Tag: parenting (Page 1 of 7)
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 🙂
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 🙂
There is no doubt about it, any moving house event is stressful. So add into that the fact that your children are moving abroad, and you have a very stressful event for them to handle. However, there is also no doubt that moving abroad can be beneficial too. It can provide a broader perspective about the world, whilst giving new experiences, and seeing a different culture, language, and way of living. This is learning outside the classroom at its very best! In this family we love a bit of learning outside the classroom 🙂 Children moving abroad needn’t be a recipe for disaster, but a wonderful experience. I have a few tips that may help anyone with children moving abroad.
Before You Move
- Learn about the country together. Make time to read books together, maybe make a scrapbook, and have a little look at the language with your child before you move.
- See if you can find any stories about children moving abroad.
- Discuss their feeling and emotions. Allow all emotions to be vented. Keep the communication channels open, so if something does crop up at a later date, they know they can come and chat it over with you.
- Before your move, make sure that they say a proper goodbye to their friends. Take photos or swap little presents. We had a little forest school party too as a way of getting everyone together one last time before we left.
On arrival, life could easily run away with itself if you let it. There is paperwork to be sorted, maybe a car, a house etc. For the children moving abroad, they could easily get left to fend for themselves for a few days (understandably) while the grown ups deal with what is being thrown at them. So, here are a few tips to help you during that immediate arrival period. We were very lucky in that we hired a cottage (stuga) for 2 weeks before our lorry arrived. It gave us (and especially myself who had packed up the house single handed while looking after 3 children) some breathing space to adjust a little first.
- With the arrival of the hugest lorry load ever of wordly possessions, that have taken 6 days to arrive, it is very easy to get caught up in the task of unpacking it all. The grown ups, as well as the children, need a break from this. Make sure there is designated time in the day set aside for connecting time with the children. Whether this is a walk or a play outdoors (maybe exploring the new neighbourhood), or collapsing with a drink and a story together, it needs to be done. The children need to feel they are remembered and not a hinderance in this extremely stressful time.
- Try and maintain some of your usual routines. This will help make the children moving abroad feel a little more secure and less anxious.
- Talk, talk, talk. Allow them input in the unpacking (especially their own areas). I know it can be frustrating as we could do it in half the time, but they need to feel useful, and that they have had input into the move too. Let them bring up what they are feeling when they need to. They have a lot of emotions to work through, maybe mirroring a grieving process.
- Get out exploring!! Make it exciting for the children. Go and find new play parks together. Go on walks or bike rides to discover what is in the area.
Settling Down Into Your New Life
It’s an ongoing process for a long time, helping settle children moving abroad into their new country, in our case Sweden. Issues will crop up from time to time, and when you are least expecting them, and about something you would have never even thought would have been an issue. It might be triggered by a telling off, which then brings something to the surface (that has ambushed me before). When the children are tired, they can often pop out with something you hadn’t realised was a problem at all. However, it is important to value them all. I have a few little tips that have helped us along our journey so far.
- Get the children started in a Swedish school asap. This will help with language and making friends, and ultimately settling them quicker.
- Find clubs/activities they enjoyed where you lived before in your new place, so they do not feel they have had to give up their lives/interests fully to move abroad. This again helps with language and making friends as well.
- Allow for FaceTime to their friends and family back home. This one takes a lot of parental commitment, especially with younger children, as firstly they need your device, secondly they need you to ensure it is set up and happens, and thirdly you need to find the time to do it with them. But it is so worth it. Our little lady has played games and performed magic tricks with her friends as if they were in the same room as her. It has been a great thing to have.
- Play dates…set up play dates with their new friends and encourage them to invite people back. This can be very daunting at first as your language skills need improving, but get the Google translate app and muddle through together…it is worth it I promise.
- Have lots of photos from your previous life printed and accessible to your children. Then they can sit and peruse their memories, and again get talking about them.
- Continue to get out and explore your new area. Go on adventures together and make it exciting for them.
I hope these tips have been helpful and useful. I have written a lot more about our move to Sweden throughout the blog in the category about exploring Sweden as well as one about living abroad in Sweden
I have had a similar article published by the Newbieguide.se and it can be found by clicking on the following link http://www.thenewbieguide.se/children-moving-abroad-sweden/ 🙂
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.
We are rapidly hurtling towards Christmas, so I have decided to put together a children’s outdoor gift guide to help give you some inspiration of great ideas for both presents under the tree, and some stocking fillers too 🙂 These are more practical gifts in this outdoor gift guide that the child (or grown up) can then use.
A Children’s Outdoor Gift Guide:
- Compass: These come in all shapes, sizes, and prices. You can choose one to match your child’s age and ability to use it. We have gone for a simple version to introduce ours to the concept to start with. You can take a look at my post on learning how to use a compass for tips to get started with your little people.
- Binoculars: These we purchased back in the UK from a well known toy shop (they were only £2.99, about 30sek), but have been absolutely fantastic and survived being flung around. You don’t need to spend a fortune for them to function well.
- Daysack/Hiking Backpack: We looked high and low for our back packs for our trio. For the twins it was a lot harder to find something a little larger (but not too large as they are still only 6), with a supportive front clasp, enough pockets for good accessibility of things, robust enough to withstand the Swedish wilderness, and with some extra padding/comfort for the hiking. We eventually bought for our twins these backpacks from Elkline. They are fantastic. For our little lady we had a different issue….if we bought it for her size (a tall 9 year old), she would fill any left over space with “stuff” that would then make it too heavy to carry, so we needed to be a little cautious on size with her too. It is a 22L backpack but with a good sturdy waist belt (that was a struggle to find one with that). It has a breathable back and comes with a rain cover attached. It is designed for 11-15 year olds so should last her a while yet!
- Tin Mug: For the ever so important, morale boosting hot drinks. We have gone with these gorgeous Moomin mugs…all 5 of us 🙂 We adore the Moomins.
- Tinder Pouch: We use a Kelly Kettle and love lighting campfires for our meals during our hikes. These pouches allow us to collect any dry useful tinder and store it safely (and rather smartly) on our pre-campfire part of the hike. Between 3 children and myself we should then have a fair amount….might as well put the children to use 😉
- Whistle: It is debatable whether my three actually need one of these (they are sooooooo noisy), but just to be on the safe side, they have it in their back packs in case of getting lost.
- Spork: My three think this is one of the funniest words ever. I think it is one the handiest items to carry….the 2 in one function cutting back in what goes in those backpacks (very important when you are only 6 or 9 years old!).
- Camera: My trio have all got VTech cameras. While they are clunky and heavy (carrying a spork won’t balance this one out) they are very robust and my three love taking photos and recording their own memories on them. Once they are older, you can upgrade to something a little more practical, and you don’t always have to take them out if the back pack is too heavy.
- Good base layers: We need this here in the winter to keep warm, but usually hiking you can work up a sweat too. A good base layer will wick this sweat away from your skin keeping you comfortable. One less thing for them to moan about has to be a bonus right?! Need help choosing a set? Check out my review of Isbjörn of Sweden Husky base layer
- Outdoor Clothing: Children need to be equipped for the outdoors as well as us adults are, and more again…their clothes need to be robust enough not only to withstand the elements, but also the added activities of tree climbing, crawling through mud, racing through brambles, and puddle jumping. If you need some inspiration you can look at my reviews for Tiny Trolls of Norway Rain Gear and Winter Gear
- Boots: Again, they need to be equipped as well as us adults, but also bear in mind their little feet need extra protection as they are still growing. The boots need extra practicality about them too for those huge puddles us grown ups avoid, but draw children to like magnets!
- Torch: Always handy for when you are out in the dark, whether to find your route through some tough undergrowth, help you pack up after a campfire to ensure you’ve left nothing behind, or to help you find that lost item that got dropped in the dark (and probably shouldn’t have left the house anyway, but is the most favourite tiniest toy EVER!). Oh and you can use the torch to signal for help 🙂
- Bug Pots: There are always interesting things hiding along the trails. My three carry a very small pot so we can take closer looks, and also it can give them something to do while you are cooking a meal.
- Sunglasses: We ALWAYS have these with us. Whether we need them to watch the sun rise or set, or the sun unexpectedly makes an appearance…as I said earlier, anything less for them to moan about has to be a bonus!!!
Let me know in the comments below if you can think of any other essentials for the outdoor gift guide, or perfect little gifts that you know will get utilised well, instead of forgotten about with the Christmas haul 🙂 I’d love to hear your thoughts (and maybe I’ll pinch them for our Santa!)