Tag: outdoor play (Page 1 of 29)

Children’s Outdoor Clothing – The Key to Outdoor Fun

Even with all the fun plans in the world, if your children’s outdoor clothing does not keep them warm and dry, if they aren’t very easy to use and put on, and if they’re not comfortable to move in, you will certainly know about it in the form of a good old moan and whinge.  However, with the right children’s outdoor clothing, our little people are remarkably resilient out in the elements, and love to be out there playing.  So, I thought I would talk a little about what works for us with our children’s outdoor clothing making it easier for them to have all the outdoor play in their lives that they do!  So continue reading to maybe pick up some tips and see what we look for in our outdoor gear.

Things To Consider With Children’s Outdoor Clothing:

  1. Fritids trousers:  What on earth are these?  These are a fantastic concept.  “Fritids” means “free time” and these trousers are very common to wear here in Sweden when you are tackling something in your free time which needs clothes to be endurable and not fall apart at the sight of dirt.  People wear these style of trousers for a range of activities, from sorting the garden out, to hunting and fishing, to hiking your way through the weekend.  The best thing is they come in mini versions too.  So, during periods of the year when a complete waterproof outer layer of children’s outdoor clothing is not required, we use these trousers.  They are very rugged, meaning they can withstand falling and scraping knees on rocks without getting holes, climbing up trees without snagging, and are mildly water repellent.  Parts of them are also stretchy so they move with the children and whatever activity they have decided to do.  So, from a mother’s point of view I am not panicking about them ruining their clothes during their outdoor play, and can let them just get on with life.  From a child’s point of view there are lots of pockets to hide all your treasures and finds in!
  2. Rain Outer Wear:  We also use this as an extra layer in the late autumn and spring even if it is not raining, but the temperatures are cold, but not cold enough for full on winter gear.  Again these need to have the qualities of being hard wearing, actually waterproof (we’ve tried a lot of things that couldn’t withstand proper rain or wet ground), easy to put on (if you have three children and they can dress themselves that is such a bonus plus point), and comfy to move/run around it.  There are a few other details that we look for too.  I like them to still use the “dungaree” variety of rain trousers.  This means that if it is not raining but too warm for a coat, they are still mainly protected from the wet and the dirt and can just get on with playing.  They need to have adjustable shoulder straps, so they can grow with the child i.e. be bought much too large but still fit fine, so I do not need to buy triple rain gear every five minutes 🙂  Under-the-boot straps are fantastic for keeping those trousers down over the boots for huge puddle splashing sessions or wading in water.  Reflective strips are also a good feature as here in Sweden the dark hangs around later in the morning and arrives earlier in the afternoons throughout the chillier months.
  3. Winter Outer Gear:  When it comes to this, we have very similar requirements to the rain gear, i.e. they need to have the qualities of being hard wearing, actually waterproof, easy to put on, and comfy to move/run around it…plus a few other factors.  They need to have the ability to keep the child warm (it can be as cold as -15 with us plus winds), but also breathable if they are running around and getting warm. Although they are for snow and winter, you can not skimp on the waterproofing factor as a child can spend a long time on its bottoms and knees when playing and constructing out of snow!  Our children’s clothing has a waterproofing of up to 10000mm!  It also has very cosy fleece lining, and dries fast, which is very helpful when drying a whole family’s load of outdoor winter gear.   My three will live in this kit for 5-6 months of the year (home and school), so they need to be happy with it.  In fact for school I have a cunning mum plan.  I send the younger double trouble with an all in one suit.  That way they can  not head out without their over trousers on (something they might be inclined to do and then get cold, wet, and filthy), as it is part of their coat 🙂  They have a 2 piece set as well, which is equally as durable and fantastic that we tend to use from home, as the school set can get quite a hammering and need to dry out before it is used again once they are home.  Right now our little lady, who is sensible enough to put her trousers on if she needs them, is actually preferring to use her all in one and finds it easier.
  4. Hats:  These need to be soft, warm, and not scratchy.  Each of our children has a few (there is a need as they get wet, and some have bobbles which are unsuitable for wearing helmets over) but all are gorgeously warm, soft, and comfy.
  5. Gloves:  After a few years of trial and error I think we have finally got to a place where we can say with confidence we are much better at buying these!  These need to be sooooooo waterproof (ours are again waterproof up to 10000mm as they get fully immersed in the sea when they are playing, and can be handling snow for many many hours).  They also need to be very warm as the fingers are one of the first things to get cold.  We also still attach ours via a cord to the mini men’s coats (they are nearly 7 but there is only so much money you can afford to spend on fantastic gloves), and all three children own at least 2 sets, so one set can be recovering and drying from the onslaught of the elements, and they still have another set to use.
  6. Neck warmers:  These are not only to keep any gaps warm between coat and hat, but can be pulled up over the face (see the photo of our little lady earlier in the post) to stop breathing in the freezing cold air, keeping the face warm, and are brilliant if your little people have a cough that gets aggravated by the icy air.  We look for them to be soft and comfy.
  7. Boots:  These are just as important when choosing your children’s outdoor clothing.  The most important criteria for us with boots is that they are again extremely durable, waterproof, warm, comfy to wear, and do not have to be “done up” making them quick and easy to put on (bear in mind ours live in them again for 5-6 months of the year).  The boots we have are very solid like a welly, but much more comfortable for little feet, and they are insulated and lined with a fleecy lining, keeping small toes toasty warm.  

So I hope we have given you some handy tips of what to look for when choosing children’s outdoor clothing.  Yes, we do tend to go for higher quality and cost of children’s outdoor clothing, but in the long run that saves us the money of having to replace kit (it’ll last our children 2-3 years….I buy large…apart from the boots and we are lucky all three have very slow growing feet).  It also saves a lot of whinging and moaning when we are out and about as they are dry, warm, and comfy.  All they have to worry about it getting on and playing, and we can be safe in the knowledge they are fully protected from whatever the elements throw at them.Children's outdoor clothing, children's outdoor clothes, children's outdoor kit, outdoor clothing, waterproofs, winter clothing, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Geocaching – A Useful Way Of Keeping Little Ones Hiking

Geocaching is something we have had a lot of fun with.  It has an ulterior motive though for me, and that is it’s a way to keep my three little people going on a hike.  Although you can find geocaches in urban areas as well.  The distraction of a “treasure hunt” is enough to make them forget their grumbles out on a trail.  You can take geocaching to different levels, but we stick with the simplest version which is still a lot of fun.

So What Is Geocaching?

Geocaching is an outdoor activity that you do using your phone (like us) or a GPS device to locate various sized containers.  These can range from very tiny to large containers.  You can do the simpler more traditional way of geocaching (this is what we do), which is search for a container at a set of coordinates, find it, sign the log book, and if it has any swaps do that, and then move on.  Or the more complicated way of multi caches.  You build up a set of coordinates for a final cache as you go along through a set of stations.  Inside the container you should find a log book, a pen or pencil, and maybe something to swap.  These can either be small items such as rubbers, mini toys, etc (never edible as you don’t want to attract wildlife to it), or a “trackable”.  There are a few types of trackables such as a travel bug (attaches to an item) or a “geocoin”.  These have a tracking ID and travel from cache to cache and build up a little travelling story.  You can log your geocache find on an app.  

How To Do Geocaching:

The most popular way is through an app, such as from iTunes, and you can find more about one of the most popular ones through the website https://www.geocaching.com/play.  You can then look on the app at your location (or where you plan to head off to) and see if there are any in your area.  We pay a yearly subscription (about £25) to have all of the geocaches showing, not just a select few.  Choose the geocache you are going to head for and read the description.  Each one has a rating for difficulty and terrain, and also it will state its size.  There may even be a background story as to why it has been placed there.  Then follow the compass directions and distance on the app, and you will hopefully end up in the right vicinity before scrambling around to locate it 🙂  Other people also log their comments and photos from their search and these can sometimes be helpful – or spoilers, so be careful!!

 

Why Do Geocaching?

  1. It makes hikes a little more fun and interesting especially for the little people.
  2. It teaches children some basic navigation awareness.
  3. It can be seen as a challenge and develop teamwork between friends or family members.
  4. It is a reason to get outdoors with all the benefits that come with that.

How To Start Geocaching:

Head over to the iTunes app store and download the app.  Bear in mind there is the free version and a paid version.  Start on the free and see if it is for you, but if you pay, a whole heap more geocaches come up on the map!  Make sure you have a bag of small swaps with you when you head out.  We use small cars, novelty rubbers, road safety reflectors, hair clips, mini craft stamps etc.

Our Geocaching Experience:

We have been geocaching now for nearly 4 years, and I have found it so useful to motivate everyone out hiking, and the children love “hunting for treasure”.  We started doing it in the UK, but have used it as a way of getting to know our new area where we moved to in Sweden.  We have seen many types.  Micro ones, huge ammo box ones full of swaps, and beautiful puzzle boxes where you have to work out how to get into the container first!  We have a whole trail of those near where we live in Sweden and they are beautiful, but very hard to open in the middle of winter!!  We have also placed 2 geocaches as well now.  Just before we left the UK we introduced one of our little lady’s best friends to geocaching.  Her Mummy then subsequently researched and organised a cache that the girls could plant called “BFF” (best friends forever) in the area where they had geocached together.  Forward wind a year later, and whilst they were staying with us here in Sweden, we planted a matching one also called “BFF” with the story written inside the container and in the App’s description.

I hope if you have ever wondered what geocaching is all about this gives you some tips and ideas to get started and see if it is for you.  Let me know in the comments how you get on, or if you are a seasoned geocacher, let me know any tips that work for you 🙂Geocaching - A good way to keep little ones hiking, Geocaching - A Basic Guide, hiking, outdoor fun, outdoor families, treasure hunt, navigation, geocaching, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Autumn Outdoor Activities – Fun In All Weathers

I love all the seasons, and I am not sure I favour one more than the others.  However, when the seasons start changing and moving on, I am always ready for a change and love what the next one might bring – especially now that we live somewhere that has four distinct seasons!  So, now that autumn is well and truly here, we have made an autumn outdoor activities list of all the great things you can do during this fantastic, beautiful season, that sees a bounty of colours and changes.

Our Autumn Outdoor Activities List:

1.Have a leaf fight:  It would not be autumn without this on our autumn  outdoor activities list!

2.Catch falling leaves:  This is so much harder than it looks and can keep little ones amused for ages on a walk.

3.Look for conkers then head home for a good old game of old fashioned conkers.

4.Go blackberry picking – It would not be autumn without making an autumnal blackberry pudding.

5.Collect different plant seeds that you see out and about, or from the garden, to plant in the spring time.

6.Pick apples:  This is an easy one for our autumn outdoor activities.  Walking around our island with dogs (my own business that the children accompany me on after school finishes at midday) people have such an abundance of fruit from their gardens, that they leave them in boxes at the end of their drives to help yourself to.  The children love this!

7.Sunset picnic:  This is one of my favourite autumn outdoor activities now the sunsets are much earlier.  They are very spectacular where we live, so we light a campfire and watch as many as we can, admiring the light show.

8.Sunrise picnic:  Don’t panic!!  With the sunrises getting later, and a little night before preparation, this becomes quite feasible with the get up times of younger children!!

9.Count the leaf colours on a walk.

10.Fly a kite.

11.Go pond dipping and see what is going on at this time of year.  We have an abundance of dragonflies which are memorising to watch.

12.Go on a fungus spotting walk.  These are beautiful (be careful with touching and eating) and you could even draw a few when you get back home.

13.Jump in leaves….a good old favourite!

14.Autumn Camping:  Providing you take enough layers for the night, some of the day temperatures can be quite balmy at this time of year, and the sunsets very dramatic.  On the plus side, with the sun rising later, your little people are less likely to have you up so early as during the summer months (I think it was around 0430 we woke this summer).

15.Collect leaves, and then go home and make a collage or a “leaf person/animal”.

16.Collect fir cones, and then head home to decorate them in glitter 🙂

17.Have a campfire: Read about how to make a campfirecampfire problems, and ways of cooking on a campfire.  We also have lots of easy and tasty campfire food recipes.

I hope these have given you some inspiration of some autumn outdoor activities you can do now that autumn is well and truly under way.  Also ways to have fun in the outdoors whatever the autumn weather throws at you!!

Autumn Outdoor Activities - Fun In All Weathers, Autumn fun, autumn play, outdoor play, nature play, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

Inspiration Wednesday – Children In Nature

Inspiration Wednesday - Children In Nature, quotes, inspirational quotes, outdoor children, nature play, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Inspiration Wednesday – Let Children Explore

Inspiration Wednesday - Let Children Explore, Home education, nature, natural world, outdoors, outdoor play, nature play, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Get Your Vitamin N – June Outdoor Activity List

Back in February, I started uploading a monthly outdoor activity list which you can access under the freebies tab. You will need to subscribe to the blog and you will be sent an email with the password to access the freebies tab.  It is now time to think about the June outdoor activity list, which can be accessed under the freebies tab 🙂    If you don’t have the password, don’t worry, subscribe to the blog and you will be sent it in your confirmation email.  Signs of summer should be emerging now, and here in Sweden we have just 2 weeks left of school until we can enjoy the long, lazy, Swedish summer life 🙂

Any form of getting children into the outdoors is a good one.  Whether it is a gentle potter around the back garden or 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.  You don’t need to climb a mountain, a little dig in the garden is perfect too.  As the author Richard Louv famously suggests, we should be using vitamin N (N for nature) as treatment for nature deficit disorder.

That is why each month, at the start of the month, I am adding onto the freebies page, a list of 10 activities 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.  So head over now to the freebies tab and check out the June outdoor activity list.

The aim behind the ideas for the June outdoor activity list 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), into whatever awaits you out there.  Welcome in the long summer days using our June outdoor activity list to guide you for ideas.

 

I am hoping that 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 on the list, 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 with the June outdoor activity list in the comments below, 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 on Facebook (every Friday). And if the children have got mucky, then join in with our Mucky Mondays thread (every Monday) over on Facebook .  Go and have fun in June 🙂June Outdoor Activity List, June activities, June outdoors, outdoor activities, summer activities, Vitamin N, outdoorplay, nature play, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

Our Summer Bucket List – Long, Lazy, Days

It is the start of a new season, and time for us to reveal our Summer Bucket List.  We have enjoyed doing the activities on our spring, autumn and  winter ones, but we are looking forward to wearing less clothing out in the sunshine, and enjoying the VERY long, slow Swedish summer days and holiday.  School is out for the summer on the 15th June, so not long to go!  So let’s see what’s on our list for the season of summer.

Our Summer Bucket List:

  1. Celebrate midsummer 
  2. Make a strawberry cake 
  3. Lie on the grass and listen to the birds
  4. Go strawberry picking
  5. Go raspberry picking
  6. Go blueberry picking
  7. Make a daisy chain
  8. Paddle barefoot
  9. Go wild camping
  10. Swim outdoors
  11. Collect pebbles to paint at home
  12. Read stories outdoors
  13. Go crabbing
  14. Make some beach art
  15. Go on a hike
  16. Make some air dry clay figures
  17. Go and visit the älg/elks again
  18. Explore lots of the islands in our archipelago 
  19. Play in a stream
  20. Raise our own butterflies from caterpillars
  21. Play on beaches
  22. Paint with special paints that develop in the sunshine.

I hope we have given you some fun summer inspiration with our summer bucket list (just click on the links if you need further help or information about them) and let me know if you try any of them and how you get on.  Enjoy and have fun!

Our Summer bucket list, summer activities, summer, summer outdoors, www.mammasschool.co.uk

The Swedish Kitchen – Cooking Outdoors

The beautiful Swedish countryside is full of outdoor fire pits, making cooking outdoors very accessible to everyone.  They come in all shapes, sizes, and conditions, but there is no doubt about it, being able to do your cooking outdoors on a hike or a camp, safely and responsibly, adds to the experience and memories, especially for our three children.  

There is no knowing what you will find until you reach one.  Some are marked on trail maps, others are not, but they are little gems tucked away in the Swedish countryside, usually complete with a stunning view to admire whilst you eat your tasty treat.  Some are very basic, just a few rocks.  Others are luxurious, with the ability to set your grill rack at different heights, and complete with picnic tables.  Sometimes a kind person has provided wood for the fire and left it in a little shelter, and occasionally there is a bucket which you can use to collect water in (which we then have standing next to the fire as a safety precaution).  Due to not knowing what we will come across, and being out with three small children, I carry our fire wood (I’m getting quite strong!), just to be on the safe side.  As we get more experienced and the children get older, then we can think about rummaging around the ground for fuel supplies. There is something very special about being able to cook over an open fire, and we now have made a habit of doing this at least once a week, rain, sun, or snow…..in the winter it provides a well needed warming meal, and in the summer, a break in the hike to relax while the children play for a few hours.  If you need any ideas of what to cook (both sweet and savoury), I have lots of outdoor recipes that are quick and easy 🙂 The provision of the fire pits have benefits far more reaching than just being able to do your cooking outdoors.  They allow you to connect together, and pause a while from whatever adventure you are on.  Usually we are hiking.  The children either immerse themselves playing in nature, or are busy helping me, learning good bush craft and survival skills as they go along.  They have now all learnt what you need and how to start a fire, as well as looking after it, and putting it out safely.  Also, importantly, they have learnt how to behave around a lit campfire.

Top Tips for Cooking Outdoors

  1. Carry your food, water, and fuel for the trip
  2. Have a little fire starting kit ready made up.  You can see what is in ours here
  3. Allow lots of time.  This is not an activity that can be rushed, both for safety and enjoyment reasons.
  4. Be prepared to improvise, whether with cooking accessories, or fuel supplies.
  5. Let your children help.  It teaches them valuable skills.
  6. Leave no trace of you being there, so there is less impact on the environment.  If you’ve moved rocks to create a windbreak, put them back etc
  7. Use fire pits when you can, or a stove if there isn’t one.
  8. Take ALL your waste home.
  9. Put any fires out completely before you pack up and leave.  We don’t want wildlife hurt, nature harmed, or it to become a safety risk.
  10. If you are using firewood from the surrounding area, only use from the ground.  Don’t go chopping or tearing branches from trees and bushes.

We really enjoy eating our food cooked on a campfire, and I find the children tend to eat better too!!  Make sure you check out our outdoor cooking recipes, and next week I will go over campfire basics, and campfire problem solving here on the blog.The Swedish Kitchen-cooking outdoors, Campfire, campfires, outdoor cooking, campfire cooking, bushcraft, Sweden, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bare Feet – 7 Reasons to Let Your Children Have Them!

Bare feet….my trio love having them!!  But why, as grown ups do we tend to shy away from letting them do it?  Conformity?  Our adult brains weighing up the consequences of dirt and injury?  Why do we stop it so much when it leads to a child feeling so free and less encumbered?  As my little lady says, she “loves sinking her toes into chocolately mud”!!!  I now bite my tongue and let them get on with it (within reason…I’m not about to let them trundle over areas with broken glass or anything!).  Let me see if I can persuade you too with the following seven reasons 🙂

1. Our feet used to be just fine walking bare.  Shoes can change how they function, and also damage them, as well as have knock on effects on ankles, hips, knees, and backs.  Going with bare feet allows the feet to develop the way they are meant too.

2. It’s a sensory experience and makes children happy to experience all the pleasure from that.  My children love squishing and squelching the mud through their toes.  They like warm soft grass to tickle their toes and they can feel it like a bouncy cushion.  They love feeling warm sand on their bare feet, and wetness from puddles.

3.  Going with bare feet increases the body’s and foot’s strength.  We worry about injury and illness to the feet, but in fact going without shoes can aid us prevent these more (within reason!).  Increasing the foot’s strength can prevent injury, and toughening up of the skin of the foot can give it more protection.  In fact, shoes provide the perfect environment to grow and trap more fungus and bacteria.

4.  Going with bare feet helps proprioception (spacial orientation from stimuli), and also vestibular development.  It is due to the direct connection between the child (via their feet) and the terrain they are walking on.  How many times has your child tripped over due to their footwear?  Footwear can hinder our nervous pathways and we gain more of them from having bare feet.

5. You can feel connection with nature more 🙂 I am a big one for wanting children to connect to nature more, for reasons I go into more depth elsewhere on the blog. Have a look at the following links:

http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/outdoor-play-children-natures-sanity/

http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/healing-nature-relying-beach-work-magic/

http://mammasschool.co.uk/outdoor-adventures/wild-camping-children-sweden/

6. Children feel freer…..anything’s possible when you feel free and less encumbered.  Life is more enjoyable with a feeling of freedom!

7. It’s a researched and proven stress buster!!  So, what are you waiting for, kick off those shoes and socks and get out there and enjoy a bare feet life with your little people 🙂  We have a lot to learn from them!

Bare feet - 7 reasons to let your children have them, barefooted, go with bare feet, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Inspiration Wednesday – Play In The Dirt

Inspiration Wednesday - Play in the dirt, Dirt, Outdoor play, nature play, mud, dirty, www.mammasschool.co.uk

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