It's Saturday. I think. I am never 100% sure what day it is during the summer holidays. I find my brain becoming slowly addled by the lack of routine and focus that I've come to love my children's school for. It doesn't matter how hard I try as a parent, I can never seem to galvanise the troops into action as much as I hope to. In our house, the summer holidays begin full of promise and stretch endlessly into the middle distance with thoughts of adventure, spare time and days of creativity and fun. But, as one day inevitably rolls into the next, and the weather does it's British best to confuse us, I realise it's three weeks in and we've achieved one swimming trip, a few days at Grandad's and a couple of trips to the park. Not for the first time, I conclude that Supernanny would be disgusted.
My house hums with the constant crackle of potential energy coming from my six year old. I often wonder if it is the 21st century and it's obsession with gadgets and electronics that seems to making it harder to promote a love of the outdoors within our little ones? Or is it partly down to the changes in society that means even older children seem vulnerable on our streets these days? Whatever the reason, I think a little imagination goes a long way when it comes to getting children out and about and developing an interest in our natural surroundings. Here's one suggestion for an outdoor activity. It's actually really easy, and, if you have a mixed bag of ages of siblings, it's a great opportunity to involve all the family. I'm lucky where I live, there's a lot of trees and greenery, but this classic game can be adapted to any environment, it just needs a little forward planning.
In teams or as individual players, your task is to find items from a list of natural 'treasures'. You can either make it the first person to find all the items, or give each item a points value, depending on how hard it is to find. An example of items of 'treasure' could include;
A Snail Shell
A Brown Leaf
A Crab Apple
A Yellow Flower
Obviously, you can vary the difficulty depending on the age and ability of the child. For older children, make the items more specific, like An Oak Leaf, or An L shaped Twig. You can also choose items that are harder to find. It helps if you walk the route beforehand, to give you an idea of what's around. The great part is, before you know where you are, you will all have enjoyed a lovely afternoon walking in the (hopefully!) sunshine, without anyone moaning or asking, for the millionth time, 'Are we there yet?!'