Get Kids Outdoor More - Time To Swap ‘Screen Time’ For ‘Green Time’

By Cheryl Rickman
on February 22, 2016

girls climbing trees big treeThe daffodils are out already and, meteorologically speaking, Spring begins on 1st March (although, astronomically, the season starts on 27th March when the clocks Spring forward). Season-start-times aside, it’s time to GET OUR KIDS OUTDOORS MORE! Especially given that national averages for children engaging in outdoor play are steadily and sadly decreasing. That’s despite much research revealing that kids who play and learn outside develop better life skills and are healthier, more resilient and creative.

As a 70s child, I ran barefoot on grass regularly, made mud pies, and built outdoor dens. The park, woods and garden were my playground. Back then we took going down the park until dark for granted. But that doesn’t mean we can’t let our children explore, climb trees and get muddy with our supervision.

It’s not all about structured sporting activities either. Last weekend, on a woodland walk, I told my daughter to “take the lead and I’ll follow” and her eyes lit up. We had a wonderful woodland adventure where the possibilities of play were endless.

Minecraft may provide space to build new worlds but the Great Outdoors is the original new-world-building creative space.

 

 

 


Furthermore, studies reveal learning outdoors boosts concentration and well-being and encourages environmental stewardship and respect for the natural world. That’s why I’m leading an OPERATION OUTDOORS campaign at my local school to build outdoor learning and community areas. (Any local Hampshire-based companies interested in sponsoring zones in part or full, please contact me). As for parents… yes, we’re busier than ever, but we are also more mobile. We can phone/email from the park if we must (or just enjoy being outdoors ourselves).

Thankfully Forest Pre-Schools and Kindergartens (such as My Little Explorers where B went) are providing parents with an outdoor childcare choice. But us parents can do so too. It may be a tad too cold to sleep under the stars just yet but, as the Scandinavians say: "There's no bad weather, only bad clothes," and there’s plenty of fun to be had scavenger hunting, geo-caching, roller-skating, bike-riding, planting, tracking and climbing. So let’s makes the choice to get our digital natives out amongst nature, away from those screens and outdoors more. Now where are my wellies?

Join the campaign. Tweet your outdoor adventures to @ClimbingTreesTs using the hashtag #GetKidsOutdoorsMore

 

 

Get Outdoors This Summer

By Cheryl Rickman
on July 22, 2015

Some screen time is inevitable, given that our children are digital natives. And busy parents sometimes need to hire the services of the 'iPad Babysitter' while they bang out 20 minutes of chores. But it's important to get the right balance with children encouraged to play outside as much as possible. Being outdoors not only boosts well-being, it also strengthens the immune system and fosters environmental stewardship. So here's a bunch of games and ideas to help encourage your children to get away from the TV and tablet and get outdoors more this summer.

1. Play the journey stick game. Native tribes use these to recount a journey or story. Set a destination and walk to it collecting items along the way that you will later add to your journey stick. Collect feathers, twigs, leaves, daisies and so on and find an all important wand-length stick on which to record your journey. Each time an item is collected, talk about where you are on the journey to enable recollection later. On your return home tie the collected items to your stick in order of discovery to tell the story of the journey you went on.

2. Wheels. The children get to choose which wheels to use to go to the park/woods - scooter, roller boots, skateboards, bikes? Get them to draw a rota of which wheels will be used first, second and third on following trips out to encourage future outdoor adventures.

3. Spy camp. A variation on hide and seek. Dish out some notepads, pencils and either cameras or toilet roll holders. First of all is the decision who gets to be 'spy' first. This involves whoever can climb a tree or run up the nearest hill first. Everyone should get a turn to avoid sibling bashing. The spy counts and the hiders hide but rather than simply find the hiders, the spy needs to creep up on them without letting the hider know they've been found then return to base and write down where that person is and repeat until everyone is found. If the spy is discovered, the spy-busting hider becomes the spy and takes over the notes to avoid repetition.

4. Forest bathing or woodland walking. Simply finding your local woodland, going there and soaking up the sounds, sights, smells... really connecting with nature by mindfully noticing what you all hear, see, touch, smell and even taste. This is a good introduction to mindfulness, paying attention to the present moment, as well as to getting the kids outside.

5. Treasure hunt. Grab some buckets from a bucket and spade kit and go on a treasure hunt. Each child should be given a specific object or set of objects to seek out: round pebbles, large stones, twigs, different types of leaf/bug and so on. As well as generally looking for items, tell children they can use the material collected (except the bugs) to create a small mural on paper which spells out their initials or names.

Have fun! Happy Summer Holidays from the Climbing Trees Kids team.

PS We'd love to hear your outdoor games and ideas for mini-adventures, so please do get in touch.

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