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.

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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.

5 Outdoor Science Experiments Well Worth a Try

5 Outdoor Science Experiments

Make a smoke bomb

This is brilliant fun and the kids will love it although it is probably best with the slightly older ones. You will need some sugar, some potassium nitrate (which you should be able to pick up from the garden centre), an old pan you don’t mind ruining, a long candle, some goggles and a fire glove. Weigh out 60g potassium nitrate and 40g of sugar and place them in the pan together. Place the pan over a hob on a low heat and bring it to the boil, stirring to avoid it burning. Once the mixture is a liquid brown it is ready. Head on outside with your safety goggles and your fire glove. Place the mixture in a safe place such as on a wooden table or in a clear area on the floor. Using your gloved hand light the candle and use this to ignite your mixture. Once the mixture catches it should start to smoke and will keep going until it has burnt off. Step back and enjoy the show. Once it is done then leave the pan to cool before you attempt to pick it up as it will still be quite hot.

The good old Coca Cola Volcano

This is so simple but kids always love it. It even works with littlies who are overawed by the results. All you need is some diet coke and some Mentos. Pop one or two Mentos into the Coca Cola stand back and watch the fizziness explode.

Turn water into ice with a bang

This experiment is only for the patient but the results are well worth the wait. It is also perfect to try outdoors at this time of the year while the weather can help with keeping the temperature low. The long wait just gives you the perfect excuse to play outdoors while you are waiting – http://www.bbc.co.uk/bang/handson/super_cool.shtml

Create your own homemade bubble solution

For this one you will need water, washing up liquid and some glycerine and whatever additional ingredients you want to try such as food colouring and gelatine. Experiment with different amounts of each ingredient until you find the perfect recipe. Once you have it then write it down and you will never need to buy another pack of bubbles again.

Create a film canister rocket

You will need an empty film canister, some baking soda and some white vinegar. Some goggles might be useful just to be on the safe side. Put a spoonful of baking soda into the canister and then add some white vinegar. Quickly add the lid and place it lid side down on the ground. If you get the timing right your pot should rocket up into the air making a loud pop. Experiment with different amounts of baking soda and vinegar to find out which recipe shoots the rocket the highest.

Want to know how all the experiments really work? Spend some time using your tablet or smartphone to discover the science behind the reactions. In the process your kids will learn how to discover the answer to their questions, learn which sources are trustworthy and which aren’t and build on their scientific knowledge. If you want to extend it even further you could even ask them to show their friends or someone in the family the experiment asking them to explain how the reaction works.

Do you have any fun outdoor science experiments to share? 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 enjoy science outdoors.

5 easy ways to look after the wildlife this winter

5 easy ways to look after the wildlife this winter

Now the festive period is over and we have all filled ourselves up on chocolate, cake and Christmas turkey we think it is time to spare a thought for some of the wildlife we share our lives with. We might not see these creatures very often, or we might just not pay them much attention but getting involved in helping them through the tougher times of winter can be great for kids. Kids reap the benefits by learning all about the secret world in their garden, learning how to care for others and building some practical skills too.

Probably the easiest place to start is to make some bird feeders. If you type DIY bird feeders into your search engine there will be reams and reams of ideas. If you want to be more creative then try out Pinterest for ideas. At this time of year natural food is becoming scarce so garden feeders are vital fuel stations for our small song birds to top up. Once you have made your feeders then hang them somewhere you can easily see them. If you sit and wait the birds will arrive and entertain for hours, you might even get to know a few individuals. We used to have Jack Sparrow visit us regularly. He was a little peg leg sparrow who used to stop in whatever the weather and was always popular with the gang he hung around with. The boys loved spotting him and they would often shout ‘Jack’s back!’ from the front room.

If your little one loves to transfer water, as many do, then filling up the bird bath will be easy peasy. A bird bath doesn’t have to be anything fancy either, it can be as simple as an upturned dustbin lid. Not only will it be somewhere for the birdies to have a bath it will also be an important drinking source. If it is close to the ground it won’t just serve birds either, mice, badgers and squirrels might even use it too.

If you are feeling practical then have a go at building a nest box. You can find plans on the internet and this could be a great project if your kids enjoy building things. Believe it or not but birds will already be scoping out places to start a family so putting up a nest box now means the birdies should have plenty of time to find it. If you want to get really technical get yourself a nestbox camera kit and come spring you won’t need CBeebies or Frozen for entertainment, the nest box will provide plenty while you wait for the little eggs to hatch, watch Mum and Dad busy feeding the little chicks and then wait on the edge of your seat for each one to finally fledge the nest.

Improve your garden for wildlife by planting some berry laden plants and spring bulbs for early nectar. If you have the room plant a fruit tree such as an apple tree and the blackbirds will cover your garden during the autumn, mopping up all the excess fruit. The lovely thing about planting with kids is that they get to see something grow over time and then get to enjoy it once it is fully grown. Growing a tree needs some commitment so it could be a good one to get the kids thinking about how they will remember to water it, mulch it and prune it.

If you are lucky enough to have badgers in the garden (or maybe unlucky if they dig up all your plants!) then take advantage of it and put out some peanuts for them. Come dark turn out the lights and sit at the window watching to see if they hoover them all up. Badgers love peanuts but if you don’t have badgers then the squirrels will provide plenty of entertainment too. Watch as they scurry back and forth picking up the nuts and burying them around the garden.

Winter is a brilliant time to start watching wildlife and spending some time looking after it will provide added satisfaction to the experience.

My featured post for this week is Wild Family Fun’s Adventures when the winter weather sets in. We loved this post so much we featured it on our December Outdoor Play Roundup. We think learning to rock climb is a fantastic skill to learn with so many benefits and you don’t even need to brave the cold to give it a go.

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Outdoor Blog Roundup – November

Outdoor Play Roundup

Well a wet winter has well and truly set in but going by what you have all been up to it hasn’t put anyone off their outdoor play time. Here are some of our favourite outdoor play posts from the last month.

Eeek! It isn’t long until Christmas now! Have you done all your pressie shopping yet? Project Wild Thing has the best list of wild explorer books that will be perfect for your little nature lover. Do you have any good Christmas pressie ideas for the outdoors kid?

What with all the wet weather there is no excuse not to have been out enjoying the muddy puddles. Red peffer and family have certainly been making the best of them having lots of muddy fun. Just what we like to see.

Let kids be kids has been sharing a fabulous fizzy science experiement. This is an oldie but such a goodie, your kids will loving watching the exploding fizz.

And last but never least is A family day out’s deep mine adventure at Blaenavon’s ironworks and museum. If you are looking for a fun family day out this place is well worth a look, definitely one to add to the diary for the spring when it reopens.

Ready to go down the mine, Big Pit

Over on facebook Bushcraft UK shared this fabulous article on How to keep hill walking over winter. We love hill walking here at Adventure Togs and there are some great tips in this article. Do any of you enjoy hill walking? If so do the kiddies come with you?

Don’t forget to let us know if any of the posts have inspired you to play outdoors or to share your own ideas with us. You can contact us on our facebook page Adventure Togs or catch up with us on twitter @Adventure Togs

 

Why playing in nature is good for our kids

why playing in nature is good for our kids

Most of us know that playing in nature is good for our kids, but as the colder weather arrives, sometimes we need reminding so that we don’t completely retreat into our central heated cosy homes. So here is why, even when it is cold and gloomy, playing in nature is good for our kids.

It gets our kids moving. Being outdoors in nature makes them want to run, jump, climb, kick and crawl. Watch them next time they are out in the local woods. We bet it won’t be long before they are balancing on a fallen log or kicking the leaves. Head down to the beach and they won’t be able to stop themselves from hopping and jumping over the waves or digging in the sand.

Playing in nature can boost their creativity. Without toys with predisposed functions kids have to think for themselves. A stick can be a thousand different things, stones can tell a thousand stories and mud can make a thousand different pies. There really are endless possibilities in nature, we just have to let their imagination take them there.

It can help our children de-stress. Being back at school, with pressure to perform and after school clubs to attend, our children are under much more pressure than we were as kids. Allowing them space to play in nature gives them a chance to relax, forget about the spat they had with their best friend over lunch or the homework they have been putting off. In nature they get to just be and so do we. In fact playing in nature is just as good for us as it is for them!

They will learn something new without even knowing it. Nature has so much to teach our kids and they will learn it all by themselves. Children often, naturally start to group items together according to size, function or colour. They learn the difference between solid materials and liquids, they discover what is pliable and what isn’t, how materials work together and so much more. They learn their own limits, how high they can climb, how far they can jump, how much pressure they need to apply to snap a twig. They discover important scientific principles without even realising what they have discovered. Later on when they get into the classroom they will have something to relate their learning to. In fact the learning possibilities in nature are limitless and the learning sticks better when it is self-motivated.

Playing in nature also builds on their problem solving skills. If they want to make a tree swing they have to work out how one would work, what sort of rope to use and which branch is the best choice. If they build a shelter they have to work out how to transport large sticks, how to make it waterproof and how to make it big enough for them and all their friends.

And this doesn’t even cover it all! So brave the cold air and find somewhere natural to play, then enjoy coming home to a nice warm house and a cup of hot chocolate.

It’s back to school time

Do you have the back to school blues or are dancing around the living room having a party? For us it has always been a mixture of both. Sad to know the boys are around less and we have less time as a family but always a little bit excited at the thought of a bit more me/us time. Although it never quite works out that way does it? Somehow the days just fill up with other stuff.

We are never quite ready for it either. There is always something left to buy last minute, like new schools shoes or a new school coat. Somehow something always gets forgotten. So if you are like me, less than organised when it comes to children and school, then here are some lovely items we have that might just solve your last minute shopping dilemmas.

Have you managed to find a decent winter coat yet? These Togz Warm and Dry Fleece lined kids jackets are perfect for those long walks to and from the school gates. The fleece and insulated mid-loft lining will keep your kiddos nice and toasty and the reflective trim will keep them seen on those cold dark mornings that sadly we all know are headed our way.

With the colder weather comes the rain and when it’s pouring down don’t jump in the car, bung on the waterproof trousers and splash your way to school. These basic children’s waterproofs are really reasonably priced and will make sure your kids arrive nice and dry even after lots of puddle splashing. Alternatively try a Target Dry Kids Rainsuit. These all in ones are really easy to get in and out of and can be easily packed into a school bag for rainy play times.

What last minute items do you normally find yourself in need of? Does the thought of heading to the shops in preparation for a school send you into a spin? Share your thoughts and send us your top tips for surviving the back to school rush. You can get in touch on our facebook page or tweet us @adventuretogs with the hashtag #adventurebugs

Outdoor Blog Roundup – August

Outdoor Play Roundup It’s time for the monthly roundup and this month we have some arty fun to share along with a fabulous sensory experience.

First off this month Adventures of Adam shares a fabulous water spray activity that not only creates beautiful art work but also supports those all important fine motor skills.

We absolutely loved this next activity from In the Playroom. They showed us how to make a beautiful garden leaf collage and we adored the results! This is a brilliant activity across all the seasons but we think it will produce fabulous results as the autumn starts to arrive, as it seems to be doing already near us!

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Multicrafting Mummy shared a lovely way to celebrate the beauty of sunflowers with this gorgeous sunflower height chart. What a lovely way to chart your little ones height as they grow.

Finally we loved Kids in the Garden’s account of their journey around the Barefoot Walk at Kew Gardens. This looks like an amazing sensory experience and one we think doesn’t have to be confined to Kew Gardens. Go on, enjoy the last of the summer, kick those shoes off and feel the squelch of mud in between your toes. You know you want to.

Over on facebook Outdoor People shared this fantastic link from mountain-training.org with tips on how to enjoy the mountains with children. We love mountain walking here at Adventure Togs and would absolutely recommend it to anyone.

Do let us know if you decide to give mountain climbing a go or if you decide to have a go at barefoot walking. We would love to hear all about your adventures. Or if getting arty is more your thing then do send us over pics of your lovely art. We love to see how you all choose to play outdoors. You can share the fun with us over on our facebook page Adventure Togs or tweet us@AdventureTogs and share your fun. We can’t wait to hear what you have been up to.

A Pick Your Own Adventure

This month’s regular guest post from outdoors mummy blogger, Leila Balin is all about some muddy fun at their local pick your own farm…..

Pick your ownIt is that lovely time of the year when there is fruit in abundance so where better to spend a hot Friday morning than our local Pick Your Own farm. Little Man is a fruitaholic at the moment. I can’t get vegetables down him to save my life but he will gobble fruit to his heart’s content. He especially loves strawberries so a morning picking our own seemed like a top idea.

We arrived and collected three punnets so that we could gather some strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, just the right ingredients for a yummy summer pudding and off we went. Little Man, however, decided it was carry time. I don’t know about anyone else with a 2yr old but mine seems to insist on being carried everywhere! I must have the strongest arms of anybody around having to lump him everywhere. Stupidly I didn’t bring my sling so I had to juggle him, our bags and the punnets!

We managed to collect some strawberries and raspberries, without eating any would you believe, and headed down to find the blackberries. At this point my arms could take it no longer and we had a short stand off before Little Man suddenly discovered the blackberries. His mood instantly flipped and before I could say anything he was covered in blackberry juice. In fact with a juicy red mouth, hands and t-shirt he resembled a flesh eating zombie! He must have eaten his weight in blackberries before I managed to drag him away, convincing him he could have some of the strawberries once we had paid for them.

On the way back we came across some glorious muddy puddles and with looks of disdain from some of the other pickers Little Man was in deep, splashing around and having a whale of a time. He danced, sploshed, squidged and squealed, stomping and giggling. I loved watching him relish the cool muddy water as it splashed across his face. This was my little boy back. No more carrying or complaining, he was exploring and discovering as every little one should. I have to admit that at points during our visit we did get some disgusted looks and a few parents were particularly keen to point out to their children this was not the way to behave, shame really because some of the kids looked quite keen to join in. I know that Little Man was having a fabulous time and that a little bit, or even a lot of mud can actually do a lot of good.

Once the splashing was complete and he remembered the strawberries we headed back in to pay. I’m not sure they were too impressed with their muddy floor after Little Man has dragged himself through but they were very nice about it. Little Man had to be stripped down to get in the car and then sat and ate lots of strawberries before we headed home. Luckily there were just enough for him and Daddy to make two delicious summer puddings while I was at work the next day. Yummy!

Have you been picking your own yet this summer? How about some muddy puddle splashing? Are you squeamish about mud or happy for them to throw themselves in with complete abandon?

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.

Top tips for luring those indoor kids outside

Top tips for luring those indoor kids outside

Not all kids are keen on the outdoors. For some the lure of the TV or computer screen is just too much, for others it might be that they aren’t keen on bad weather and for some kids it might just be a confidence thing. Some toddlers go through a phase of wanting to stick with what they know and some teenagers just can’t be bothered. Whatever the reason, there is no doubt getting outdoors is good for them. So how can you lure them out of their indoor ways?

One really easy way to get them outdoors is to invite their friends out with you. If you have little ones then invite their friends over to play in the garden, set up lots of toys or loose parts in the garden and let them go. Playing with others is always preferable than sitting indoors on your own. If you have teenagers you might need to get away from home or you might lose them and their friends in that mess they call a bedroom. Take a trip to the seaside and treat them to chips and ice cream.

Share some outdoor food. Have a BBQ or get in some favourite goodies and have a picnic. Not only will it get your kids outdoors but it will also get you together as a family. What kid, no matter how attached to their gadgets or other indoor comforts, can resist some tasty treats. Replace the weekly takeaway with some outdoor food sharing over the summer and you can all enjoy some more outdoor time.

Pick one of your usual routes, to the shops, to school or to the local library and instead of driving choose to walk. Even if it isn’t possible to walk all the way, make an effort to walk part of the way. Just taking the time to walk somewhere familiar will give your kids the opportunity to discover new things and appreciate the little things that make the outdoors fun to be in. If you can make this part of a routine then you all spend some time noticing the changes in the seasons.

Play with water. For the older kids, start a water fight, they will love the chance to get their own back. For the littlies just fill up a washing up bowl and let them splash. The lure of water play will be too strong to resist.

Get some games going on. Is your teenager football mad but spends more time watching it? Have you played family rounders for a while? With the littlies try hide and seek in the garden or scavenger hunts. Your indoor babies might groan at first but once they get into it their competitive edge will shine through and they will have a whale of a time.

If your kids are the gadget collecting kind then get them outside with a camera. Send them on a photo mission or get outside and make a film. Give them some props and see what sort of movie they can create. Maybe your older kids  will want to share it on YouTube or whatever the latest social media trend is. If your teens are on instagram set them a challenge, at least one outdoor photo a day that proves they got outside with their friends. Set up a # you can share your photos on and get trending.

How do your lure your kids out from the murky depths of their bedrooms? Has your toddler suddenly decided the outdoors is not for them? We would love to know if these tips have helped or if you have any tips of your own to share. Join the conversation by posting on our facebook page Adventure Togs or tweeting us @Adventure Togs using the #adventurebugs.

Image used and modified under Creative Commons License. Original image can be found on flickr. Credit John Morgan