Check Out The Creatures In A Rock Pool

When I told the kids we’d be going rock pooling, this is the kind of thing I had in mind:

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As it turns out, however, either rock pools are the UK’s best kept secret, or this display at Climping Beach is the best the South of England has to offer.

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I can’t say we saw a whole lot in the rock pools. A few darting life forms, some algae, and an anemone, but the girls had a blast in the water, digging in the sand, and spending an afternoon in wild abandon doing something they don’t normally get to do.

Wild Abandon

We’re completing  the National Trust’s #50Things campaign because, well, it’s great. This was number 37: Check Out The Creatures In A Rock Pool  on their list. You can see the full list here.

Discover What’s In A Pond

It’s a little hard to find some frogspawn without discovering the other things in a pond.

All things slimey and erm… fun.

Our local canal centre offers a fabulous guide to help children identify what they’ve found in the pond, and over the spring and summer months, pond dipping is a favourite activity among the children – and one that ages me. I’m not fond of water I can’t see the bottom of and the thought of a child landing in it… well, not great! But so far so good. My girls have stayed safely on the side. 35And they do love pond dipping!

Apart form the canal centre’s guide we also have the RSPB guide to pond life*, a brilliant little book that lets them tick off what they’ve identified.  Money well spent in my mind!

What benefit does a child derive from a few hours of pond dipping, I hear you ask?

Well, aside from learning about what lies beneath the water, increasing awareness of their environment and learning about other ecosystems, pond dipping also works on balance – so you don’t fall in the water – and teaches risk management – just how far can I lean before I start falling? 

Discover what's in a pond

The excitement on their faces as they realise that there’s life in the bottom of those nets is priceless, and finding the critters in their pond life book is so good for instilling that sense of excitement and discovery. It’s like a treasure hunt, following clues, finding answers, handing eager young minds a love of learning and inquiring without them even realising that it’s happening.

And so little scientists and discoverers and adventurers are born, just there by the local pond, with a net and a guide book in hand.

 

We’re completing  the National Trust’s #50Things campaign because, well, it’s great. This was number 35: Discover what’s in a pond on their list. You can see the full list here.

Catch A Falling Leaf

The end of the summer is coming, and pretending it’s not so doesn’t do anything to stop the impending doom winter. I think we may have some exciting plans up our sleeves for this winter, but I’ll have to see how it all pans out before I start sharing. In the meantime, we’re carrying on with our #50things and well on target to get through a lot, if not all of it, this year.

Earlier this year we went to the Whipsnade Zoo for a family day out. It was an early spring day, and the air was thick with cherry blossom scent. Yes, cherry blossoms aren’t leaves, I know, but hey ho, the skills are the same. Catch A Falling Leaf

There’s something about standing waiting in anticipation, spotting a leaf – blossom – jumping into action, grabbing, missing, catching that can’t but make you feel 5 years old. There’s nothing you can do but laugh, and giggle, and shout as you wait and act. The feeling of success as you finally clutch that foliage in your hand.

It’s a great way to burn energy, and to laugh together, play together.

It also costs nothing!

And while catching spring blossoms is imbued with the hope of warmer days, catching autumn leaves are indicative of chestnut roasting, mushroom foraging, and berry picking – there’s nothing not to love.

And while you’re having fun, the kids are learning hand-eye coordination, action and reaction and that mama can run and laugh and play too.

Get out there this autumn, and chase the leaves.

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We’re completing  the National Trust’s #50Things campaign because, well, it’s great. This was number 33: Catch a Falling Leaf on their list. You can see the full list here.

Wave Jumping And Other Seafront Pastimes

I love the ocean. It is to me, human emotion in water form. It gives you calm, and beauty, and peace, serenity, power, anger… every human emotion, the ocean can reflect onto us and from us. There’s little that can calm, center and focus me as much as a morning spent on the beach, my toes in the sand, just listening to the rhythm and song of the waves. Something in the water speaks to my soul, always has and always will.

So it’s only natural that I would want to share a little of that passion with my children. wave jumping I also have beautiful memories of holidays with my family in Gordon’s Bay, South Africa, bobbing for hours in the freezing water of the Indian ocean. Once your legs and arms were numb you could spend hours popping up and down in the water. Bliss. Pure and simple. Or the see-through waters of Malaysia where you can see through to the coral and tropical fish swimming below. Memories of my childhood, and early adulthood.

I hope my children can say the same one day… even if the early memories are of jumping the waves on the Isle of Wight. wave jumping - #50things What a brilliant way to learn coordination, overcome fears, manage risk. All the while squealing, peals of laughter working up a huge appetite, absorbing vitamin D and gearing yourself up for the best night’s sleep ever.  Although, bear in mind that wave jumping at ages 4 and 2 may look a little different to how you or I may do it 😉

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wave book

We’re completing  the National Trust’s #50Things campaign because, well, it’s great. This was number 20: Jump over waves on their list. You can see the full list here.

Five Reasons Kids Must Roll Down Hills

When I was studying to be a Rhythm Kids and Baby Massage instructor, I was surprised by a fact that has always stuck with me: in our age of health and safety and what ever else, kids no longer roll down hills like they used to and this is a very big problem.

Roll Down Hill

Rolling does a few different things for a child’s development. It aids in:

  • Vestibular Development which they need to improve their balance
  • Midline Crossover helps us become physically better coordinated and mentally with the act of thinking, and later reading.
  • Sensory Development, which helps in creating understanding of the world – like up and down, and danger or hazards and risk taking.
  • Gross Motor Development as we build strength
  • and proprioception, the tactile understanding of space.

Big words, and I’m sure you’ll agree all valuable skills that we never really think about, but just take for granted.

Of course, you can learn most of these thing in other ways too, but rolling down hills is just so much fun.

My friend Yasmin and I  threw caution to the wind and joined them in rolling down the hills one day. I can’t remember the last time I laughed as much as we did then, and I think the suited men in their meeting in the fancy building behind us were secretly wishing they could do the same! (Or really glad their wives would never do anything like that!)

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Tell me that didn’t bring a smile to your face!

No, there is definitely value to rolling down hills. It’s good for kids, and it’s fun.

I heartily recommend it!

Roll Down Hill

We’re completing  the National Trust’s #50Things campaign because, well, it’s great. This was number 2: Roll down a hill on their list. You can see the full list here.

Pooh Sticks Have A Special Place In My Heart

Pooh Sticks is a really special game to me. My mother loved Winnie the Pooh, and after our discovery of the House at Pooh Corner and the original Pooh Sticks bridge in Ashdown Forest last year, I knew we had to take her there when they came to visit us last December.

Pooh Sticks3Unfortunately she became aggressively ill and died two weeks after arriving on their holiday and she never made it to Pooh Sticks Bridge. Instead we went as what was left of our family a few days later, we played Pooh Sticks, we sat waiting to see if Pooh and his friends were coming back, but alas, they were off on an adventure, and we lit a Chinese lantern and sent it up into the sky.

So, yes, the game that Pooh invented and played with pine cones has a very special place in my heart.

One day, when Pooh bear was just walking along the bridge with a fir cone in his paw, in his own world, not looking where he was going (probably thinking about honey), he tripped over something. This made the fir-cone jerk out of his paw into the river. 

“Bother”, said Pooh, as it floated slowly under the bridge. So Pooh went to get another fir cone, but then thought that he would just look at the river instead, because it was a peaceful sort of day. So, he lay down and looked at it, and it slipped slowly away beneath him, and suddenly, there was his fir-cone slipping away too. ‘That’s funny,’ said Pooh. ‘I dropped it on the other side,’ said Pooh, ‘and it came out on this side! I wonder if it would do it again?’ 

And he went back for some more fir-cones. It did. It kept on doing it. Then he dropped two in at once, and leant over the bridge to see which of them would come out first; and one of them did; but as they were both the same size, he didn’t know if it was the one which he wanted to win, or the other one. So the next time he dropped one big one and one little one, and the big one came out first, which was what he had said it would do, and the little one came out last, which was what he had said it would do, so he had won twice … and then he went home for tea.

And that was the beginning of the game called Poohsticks, which Pooh invented, and which he and his friends used to play on the edge of the Forest. But they played with sticks instead of fir-cones, because they were easier to mark.’

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If you were that way inclined, this would make a pretty good physics lesson too – something about speed and weight, trajectory, force and a whole lot of other factors too.  Or you could just have fun. The kids certainly love it.

Pooh Sticks

We’re completing  the National Trust’s #50Things campaign because, well, it’s great. This was number 19: Play Pooh Sticks on their list. You can see the full list here.

 

Making Daisy Chains Like Alice In Wonderland

I’d never really known that a daisy chain was a ‘thing’ until I came to England, and it was really only here that I understood what the ‘garland’ really was. The first time Ameli asked me to make her a daisy chain, I had absolutely no idea how, but fortunately, it’s pretty intuitive!

Make a daisy chain

To make a daisy chain, simply pick a daisy or other flower low down, then using your nail, pierce a hole in the stem. Thread the next flower through the hole, and repeat in that flower’s stem and so you go on until you get to the size you want. These days I actually really enjoy sitting making daisy chains. It’s slow, and quiet and rather therapeutic.

Make a daisy chainI mean, if it was good enough for Alice, it’s good enough for me.  And look what happened to Alice when she took time out to be still and lie under a tree. When she started thinking about Daisy Chains, she went on a great adventure…

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, `and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice `without pictures or conversation?’

So she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

 

Make a daisy chain

We’re completing  the National Trust’s #50Things campaign because, well, it’s great. This was number 16: Make a daisy chain on their list. You can see the full list here.

50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 And 3/4

A few years ago Ameli and I joined up with the 50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 and 3/4 campaign from the National Trust because, well, I didn’t really know what to do to keep a toddler occupied!  We ticked off maybe 10 things that first year, and last year another 20 or so. Ameli is now a little older and able to do a lot of the ‘things’ without my guidance or help, so I decided that we should start over again this year, and keep a proper record of it.

The National Trust have really gone to a lot of effort to encourage people outside and if I compare my first ever visit to a National Trust property back in 2003 to what they offer families today. Every visit to a property these days is fantastic, and we have a few favourites.

If you haven’t signed up to do 50 things  yet, you can do so online, or you can pick up the free paper booklet and stickers at most properties. If you want a proper ‘memento’ you can also buy a hardback version of ‘My Adventure Scrapbook‘ for £6.99.

A particular thing I love about the 5o things is that you can make it what you want. It can be educational or fun, you can make a day, or a weekend out of it, or tick ten things off in a morning. It really can be whatever works for you. It certainly is for us!

There’s so much fun in these 50 things, I can’t wait to share them with you (the linked ones are ones we’ve done):
50 Things To Do Before you're 11 3/4 book

For Adventurers:

  1. Climb a tree
  2. Roll down a really big hill
  3. Camp out in the wild
  4. Build a den
  5. Skim a stone
  6. Run around in the rain
  7. Fly a kite
  8. Catch a fish with a net
  9. Eat an apple straight from a tree
  10. Play conkers

For Discoverers:

  1. Go on a really long bike ride
  2. Make a trail with sticks
  3. Make a mud pie
  4. Dam a stream
  5. Play in the snow
  6. Make a daisy chain
  7. Set up a snail race
  8. Create some wild art
  9. Play Pooh-sticks
  10. Jump over waves

For Rangers:

  1. Untitled2Pick blackberries growing in the wild
  2. Explore inside a tree
  3. Visit a farm
  4. Go on a walk barefoot
  5. Make a grass trumpet
  6. Hunt for fossils and bones
  7. Go star gazing
  8. Climb a huge hill
  9. Explore a cave
  10. Hold a scary beast

For Trackers:

  1. Hunt for bugs
  2. Find some frogspawn
  3. Catch a falling leaf
  4. Track wild animals
  5. Discover what’s in a pond
  6. Make a home for a wild animal
  7. Check out the creatures in a rock pool
  8. Bring up a butterfly
  9. Catch a crab
  10. Go on a nature walk at night50 things

For Explorers:

  1. Plant it, grow it, eat it
  2. Go swimming in the sea
  3. Build a raft
  4. Go bird watching
  5. Find your way with a map ad compass
  6. Try rock climbing
  7. Cook on a camp fire
  8. Learn to ride a horse
  9. Find a geocache
  10. Canoe down a river

So, it’s summer time, we have no schedules, we have no agendas and we’re going to see how far we can get in our #50things. Why not join us?

 

#50Things To Do Before You’re 11 and 3/4 – The National Trust

A few years ago the National Trust started this #50Things campaign, and we signed up for it. Ameli was only just 2 years old, so the first year we didn’t do much beyond walk on a log and roll down a hill, or something like that.  The following year we did a few more thing with a three year old Ameli and a one year old Aviya – the #50Things day at Yeo Valley helped us out there – but this year we decided to start from scratch, and see if we could get all 50 things done this year. So what will we do for the next 7 and 3/4 years? Oh, I’m sure we’ll do it again and again, getting a little more adventurous every time.

Here’s the current #50Things list. How many of these have you done?

  1. Climb a tree#50things To Do Before you're 11 3/4 book
  2. Roll down a really big hill
  3. Camp out in the wild
  4. Build a den
  5. Skim a stone
  6. Run around in the rain
  7. Fly a kite
  8. Catch a fish with a net
  9. Eat an apple straight from a tree
  10. Play conkers
  11. Go on a really long bike ride
  12. Make a trail with sticks
  13. Make a mud pie
  14. Dam a stream
  15. Play in the snow
  16. Make a daisy chain
  17. Set up a snail race
  18. Create some wild art
  19. Play pooh sticks
  20. Jump over waves
  21. Pick blackberries growing in the wild
  22. Explore inside a tree
  23. Visit a farm
  24. Go on a walk barefoot
  25. Make a grass trumpet
  26. Hunt for fossils and bones
  27. Go star gazing
  28. Climb a huge hill
  29. Explore a cave
  30. Hold a scary beast
  31. Hunt for bugs
  32. Find some frogspawn
  33. Catch a falling leaf
  34. Track wild animals
  35. Discover what’s in a pond
  36. Make a home for a wild animal
  37. Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
  38. Bring up a butterfly
  39. Catch a crab
  40. Go on a nature walk at night
  41. Plant it grow it, eat it
  42. Go swimming in the sea
  43. Build a raft
  44. Go bird watching
  45. Find your way with a map and compass
  46. Try rock climbing
  47. Cook on a campfire
  48. Learn to ride a  horse
  49. Find a geocache
  50. Canoe down a river

We’re doing the #50Things on our own, but we’ve been sharing the journey on Instagram and twitter, and the National Trust have been brilliant at responding and interacting with us – awesome social media use on their side. We’ve also been to a few Trust properties over the course of doing our #50Things, but you don’t have to – you can do them anywhere, but I must say major kudos to whoever made the decision to make the National Trust properties more appealing to children and families. Clivenden and The Vyne have our favourite outdoor parks and adventure trials, but there are many more, each with their own character and appeal. Definitely worth checking out!

You can pick up the #50Things book and “1 thing completed” free at National Trust properties.

Also, if you’re a UK home educating family, do check out their home ed rate for £39 a year, allowing you access to National Trust properties during term time. Mamaventurer