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.

10 Ways to Play Outdoors this Winter

10 ways to play outdoors this winter

Here at Adventure Togs we think winter is one of the best times to play outdoors. The wild weather combined with heaps of mud, rain and snow make for some great adventures. We have given you 10 ideas to get you started but, as always, we love to hear your ideas too!

Make multi-coloured ice building blocks. Fill up an ice tray or some other plastic containers with water and add different food colourings to make different coloured bricks. If it is cold enough where you live then leave them outside overnight and you will have ready-made play blocks for the morning. If not pop them in the freezer and then take them outside to play with so they won’t melt so quickly.

Go pattern hunting. Rain, mud, snow and ice all make great patterns. Check out all the different natural patterns you can find or make your own in the mud and the snow. Rain can be especially fascinating to watch, especially as you watch the way it falls on different surfaces.

Make some ice art. Raid the recycle bin and use all sorts of different shaped containers that can be filled with water. You could try freezing water in balloons too. Add food colouring and any natural materials you can find, such as leaves and berries, then leave the containers to freeze overnight. If you add some string in a loop before they freeze you will even be able to hang some of your art in the trees. Once frozen show off your art by decorating your garden with them or head on over to a local park and let others enjoy your art too.

Go sledding! If you have snow and a decent hill then this is a must but if you don’t have snow then see if you can find a suitable muddy slope to try. Look out for trip hazards though, muddy ground won’t be as smooth as snow so check it out before you take the plunge.

Just play. The wonders that winter brings with it from mud to snow make great play materials. There are plenty of twigs on offer as well as fallen leaves and big sploshy puddles. Go outdoors without a plan and see where your imagination take you, just revel in the fun of going wild.

Collect items for your winter nature table and discover this wonderful season in more detail. What treasures does winter have to offer and what can you find out about them?

Make snowmen and snow animals. See who can build the wackiest snow monster. If you don’t have any snow try making miniature versions out of mud. For both versions you can use twigs, leaves and berries to dress up your creations.

Build an igloo. If you are lucky enough to have deep snow then build yourself a mini igloo. If you don’t have snow then winter is a great time to go den building. There should be plenty of large twigs and fallen tree branches around so head on down to your local woods and make your very own hideout. Just avoid the woods in high winds though, you don’t want any of those branches falling on your head!

Go wildlife tracking. The winter can be the best time to spot signs of wildlife. Check mud and snow for prints. Look out for droppings and use the bare trees and hedges as places to spy on birds. Find out what had been prowling around your local area.

Get cooking. Winter is the perfect time to be playing in your mud kitchen. With all that mud and snow you could make some fabulous mud pies or winter ice lollies. Experiment and add some new recipes to your mud kitchen repertoire.

What are you favourite winter play ideas?

My featured post for this week is Coombe Mill’s Wildlife Trail. We think it is a great idea and will be a fabulous addition to the farm. Do you have a local wildlife trail, gruffalo trail or something similar near you?

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.

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!

 

 

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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

 

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.