The Great Outdoors
The most simplest of Playtimes.
Hallelujah! Summer is nearly here. I can’t even put into words as to how I feel about Summer. I live for it and mourn it’s loss till about the first hot day of the year.
But what does Summer mean for me as a mum?
The Great Outdoors!
Bye-bye ram packed screaming softplays, dark over air-conditioned cinemas and painting yet another piece of pottery that yes, I have to return to the shop to pick up! (long). Hello gardens, parks, farms, forests and anywhere where my kids can run freely whilst unleashing their inner lunatic. (Not so much “inner” with my two – but we weren’t really expecting anything more, or less to be honest!)
The benefits of outdoor play are endless: Exploring and learning through different sensory experiences, developing motor skills and not to mention the many health benefits (both physical and mental). However, from a constantly tired mother (a whole other story), it all boils down to this one mightly important reason, which, we all know about really. Research shows that babies, toddlers and children sleep better if they’ve had some fresh air and sunshine during the day.
EVERYONE OUTSIDE NOW!!!
Coming second to this is the fact that outdoor play doesn’t break the bank. Here I will share my top 4 things to do with my kids that are, you guessed it, absolutely free! And to top it off I’ll throw in some useful links to get you well on your way to some fun outdoor play.
- Scavenger Hunt
The second I gave my 6 year old Paul the sheet below, (on a clipboard with a somewhat funky pen) he was sold. Clipboards mean “this is serious stuff” to a 5 year old and a pen that has never been seen before – well – they’re gonna be wondering what else you’ve got up your sleeve. So simple – something that’s differnet to them. If you regularly use clipboards and funky pens with your kids then there’s still lots more to this! (but I strongly believe in setting the scene).
The below scavenger hunt sheet is available to download via: https://www.stayathomemum.com.au/printables/nature-scavenger-hunt-free-printable/
Whilst it was the most appropriate one I could find for my kids (aged 2 and a half and 5 and a half), there’s loads more to choose from if you’re up for something more challenging!
This is such a good activity if you don’t really feel like being super active but still want to get some fresh air! My son was so hyperactive when he was younger that being outdoors meant me running…(sprinting) after him. I wish I tried this one years ago.
But handsdown the best thing about this activity is that the kids are being mindful. Being one with nature and using all of their senses to just be in the moment. A brilliant one for everyone really. Being outdoors in beautiful weather makes it so much easier to just be.
Also a big LOL: Watch them nearly poop (put politely) themselves when they find some of the harder items on the list. Then, return to sensible parentng and enjoy that such things can make them that excited.
Apart from actually finding the items (can a cloud be called an “item”?), both Paul and Lily really loved giving the box a big tick. I could literally see the satisfaction oozing out of them – like – “I’ve got a box to tick, I have ticked it, I have accoplished something”. And they really did!
I guess we’re all just trying to tick our boxes in life, whether they’re visible or not.
Also, it sparked up an interesting conversation about the boxes that we didn’t manage to tick. Disappointment is natural in life and this is a really easy way to talk about it with kids. Remember, it’s not to say you won’t ever get to tick the butterfly off, it just means that you may tick that box another time, whether it be next week, month or year. We only did ours a few days ago, so believe me, i’m on a massive butterfly hunt!
We did this hunt in our garden, but I strongly suggest taking them to a forest for this one. Trent park is lovely as is Capel Manor gardens for these kind of things.
- Super Hero Sports Day
So I’ll be honest – we haven’t managed to get round to this one yet but I can’t wait to do this, obviously I’ve got it all planned out!
Firstly, to set the scene, make a poster a few days before, noting your family and friends of the date, time and location of the sports day. Very serious business and a great little activity where your kid is unknowingly practicing their fine motor skills and writing through art.
Hang this on the front door and rope anyone who dares visit you that week! People will feel too bad to say no (given how much effort went into the poster!) or they’ll be genuinely intrigued by the crazy seriousness of it all.
Before the time arrives set up a table (with the kids) of water and oranges. My kids absolutely love helping out in the kitchen and laying tables so I’m sure they’ll like this. Place some plastic medals on the table (all supermarkets will have their own in the kids party section – a multipack for partybags – cheap and cheerful). Remember – everyone gets a medal at the end! Also – mum doubles up as referee – standard procedures (everyone knows to listen to mum!).
Set the games up whilst the children are getting ready in their super hero sports day outfits. The more ridiculous the better! (And don’t forget your own one – we’ve found tea-towels tied together make great capes!). The Games are totally adaptable to you but here’s a couple that we’ve got scheduled:
Classic egg and spoon race. Give everyone a real egg please. You wouldn’t cook with a plastic egg would you? (Note: Save this game till last – you don’t want to be doing a wheelbarrow race over raw eggs!)
Broom Hockey. This was originally an indoor game that Lily made up and we can’t wait to play it outside! Get as many brooms as you have – we only have three so make sure people bring a broom if they can (a strange request to ask of a guest). Only play with close family and friends and still with the risk of looking a bit loopy. Form two teams; score by using your broom as a hockey stick to sweep the ball in the goal. Easy peasy. Note: the smaller toy brooms are really good for little ones to get better control!
After all the games – pick your favourites, we’ll definately be adding rounders to ours – total which team won and get the mumaree to present all team memebers (not just winners) with a medal. Speeches welcome.
Make them useful and play Car Wash! (as long as you can safely park the car in a driveway). Give them warm soapy water, sponges and scrapers and then let them hose it down after. Whenever we’ve played this I’ve printed out some ‘Car Wash Coupons’ that I found online (good old scene setting again!).
Available to download @ https://freeprintablesonline.com/2018/08/printable-car-wash-tickets/
We also blast music from the radio, everyone’s happy when the sun’s out so nobody will mind (I hope!). The kids get absolutely soaked and are happy to receive some change – the rule being, whatever money you find in the car you can keep for your “hard work”. Paul found £7 last time – I could have added a few onto there and gone to an actual carwash! (but where’s the fun in that?). To be honest, daddy always plants the money there. Sweet – I wish someone planted money where I cleaned. I’d be a billionaire!
- Teddybears picnic
This was actually something Paul did at nursery a couple of years ago. They all made invitations to their chosen teddy regarding the picnic and simply put, they all had a little snack in the garden with their teddies. Cute. Paul loved it so much that we reacreated it with the addition of Lily and her collection of ducks.
Firstly, make the invitation. If you want to look super cool download this one from http://kidspartyinvites.blogspot.com/2009/03/teddy-bears-picnic.html
We decided to invite three teddy’s each, as, being just the three of us, we didn’t want our party to look lame, plus, we always make more food than we can actually eat so plenty to go round!
Secondly, make the picnic. Paul learnt how to make a cheese sandwhich (with a star cookie cutter) and enjoyed cutting up the fruit and veggies. This was great as we got to discuss some very basic knife safety tips whilst in the kitchen.
Lastly, lay out lots of blankets and set the picnic up and enjoy. It’s amazing how much kids actually enjoy helping.
All fingers and toes crossed that the weather allows us to enjoy the Great British Outdoors!