Outdoor Activity ideas for parents and children
When home-educating our children, we can really hone in to what excites our children, tailoring the activities to suit each child. There is no right or wrong way, the main aim is for both parent and child to enjoy the activity, and to be adaptable to change, as what was planned, might not always turn out how you expect it to!
Here are some basic ideas to get you started, go fly with them!
Mini beast hunt
Whether in the garden or in the park, walking quietly and slowly, see what creatures you can find. Look under logs, stones, under leaves. Have an identification sheet with you (sourced online), find out what they eat. Are they predators? You could pretend that you are as small as a beetle. What would you be like? Draw a picture of your own mini beast. Make one out of Plasticine.
You will need clay or plasticine or sticky mud and some natural objects like sticks, seeds, petals leaves to stick onto your blob. Make your own ‘somebody’ using natural objects to stick onto your blob for wings, arms, legs, eyes. Give your blobster a name, character. What would it eat? Where would it live?
Blobster Home / den
Make a den for your blobster. Use what you can find – grass, sticks, mud, sand, leaves. Make up a blobster story, why is it living there, who are the neighbours? What do they like to do? This is a time to let our imaginations go wild!
Questions to ask – will it keep out the weather? How would I insulate it? Will it have an impact on animal or human path ways?
With a length of string as long as you like, starting at your blobster den, make a journey for the blobster to travel on, by trailing the string around the garden / park, maybe over sticks, up a tree a little way, down, through a pile of leaves....... imagine being on the string journey, maybe the big rock would be a giant mountain, would the blobster have to traverse high cliffs, wade through rivers or scramble through forests?
Find somewhere outside that attracts you to sit for 5 mins or longer if you like, maybe a corner of your garden that gets forgotten. Take time to breathe deeply, sensing the connection between your body and the earth underneath you. Close your eyes and tune in to your other senses.... how many different sounds can you hear? Are they far away or near? What can you feel under your fingers? Can you feel any breeze? Do you smell anything? Take time to just be....then after about 5 minutes, slowly open your eyes with a soft gaze, and look around. Does anything look different? Did you notice any wildlife? Take your time to get up, keeping some of this stillness with you as you go through the day.
This is a great way to be fully present and aware of our physical surroundings.
Starting with a sense meditation, find your own special place in the garden / outdoors. Sit for 5 – 15 mins.
The aim is to listen to as many different sounds as you can, how many birds can you see or hear?
Afterwards – what noises did you hear? Did you see any wildlife? Notice anything unusual? How did it feel to sit in their own special place in nature?
Variations – After the sit-spot, draw a map of the area and mark the sounds that they heard on the map.
Go back to the same sit spot time after time and experience how it changes through the seasons.
Bring attention to different aspects of the sit spot. How many different plants grow there? What signs of animal activity are there? Where do the insects like to hang out?
Game – what am I?
Each person gets a sticker put on them in a place where they cannot read it. (On their forehead or back)
On each sticker is a name or drawing of an animal or plant e.g. rabbit.
Find out what you are by asking a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. E.g. Do I eat meat? Have I got 4 legs? If you get a ‘no’ answer, it’s the other persons turn. Keep going till you find out what you are!
Foraging for Wild Food
At this time of the year there are many plants that can be foraged, such as Nettles and Jack-by-the-hedge. Galloway Forager Mark Williams has an excellent website with loads of information on how to forage responsibly. http://www.gallowaywildfoods.com/ It is important to be sure of your identification skills when foraging, so if in doubt, don’t pick it.
Other Outdoor Activity ideas are listed below. More details are accessible online.
- Make a bug Hotel
- Den building, and mini survival shelter – build a shelter for your arm only. Can you make it waterproof? Ask someone to sprinkle water from a watering can over it?
- Treasure Hunt
- Nature Poems
- Scavenger Hunt
- Nature Photos – Take close-up photos of natural objects that you are attracted to and write about why you like them.
I hope these ideas help with you to have fun with your children.
Some of these ideas came from two of my favourite books;
I love my World by Chris Holland
Learning with Nature by Marina Robb, Victoria Mew and Anna Richardson.