pretty but it wasn’t exciting his senses.

Maybe it was the fall off the bike, maybe he was slightly overwhelmed, or maybe he was just having one of those days but our one and only snow day failed to impress my grumpy little boy. He was much happier once we were inside and he could drive his cars and tractors around the carpet. What happened to my outdoorsy little man? For the remainder of the day he watched the snow melt from the window and occasionally attempted a snow angel on the carpet but that was as much as his interest would allow. Maybe next year he will be more into snow play, let’s hope we have more than one days worth to experiment with.

Did your kiddos enjoy the snow this year?

Leila writes a personal, nature inspired blog at Mud Marvellous Mud. She is passionate about connecting children to nature and writes about her son’s experiences as they explore together. She is trained to Forest Schools and Beach Schools level 3 and is currently studying for an Open University Open Degree.

Storytelling Outdoors

Storytelling outdoors

Storytelling is one of those things that we never feel like we can do. It is a mysterious art left only for authors and those with a natural talent for it. However, our kids tell stories all the time so when did we lose the confidence to tell stories ourselves? Was it when we forgot our imaginations or did real life get in the way?

Storytelling is such a lovely way to share a piece of our children’s imagination that we think everyone should get involved an we know that everyone can do it if they give it a go. Here are some ways we think you and your kids can share a passion for stories and have a go at making up your own. Let us know how you get on.

Choose a spot to site and then take turns to tell part of the story. With each person putting in their own ideas there is never any way of knowing where the story might go.

  1. Once upon a time in a deep dark wood…..
  2. A fairy princess fell down a hole……
  3. The hole had been put there by pixies to capture dragons…..

And so on and so on. Once your story is complete spend some time playing using your story as your theme, each choose a character and as you play the story will develop growing in your children’s imaginations. You can even continue the theme when you get home by retelling it at bedtime, spending some time drawing your story and any other ways you can think of to bring it to life.

Create your own mini fairy houses and then talk about the characters that live there. Encourage your children to discuss what they look like, what they might wear and eat. Are they naughty or nice? Think about how they might get about and interact with the other characters their siblings/friends have made. Get involved and use your own imagination too and take the characters into a story. Ask your children to imagine an adventure they might go on and then all head off and follow them into it.

Choose a favourite book or fairytale and take it outside. Easy and obvious choices might be ‘Going on a Bear Hunt’ or ‘The Gruffalo’ but think of others too. For example, ‘The Princess and the Pea’. Can you make a bed out of natural materials? What would you make the mattress out of? How about ‘Little Red Riding Hood’. Can you go for a walk in the woods to find Grandma’s house? Maybe Daddy could be the Big Bad Wolf?

Simply choose a spot and make up your story right there. Be inspired by your surroundings. Your kids will love it no matter what you think of it. If you get stuck encourage them to help you to finish it. Let your kids take turns too. You might be surprised with what they come up with.

Pick a tree, a plant or an animal and tell its story. Think about how much they might have seen, what might have happened during their lifetime. Trees can live for hundreds of years, how did it get there, who has it seen, who has been to visit it? When I was a kid I had a special tree we used to visit a lot and I always made up stories about how magical the tree was and why it was so special, I did the same for the big Oak tree in our garden. There was something mysterious about trees for me so make them magical for your kids too.

If your kids are old enough to read by themselves then simply give them some space to do that outdoors. Reading outdoors can be a lovely experience and as you get lost in the book your senses get tickled by the world around you. I would recommend this activity to everyone at least once in a while, big or small.

Collect a bucketful of natural materials then blindfold your kids. Ask them to choose an item from the bucket and then make up a story about it. By simply feeling and smelling the item their story becomes very different to the one they would have created if they had seen the item. Their senses pull them in and their imagination remains unrestricted by what they already know about the item. This one is great fun and it is always funny to hear what they come up with.

Do you tell stories to your kids on a regular basis or does the thought of storytelling give you a fright?

My featured post for this week is Mother Natured’s Give a Sewn Leaf Heart this Valentine’s Day. We love the idea of leaving a secret message inside and think it will make a lovely Valentine’s gift. We would be happy with one anyway!

 

Valentine’s Day Ideas for Nature Lovers

Valentines

Valentine’s is nearly here and we often struggle to find the time to spend with each other in-between working and running around after the kids. This year, however, we have decided to make the effort and in my search for ideas I found some of these lovely ideas just for nature lovers. So if you have a nature lover you want to impress this Valentine’s Day then check out the ideas below.

Show your love by planting a tree together. We think this one is so sweet, especially if you have the kind of love that is forever love. Year after year you can visit your tree and watch it grow up as you grow together. Such a lovely metaphor.

Brave the cold and enjoy a romantic outdoor picnic. It is a bit chilly so blankets and a fire might be in order for this one but what is more romantic than snuggling around the campfire with a glass of wine.

Go out on a romantic hike. We love to walk, so this is perfect for us. If you walk a lot then choose a spot that is special for you, alternatively try somewhere completely new and discover it together. Take a smartphone and be sure to get lots of lovely selfies for the photo album too.

Look for hearts in nature and create a romantic collage. You can do this by either taking photos or collecting and sticking the items onto a piece of card and then framing it. The fact that you went out on the mission to find all these lovely hearts is sure to impress and the collage will be a lovely keepsake to display at home. We think this is a lovely one for the kids to do to, they will love going on the hunt for hearts as well as creating their special artwork either for Mummy or Daddy or for that secret crush at school.

Find a heart shaped rock or sea shell and paint it with some special words or your loved ones favourite colours. This is perfect as a little trinket of your affection, if the item is small enough your loved one can keep it with them always as a reminder of how you feel about them.

Create a heart shaped seed bomb and present it to them. Plant it in the spring and by summer there will have lots of lovely flowers to appreciate. Choose native flower and grass seeds for the best results. Mould a mixture of clay, soil your chosen seeds and some water into a heart shape using a heart cookie cutter. Once dry, wrap up in pretty paper and a ribbon and add a little tag and when your partner plants their seed bomb in the spring they will have a lovely splash of colour all summer to enjoy.

Set up a scavenger hunt of natural hearts leading to something special at the end. We love this idea! To make the hearts you could use twigs, leaves, mud and anything else you can find. At each heart you could leave a clue to find the following heart then the very last clue will lead to your final heart and your special Valentine’s gift. Aww, how romantic

With the freezing temperatures we have had, make them some ice hearts using red food colouring. These won’t last forever but will be a nice addition to anything else you have planned for your special day. We also think this is another great idea for the kids to try and would make pretty outdoor decorations.

We hope you manage to find some time to escape the kids and enjoy some time together. We certainly will! What other nature loving ideas do you have for celebrating Valentine’s Day? Send them over to us on our facebook page Adventure Togs or catch up with us on twitter @Adventure Togs. We would love to hear how you are going to make the day special.

Outdoor Blog Roundup – January

Outdoor Play Roundup

It’s time for the first Outdoor Play Roundup of 2015 and we have some lovely wintery posts for you all to enjoy.

First up the lovely The Boy and Me started their new year enjoying the beach on Barry Island. They made a cracking moat and waited for the tide to come in and fill it up. This is something we think everyone should try at least once. It looks like great fun!

We absolutely loved this post from Mummy LogicHere are two sticks.  Her post just goes to show how wonderful sticks are for our children’s imagination. Something so simple yet utterly magical.

With all the snow in the news we know some of you are feeling left out. Coombe Mill has the answer though with their Snow Free Snowmen. With these there is no need to miss out, who needs snow hey?

Last but not least we loved Wild Family Fun’s post about not letting winter get in the way of their outdoor play. We love their spirit and think their photos are fabulous. How much fun have you had outdoors this winter?

Now it’s time for this week’s Outdoor Play Party. My featured post for this week is Bubba Blue and Me’s post Frost Doesn’t Stop Play. We loved reading about how the cold never seems to stop her boy getting outdoors and as a Mum of boys myself, I loved seeing them roughhousing and having fun despite the cold. Do your kids feel the cold or do they long outlast you when the temperature drops?

pile up on the trampoline

A Mouse in the House

This month’s regular guest post from outdoors mummy blogger, Leila Balin is all about finding a mouse in the house….

A Mouse in the House!

On Saturday evening I came home from work as usual, walked through the door and was bombarded by a torrent of excited words from Little Man. After kneeling for a minute, trying to make sense of his blathering I realised he was telling me he had a mouse in the front room! For a moment I had a blind panic because I am terrified of dead animals and I assumed that it must be dead, how else would he have it. Fortunately for me Daddy quickly explained that the mouse was very much alive and was being kept in a jar with kitchen roll as a hidey hole and wedge in the top so that it could breath. Phew! I could breath again too.

Apparently Daddy had decided to clean out our pantry cupboard (it was long overdue!) and in amongst some of our wedding crockery, hidden in the back corner was a mouse, all tucked in amongst the tea cups with a full larder of dried pasta. It sounded to me like something out of Alice in Wonderland and once the pantry had been fully cleaned and all pasta had been dutifully removed Daddy has spent some time showing Little Man the mouse. Little Man was absolutely taken with his little friend and Mouse had been dutifully carried around from room to room for most of the afternoon, he had been shown all of Little Man’s toys and the two had become fast friends (according to Little Man anyway!)

Now that Little Man had proudly shown off his new friend to Mummy we decided it was time to set him free. Little Man couldn’t get his wellies on quick enough. Daddy grabbed a torch, I grabbed my camera and Little Man carefully picked up Mouse and we made the short journey up to the patch of nettles at the end of the garden. Little Man gently put Mouse and his jar on the ground while Daddy got his torch in place and I fiddled with my camera settings. Once we were ready Daddy lifted the lid and we watched and waited. Mouse didn’t take long to pluck up the courage to poke his little head out, probably encouraged by the smell of fresh air and after a couple of looks about he hopped out over some weeds and into the undergrowth.

Little Man shouted with glee and we all stopped for a moment to wonder where he might have gone and whether we would see him back again. Little Man had learnt a lot about mice during his time with Mouse and was keen to tell us where he might be going, he was probably off to find the Gruffalo of course! Before we knew it it was time for Little Man’s bedtime and the excitement of his first close up experience with a wild small mammal had taken its toll. He was asleep in no time leaving Mummy and Daddy to hope Mouse didn’t make it back to face the cat!

Have your little ones had close up encounters with unexpected house visitors? Were they as enthralled as Little Man?

Leila writes a personal, nature inspired blog at Mud Marvellous Mud. She is passionate about connecting children to nature and writes about her son’s experiences as they explore together. She is trained to Forest Schools and Beach Schools level 3 and is currently studying for an Open University Open Degree.

New Year ….. New Style Office

Adventure Togs Office Refit
Adventure Togs Office Refit 

The first two weeks of January have been a bit chaotic. Just returned from our Christmas break, we immersed ourself into reorganising our workspace and had some much needed worktops installed around half the office. There is still some work to do, but it’s amazing how spacious the office feels now that we can slide boxes under our lovely deep worktops.

Next job is to network the computers, set up a standing desk and 2 packing stations. Here’s to a super organised 2015!