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.

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 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