Tag: outdoors (Page 1 of 4)

Playing In The Rain – Why It Is Important

Outdoor play and nature play are so important for children.  However, one thing us adults are generally not so good at, is encouraging them outdoors in the rain.  Children love the rain, on the whole, and love to play in the rain.  For one reason or another though, us more “sensible” grown ups have a habit of teaching them to be averse to rain through our own example of behaviour.  As long as they have the right clothing there is so much fun to be had with playing in the rain.  They see and experience that it is different from a dry day.  They are exhilarated out playing in the rain, and could teach us more weather averse adults a thing or two about having fun in the rain.  I have written more specifically about autumn outdoor play ideas.  I have also written about more age related outdoor play ideas for toddlerspre schoolerschildren, and teenagers. This post is going to look at why playing in the rain is beneficial, and some ideas to start you off. Children are 100% washable, and can be towel dried 😉 So go on, get them out there!!

Why Playing In The Rain Is Beneficial:

  1. It helps with a child’s motor skills and balance ability.  The are now investigating, exploring, and enjoying a slippery world. This has a different set of physical challenges from a dry world.
  2. When they are playing in rain it helps them connect with all the weathers nature has.  This helps improve their general connection they have with nature.
  3. They are exposed to a different sensory experience.  There are so many new sights, sounds, smells, touches, and possibly tastes (depending on your child), to be experienced.
  4. They are learning.  More specifically they are learning about water through their chosen method of playing in it.  Never underestimate how much they learn through their play.
  5. They are being more physically active by being outdoors on a rainy day, reaping the all the physical health benefits that come with outdoor play.
  6. They learn to look after themselves in these different weather conditions.  They learn to care for their clothing and protection, as well as anything they are using out in the rain.

Activity Ideas For Playing In The Rain:

Free and unstructured play is always the best, but here are a few starter ideas if you are struggling.  See where the play leads on from here 🙂

  1. Mud pies and mud kitchens are always better with rain water mixed in.
  2. Sing and dance in the rain.
  3. Play with toys in the puddles (obviously only ones that can withstand water!)
  4. Build a dam.  Mine also like doing this on beaches.
  5. Race snails.
  6. Go puddle jumping.
  7. Make nature boats and then see if they float in the puddles.
  8. Catch raindrops on your tongue.

So, next time it’s raining and everyone is climbing the walls indoors and you are tearing your hair out, dress them up and put them out!  If you have trouble encouraging them, you can always check out my tips, but you won’t regret getting everyone outdoors playing in the rain.

Playing In The Rain - Why It Is Important, rain play, outdoor play, nature play, outdoors, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

Outdoor Kit Focus – Our Waffle Iron

I thought it might be nice to focus on a piece of our outdoor kit that we use, explain about it, and discuss it a little.  So for today’s blog post I have chosen our waffle iron that we sometimes use outdoors on the campfires during our hikes.

What Is Our Campfire Waffle Iron?

The waffle iron we use on our campfires is actually a hand me down cast iron waffle iron that used to be my grandmother’s.  It was used indoors before the days of plug in electrical waffle irons.  Now this does make it rather impractical to carry (being cast iron it is heavy, so that weight is added to everything else you are carrying), but ever so lovely to use.  It is lovely to use because I love the fact it is traditional, solid, and I know it will survive for many more years.  However, I am not about to suggest you start humping around cast iron equipment on top of everything else when you are out hiking, although you can buy them second hand if you indeed want to do that!  Newer, lighter, more practical versions are now available to buy, so don’t just write this piece of equipment off because ours is cast iron.  Ours is a little like taking a grumpy old lady out with us.  Very stubborn to start with (you can see from the smokey photos it is sometimes hard to get the oil balance right!), but fantastic once it has warmed up and made a few waffles to start with.

Why Use A Waffle Iron On A Campfire?

  1. The waffles are so yummy and delicious!!
  2. They are versatile as well.  You can add savoury toppings such as cheese, or sweet toppings such as creme fraiche and jam, or cinnamon and sugar.
  3. It is a real treat when you are in the outdoors to be able to cook something like this.  Everyone feels happier afterwards and morale is really boosted!
  4. It is such fun to do.  I love cooking on a campfire anyway, but when I have made these for everyone I feel like I’ve had fun making the food too.

If you fancy trying out a waffle iron on the campfire make sure you check out our waffle recipe, which can be used indoors too 🙂  This recipe can also be prepared at home and taken out in a bottle or container to prevent having to make it once you are there.  Above all, go and have some fun making waffles on the campfire in the great outdoors!! Outdoor Kit Focus - Campfire Waffle Iron, campfire waffles, outdoor waffle iron, outdoor cooking, camping food, hiking, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Why Hike With Children & Its Benefits

Why hike with children?  Whether you head out on an all day adventure or just a short walk, the benefits to children and parents alike are huge…..as is the effort to get out the door!  I am realistic, and as a Mamma of three, I know that planning, logistics, weather, and the thought of the aftermath tidy up operation, can sometimes be very overwhelming, but I want to explain why all this is sooooo worth the effort for everyone concerned.  We try to get out for a hike once a week, and yes there days when I just can’t face it, but I know on those days when the double trouble are headed for an early very long bath, I wish I had done it.  Previously I have written about hiking with kids and tips for surviving it, but in this post I wanted to talk more about its benefits.

8 Reasons To Hike With Children 

  1. Physical health:  This is the obvious reason to hike with children.  As the grown ups we can teach our children ways to look after their health and lead by example, with exercise being one of them.  To hike with children may not be the first form of strenuous exercise that crosses your mind, but if you add a backpack onto yourself (and of course you get lumped with all the heavier items), and a few child carrying manoeuvres or sprints dashing after them, and it can be one hell of a serious workout for the parents too!
  2. No weather is bad weather:  This very familiar phrase can have us feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of heading out with children on those bad weather days, but there are good reasons to meet the challenge of a non sunny day head on.  Children do not seem to have the same hang ups about the weather as us adults, but yet we can teach them to have these hang ups quite fast by our own attitudes.  There is also the notion that good things happen only when the sun shines……but there is plenty of fun to be had out there in all weathers IF your gear is right…..yes, otherwise you will be downright miserable!
  3. Being out in nature is so good for their development in many ways.  I am talking about physical development in this part.  They are using so many more and different muscles walking on the uneven, varying terrain, than they would on a man made surface.  Children’s strength and muscle tone are improved as they lift, shift, climb, and move about in nature.  They will use a wide range of skills, utilising both large and small motor skills
  4. The children learn to take some risks.  Being in nature, naturally lends itself to more risk taking due to the environment the children are in.  We are in danger of raising a risk averse generation, and this will have further consequences when they are older.  By taking risks, they are learning to manage and control risks, and learning about risk management.  Otherwise they will not take risks and then will be unable to manage risks, or control them.  Their development suffers when they are not allowed to take risks as “children need it, crave it, and are natural risk takers” – Angela Hanscom.
  5. They learn a lot of new skills.  Aside from the physical development we have already discussed, they can learn a lot of other new skills from the practical (compasses, maps, kit, self care, cooking, etc) to communication, negotiation, and teamwork.  Then there is the confidence that comes with achieving something like a hike.
  6. It is a chance to unplug and reconnect as a family when you hike with children.  There are no distractions out there on the hiking trail.  Just you, your family members, and nature.  Being outdoors in nature helps teach the children to enjoy the simple things in life, and to live in the present moment.  It does this whilst also instilling a sense of awe and adventure.
  7. Despite the stress of getting everyone out there, it is a stress buster!  Nature is known to decrease stress, and increase happiness.  It is food for our minds.  This is because it doesn’t place any demands on us, but it is still engaging.  It is a must for our mental health and well being.
  8. Us getting out in nature is very important for nature too. Being outside helps develop a bond with the outdoors so it is also good for nature.  The children will grow up wanting to protect it, respect it, and nurture it more after having been immersed in it.  This in turn will help to conserve it more. 

These are just a few reasons to pop on those boots and waterproofs and get out into the great outdoors for a stomp.  We are very lucky here in Sweden to have the concept of allemansrätten which gives a lot of freedom to get out there and enjoy nature, but all over the world there are open spaces to be enjoyed, wandered around, and respected.  So, when the walls are closing in on you, the noise is deafening, and mountains of Lego prickling under your feet is getting too much, go for one big push of getting everyone ready to head outdoors.  I promise you, you won’t regret it…..that doesn’t mean everyone will be happy all of the time (if you have accidentally gone on a walk with my three that is the reality!), but it does just seem to make life a lot easier to deal with out there.  The mess is out of sight, the noise seems less as the wind blows their shouting away, and there are very few ways to get up to mischief!!  Why hike with children, Hiking with children, Outdoor families, outdoor life, hiking life, hiking, www.mammasschool,co.uk

Campfire Gratin-A Tasty & Hearty Warming Meal.

A gratin dish is one that technically has a browned topping of either cheese or bread….ours might have ended with a more browned base than top, but it was still yummy!!

So what do you need to make your tasty campfire gratin?  You can prepare it easily at the campfire, but due to us hiking and it absolutely bucketing down with rain that day, I did the preparation at home 🙂

Ingredients For Campfire Gratin:

Diced potatoes

Bacon, chopped

Sweetcorn (any veg will do if you want veg in it at all!!)

Creme fraiche

Grated cheese (2 large handfuls)

Blob of butter

Method To Make Campfire Gratin:

To assemble your Gratin do the following:

  1. Pop the bacon, potatoes, and veg into the pan to fry in a blob of butter.
  2. Once browned add in creme fraiche and a hand full of cheese to melt into the sauce.
  3. Heat that all through.
  4. Once cooked, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.  Due to the lack of heat over the top of the pan, this ends up more melted than browned, but that’s why it’s a campfire gratin 😉 And when something tastes so yummy, warms you through in a rain storm, and fills your tummy, technical details don’t matter!!!  Enjoy xx

Campfire Gratin, gratin, outdoor food, outdoor cooking, outdoor meals, campfire meal, 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

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

Perfect Pizza Wraps

In previous recipes I have experimented using both Swedish flat breads and French baguettes to make pizza meals, and both have been a success.  However, today’s idea of pizza wraps wins hands down over those two, according to the taste testing panel of my crazy trio.  They were so easy to make, very quick to cook, and extremely tasty to eat.

Ingredients For Pizza Wraps

  1. Tortillas
  2. Tomato puree
  3. Grated cheese
  4. Salami

You can play around with the toppings and add in/take away what you fancy.  This combination was both simple and worked well.  Don’t forget your tin foil to cook in.

Method To Make Pizza Wraps

  1. Take a piece of tin foil and lie the wrap on the top.
  2. Spread tomato puree over half the wrap surface area.
  3. Then add your toppings….for us cheese and salami
  4. Roll it up, and then wrap it in the tin foil.
  5. Place them on the fire, but only leave a minute or two before turning, and then the same again.  These cook very fast.  Watch for the tin foil scorching and as soon as it does it will be ready.

Hope you enjoy them as much as we did if you give them a go 🙂Perfect Pizza Wraps, Campfire Pizza, pizza, outdoor cooking, campfire cooking, camping food, bush craft food, outdoor food, Hiking food, www.mammasscholol.co.uk

Fruity S’mores

On Easter Monday we headed out for an outdoor adventure, and I was trying to rack my brain with a way of using up a little Easter  chocolate with a new campfire treat.  I came up with fruity s’mores!  They were given the thumbs up by my testing trio, plus Dadda on this occasion, and we will definitely be making them again.

Ingredients For Fruity S’mores

  1. Apples.
  2. Mini marshmallows.
  3. Mini eggs – but chunks of chocolate will work too if it isn’t around Easter time!  We also had vegan chocolate to use for Dadda.
  4. Foil to wrap them up in.

Method To Make Fruity S’mores

  1. Take an apple and a corer and remove the middle of the apple.
  2. Alternately stuff into the gap chocolate eggs (or chunks) and mini marshmallows, until the middle is bursting.
  3. Wrap in tin foil, and pack.  All ready to pop onto your campfire.

This is such a tasty and easy treat.  Give it a go and let me know how you get on 🙂

Fruity S'mores, outdoor cooking, campfire food, hiking food, camping food, outdoors, s'mores, smores, www.mammasschool.co.uk

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