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.

climbing3


Outdoor Blog Roundup – December

Outdoor Play Roundup

Merry Christmas everyone. We hope you are all suitably stuffed from all that Christmas food and that you have all had a magical time. What a wonderful time of the year it is! If you are ready for the Christmas wind down we have some lovely December posts to share that will have you back outdoors and playing in no time.

The first is from the fabulous Wild Family Fun. If your kids are ready to step up the risk factor in 2015 but the weather is holding you back then try an indoor climbing wall. These girls made it look easy and show us why climbing is a great sport to get involved in.

For all you fabulous teachers out there, the wonderful Kierna from Learning for Life shared a great guest post about how the children in Iceland learn to manage risk. Can you believe it? They don’t have to fill in risk assessments!

Red Peffer has the perfect way to blow away all those Christmassy cobwebs with a lovely welly walk. They have been visiting a local National Trust property but we reckon any muddy spot in your locale will do nicely.

Welly Walk Packwood House

Last but never least is Planet Pals Blog’s amazing ways to play in the snow. If you haven’t already got snow yet (we haven’t!) then be sure to pin this one because there are some great ideas in here. We can’t wait to try some snow painting!

Are your kids already fed up with all their toys? Over on facebook the fabulous Woodland Trust – nature detectives shared their 20 things to do with sticks download. Ahh, there is no better toy than a stick!

What was your stick?

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

Learning on a Simple Winter Walk

This month’s regular guest post from outdoors mummy blogger, Leila Balin is all about how her little man is learning all the time….

Learning on a simple winter walk

I love how a simple winter walk with any toddler will always be an adventure. They just find pleasure in every little detail. This weekend we headed down a lovely leaf littered path we hadn’t explored before and although it was pretty it didn’t look like it had much in the way of toddler entertainment. Looks were, however, deceiving and the amount of time exploring meant that we never even found out where the path led. We stopped, we played and we headed back the way we came before Little Man decided his legs could carry him no more.

Firstly it was the leaves that caught his attention. They were good for kicking and jumping in, he explored a few in great detail discussing their colour and their shape. Colours and shapes are important to him at the moment. He is learning about them at nursery and at every opportunity he will show off the shapes he knows and the colours he can pick out. It’s amazing how little ones learn with such relish, oblivious to the fact that learning should be anything but fun and exciting. Whatever he learns at nursery always transfers through to his play and I expect that has a lot to do with being taught through play too. I watch this miracle of knowledge gained and I wonder why learning ever needs to change. Why can’t it always be fun?

He soon moved on from the leaves to discovering stones. Stones are always good for throwing. Forget checking out their intricate colours or exploring their smooth shapes, how far can they be thrown? One of the ditches beside the path was full with water and besides asking if he could get in it (it was far too deep and cold!) every stone and twig he found from there on in was hurled as hard as he could. Giggles erupted every time the water exploded with a plop and a look of determination came over him whenever a throw failed. He soon discovered that the twigs didn’t make great tools for creating a splash and they were quickly discarded in favour of the stones.

Little Man trawled the same patch of path for what seemed an age, picking up stones he thought would be good for splashing and discarding anything that didn’t look promising. Each time he threw one in he waited to see what happened, getting more excited the bigger the splash. As he searched you could see his brain assessing the stones, comparing the stone in his hand to the ones he had thrown previously. Which ones would work and which ones wouldn’t. He was practising science. Experimenting as naturally as any true scientist does. For me this is simply more proof that our kids are all born ‘little scientists’ and that we don’t always have to try very hard at all to encourage them to explore their own natural curiosity. Get them outdoors and let them discover for themselves and before you know it they will have learnt more than we can ever teach them.

How do your little ones show off their inner scientist?

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.

My featured post for this week has to be Creative Star’s Outdoor Snacks and Drinks. We love Creative Star and we especially love this post. Eating outdoors is such a treat and this post shows just how much learning can take place simply by moving food outdoors. We really enjoyed the idea of a flask experiment. It sounds like great fun.

Outdoor snack 4

Why we love the nature table

Why we love the nature table

Do you remember having a nature table at school? We had a little one in the corner that every morning we would proudly place our collected treasures on. What I remember most about it is the chance to discover the items for myself. Pick them up, explore them, play with them and find out more about them in our small collection of natural history books.

I’m not sure how many schools have nature tables now but that is no reason for our kids not to get in on the action. Why not make one at home? All you need is a corner of a table or an easily accessible shelf and you are part of the way there. Once you have your designated nature space then the really fun part is filling it. You can do this by going on designated nature hunts or simply picking up things that interest you when you are out and about. However you collect for your table try to spend time each week or each month exploring the collection, finding out more about what you have found. Keep a little journal of what you find and have a pocket camera handy on your walks just in case you find something you can’t take home. It is such a great way to learn about nature and the learning really sticks because your kids will have discovered it all for themselves.

Here are just some of the reasons why we love nature tables….

They look delightful. All the different textures and colours of nature look lovely all sat together in one place. There is no need to hide away any of your treasures.

With a nature table you can really explore the seasons, discovering what happens in nature and when. Why do certain colours turn up at certain times of year? At what times of the year do you discover the same things? How does the table change as the seasons change? If this becomes a long term task in your house then your kids won’t just learn about the objects they find but they will discover how it all works together.

Collecting treasures for your table will create all sorts of lovely family memories. Do you remember when you found the biggest conker ever? How about that bit of seaweed that we found out was a shark’s egg? Do you remember you fell in the mud trying to reach that stick and you lost your wellies?

Having little bits of nature on display at home can remind us of how connected we are to all it has to offer. It reminds us that we don’t exist only inside our own little bubbles and that sometimes we should stop, relax and enjoy what the world has to offer.

A nature table offers something different to every individual. Whether you have a budding scientist, artist or engineer the nature table will have something for them. Some kids will love to discover the textures, shapes and colours of things, others will revel in discovering more through books while some children will use items as prompts for play and storytelling. The beauty of a nature table is that it is personal no matter how many people contribute to it.

Do you remember having a nature table at school? Do you and your family already have one? We’d love to hear your nature table stories. Send them over to us on our facebook page Adventure Togs or catch up with us on twitter @Adventure Togs. See you there!

 

 

12 Christmas Pressie Ideas for the Outdoors Kid

12 Christmas Pressie Ideas

Are you one of those super organised people that has Christmas done and dusted and ready to go by 29th November? No, neither am I. Present shopping is often left till the last minute and I always struggle to know what to get, even when I have been presented with a two page long list from both boys. If like me you struggle to know what to buy then take a look at our list of 12 Christmas pressie ideas that are perfect for any kid who just loves the outdoors.

Is your little one showing signs of green fingers? Then how about a gardening set. You can buy ready made ones but we think it is much more fun putting together your own kit. Add some kiddie sized tools, some spring flower bulbs, some super cute kids gardening gloves and their very own watering can. If you have the space in your garden you could even buy them their very own tree to plant. Winter is the perfect time for planting trees and this could be a lovely opportunity for your kids to learn and enjoy their pressie for years to come.

How about a telescope for stargazing? Kids telescopes can start from as little as £12 so they don’t have to be expensive. The BBC run their Stargazing LIVE throughout January so this could be the perfect time to get your kids excited about the sky. Add some star charts and some stargazing books and this makes a lovely kit for any kid mad about space.

Create your own den building kit. A couple of tarpaulins, some rope, some pegs and some camouflage nets and you have about all you need to make your very own waterproof dens. Any outdoor loving boy or girl will love this kit but be careful, you might lose them on Christmas day to the garden as they create their very own hidey hole.

Put together an animal tracking kit. You will need some tracking id sheets and some plaster of paris for casting any tracks you might find. You could include a camera and magnifying glass and even an animal tracking book. This kit will certainly liven up your boxing day walk and who knows, if we have a white Christmas your kids will be fully equipped to find out what wildlife has been trudging round the local neighbourhood.

Create the perfect fairy garden kit. Any little one with a wild imagination and a soft spot for fairies will love this idea and the great thing is, you can include anything you like in your kit. Some ideas might be some flower pots, dolls house furniture, pine cones, acorn hats, bundles of twigs, special stones, mini butterflies. The list is endless and totally dependent on your imagination. Can you imagine your little ones excitement as they create their very own fairy garden on Christmas Day?

Buy them an annual pass to their favourite outdoor attraction. Do your kids love the zoo, the local farm or even the local nature reserve. If you buy them an annual pass not only will you keep them happy but it will save you loads of money across the year too!

Build them a mud kitchen. Do your kids love cooking up all sorts of muddy concoctions? With a mud kitchen there will be no end to the potions, cakes and mudpies they can create. You will need a corner of your garden, some old kitchen/storage cupboards, a sink if possible, if not then a washing up bowl will do and some old pots, pans and utensils. If you go for this as a gift they might even make you Christmas dinner!

A selection of balls and bats could be the perfect gift, especially if your kids love sports. Why not enjoy them as a family? Forget monopoly and spend your Christmas day playing rounders – kids versus grown ups.

Give them a tent and camping kit. If your kids are old enough to stay in their own tent, even if it is just in the back garden, this could be a lovely gift. Their very own tent, torch and sleeping bag will give them a flash of independence that they won’t want back. If you decide it is too cold to camp out on Boxing Day evening (you know they will want to!) then hijack the front room and let them have their first independent camping adventure.

Put together some pond dipping/rock pooling/bug hunting kits. You can buy kits on the internet but we think you can get more from your money by putting your own kits together. You will need nets, trays, id charts, magnifying glasses, pots and a bucket. Just imagine the adventures you can all have with these kits across the whole year.

Keep them moving on a scooter or a bike. To be fair this is probably one that is on the top of many Christmas lists but we still think it is a good one. Getting out on a bike is a great way of enjoying the great outdoors and you can create some fabulous family memories on family bike rides. Don’t forget the safety helmets though!

Wrap them up warm in cosy hats, scarves, gloves and coats. Keep them outdoors despite the cold by making sure they have all the right clothes from thermal socks to fleece lined all in ones. Check out the Adventure Togs shop for some top notch outdoor clothing for kids.

We hope our list has helped you if you were stuck for ideas. Do you have any to add to the list?

My featured post for this week is Glimmer of Hopes Book Love. Books are so important for our little ones and it is lovely to see her son building a love for them. Its also great to see him getting outdoors with his books, they definitely aren’t just for the indoors.

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

 

Gloopy Water Play

This month’s regular guest post from outdoors mummy blogger, Leila Balin is all about gloopy water play….

Water play guest post November

This weekend we finally got around to letting Little Man play with his water table. I filled it up with lovely warm bubbly water and he couldn’t wait to get stuck in. Being a typical boy his monster truck was invited to join in the fun. At first his play was quite subdued, slowly pushing along his little boats and exploring the bubble. That was until he realised the monster truck had special powers. If he wound the wheels up while it was in the water and then lifted it out it became a magnificent sprayer and rainbow maker. In the sun all the little water droplets looked like jewels and he was totally enthralled. He loves rainbows at the moment, seeing them in absolutely everything (he even made a rainbow with some kale whilst making dinner this evening!) so he was completely thrilled when he realised he could catch little glimpses of a rainbow whilst playing with his monster truck. Who knew monster trucks and rainbows went together?

Once the rainbow exploration had run its course he was back on to one of his favourite activities – cooking. He started making cups of tea for us both and after a couple of those I remembered the cornflour I had stashed in the cupboard. I ran back in to grab some and found some blue food colouring while I was there. As soon as he saw the blue he wanted it so I dripped some in for him so he could watch the effect it had on the water. He insisted on doing it himself and the whole bottle was gone in a second! Unfortunately, once it had created an initial cloud of blue it dispersed quite quickly and with the base of the tray being blue it was difficult to see what effect it had. Little Man didn’t mind though, the bottle made a great container for him to pour water from his watering can into. He loves transporting water and will spend hours doing it, at one point water was being moved over to his digger bucket and then poured all over the grass. He even had me shifting water!

Once he was ready I poured in some cornflour for him. At first he didn’t really notice the effect it had on the water but before long his hands were sunk against the bottom squidging through the gloop. ‘More Mummy, more’ he shouted so in some more went. As the water got milkier we could see the blue food colouring taking effect. He loved feeling the gloop run through his fingers and watching the way it behaved as it poured it from one container to another. Slowly though he lost interest and we were off round the garden playing in the treehouse and hunting for snails. He was very good though and helped tidy everything up, helping me wash away the cornflour from the bottom of the water tray and watching as it all seeped into the grass.

Have you tried cornflour gloop in your water table yet? What other messy recipes have you tried? I’ve heard sand mousse is good.

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.

My featured post for this week has to be Coombe Mill’s ‘Preparing for Bonfire Night’. The crazy ribbon sparklers they created are gorgeous and such a lovely alternative to the real thing, she also had some great tips for keeping safe on such a busy night. Please pop on over and have a read, her blog is fabulous.

5 easy nature Christmas decorations

5 easy Christmas decorations

I know, I know, it is only November and I have already mentioned Christmas. I feel ashamed but I can’t help being excited. Getting the decorations out and making everything all shiny and twinkly is probably one of my favourite parts of Christmas. When the boys were smaller it was much more fun but they do still love it. Part of the Christmas tradition has always been to make a decoration each year and here are a few that are really easy and will give you just the excuse you need to go out for a lovely winter scavenger walk.

Make your own Christmas Star. Collect some twigs of equal length, you will need 5 in total. Place them in a star formation and secure the corners with glue or use string to lash the ends together (use both for extra strength). Then decorate your twigs with spray paint and glitter. Use some ribbon to create a loop at one of the points and your twinkling star is ready to hang.

Pine cone decorations are super easy and can become anything you want. Use lots of glitter and spray paint to create your own alternative to baubles. To create the loop use cotton thread in a matching colour. The cotton should be plenty strong enough and will create a delicate effect. If you want to get more creative you can let your imagination go wild and create all sorts of delights such as a pine cone Father Christmas or reindeers.

Create beautiful rosehip garlands by using a needle and thread to connect the rosehips together. This activity is brilliant for older children’s fine motor skills and the results are lovely. Perfect for adding colour to your Christmas decs.

Make a twig Christmas tree. Find a coloured piece of card and cut it to Christmas tag size. Use a hole-punch to create a hole in the centre top and thread it with ribbon to create your loop. Collect different size twigs going from large to small. Place these on the card with the largest at the bottom and the smallest at the top. If you need to trim off the ends to help create a uniform triangle shape. Use three similar length twigs placed upright underneath your tree to create a pot and then using some more coloured card and glitter add a twinkling star to the top. Once you have your lay out secure it all with a touch of glue.

Create lovely twin acorn decorations by tying each end of a piece of string around the bottom of the acorn hats to join the two acorns together. Decorate the tops with glittery nail varnish to get a neat finish and write your first initial on one and your last initial on the other. Once dry then hang them from the middle of the string and you have a lovely personalised Christmas decoration.

The best part about all of these decoration ideas is that you need to spend time outdoors collecting materials for them and while the weather is damp it is worth bringing them in and letting them dry out a bit before you use them. Do you make any of your own Christmas decorations? We would love to hear all about them on our facebook page or tweet us @adventuretogs with the hashtag #adventurebugs. We love to hear your ideas and share them with our readers!

5 quick tips to help you achieve some outdoor time every day

outdoor play button 1 (1)

I will be working with the lovely Kierna from Learning for Life, Jen from Kitchen Counter Chronicles, Leila from Mud Mud Marvellous Mud and Linda from Rain or Shine Mamma to bring you lots of fun outdoor ideas. If you get a chance do pop on over to their blogs, they are all brilliant reads and full of lots of outdoor fun. Just what we like over here at Adventure Togs.

For us, as probably for many of you, getting outdoors now the weather has turned is becoming slightly more of a chore. The extra layers have come out and the heating is humming but when we do finally brave the big chill we feel so much better for it. So here are 5 quick tips to help you achieve some outdoor time every day.

5 quick tips