Tag: outdoor (Page 1 of 3)

Inspiration Wednesday – Let Children Explore

Inspiration Wednesday - Let Children Explore, Home education, nature, natural world, outdoors, outdoor play, 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

6 Campfire Problems & What To Do

You have packed up and headed off for an outdoor adventure that includes lots of fresh air and nature.  You have also decided the best and most cosy way to cook your food would be on a campfire…..a person after my own heart!!  Who doesn’t like a warming campfire and making memories around them?  However, you hit a problem with it.  Let’s face it, building, lighting, and keeping campfires going is an eternal learning curve, but a fun one.  This post is designed to take you through some of the more commonly occurring campfire problems, and what to do about them, so you can (armed with a bit of helpful knowledge) get on and enjoy a successful campfire 🙂

  1. Too smokey:  A smokey campfire is one of the more common campfire problems, and as you can tell from the photo, it can take even the most prepared bush crafter by surprise – the cause, wet wood (I was convinced mine was dry here…obviously not!!)  Wet wood will be hard to light, and will produce a lot of smoke.  I’m not talking about wood that has previously dried out and has now been exposed to a little rain…yes, that will smoke a bit, but on the inside it will still be dry.  Some types of wood also cause smoking.  Generally if you stick with harder woods you should be fine.  Light with smaller softer wood initially to get it going (they light easier), then swap to harder woods as they burn hotter and for longer.
  2. Lighting the campfire in the rain:  Look for naturally protected areas to light your fire.  For example under tree canopies, or cliff overhangs.  But don’t, whatever you do, light it in the protection of your tent!  Start with very small and very dry kindling and tinder (refer to my building a campfire blog post).  I usually carry some of this just to ensure we have a successful lighting, but if you need more, look for it under things where it has been protected from the elements.  Also, if you have a knife or axe you can split the wood, as the inside may be dry and then it will light better with that exposed rather than the damp exterior.  You could even shave some off with the knife as extra kindling, or feather a stick for even better chances of lighting the fire.
  3. Reigniting embers when the flames die down:  If your campfire dies down and you still need flames (if like me you got distracted with children and forgot to add new fuel to the fire), then you can direct a gentle blow into the base of the hot embers, and after a few attempts you should see the flames spring back into life (just make sure you aren’t blowing hot embers all over the countryside as you’ll start a fire!  You need to make sure they stay in your fire pit).  
  4. Keep the fire burning:  Before your flames die down, add another log to them, but make sure air can still get into the fire to fan the flames, don’t suffocate it.
  5. Wood burning too fast:  This usually means that it is too windy and your campfire needs some protection from the wind.  For example, above we have built a wall from rocks, preventing the wind from burning through our wood fuel so fast.  You could also dig a hole into the ground if the area/ground is suitable.  If you do use rocks, don’t forget to cool them down afterwards, and also replace them to where you found them.
  6. Food is not cooking or warming up:  This usually means, for some reason, the heat is not reaching your food.  For example, a very windy day will make your fuel burn rapidly and have huge flames, but the heat will be blown away before it has much impact on your cooking.  On those kind of days, the food needs to sit right on top of the heat source.  If you have foil wrapped food that isn’t so hard, but if in a billy can or balanced on a grill you need to get a little more inventive.  Usually things can be solved with some well positioned wood to balance a pot, or some foil to wrap things up in so they can go straight onto the fire….just remember to check them more often as they will now cook fast!

I hope these hints about campfire problems will give you a helping hand in having a successful campfire or two.  They are such fun to do and we love making one on our outdoor adventures.  Be sure to read my post on campfire basics and tips as well, which covers how to build one and safety amongst other things, and go and enjoy your campfire!!6 Campfire Problems & What To Do, Campfire problems, campfires, fire pits, bush craft, survival, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Campfires – The Basics & Tips

We get a lot of enjoyment out of making and using campfires as part of our outdoor experiences.  It adds an extra sense of adventure to our outdoor trips, whether hiking, camping, or just visiting a beach to play, and in the cooler months it makes our meal break a very cosy one.  I haven’t always been happy with fires though and learnt a lot through forest school back in the UK before we moved here.  Since then I have tried to carry on the experience of eating by a fire as the children loved it.  I have learnt a lot over the last 12 months and I thought I might share some basics and tips to help you get started, or give you more confidence if you are new to it.

How To Build A Campfire:

  1. You will need some supplies first!  This is what we use with a lot of success:  Newspaper, cotton wool, Vaseline, tiny kindling (very small twigs, or we prefer silver birch bark we have shredded), bigger sticks (thumb width), and larger wrist sized logs.  Don’t forget to sign up – you will then get the password to access our freebies page, and you can see what is in our fire starting kit!
  2. Build a tepee like structure:  Small amount of newspaper in the middle, with some cotton wool on top (that has a bit of Vaseline on – this helps light the fire).  Then place the kindling around that in a tepee shape, then the larger sticks around that, and then the bigger logs around that.
  3. Our stacking system:  This is a system we use very effectively for our campfires so you could give it a go too.  It doesn’t go so high as a tepee structure so is easier to pop a grill over to cook on.  We place the smaller sticks in a crisscross square shape, placing a loosely crumpled piece of newspaper and cotton wool with Vaseline on in the middle.  Then place a larger log across the top of the stack.
  4. Once the fire is lit, make sure you top up the fuel before the flames die right down to get it really going at first.  If it dies down too much, you need to try blowing under at the glowing embers to get the flames going again.  Once it has calmed down a little you are ready to cook on it 🙂

How To Put Out Campfires:

  1. Never leave a campfire before it is fully out as it may harm the environment and wildlife.
  2. Let the firewood all burn down to ash, and spread the ash and embers out a little
  3. Gently pour on some water slowly.  We carry extra water for this, to make sure we can always put our fires out. Or if we are by water we take a bucket with us.
  4. Mix the embers up with a stick, allowing the water to infiltrate more, and bring anything that is still glowing and alight underneath to the surface to be dowsed with water.
  5. Pour on a little more water; you will hear hissing doing this and produce smokey steam (watch where you are standing!).
  6. Again use a stick to spread the embers out and stir water in.
  7. Keep repeating until you are confident nothing is still alight/glowing.

Some Rules For Campfires:

  1. Use fire pits where you can, or carry a lightweight and portable stove with you.  By using provided fire pits, or carrying your own stove, you are helping to protect the habitat of creatures in the area that you have decided to cook in, plus reduced the risk of fire spreading.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Allow your wood to burn completely down to ash, and then spread them out when you are extinguishing your fire.
  5. Put out a fire with water not dirt,
  6. 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.
  7. Never leave your fire unattended, it is a fire risk and a hazard to any inquisitive animals.
  8. 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.
  9. Make sure you take all your rubbish home again, to avoid harming animals and the countryside.

I hope these tips will help you to either give campfires a go if you haven’t before, or help you get more confidence if you are a newbie.  They really add to the outdoor experience and are so cosy to be around.  They also help teach children basic bush craft and outdoor skills (whether that be lighting a fire, looking after a fire, or thinking about nature and the environment when using a fire).  However, they must be made and used responsibly and always thinking about safety and nature.  Don’t forget to check out our outdoor cooking recipes for inspiration for what to cook on your campfire!!  We have lots of ideas both savoury and sweet, so go take a browse and enjoy them 🙂

Campfires the basics and tips, campfires, how to make a campfire, campfire rules, outdoor cooking, camping, hiking, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Apple and Cinnamon Porridge – A Warming Breakfast

This apple and cinnamon porridge breakfast is quick and easy (a big plus point when you are outdoors), tasty, and very filling.  It’s perfect for starting the day in the great outdoors, or as a snack to make when out hiking for the day as it will give you lots of energy.

Ingredients For Apple And Cinnamon Porridge 

(This is for one portion)

1 cup of oats.

1 cup of milk of your choice (we’ve made it with both cows’ and plant based milks).

Half an apple.

Teaspoon of raisins.

Teaspoon of cinnamon powder.

Teaspoon of vanilla essence.

How To Make Apple And Cinnamon Porridge

  1. Dice the apple, leaving the skin on is down to what you prefer.
  2. Then put all the ingredients into you pan and warm through
  3. Beware with cooking porridge on a campfire that it can quickly stick to the bottom and burn, so stir regularly.
  4. If getting a little dry just as some more milk.  For example, when I am using oat milk I seem to need more than when I use cows’ milk.
  5. Then serve and enjoy!!

I hope you enjoy eating this simple but yummy apple and cinnamon porridge recipe as much as we do, and let me know in the comments below how you found it.

Apple and cinnamon porridge, campfire breakfast, campfire porridge, hiking food, camping food, bush craft, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Outdoor Play For Teenagers – 11 Ideas

Outdoor play for children is so important for all ages (read here to find out why), and in this mini series of posts I will run through some varying outdoor play ideas for different age groups of children.  This post is all about outdoor play for teenagers.  This age group is such fun as you extend their boundaries, give them more independence, and more challenges.  Outdoor play for teenagers is still very important, and also in continuing to foster their love of nature and the outdoors, so when they are ready (very soon) they will want to continue out of their own initiative.  These outdoor play ideas for teenagers are supposed to do all of that…be fun, challenging, and help connect them to nature.  I hope your teenagers enjoy trying them.

Outdoor Play For Teenagers

  1. Climb a mountain, large peak, or hill together:  This will allow them to take a little responsibility for packing, looking after themselves, and some basic map reading but on a grander scale.  The time together will allow for some lovely bonding time as well.  They will like the sense of adventure too.
  2. Cook on a campfire:  We cook on a campfire regularly and my three smaller children are up to speed on fire safety, and hopefully are learning skills they can then use in the future.  With a teenager, take it that step further, and allow them (supervised) to cook the meal on the campfire.
  3. Take a hike at night time with them.  There is a good collection on the website for the National Trust if you fancy trying one of theirs.  For an extra challenge they also do night runs
  4. Let your teenager lead you for a wild camp.  Let them plan with you where to go, lead in the pitching, and any activities/organisation while you are there.
  5. Learn to surf….you might find this another fun one to do with them for something new to try!
  6. Swim in the sea (make sure they are safe and supervised!!).
  7. Go on an off road cycling adventure.
  8. Make colourful nature textiles using sun dye paints.  Mine have just done simple fabrics, but you can make cushion covers, t-shirts, the list is endless.  The effect is beautiful.
  9. Build a raft and try to sail it (again make sure any activity around water is safe and supervised).
  10. Build a mini pond.  This is a great activity for them to add a feature to your own outdoor space, however small.
  11. Learn to use (supervised) some other bush craft equipment.  My three love the Kelly Kettle.  It is fun and easy, and gives them a good start to fire making skills on a smaller scale.

I hope you have enjoyed these ideas for outdoor play for teenagers, and let me know how you get on!!Outdoor Play For Teenagers, teenagers, teenager outdoor activities, outdoor activities for older children, teenagers outdoors, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Outdoor Play For Children – 12 Ideas

Outdoor play for children is so important for all ages (read here to find out why), and in this mini series of posts I will run through some varying outdoor play ideas for different age groups of children.  This post is all about children between preschool and teenager age.  This age group is such fun as you are starting to loosen the reins a little, and give them some freedom and independence.  When we are out, I often set boundaries that are within my hearing range, but then let them go off.  They have a lot more fun as they think they are “unsupervised and free”, but they are in fact very safe and being looked out for.  However, they enjoy this feeling.  These outdoor play ideas have been successful for us because we have kept them simple and not had high expectations for the trip into the great outdoors 🙂  I hope you enjoy trying them.

Outdoor Play For Children

  1. Have a water fight:  Admittedly this one is probably more fun in the warmer months, but give them a few bowls and buckets and they will be amused for hours!
  2. Make a dam:  My three love experimenting diverting the flow of water into the sea, but also trying it in streams and rivers as well.  Just watch your water safety and take your construction away afterwards!  This is not only a summer activity, mine have done it in the depths of a Swedish winter with their wellie boots and waterproofs on too.
  3. Build a fort:  This is a little more intricate than a den and can be a place they can head back to again and again, so maybe somewhere very close to home.  They will invent their own games to play in it once they have built it.  Mine also love making these indoors, but they are more temporary structures then!
  4. Make coloured nature ice blocks and let the creativity flow outdoors in winter.
  5. Find a local forest school and attend a session.  Lots hold sessions on weekends or in the school holidays.  If this isn’t convenient, you could get together with a group of like minded families and form your own nature club with all the children.
  6. Make a bug hotel/mini beast house.  This is great for getting children to think about the wildlife around them and use their imagination to build one.  Oversee and let them have a go with some tools (mine used hammers, saws, and drills to make this one)
  7. Play frisbee.  A great outdoor game, fun at any time of the year.
  8. Catch a fish in a net.  Some have more patience than others at this.  Our little lady has endless amounts when it comes to this, our mini men less, but they keep on coming back to try again. 
  9. Go wild berry picking.  Make sure you know what you are picking though!!  We pick wild strawberries, wild raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and sloe berries.
  10. Go Tracking.  This we find a lot easier in winter in the snow, but you can look carefully for muddy tracks too.
  11. Go wave jumping….any time of the year is good as long as your clothing and footwear are right!
  12. Play in the sand dunes.  This you need to be careful with and I always set boundary limits for my three and ask them to stick together, and NOT play hide and seek (they can’t hear you calling and it is quite easy to lose them!)  But there is otherwise plenty of fun and imaginative games to be had in sand dunes.

I hope you have enjoyed these outdoor play for children ideas and have found some inspiration from them.  Don’t forget to check out the other three age groups as well, in case you fancy trying something from there, adapted to suit the age of your child. 🙂  Let me know how you get on in the comments.Outdoor play for children, children outdoor play, outdoor play, nature play, play, outdoor, outdoors, www.mammasschool.co.uk

15 Preschooler Outdoor Play Ideas

Outdoor play is so important for children of all ages (read here to find out why), and in this mini series of posts I have been running through some varying outdoor play ideas for different age groups of children.  Here I am talking about preschooler outdoor play ideas.  This age group is such fun as they really start to gain a little independence in their mobility, have opinions, and the outdoor adventure could go in any number of directions if you allow them to lead.  These preschooler outdoor play ideas have been successful for us because we have kept them simple and not had high expectations for the trip into the great outdoors 🙂  I hope you enjoy trying them.

Preschooler Outdoor Play Ideas:

  1. Take a walk but let them choose the way and the route and see where you go 🙂  Make sure you allow plenty of time for this…they can not be rushed on this adventure.
  2. Collect Shells.  This they find really interesting.  All the shapes, sizes, and colours.
  3. Plant seeds or grow plants.  Children love to see things growing that they have planted.  Tomatoes are quite good, as you can grow them in pots, they grow quite easily, and then they can eat the the produce too.  We love growing cherry tomatoes.
  4. Go for a star walk.  Head out into the dark (easier in winter) and look at the stars and chat about shapes you can see.
  5. “Paint a fence”.  Fill a bucket with water, give them a brush and they will happily be engrossed “painting” for longer than you think.
  6. Mark a path with sticks.
  7. Make mud pies.
  8. Fly a kite.
  9. Play with toy cars in sand or a sandpit.  Take your indoor cars outdoors and they will love making hills and pits, and roads for the cars.
  10. Make some nature art.  In the photo ours was done on a beach, but you can do this anywhere using leaves and sticks too (btw…it’s a happy fish!).
  11. Throw stones into the water and listen to the “music”.  Grab a fist full of pebbles and throw them into the water…listen to the sound they make when the fall in.
  12. Make pictures with outdoor chalk.
  13. Go on a bug hunt.  This was also down as a toddler activity, but for a preschooler you could step it up a notch with a spotter book, or a list of bugs to find
  14. Watch clouds and see how many shapes you can find
  15. Roll down grassy slopes.  They find this very addictive!

I hope you have found some inspiration from these preschooler outdoor play ideas, and will come back to read about the other age groups 🙂 Let me know in the comments below how you have got on.

15 Preschooler Outdoor Play ideas, preschool, children outdoors, outdoors, outdoor, outdoor play, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

11 Toddler Outdoor Play Ideas

Outdoor play is so important for children of all ages (read here to find out why), and in this mini series of posts this week and next week, I will run through some varying outdoor play ideas for different age groups of children.  I am kicking off with toddler outdoor play ideas.  This, in my opinion, was the hardest age group for me with my three children.  At this age they are walking, but sometimes still like a push in a buggy, or still need a push in a buggy.  I found frustration levels could run high when they couldn’t do something, and getting them all dressed up for a bad weather day outside is a whole other talent (and then in the winter once done, they can hardly move!!).  However, it is so good for them (and us) to get out there, so I thought I would suggest a few ideas that you can do with each other once you are outdoors.  These toddler outdoor play ideas have been successful for us because we have kept them simple and not had high expectations for the trip into the great outdoors 🙂  I hope you enjoy trying them.

Toddler Outdoor Play Ideas:

  1. Mud Kitchens:  Any old pots and pans or utensils will do, maybe with a plastic jug thrown in for pouring, and your little toddler will delight in making up the most yummy mud meals you can imagine.  This also enables children to get very hands on with earth, dirt, and mud, which reaps a whole heap of other benefits too.
  2. Bubbles:  I purchased a large cheap bottle of bubbles and mine loved chasing them wherever we were, and seeing where they went.  I was also a little cunning here.  I had a pair of twins that would run off in different directions when we were out.  So, when it all got too much for me, or it looked like I was in serious danger of losing one or both, I would use bubbles in open spaces (such as the beach) to help stop this from happening.  It was perfect.  I was happy that they weren’t escaping, and they were having a blast!!
  3. Puddle Jumping:  Or if your toddler isn’t quite jumping yet, just wading will do.  Make sure they are dressed appropriately as there will be a fair few bum splashes at this age too, but it is all fun for them.  You can either take a little walk on a day with lots of puddles, or just use any puddles right outside your door.
  4. Bare feet:  If the weather/terrain allows, kick off that footwear, and let your little person enjoy running and playing unencumbered by clompy shoes.  They will feel more connected to nature, a little more stable (maybe), and  enjoy the sense of freedom that not wearing any shoes brings.
  5. Bug hunt:  Go on a very simple bug hunt.  You needn’t go far, just far enough to look under a rock or log.  Perhaps take a simple bug pot with a magnifying lid on so they can enjoy examining the mini beasts you find before returning them back to their home.  Children are naturally fascinated by nature.
  6. Pooh Sticks:  Have a good old fashioned game of pooh sticks.  We still have to stop to play this on every bridge we cross over.  Choose your sticks then stand on your bridge, throw them in together, then race to the other side of a bridge to see whose reappears first.
  7. Go collecting sticks, or stones, or both:  They will be intrigued by size and shape, and you could even take some home to do craft or paint on later.  Sometimes, if an outing/walk has a purpose, they are more interested in it.
  8. Outdoor Art:  Take a huge old sheet outdoors somewhere, with some washable paints.  I put the paints into old Tupperware tubs that small feet and hands can tread in.  Strip them off down to whatever you are happy to wash (nappy in my case!!), and let them squish their little toes into the paint, then run all over the sheet (or use their hands).  When my little lady was small, we did this often, and one day she ended up painting her whole body!!  Not quite what I had in mind!!  I always had a washing up bowl of soapy water handy for after!
  9. Water play:  The best toddler outdoor play ideas are when they are kept simple, no need to invest in water tables and spend money.  A few jugs, a watering can filled with rain water, and some buckets, and they are good to go.  They will be fascinated with pouring from one container to another, or even making splashes.  Just make sure they are being watched when water is involved 🙂
  10. Wash their toys:  Give them a bucket and a sponge/cloth and let them wash down their ride-ons, bikes, or trikes.  They will enjoy this, and if you are feeling brave, let them “help” you do your car.
  11. Take the indoors outside:  Toddler outdoor play can involve indoor toys outdoors.  Any plastic toys will be enjoyed hiding in bushes, climbing up mountains of mud, or large plastic lorries and cars driving through sandpits.  

I hope you have found some inspiration from these toddler outdoor play ideas, and will come back to read about the other age groups 🙂 Let me know in the comments below how you have got on, and in the mean time I am off to psych myself up to get my three into their winter weather gear for an afternoon of outdoor play in the Swedish winter!!  It usually takes around 20 minutes for this to be achieved, with lots of heated discussions/squabbles!!!

11 Toddler outdoor play ideas, toddler outdoor play, outdoor play, outdoors, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Inspiration Wednesday – The Natural World

Inspiration Quote, Natural World, Teaching children, children, nature, quotes, quotes, www.mammasschool.co.uk

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