Thursday, 23 July 2015

50 Outdoor Activities for the Summer Holidays

The Summer Holidays have started & we're looking forward to many days together outdoors. Here are 50 of our favourite activities to have fun & explore the beautiful Summer season.

1. Enjoy some shade on a nature walk through local woodland.

2. Create your own land art in your garden or local park with sticks collected on a woodland walk.
3. Design & build your own Water Wall.
4. Create a magical world at the bottom of your garden.
5. Get creative at the beach & create your own sand art. Can you make a monster, mermaid, or pirate using seaweed, driftwood, & pebbles?

6. Have a tide fight. Build sandcastles with friends near the sea & wait to see which sandcastle will survive the longest.

7. Go crabbing by the sea, or fishing in a local lake.

8. Explore rock pools.

9. Collect shells from the beach & make a beautiful wind chime.
10. Explore the flowers in your garden with these 10 activities.
11. Make mud pies

12. Discover & play in a mud bath!
13. Create your own Flower Sprinkler from a milk carton.
14. Make your own play dough ice-cream stand
15. Take a picnic & go an adventure to a local park, woodland or beach.
16. Create a coffee shop or tea room in your own backyard.
17. Roll down a hill!

18. Hold a seaweed swinging competition at the beach. How far can you throw the seaweed into the sea.

19. Cool off in the summer sun with some ice play.
20. Create your own ocean.
21. Explore a little science & make a rainbow using a garden hose/sprinkler & sunshine.
22. Create a nature wand using summer flowers & leaves.
23. Paint outside using a space hopper & patio toys!
24. Have fun with homemade spray paint.
25. Host your own Olympic Games for your toys.
26. Stay up a little later & go on a sunset walk.

27. Go camping some place new, or in your back garden.

28. Stay up late & watch a night sky & stars appear.

29. Make an outdoor Zip Wire for toys
30. Build a den

31. Explore the life of a pond & how it changes over the Summer.

32. Play with the clouds on sticks!
33. Go on a bug hunt with these bug spotter sticks.
34. Create new worlds with these magical mini doors.
35. Explore & play in the rain with these 20 Activities.

36. Wash toys outside in the paddling pool.

37. Play Poohsticks with your family at a nearby bridge
38. Create a butterfly garden, or a simple space for wildlife.
39. Build a boat or raft & set sail on a new adventure.
40. Make your own traffic signs for outdoor play. Learn about road safety & what signs mean.
41. Create simple lanterns to decorate summer evenings.
42. Go on a butterfly hunt. How many caterpillars, moths or butterflies can you find, & where did you find them?

43. Grow a bean tepee tent! Great for producing homegrown veggies & great as a natural tent to play in!

44. Make a collection of crazy play dough bugs.
45. Create a garden mosaic.
46. Climb & explore trees.

47. Make your own drumsticks from sunflowers!
48. Make your own desert island.
49. Upcycle & create garden snails
50. Decorate your garden throughout the season with these hovering dragonflies.

Wishing you a happy Summer filled with many outdoor adventures that will make magical memories for many years to come. 

Monday, 20 July 2015

Giant Story Cubes - Explore favourite tales or create your own

Looking for a creative & alternative way to explore stories? How about these giant DIY storytelling cubes. These are great for exploring familiar stories, as well as encouraging children to create new ones. Perfect for sparking imagination & ideal for a range of ages.

We used large card boxes from a craft store, but any upcycled box would work just as well.

Encourage the children to draw 6 different images on each side of the cube. They could draw absolutely anything & just let their imaginations run free, or if you're following a topic or theme, or focusing on a particular story they could add relevant illustrations to the cube.

Once completed the children can use the giant cube to construct a story.

 You could encourage them to roll the cube & the picture lands face up is the starting prompt for their story. Their narrative could be as long or as short as they wish, & they could roll the cube as many times as they desire as long as they incorporate each new image into their story. 

This creative activity not only encourages & inspires imagination & storytelling, but it also offers children as chance to share their narratives & ideas without the need to write it down. It's especially useful for kinesthetic learners, & those who may struggle with expressing their ideas on paper.

It's also just a neat way to encourage confidence, & have fun with stories.

Friday, 17 July 2015

How to Make Rose Petals Dance - Outdoor Science with Nature

How do you make rose petals dance? Here's a step by step guide.

First collect handfuls of rose petals that have recently fallen onto the ground. Make sure the petals have no bugs or beetles on them & carefully carry them to your trampoline.

Stand in the middle of your trampoline & throw the petals up into the air so that they fall & land around your feet!

Then jump, jump, JUMP! 

As you jump watch how the rose petals 'dance' around your feet.

A great nature inspired Summer activity which offers sensory play as well as plenty of physical play. It's also a neat way to explore a little science & the effects of force, motion & weight. You could try moving your body in a different way, what would happen to the rose petals then, would they still dance? Or you could try dropping a football, tennis ball, or pebble onto the trampoline & make predictions as to whether they would cause the rose petals to move in the same way? Or how about going underneath the trampoline, lying on your back & kicking the base, what would that cause the rose petals to do?

Simple Summer outdoor fun with oodles of learning & discovery too!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

How to Make Space for Toads & Frogs in your Garden

Why would you want to make space for toads in the garden? Surprisingly toads are a blessing to gardeners! This may sound strange to some but it's true. These amazing creatures are brilliant at providing pest control which of course makes them a very welcome guest in any garden or veggie patch which are so often plagued by slugs, snails, caterpillars & more.

So how do you encourage toads into your garden?

For the last few months we've been rethinking our garden & how we can create areas which will encourage more wildlife. When we've been cutting the lawn we've left several small areas of grass to  grow wild & have been amazed at the results. Within these 'wild' patches of grass we've seen several types of wild flowers & clover & as a result we've seen more bees & butterflies hovering around the lawn.

Yesterday however we made a new discovery in one of our wild areas & Minnie found a baby toad sheltering in a shady spot towards the edge of the garden. This got me thinking how we could offer more space for toads & frogs in our outdoor area. 

We don't have a pond in our garden yet so Minnie was surprised & delighted to discover this new visitor. We talked about how amphibians live both on land & in water & that toads & frogs only need a pond during the breeding season when they lay their spawn, at other times they can be found in shady spots on land. 

To get a closer look at her new garden visitor she carefully scooped the toad up in her hands & rested it on her leg. This gave her a real opportunity to see close up how it's body & limbs moved, as well as how nimble & quick it was.

She wanted to make a little den for the toad so grabbed a nearby tub & instructed us to add a couple of rocks & some leaves. She gently lowered the toad in & watched with interest as it explored its new habitat.

This gave her a chance to see how easily the toad could blend into its surroundings & camouflage itself, & gave us a chance to discuss why this was necessary for frogs, toads & other animals. 

After five minutes or so we let our little toad hop free again, & soon it was back in the cool shade of the long grass where it had sprung from.

If you're interested in attracting toads or frogs into your outdoor space but don't have a pond, here are a few simple ideas to try:

* Leave a small area (or areas) of your lawn uncut in shady cool spot in your garden.
* Build a pile of logs, branches, pebbles etc in a corner of your garden to create a shady spot
* Don't use pesticides or chemicals which are toxic to wildlife
* Grow a selection of plants in your garden that will provide plenty of shade & moisture at ground level.
* Create a small shallow ditch which can hold water or collect rainwater throughout the year.
* Make sure there is a gap somewhere around your garden where toads or frogs can move to & from other gardens nearby.

Our next project is to build a Toad Den in our garden close to where we found our baby toad, watch this space.

If you found this helpful you might also like our Wildflower Rainbow, Mini Wild Meadow & Bug Spotter Sticks

Monday, 13 July 2015

Nature Weaving with Herbs - Using Fish Shape Frames

These nature weavings not only look beautiful but they smell gorgeous too. Made from natural materials they're also a neat activity to share on a camping trip or nature walk. 

 We recently had a tidy of our garden & were left with several fresh rowan tree branches. These were so thin & pliable & perfect to bend into our simple fish shapes.

To make our fish frames we made sure we used the most flexible thin branches & removed any leaves. We then carefully bent each branch over to form a fish shape, & secured with a pipe cleaner. You could use string or twine to secure the ends of the stick, but for children the pipe cleaner was easier & quicker to use. To make sure the stick holds its shape wind the pipe cleaner around in a crisscross pattern. 

We threaded a length of string through the sticks to complete our frame, making sure we wound it around each stick twice so it would stay in place. To secure we simply knotted the ends.

Younger children may find it easier to use a pipe cleaner to create a slightly simpler weaving frame.

We used a selection of herbs from the garden, but you could use any grasses, flowers or leaves to weave with.

We started threading each herb through our frame & it slowly started to take shape. The beauty of this is that you can add as much or as little as you like. It's a great activity for young children to practice manipulation & fine motor skills, as well as create their own pattern & design with nature. 

The different herbs offer a multisensory aspect to the activity too, as each herb is threaded its delicate scent is released. If children are unfamiliar with herbs & their properties this is a neat, hands-on way to introduce them. 

When each design is complete they can be hung indoors or outside by a length of string. We decorated a tree in our garden with a few of these & we now have one hanging on our kitchen wall. As the herbs dry they still retain their scent which is a wonderful addition to my kitchen. 

Simple & relaxing to create, these woven fish make a fun outdoor activity for all ages to share together. 

If you enjoyed this you might also like our

Friday, 10 July 2015

Gardening with Kids - Growing Potatoes

I am loving this time of year! Our veggie patch is springing up & offering us many tasty treasures. I had to share with you the golden nuggets we unearthed yesterday! The excitement & joy of digging in the mud & discovering potatoes was just magic to observe! 

The squeal of joy as the first potato was unearthed was soon followed by many more as further treasures were found!

It seems no time at all since we planted our seed potatoes earlier this year & we each made predictions as to how many spuds would grow from each potato. I think Minnie was astounded by the quantity & amazed at the variety of sizes she was digging up, they had certainly exceeded her earlier predictions. 

After some further collecting on the veggie plot we had some beautiful fresh ingredients ready for a tasty meal. 

Potatoes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow with kids. Even with limited outdoor space you can produce a good crop, we grew potatoes in a large shopping bag one year! All we did was just add a few drainage holes to the base & some good compost & the plants grew really well. 

Potatoes just need a sunny spot, regular watering, & an eye kept on them as they start to grow. When the first green leaves appear, cover them over with soil & repeat as more leaves grow through the soil. If planting potatoes in March/April you should have a crop by June/July perfect for eager little gardeners to dig up in the summer. 

A few years ago I would've said there is nothing nicer than collecting veggies & fruit from your garden, but now the nicest thing for me is watching my daughter happily harvesting the crops she has planted, & listening to her infectious excitement & joy as she discovers what nature has produced! 

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