Tag: nature play (Page 1 of 27)
What is nature based learning? Nature based learning is a form of learning and development via the immersion in nature, which also has underlying conservation values as well. It develops a life long connection to the natural world for the children, and puts nature at the centre of their learning. I will go into the benefits of nature based learning another time, and you can find ideas for nature based learning here, but today I just want to give an overview of what nature based learning entails.
Many authors have helped increase the awareness of the fact that children should be in the outdoors as much as possible. One of my favourite reads about this topic is Richard Louv’s “Last Child In The Woods”, you can check out my other favourite outdoor reads here. In addition to this, the popularity and provision of things such as Forest Schools and Nature Preschools have also increased.
As a previously home schooling mum of three, we chose to base our learning around nature as much as possible, and I saw the benefits with their enthusiasm which then naturally lead to better and more fun learning experiences. Nature draws most children and excites them to learn. We would either learn about specific nature based topics, or we used nature as an accessory to another learning topic. However, you will find that nature topics use a range of educational skills that are needed for their learning development.
What is Nature Based Learning & Tips To Get Started:
- Get outdoors!! Take all subjects into the great outdoors. Think of the outdoors as your classroom. Be committed to getting outdoors in every season (however brief depending on your climate extremes!!), and invest in good outdoor gear to achieve this 🙂
- Nature props: If you can’t be outdoors, bring nature indoors with you, and use it as props to aid your learning, still basing your subject around the presence of nature.
- Immersive experiences: Provide experiences which can be immersive and very hands on. One of the main principles about nature based learning, and why it is so effective, is because of the interaction children are having with nature.
- Environmental activities: Taylor your learning activities with your local environment in mind, and change the types of environments you are visiting too, to broaden the experience.
- Pace setting: Let your child set the pace….don’t hurry or rush them. Allow them time to explore and ask questions, and the direction the learning takes may even change! It’s absolutely fine to have a plan, but allow for it to change and be encouraged by the learning that happens due to having the flexibility to do this.
Good Resources For Nature Based Learning:
- A Nature Curriculum: The nature curriculum we have used is, “Exploring Nature with Children. A complete, year-long curriculum”. It is a beautifully written framework, written by Raising Little Shoots, and can be found over at https://raisinglittleshoots.com/ It suggests a topic for the week, and then provides some background information and suggestions for nature journaling and outdoor exploring. It also provides a comprehensive suggested reading list (fiction and non-fiction) for each week, plus a poem and a piece of art to study. There are extension activity ideas too. We used the topic as the theme for our week, and followed the ideas for our journaling, and one fiction book.
- The Almanac: This is a yearly guide (so we are now using “The Almanac, A Seasonal Guide to 2018” by Lia Leendertz) that connects you to the months and seasons of the year through activities such as exploring the night sky, foraging, feast days and seasonal eating, and a few other subjects too.
- Spotter books are a good place to start when exploring an environment, and can help identify what you are looking at as well.
- Forest Schools are springing up all over the place. If your child is school aged or not home schooled (so you can’t attend this on a weekly basis), they very often have weekend/holiday activity days as well.
- There are lots of books out there as well for background reading about what is nature based learning. I have already mentioned that I have written about my favourites in another blog post 🙂
What is nature based learning in terms of how much or how little? The great thing about nature based learning is that you can do it as much or as little as you want. You can either take on a few learning activities or craft ideas, or you can immersive yourselves and your little ones into it completely and base their whole learning experience on this method. You can pick and mix to find the balance that works for you, your children, and your family as a whole.
In the future I will write about the benefits of nature based learning, and nature based learning ideas, but in the meantime you can check out our Nature Based Learning Category for inspiration.
This month I have done the first of 12 monthly simple lists to help you get your Vitamin N with your little people. Have a read and get some February outdoor inspiration . Don’t forget to head back at the start of each month to check out the month’s new list 🙂
Any form of getting children into the outdoors is a good one. Whether it is a gentle potter around the back garden, a good old hike for older ones across the countryside, if it is for 5 minutes or 5 hours, the benefits can still be reaped. As the author Richard Louv famously suggests, we should be using vitamin N (N for nature) as treatment for nature deficit disorder.
However, we also know that, especially during these darker, damper, winter months, it can be extremely hard to drum up the enthusiasm to head outdoors and do everything that getting out there entails. I will be the first to admit it is blooming hard work convincing three small people that they really do want to go out, and then shoehorning them into various weather proof outfits. That is why each month, at the start of the month, I will add onto the freebies page, a monthly list of 10 activities you can do to help inspire you to head out there for your dose of vitamin N with your little, or not so little, people. These are some of the things I do with my three to give me some direction and an aim for getting them out there, which often helps everyone’s frame of mind.
The aim behind the ideas for getting vitamin N is that they are all very simple so shouldn’t put you off, and if you need a little more convincing about the ideas where mud is involved head over and have a read as to why mud and dirt are worth all the extra effort 🙂 Vitamin N can be achieved without sitting in the middle of a forest, wild camping, and hunting for your supper!! It can be achieved by just stepping outside your front door (or back door), onto whatever awaits you out there.
I hope through these activities you make a lot of happy memories, have fun together, and enjoy being outside. If you need more information about an activity, I have blogged about doing most of them, so if you type in a few keywords in the search box, you should then be able to get some more information, or see what we have done in the past.
Let me know how you get on in the comments below for each month, I will love hearing about your experiences. You can also share your experiences on social media too, it will give others ideas and I can keep up with what you are all doing. Use the #fridayoutdoorfun on your instagram photos, and don’t forget to join in with our Friday outdoor fun thread (every Friday). And if the children have got mucky, then join in with our Mucky Mondays thread (every Monday) over on Facebook .
Just subscribe to the blog and you will receive an email with the password for the freebies page, and then you are all set to access every month’s new ideas by clicking on the month’s thumbnail in the freebies tab. Have fun!!!
I will be the first to admit there are definitely days when I would rather hibernate from the Swedish weather battering our island, or I am just too tired to tackle the issues that arise with dressing three small children for the elements (talking more about winters than summers here, and you can read a previous post here about those trials and tribulations). However, outdoor play is something that all children need, and to be honest mine are easier to handle after using their energy up in the great outdoors, and we generally have a better day together as well. This post is to give you some top tips on making getting out there a little bit easier for everyone, and more enticing for our little people. This post is not to promote the benefits of outdoor play, but you could read these other posts I have written about the benefits nature play and outdoor play.
15 Tips To Encourage Outdoor Play:
- Have basic things in your outside space to encourage play. Water tables (mine even love just playing with a watering can that has filled with rain water), sand pits, and simple mud kitchens are all easy ideas. For our mud kitchen we have an old table, some old pans, and some old spoons. It’s not had any money spent on it, and they use the surrounding nature mixed with water the rain has collected in various places. Also having basic tools is good such as little trowels.
- Take the indoors outside. In better weather (I’m all for limiting the clear up operation!) allow indoor toys in the outdoors. Mine love making up small world imaginary games, such as hiding the dinosaurs in the bushes etc
- Invest in a basic night time star chart (the National Trust do a fab night time explorers kit) and go out looking for the star constellations. This is a really good activity in the winter months when it gets dark so early, but you may not want to be cooped up inside for the rest of the day.
- Dress them appropriately, as if they get wet/cold they will not want to stay out in the colder weather, and also you’ll be faced with a pile of washing. Weatherproof them from head to toe throughout the cooler months and you will be more relaxed about them wading and splashing through the deepest of puddles. In the warmer months, use old clothes and try not to let them see how much the dirt issue is getting to you, or show you are thinking about the clear up operation! (read here why it is good for them). This, along with leaping around climbing trees, is one of the hardest things I find to bite my tongue about…
- Don’t let the little people hear you voice the weather conditions as an excuse for not doing outdoor play. I would often rather stay indoors in the poorer weather, but until us adults start being negative about it, the children don’t have so much of an issue. They will pick up on our vibes though and will learn habits of avoiding weather such as rain. It is hard, but dig deep for that enthusiasm for a good old splash about.
- Get them into any nearby open spaces, and take their lead. Don’t make suggestions or comments, just let them be and see what happens…..let the magic begin!
- Spotter books are a great accessory to outdoor play. They can be for beaches, gardens, woods, the list is endless. It can give some direction when enthusiasm from both sides is low, a focus and a talking point. In the poorer weather we take a look at ours, head outdoors without them, and fill them in after with what we have spotted.
- Let them use what nature provides for their outdoor play. Let them climb trees, play with sticks, take risks, and have a fantastic game of hide and seek. Nature provides great props for outdoor play.
- Explore different outdoor areas as they all offer something different in terms of exploring and having fun. Get out into woods, meadows, around ponds or lakes, and seasides. Play parks are great too, and if they want to walk up the slide, let them (as long as it isn’t interrupting someone else’s play coming down!). Let them use their imagination as to how the equipment should be used….you will be surprised with what they come up with, as well as the skills they are developing.
- A basic bug kit will keep little people amused for hours. They can explore the undergrowth and lift stones and sticks and see what they can find. Just remember to return the mini beasts back to their homes where you found them!
- Give them a little bit of responsibility in your home’s outdoor space. Whether this is a small patch of soil they can plant and grow things in, or making a habitat such as a mini beast hotel, or even making a mini garden pond (see our post on this). My trio really loved potting the spring seeds 🙂 Children really thrive on being given something that is their own responsibility.
- Make it a habit. If you have a day less full of commitments than other days, make that your “outdoor adventure day”. Fridays work well for us as all the children have finished school by around midday. I realise this is not the case in the UK, but then we avoid Saturdays full of swim classes, and we can squeeze another one in on a Sunday if we want to. But by heading out every Friday, we have a designated outdoor adventure/explore time. And then for the rest of the week we just squeeze in mini outdoor sessions, that are not so long or ambitious.
- Don’t interrupt the children (unless you need to go home or they are in danger!!). Let them get on with it. Make sure you have packed the thermos, listen to the play, and let nature and being outdoors work its magic on you too.
- Make it a social occasion. We usually try and have some food, but apart from packing a picnic, you could take an afternoon snack and drink. You don’t need to whip up a whole gourmet meal on a camp fire. A thermos of hot chocolate and a snack will add just as much to the outdoor adventure.
- Arrange to meet others. You are more likely to keep to your plans if you are meeting others out and about as well.
There has been many a time when I have not felt that I had the energy to bundle three children up and get them outdoors, but once we have been out and returned I never think that I wished I hadn’t bothered. I feel refreshed from the time outdoors, they need me less, and I seem to get a bit of a break to enjoy just being and watching them. There are less arguments, and when we get back home they seem to settle better into play indoors as well. I brace my self for the initial moans and groans of getting out the door, but then they never want to come back once out!
I hope these tips give you some ideas and help you to get you little people outdoors to play. Drop any more ideas I have missed into the comments below 🙂
Allemansrätten is a unique Swedish concept, of the right of public access to roam freely almost anywhere in the countryside. However, a few responsibilities come with this privilege. We need to take care of nature and wildlife, respect landowners and others enjoying the countryside, respect the land and leave no trace that you have been there, and do not disturb and do not destroy. It is a very rare concept, allowing you to enjoy the Swedish outdoors (which is important here in Sweden and I have written more about it http://mammasschool.co.uk/living-abroad/enjoying-outdoors-in-sweden-get/ ) in its full glory. Despite not all countries having allemansrätten, there is still an impact of us enjoying activities such as camping, hiking, and cooking outdoors, so I want to discuss how we can minimise the impact and why.
There is no doubt cooking outdoors on a campfire adds to the outdoor experience and memories, but it must be done safely and respectfully.
- Use fire pits where you can, or carry a light and portable stove with you. Allemansrätten means we have the ability to cook on campfires on our outdoor expeditions. However, by using provided fire pits (we are lucky having a lot here in Sweden), or carrying your own stove, you are helping to protect the habitat of creatures in the area you have decided to cook in, plus reduced the risk of fire spreading.
- You need to consider any fire dangers for the time of year (e.g is it very dry?) and bear in mind any local restrictions. You don’t want to spread your fire.
- Take only wood from the ground, never from the trees, and gather it from a wide area. You don’t want to remove everything from one small area as it has a job to perform in the ecosystem providing nutrients and habitats.
- Allow your wood to burn completely down to ash, and then spread them out when you are extinguishing your fire.
- Put out a fire with water not dirt,
- Avoid building your fire on rocks as it will scar them. Also, if near coastal water that covers them after you’ve been and gone, when the water rapidly cools the rocks it may cause them to crack.
- Never leave your fire unattended, it is a fire risk and a hazard to any inquisitive animals.
- If you have moved any rocks, for example to make a bit of a wind break, make sure you return them to where they were.
- Make sure you take all your rubbish home again, to avoid harming animals and the countryside.
Pop over to my Outdoor Cooking category for some delicious outdoor recipes on my blog.
Hiking is good for us for so many different reasons. Allemansrätten here means virtually nowhere is out of bounds. I have written many times about the actual benefits of being in nature and the great outdoors . So, I won’t go into detail about that here, but feel free to click on the links to read more 🙂 However, collectively enjoying the countryside means we will have an impact on the environment. So here are some tips to help reduce that impact:
- Be polite and leave room for others. Don’t take up the whole trail or path, so passers by are pushed off it. People need to stick to them as much as possible…….
- Following on from my last point, trails are there for a reason, so use them. It prevents us from trampling over the rest of the area and destroying vast quantities of the environment with our boots and feet.
- Be aware of wildlife, it is their home and they can be easily spooked. Try and view them but not too close, give them some respect. You don’t want to scare them as it could have disasterous consequences like mothers running off and leaving their young.
- Take all your rubbish home, EVERYTHING! Personal rubbish (I carry dog poop bags to clear up after us) as well as fruit peelings, and the usual more obvious rubbish clutter. It can harm and injure animals, as well as look unsightly and harm the ecosystem.
- Don’t take anything…..only photos. Each thing is part of a complicated ecosystem and has a function.
- Try and move quietly (we really struggle with this one!!). You are going through someone’s home.
- Keep any pets you take with you on a lead. It not only avoids them spooking the wildlife, but stops them veering off the trail too.
Allemansrätten means you can enjoy a “wild camping” experience. We’ve enjoyed a wild camp , but you need to think carefully about how you go about it, and remember you are making a home in someone else’s home…you are a visitor. Here are some tips to lessen your impact on their home:
- Avoid loud music and activities.
- Keep your group small. Not only is it better for the environment, you’ll see and hear more too 🙂
- Try and leave any pets at home, but if they do come, keep them on a lead.
- Leave no trace you were ever there. Tidy your campsite up after. This not only means rubbish, but return nature to how it was…those boulders or rocks you moved to sleep more comfortably? Pop them back.
- Bear in mind how you treat campfires or toileting activities as we have already mentioned above.
- Give animals space to use any natural water supply, especially early morning and evening.
- Do not leave any food out. Not only does it attract animals (and some may be unwanted, especially for us living in Sweden), but it can also harm them. Containers can injure, and some food can make them ill.
- Use biodegradable dish washing soap (or as we do, wipe them after a meal and save the proper washing up until you get home). Spread any dish water out over a wide area.
- Only camp for a short time in any one place.
I hope you have found all these tips helpful as to how you can get into the great outdoors and enjoy it responsibly. Do you think it’ll help you on your next trip out to be more considerate to the environment? Comment below and let me know, especially if you think I have left something vital out 🙂
With the weather getting a lot colder now in the Swedish winter, we need food that is easy and quick to prepare, and the less hassle to cook, the better. French bread pizza is perfect for even the pickiest of little people to eat (and I have three, and they loved them!).
Ingredients For Pizza:
One baguette (serves three children)
Tin foil (for cooking on the fire)
These are very versatile, as you can add in anything you fancy really to your french bread pizza. I have three young children so mine were kept simple to make sure there was less complaining out in the cold!
Chop the baguette into thirds, then slice each third open in half.
Spread the tomato puree on both sides.
Place your other ingredients on top. (I deviated from the normal pizza assembly of cheese on top of the puree as I was using mine to “glue” the ham in, and the 2 sides of the bread together!).
Place the two sides of the baguette back together and wrap in tin foil.
Place them on your fire for around 5 minutes in a good heat (you don’t want to char the bread so keep checking if unsure). Then sit back and enjoy the view with your tasty food.
“There’s a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they’re absolutely free. Don’t miss so many of them” – Jo Walton
The winter makes it a lot easier to watch a sunrise. With it rising at the moment here in Sweden just before 0815, it is at quite a civil hour! It allowed us more than enough time to wrap up warm against the freezing temperatures, grab our supplies for a breakfast picnic, and take a short hike to a little secluded cove – lovely to watch a sunrise with just us, but also on a Saturday morning we wouldn’t be waking anyone else up!
We have already seen many sunsets this winter (and they never fail to impress with their rainbow light shows), but not a sunrise together yet, or a sunrise picnic. So, with the light just creeping into the day we did a 30 minute walk through the woods to find our secluded little cove. The children set about playing with the ice, frost, and frozen sand, while I took charge of getting the Kelly Kettle going, and Dadda took charge of making a fire (so nice to split the chores for once and have him out with us too). I had made apple and cinnamon porridge to eat from our food flasks, but we could have hot drinks and keep a little warmer with a fire lit. We could also then toast marshmallows for a breakfast dessert.
We ended up staying for around 2 hours, just being together and connecting as a full family and enjoying the moment. The children were happy playing, Dadda and I were happy chatting sitting on our rapidly freezing backsides, and the day had a really tranquil calm start to it – one of the best things in a hectic and loud large family life. I have to say it was totally worth packing up the night before, wrapping up warm, and a mini hike through the dark woods to do it, and I thoroughly recommend this to anyone. This is the second year running we have to done this, and I hope to do it for many more years. We did it last year and it was lovely, but about 10 degrees colder!!
I have written a lot in the past about the benefits of getting getting outdoors, nature therapy, and nature play and you can click the links and have a read. However, there are benefits to specifically watching a sunrise.
9 Benefits to Watching the Sunrise:
- It is a calm and peaceful way to start the day together. It makes for generally happier moods all round and a better day.
- It is connection time together.
- It is physically good for our bodies providing melanin and vitamin D (especially good in the winter with the shorter days).
- We stop for a minute and intentionally notice the beauty surrounding us and appreciate it.
- We become more aware of our environment and surroundings. It instils a sense of wanting to nurture it, and for our little people helps them foster a love of it.
- It teaches us and our children to live in the moment and enjoy the simple things in life.
- Certainly for my three it instilled a sense of adventure and awe.
- For everyone it provides memories that will be cherished.
This is a really easy mini adventure that I think all children should experience every so often as part of their immersion in nature. So do you think you would do it? With or without a picnic, set out to watch a sunrise one morning this winter? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
We received a very exciting parcel in the post from Tiny Trolls of Norway. They had very kindly kitted out my double trouble for the Swedish winter with a whole winter outdoor wardrobe, and popped a few surprises in there for my little lady (their sizing only goes up to 8 years, and she’s a very tall 9 year old). Tiny Trolls of Norway is a high quality children’s outdoor clothing company for ages 1-8 years. The main aim of the business is to motivate and encourage families and their children out into the great outdoors. So, you can see similarities between my blog ethos and their’s already! Their motto is “There is no such thing as bad weather, just poor clothing”, and by making such high quality winter outdoor clothing for children, they are ensuring that children can play outdoors whatever the winter weather throws at them! So what had they sent us?
Tiny Trolls Winter Outdoor Clothing:
- Trollungen Winter Jacket: They had kindly sent us this in 2 different colours as I like my boys to be able to tell at a glance whose coat is whose, if possible. This jacket is waterproof to 10000mm!! That is a serious substantial amount, meaning they can play outdoors in the snow or winter rain for hours with no discomfort. It is 3000G breathable, and is also windproof. It is lined with the softest cosiest fleece ever. It has reflective detailing on the outside (very important in the long dark winters so the traffic can see the children), and the hood is detachable.
- Trollungen Winter Pants: These are made to the same high spec as the jackets. They are 10000mm waterproof, 3000G breathable, and also windproof. They are warm and padded, but so the child can still play and move, they have an adjustable waist and over the shoulder straps, there is a snug elasticated fit for the boot area, with a popper to undo to make it easier to get on and off, and there are stirrup straps to pop under boots, to prevent trousers riding up and letting the elements in. These also have some reflective detailing too.
- Tommel-Liten Winter Mittens: These gloves are again 10000mm waterproof, 3000G breathable, and windproof too. They are lined with the same softest, cosiest lining as the coats, and have large cuffs so they fit well either over the top of jackets, or underneath (which would prevent that unpleasant cold snow up the coat arm sensation).
- Lykketroll Winter Hat: These are so soft and warm 🙂 The outside of the hat is knitted, but on the inside it is lined with the softest fleece…plus they are very cute!
- Lurvehette Neckwarmer: As well as a hat for our little lady, they popped a neck warmer in as well for her. These are so useful in the winter as you can pull them up high over your face as protection against the elements and more often than not the freezing biting wind. They are very comfortable and soft. The boys and I live in our neck warmers in autumn, winter, and spring, and I have a feeling she will do too now!
So, these beautiful clothes needed to be put through their paces, so off we headed into Swedish nature for our Friday afternoon weekly adventure. I feel we certainly put the clothing through their paces as we spent three solid hours in driving rain with the children climbing trees, scrambling rocks, and crawling through very wet mud. So how did we get on?
Pros of Tiny Trolls Winter Outdoor Clothing:
- They certainly have not overstated the protection this clothing gives the child from the weather. It was nothing short of fantastic. The rain was just repelled by these garments and not soaked into the fabric at all. The twins were so cosy too, they only had base layers underneath. It was driving cold rain (only a degree or 2 too warm for snow) and blustery icy winds.
- The gloves are so easy for them to put on….a huge plus in mine and their eyes (twin 2 gets frustrated very fast with clothing that isn’t easy to manage). Plus they too repelled the wet so well. Often their gloves are soaked through by the end of a trip out as they are almost constantly touching wet objects…sticks, rocks, trees, sea water….but we might finally have found a pair that can go the distance (we haven’t before).
- We love the colours (not such a practical point!)
- They have such lovely detailing with the very cute Tiny Trolls embossing, as well as the reflective strips, and leather markings.
- They are very very warm, soft, and cosy.
- The clothes are very cute and look good too.
- They are very robust and made to last. My trio were climbing trees, scrambling on rocks and there was not a mark on the clothing.
- They dried fast from the rain and all the dirt seemed to just brush off, so they weren’t filthy after they dried.
- The hats were very comfy too. I get frequent complaining about hats being “scratchy” so this is good, especially as they wear them for 6 months of the year.
- Our little lady found the neck warmer so cosy and she spent most of the afternoon tucked into it hiding from the weather.
Cons Of Tiny Trolls Winter Outdoor Clothing:
I have scrambled around to find some cons, but it wouldn’t be a balanced review if I didn’t 🙂
- It’s 2 pieces…..this is fine for 1 of them, but twin 2 will take any excuse to venture out without the bottom half on, so I am going to have to make sure that the staff are on their toes at school! The all in one from Tiny Trolls don’t come large enough for my mini men.
- The trousers only come in the one colour….this won’t be an issue for everyone, but it’s nice for my twins to know whose is what at a glance. Boys clothing is often so limited anyway that they do have lots that are the same, it’s just handy when it is different.
Tiny Trolls clothing is fantastic and there really is “no bad weather” when you are wearing it 🙂
*We were sent the clothing from Tiny Trolls of Norway for free, to put through their paces and test, in exchange for writing the review. All opinions are honest and my own*