The Playground Post

princess-avaWelcome to The Playground Post, the official blog of Playground Princess, where we discuss how to have fun outdoors, why it’s important to play outside, what benefits various toys provide and what activities you can do to beat boredom!

Getting outdoors is about more than beaches and barbecues. Science shows that spending time in the great outdoors can actually make you healthier – increases brain function, makes exercise easier, assists in increasing Vitamin D intake, helps with stress, and ofcourse, makes us happy!

In this blog we will discuss topics of how to stay safe in the outdoors, how to create the ultimate outdoor play area, why outdoor play is so important, how adults/parents/caregivers can get involved in encouraging outdoor play and ideas for school holiday periods whilst demonstrating how the awesome products we stock can help achieve all this.

Playing in the Sand is Good for Kids

Children have been intrigued by sand for many generations. Sand is natures etch-a-sketch. Playing in the sand can be a great opportunity for children to have unstructured play time. Whether shaped into castles, dug, dripped, sifted, poured, built or buried, sand can take many different forms, thus offering endless opportunities for fun and learning!

Reasons Why Playing in the Sand Is Good for Kids

1. It Is an Open-Ended Medium

Children learn the most when faced with open-ended questions and open-ended tasks, and sand is a medium that is inherently open-ended. No matter the skill or cognitive level of the child, sand is an appropriate play object. Very young or underdeveloped children can simply sit in sand and take in the texture and qualities of the medium while older children with more sophisticated thought processes can use sand for exploration and creativity. Sand has a variety of qualities to it that make it even more open-ended.

Open-ended play in the sand can be fostered by using key phrases such as:

  • How could you change/fix that?
  • What else could you do?
  • What would happen if you…?
  • What do you think/feel about…?
  • How did you do that?
  • Is there another way to…?

2. It Stretches the Imagination

As children begin to more fully understand the physical properties of sand, they have the opportunity to expand their creativity and imaginations through the designs of a variety of buildings, towns, and castles. Many children find working with sand to be relaxing and non-threatening, allowing these children the freedom to express their imaginations in safety and without consequence.

3. It Promotes Physical Development

Muscle skills in the arms and upper bodies of children will be further developed through sand play. By digging, pouring, sifting, and scooping sand, children use their upper bodies and arms in ways that many of their other toys do not require them to work. Large amounts of sand can become very heavy and difficult to move, thereby creating further exercise and muscle-building opportunities for young children. If the sand becomes wet, it becomes even more difficult to scoop and manipulate, further flexing the young muscles of children playing in the sand. The legs and lower bodies of children get involved from squatting in the sand or from lifting and carrying buckets of sand to other areas. Additionally, hand-eye coordination and small muscle control is improved through small movements as children work with sand accessories such as scoops and shovels.

4. It Encourages Social Skills

Playing in sand involves sharing tools, negotiating for play space, and compromising about what will be built in the sand. Although each child may have a separate play space, many of them will engage in pretend play as they combine to “cook” with the sand or construct roadways, dig tunnels, and build towers for a small city. By working together in a common play space, children learn empathy and how to recognize and understand the perspectives of the other children while working together and sharing sand tools.

5. It Promotes Cognitive Development

Children learn the inherent physical properties of sand by playing with it and by comparing wet and dry sand. They can also learn the theory of the conservation of matter as they pour sand from one container into another and compare the amount of sand that fits in each. While playing in sand, children will learn to problem-solve as they try to figure out how to prevent their towers from continually falling over or their moats from collapsing in on themselves. They will discover cause and effect from learning what happens when water is added to the sand. Finally, children will learn more vocabulary words that fit specifically to sand play as well as from chatting with other children in the sand play area.

6. It Teaches Mathematical Concepts

Using containers of varying sizes and shapes helps to teach children about ideas such as “more than,” “less than,” and “equal.” Through trial and error, these children will be able to make predictions about which containers will hold more or less sand. Providing measuring spoons or cups could help children learn more specific measures as well as other mathematical terms such as “empty” and “full” or “heavy” and “light.” Over time, and with maturity, children can learn how many scoops of different sizes it takes to fill a container, an early precursor to learning teaspoons, tablespoons, and cups.

7. It Encourages Scientific Experiments

  • Bury metal treasures for children and provide magnets – children will learn about magnetic force while going on a treasure hunt
  • Set up a rope and pulley system for children to move buckets of sand up to a table or across a sandbox to teach about levers and pulleys.
  • Punch holes of varying sizes in plastic bottles for children, and watch as they discover the differences in hole sizes.
  • Provide other objects for children to construct their own scientific experiments such as funnels, ramps, and rolling pins.

Sand pit play develops an understanding of basic science and maths concepts. Sand play helps develop concepts such as exploring, classifying, estimating, experimenting, comparing, counting, measuring and constructing.

8. It Incorporates Artistic Expression

  • Encourage children to draw pictures in the sand, develop elaborate sand castles, write their name and messages and create interesting moulds from household objects in addition to buckets.
  • Children can experiment with the properties of sand and create their own buildings and towns, they can decorate the objects with stones, leaves, and flowers that they find in nature.
  • Provide sand combs and discuss different patterns and designs with children as they draw in the sand.
  • Play music while children work and play in the sand to encourage children to sing along.

9. Sensory

Allowing your child to play in the sand by themselves and with others helps them to develop fine motor skills like those necessary to use a small shovel, pull a truck, and build a castle or moat. By burying themselves in sand, and feeling their body position within the sand, children are engaging their proprioceptive sense, or the sense of their body relative to space. Sand play is particularly beneficial for developing a sense of textures. Not only is sand a new and different texture for children to feel on their skin, but the contrast it creates with concrete, grass, dirt, and wood will emphasize the sensation of each surface. Sand play adds to their sensory vocabulary. Sand can feel like so many adjectives: rough, smooth, bumpy, squishy, runny, dry and more.

Sand Play Accessory Ideas

The following are just some tools and objects that can be used when playing in the sand:

Cardboard tubes, ping-pong balls, spatulas, rolling pins, sand wheels, funnels, sieves, colanders, mortar and pestle, stones, shells, scoops, measuring spoons and cups, gardening tools and gloves, plastic flowers and vases, wooden spoons, buckets, zoo / farm animals, pipes, tubes, cyclinders, pine cones, jars and lids, clothespegs, potato mashers, maginifiers, magnets, marbles, zip lock freezer bags, toy vehicles, net bags from onions / citrus fruit, feathers, bowls / pans, ladles.

Conclusion

Ultimately, there is no right way to use sand. It invites participation; it permits children to make and test hypotheses; it stretches the imagination; it provides a potentially soothing sensory experience; and it is an excellent avenue for children to learn physical, cognitive, and social skills. Sand play can be the perfect opportunity to further the development of the minds and bodies of children. No matter the age or development level of the child, sand offers an opportunity to explore and experiment in a safe and inviting environment.

Outdoor Christmas Activities

Keep the family fun going this Christmas with these outdoor Christmas activities:

  • Build a Sandcastle Snowman
  • Santa sack relay race
  • Christmas present scavenger hunt
  • Pass the Ornament
  • Wreath Toss
  • Gift Wrap Relay Race (use outdoor items to wrap)
  • Christmas Ornament Spoon Race
  • Sleigh Races (wheelbarrow races)
  • Make a wreath bird feeder
  • Decorate a tree / bush
  • Go for a neighbourhood walk to view all decorations and lights
  • Have a Christmas-themed picnic
  • Collect pine cones for outdoor craft
  • Candy Cane Races
  • Snowman Building using nature items

 

We hope these outdoor Christmas activities have your family having fun this festive season!

Fun Things To Do With Your Daughter

You can’t always spend enough time with your daughter, but you can control the quality of the time you do have together. Depending on her personality and age, she may not fall in love with all the activities we recommend, but making the effort is the important part. She’ll appreciate the attention and it’ll go a long way in strengthening her self-esteem. Both mums and dads will enjoy these activities with their girl and cherish the time making memories.

  1. Outdoor tea party
  1. Blow bubbles
  1. Outdoor picnic
  1. Watch the clouds
  1. Dance in the rain
  1. Go for a hike or bushwalk
  1. Go for a bike ride
  1. Make a mud kitchen
  1. Play dress ups outdoors
  1. Do outdoor craft – painting or making a kite to fly
  1. Eat ice cream outdoors
  1. Read books together under a shady tree
  1. Make lemonade and then set up a lemonade stall
  1. Do a play / show / recital in the backyard
  1. Set up a outdoor home spa station – lots of products and pampering

 

You can make the most of your limited hours together with activities that are not only fun for you; she’ll have fun and take the learned lessons with her when she’s on her own. So, head on outdoors and check off all these fun things to do with your daughter.

 

“When you look at your life, the greatest happiness’s are family happiness.”

~Joyce Brothers~

Outdoor Summer Bucket List for Kids

The key to having a fun, memory filled summer is to intentionally plan it! So, head on outdoors this summer (don’t forget to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide) and try these great activities on our outdoor summer bucket list for kids.

  • Blow bubbles in the backyard
  • Slip n Slide / Waterslide in the backyard
  • Fly a kite
  • Make an outdoor tent / cubby / tepee
  • Have an outdoor picnic
  • Go for a bushwalk
  • Play hide and side
  • Concrete chalk drawing
  • Go to the beach
  • Make a bird feeder
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Outdoor obstacle course
  • Read books under a shady tree
  • Star gazing at night
  • Camp in the backyard
  • Dance in the rain
  • Go to a park / oval and play sports
  • Watch sunrise / sunset
  • Start a garden project
  • Make a outdoor mud kitchen
  • Go swimming
  • Go fishing
  • Make an outdoor washing station – wash toys, cars etc
  • Catch and release bugs
  • Pick flowers
  • Paint rocks for your garden
  •  Paint with water on rocks / fence / concrete
  • Water balloon fights
  • Go for a bike / scooter ride

 

So, no matter what your child is interested in, this outdoor summer bucket list for kids is sure to keep them busy these school holidays and stop the “i’m bored” phrase being repeated!

Princesses come in all kinds

Not all princesses dress in pink. Some play in bright red socks that stink, blue team jerseys that don’t quite fit, accessorise their look with a baseball mitt, or a sparkly crown! Girls are forced into stereotypes of pink, sparkles, tutus otherwise are considered tomboys; but it is important to remember princesses come in all kinds.

According to Wikipedia, a tomboy is a girl who exhibits characteristics or behaviors considered typical of a boy, including wearing masculine clothing and engaging in games and activities that are physical in nature and are considered in many cultures to be “unfeminine” or the domain of boys. Just because there is a Wikipedia entry, doesn’t mean we have to subscribe to it.

Some girls climb trees

Some girls wear dresses

Some girls climb trees while wearing dresses

 

Girls will be bold

Girls will be extraordinary

Girls will be anything they choose to be!

Don’t define your daughter by how she chooses to play and don’t call girls boys (or boys, girls). If she wants to paint her nails and then jump in the mud, let her go for it. If she wants to pull her hair in a ponytail and eat a cheeseburger, let her do it. If she wants to collect bugs, talk to them, name them, and set them free, let her! Let her do all of these things and know that she is a girl. Don’t do any of them and know that she is still a girl. Let her be herself.

Wear lipstick, play soccer, have friends that are girls, have friends that are boys, eat bacon…or salad, watch romantic comedies or action movies, wear pink or wear blue.

None of it matters.

She. Is. A. Girl.

NOT… a tomboy

A GIRL

Girls can jump in mud puddles and climb trees, play sports and make messes – all while wearing their tutus and tiaras! Not every girl has a passion for pink, when I became pregnant, I was thrilled to discover we were bringing a beautiful baby girl into the world. I dreamily envisioned ruffly dresses, tea parties, shopping, sleepovers and bows.

However, ruffles and frills just weren’t in the cards for our little girl Ava. She has been obsessed with dinosaurs, Spiderman, trains, monster trucks, Lego and getting messy for as long as I can remember! There has been the odd tutu fascination, doing a pirouette, tea parties and playing with dolls; but is quickly replaced with building, designing and working out how and why things work – and that’s OK!

I am reminded that she doesn’t fit the stereotypical girl mould every time we walk by the little girl’s toy aisle at our favourite department store. The aisles are filled to the brim with Barbies, babies, and princess dresses, which are not her only interests. More times than not, she darts past these overtly pink aisles and makes a beeline straight for the ‘boy toys’. However, I don’t apologise for my daughter’s uniqueness. I don’t need to apologise for who she is. She is a well-rounded and active little girl who wears dresses but also likes to climb trees, play with trucks in the sandpit, play ball and build / design / create, and it’s okay to be different. It takes all kinds of people to make the world go round. I accept that my daughter doesn’t fit the mould. My daughter is not like your daughter, and my daughter is not like your son. She is unique, as all children are unique individuals.

Her birthday party themes to date have been jungle, cowboy / western, dinosaurs, Octonauts and coming up soon – The Very Hungry Caterpillar; so, as you can see, pink and frills don’t always happen here, and that is OK, because, princesses come in all kinds.

My daughter Ava is definitely not the stereotypical little girl but, let’s face it, who really fits those one-size-fits-all stereotypes anyway. She marches to the beat of her own drum. She is her own little person, and I love her for it. You see, I have always been a rule follower and a “go with the flow” gal.

Princesses come in all kinds, let them run, dance, invent, discover, laugh, dig, build, pretend and PLAY.

Let her be herself. She’s an individual who doesn’t care what others think, and I hope she never changes.

Useful Apps

We live in a day and age where we rely on technology – for communication and for information. Keeping your children safe is definitely at the top of the parenting priority list. No parent likes to worry and fear the worst when it comes their little ones, but knowing what to do in the case of an emergency can save lives. So, to save heading straight for panic stations or searching the web when time isn’t on your side, here are some useful apps to keep you in the know wherever your family ventures outdoors.

Victorian Water Safety Guide
The Victorian Water Safety Guide is brought to you by the Play It Safe by the Water campaign which works towards increasing community awareness of water safety. The guide provides safety information for water activities, information about water safety signs, a resuscitation action plan and emergency contacts, locations of public pools and patrolled beaches as well as updates on events and activities.

The Victorian Water Safety Guide is free and is available from iTunes for iPhones and iPads and on Google Play for android users.

SafeAroundWater2

Australian Police Child ID Safety
The Australian Police Child ID App helps Australian parents provide information to police in an attempt to locate their children if they go missing. The application allows families to store photographs and vital information about their children on their mobile phone. In the devastating event that a child goes missing, this information can be immediately provided to authorities. The application also includes safety advice and checklists for parents on keeping children safe, information about what to do in the hours immediately after a child goes missing and provides quick and efficient access to emergency contact phone numbers.

The Australian Police Child ID Safety app is free and is available from iTunes for iPhones and iPads and on Google Play for android users.

child-id-app

Emergency+
The Emergency+ app provides the caller with information about when to call Triple Zero, provides the caller with information about who to call in various non-emergency situations, assists the caller to dial the relevant number and displays the GPS coordinates of the phone’s location that the caller can read out to the emergency operator.

The Emergency+ app is free and is available from iTunes for iPhones and iPads and on Google Play for android users.

emergency+

St Johns Ambulance First Aid
The St Johns Ambulance First Aid app presents step-by-step emergency First Aid information to the user with a large clear image for each step.

The St Johns Ambulance First Aid app is available from from iTunes for iPhones and iPads ($4.99) and Google Play for android users ($4.49).

stjohns

Higgins Storm Chasing
The Higgins Storm Chasing app is a great one-stop source for all things weather. This app contains all the relevant links needed to stay up to date with warnings, weather fronts affecting your local area – as well as keeping in touch socially with what’s happening in the community by sharing information and photos.

The app contains personally written HSC forecasts and graphics up to 4 days ahead, videos of storm chases and forecasts, photo prints and calendar shop, facebook page direct, photo gallery & live stream chases, geo targeted push notifications of forecasts, warnings, updates and competitions, ability to share your photos or report storms for sharing on Facebook, external App content, BOM warnings for every State in Australia, beach and boating weather, weather links to forecasts , live data and warnings as well as disaster links to emergency and traffic sites.

The Higgins Storm Chasing app is available from from iTunes for iPhones and iPads ($4.99) and Google Play for android users ($4.49).

hsc

Red Cross Australia

The Australian Red Cross First Aid app gives you instant access to the information you need to know to handle the most common first aid emergencies. Interactive and simple step-by-step advice means it’s never been easier to know first aid.

The Red Cross app is free and is available from iTunes for iPhones and iPads and on Google Play for android users.

FirstAidApps_AustralianRedCross

Police Link
The “Queensland Police” Policelink app allows the user to contact the Police on Triple Zero for urgent matters and Policelink for all Non Urgent and Enquiries, as well as the Hoon Line. The App also forwards message enquires directly to the Policelink Contact Centre, and assess the Queensland Police Online report services.

The Policelink app is free and is available from iTunes for iPhones and iPads and on Google Play for android users.

policelink

SES
The SES app enables the public to log a request for SES emergency assistance instead of phoning and waiting on hold during peak times.

The Policelink app is free and is available from iTunes for iPhones and iPads and on Google Play for android users.

ses

SunSmart
The SunSmart app lets you know when you do and don’t need sun protection, making it easier than ever to be smart about your sun exposure all year. The app allows the user to personalise it with their natural skin type, height, weight, age, gender and set their location for anywhere in Australia; gives reminders: you can set up a sun protection alert and receive daily reminders for the times of day when UV reaches a level that can damage your skin and eyes, as well as two-hour reminders to re-apply sunscreen; a sunscreen calculator: use the sunscreen calculator to find out how much sunscreen you need to apply, taking account of your size and clothing; a vitamin D tracker: find out if you are getting enough UV exposure for vitamin D; as well as a seven-day weather forecast: check the weather for the week ahead for any location in Australia.

The SunSmart app is free and is available from iTunes for iPhones and iPads and on Google Play for android users.

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Beachsafe
The Beachsafe app will locate and provide information on all 11,882 beaches around the country. The app uses Surf Life Saving Australia’s coastal safety databases to let you know precisely how safe a beach is, what the weather is like, when low and high tide is, when (and if) a beach is patrolled by surf lifesavers or lifeguards, along with full regulatory and hazard information.

The Beachsafe app is free and is available from iTunes for iPhones and iPads and on Google Play for android users.

beachsafe

ManDown
The ManDown App sends immediate alerts in case of an emergency or injury. Enter the contact information for your family, friends and colleagues – if you have an emergency, they’ll get notified via text, phone or e-mail. Once the Mandown app is activated, it continuously monitors the phone’s movement. The default setting is that if the phone is motionless for 30 seconds, then a pre-Alarm warning will start. If the phone is not moved within another 30 seconds, then the Full Alarm mode is activated. In the Full Alarm mode the phone sends out a local, audible alarm. The phone will also send out a text, email and phone call to selected recipients. This message will also contain the gps location of the person in distress. The motionless timer can be set, in hourly increments, for up to 24 hours. This feature enables the ManDown app to be used as a Safety Net device.

The ManDown app is available from from iTunes for iPhones and iPads ($1.99) and Google Play for android users ($1.99).

mandown app

 

Other great apps that we’ve found, focus less on safety in the great outdoors but rather how and where you can have fun!

 

Brisbane Kids
The Brisbane Kids app provides a quick and easy way to access topics within the Brisbane Kids website and connect to their social networking channels. Brisbane Kids is the official guide to child friendly Brisbane – events, activities and things to do.

The Brisbane Kids app is free and is available from iTunes for iPhones and iPads and on Google Play for android users.

brisbanekids

Playgrounds in Brisbane
The Playgrounds in Brisbane app allows the user to find and view a playground in their local area before arriving to work out whether its features match up with their needs – does the playground have a BBQ? Does the playground have toilet facilities? Is the playground fenced? The Playgrounds in Brisbane app will make organising play dates and visits to the park easier.

The Playgrounds in Brisbane app is free and is available from iTunes for iPhones and iPads and on Google Play for android users.

playgrounds in brisbane

 

For those who like a little more comfort or help with planning their next outdoor adventure, there are a number of apps that can help you make your outdoor adventure a little easier. Whether you’re heading on a relaxing camping trip or a hard core hike, there are apps to suit your needs.

 

WikiCamps Australia
If you’re looking for a place to stay, this dynamic user-generated camping app, specifically designed for Australia, has got you covered. The database is constantly growing and updated, by app users, with the latest information about sites from all across Australia. Listed locations include, caravan parks, camp sites, backpacker hostels, day stops, points of interest and information centres. Each site has a heap of information, including such as swimming and fishing spots, off-road driving, pet rules, Wi-Fi hotspots, prices, toilets, showers and heaps more.

The WikiCamps Australia app is available from iTunes for iPhones and iPads ($4.99) and on Google Play for android users ($4.99), though the android app offers a free 14 day trial.

wikicamps australia

Campee
Campee is a community-powered camping app, specifically designed for Australia. Camp sites can be added, edited and shared by all users. The app lets you discover and share some of your favourite campgrounds and caravan parks. Most sites have information about the facilities (toilets, power, fire and pet rules), descriptions and plenty of photos. While offline you can still view site locations, facilities and descriptions; other features require connectivity.

The Campee app is free and is only available from iTunes for iPhones and iPads.

campee Collage

Australian Road Trips
Some would argue the best way to see Australia (or any country) is still the classic road trip, whether it’s on a family holiday along Highway One, to remote outback 4×4 adventures. The Australian Road Trips app features more than 350 routes from across Australia and almost 3000 photos. For each road trip there are recommendations on what to see and eat, where to sleep, and where to camp.

The Australian Road Trips app is available from iTunes for iPhones and iPads ($4.99) and on Google Play for android users ($4.99).

australian road trip app

Activities After Dark

Even when the sun sets of an afternoon, there is still plenty of fun to be had outdoors for your family. This list of activities after dark is perfect for all year round.

1. Torch Tag
The person who is ‘in’ tags people by shining a torch on them and calling out their name. The last person to be tagged is the winner and the first person tagged is the next person to be ‘in’.

2. Shadow Puppets
You can construct a puppet theatre in your backyard by hanging a big white sheet between two trees. Light the sheet from behind with a floor lamp (if you have access to an outdoor power supply) or by using a couple of torches.

3. Night time sports – volleyball, laser tag, mini golf
Participants will be drawn to the beach or backyard by the soft glow of neon and black lights – use glow sticks and torches to create your own ultimate night time sports event.

4. Glow stick ring toss
Connect glow sticks together to form large circles – necklace or bangle size and have a competition to see how many can be thrown on the stick.

5. Glow in the dark bowling
Water bottles and glow sticks make for perfect glow-in-th-dark backyard bowling pins. Make at least six of these, and use any kind of ball (basketball, soccer ball, etc.) to knock down your glowing pins.

6. Glow in the dark Easter Egg Hunt
Fill plastic eggs with a glow stick and a few treats and then see who can find the ‘hidden’ eggs.

7. Glow stick Hula Hooping
Use the connectors on the necklace glow sticks to make one large hoop, and then connect it to your hula hoop with tape or zip ties.

8. Star gazing / watching
Grab a blanket / pillows and lay on the grass and watch the stars in the night sky, make it a competition to see who can count the most, for the little ones have a twinkle twinkle little star sing along or just lay back and relax.

9. Glow stick hopscotch
Connect glow sticks to create various circles, lay them on the ground and have a game of hopscotch

10. Night time Pool Party with Glow Sticks
Throw some glow sticks into the pool for some awesome special effects. You can also put glow sticks in balloons and let them float on the water to create lanterns.

11. Campfire
Toast marshmallows, tell stories and just enjoy each other’s company around a warm fire.

12. Glow in the dark bubbles
Pour the liquid from glow sticks into bubble mixture and have fun chasing and popping glow in the dark bubbles.

13. Movie night
Create your own outdoor movie screen by using PVC pipes, tethers, and a white tarp.

14. Spotlighting
Grab a torch and explore your local area and see what you can spot.

15. Torch Scavenger Hunt
Put together a list of things you’d like your kids to find outside once the sun goes down. Then, armed with a torch, send youngsters to the backyard to find their treasures! You can include things found in nature like leaves and rocks, or just small toys. Just remember to hide some glow sticks, too!

Cool-Glow-Stick-Ideas-Glow-Stick-Pool-Lanterns-13 Cool-Glow-Stick-Ideas-Glow-Stick-Pool-Party-12 Cool-Glow-Stick-Crafts-Glow-Stick-Hopscotch-10

Before venturing outdoors at night, always remember to stay safe. This can be achieved by:

• Identifying clear parameters so nobody gets hurt or lost
• Setting clear boundaries for where the kids are allowed to play and a point where they should not venture past
• Ensure the games take place well away from traffic or busy roads
• Make regular checks to ensure everyone is accounted for
• Smaller kids should be buddied up with an older child or remain next to an adult at all times so that they are never wandering around on their own
• Take a first aid kit with you
• Have a mobile phone with you at all times in case you need to contact relatives or emergency services

311_Glow VBALL Cool-Glow-Stick-Ideas-Glow-Stick-Ring-Toss-1 Cool-Glow-Stick-Ideas-Glow-in-the-dark-bowling-using-glow-sticks-and-water-bottles-3
Remember, when the sun goes down, the fun cranks up!

Taking your favourite book outdoors

We love the concept of outdoor classrooms! Anything you teach and learn indoors can easily happen outdoors too, with all the added benefits of connecting children to nature and enjoying the fresh air and open surroundings.

What better way to do this than create an outdoor reading ‘nook’ / area for your child, so they can take their favourite book outdoors. This space can be a simple rug, blanket or outdoor beanbag under a shady tree or something more elaborate like a custom built forte or a pre-purchased beach shade, teepee or playhouse from our great range in-store. If space is limited just add pillows, towels or blankets from inside the house to make it cozy and an enjoyable space.

Here are some great kids books all about nature and the outdoors:

  • Would you rather be a Tadpole by Dr Seuss
  • I can name 50 trees today by Dr Seuss
  • If I ran the rainforest by Dr Seuss
  • Oh say can you seed? by Dr Seuss
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Percy the Park Keeper collection by Nick Butterworth
  • The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson
  • The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
  • The Beatrix Potter Collection
  • Where the Forest Meets the Sea by Jeannie Baker
  • Snail Trail by Ruth Brown
  • Alfie’s Big Book of Outdoor Storybook by Shirley Hughes
  • Children of the Forest by Elsa Beskow
  • Butterfly Butterfly by Petr Horacek
  • Grandpa’s Garden by Stella Fry
  • The King of Tiny Things by Jeanne Willis
  • Quiet in the Garden by Aliki
  • The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger
  • Oliver’s Vegetables by Vivian French
  • Tin Forest by Helen Ward
  • The Flower Garden by Eve Bunting
  • A Tree is Nice by Janies May Udry
  • All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon
  • Heroes of the Vegetable Patch by Ulf Stark and Charlotte Ramel
  • On the Way to the Beach by Henry Cole
  • What the Sea Saw by Stephanie St. Pierre
  • The Listening Walk by Paul Showers
  • What the Ladybug Heard by Julia Donaldson
  • The Frog and Toad Collection by Arnold Lobel
  • The Complete Tales of Blackberry Farm by Jane Pilgrim
  • Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
  • Eddies Garden and How to Make Things Grow by Sarah Garland
  • Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
  • The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
  • Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert
  • Yes I can! Help Save our Planet by Emma Brownjohn
  • Outside your Window: A first book of nature by Nicola Davies
  • The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
  • The Owl Who was Afraid of the Dark by Jill Tomlinson
  • The Secret Garden
  • The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
  • Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  • A Stick is an Excellent Thing by Marilyn Singer

the-more-that-you-read-the-more-things-you-will-know-the-more-that-you-learn-the-more-places-youll-go

When your little one has finished reading their favourite book/s take outdoor learning a step further with these great outdoor ideas:

  • Use outdoor play equipment as a “stage” for acting out books
  • Make a plan for a walk based on a book’s content such as a bug hunt
  • Decorate a “book backpack” for transporting favourite books outdoors
  • Go on a visual treasure hunt – hide unusual objects around the playground or backyard where they blend in with the protective colouring of the environment
  • Make story stones based on the book/s just read – create nature themed images such as animals, flowers, insects and elements
  • Use nature for letter making – kids just learning their letters will have fun shaping letters using items found in nature such as rocks, sticks or flower petals
  • Use a scrapbook and photos taken outside and let your children create their own nature book

By taking reading outdoors you are providing children with the unique opportunity to incorporate the sights and sounds of the outside world into their reading encounters.

Outdoor Birthday Party Ideas

Having a party outdoors will be loved by all children in attendance. If you are planning to host your child’s birthday party outdoors, there is a number of exciting birthday party game ideas to make the party enjoyable for kids. Encourage the children to get creative outdoors. Here we will explore outdoor birthday party ideas including games and how to make it fun, safe and successful.

Try these super fun outdoor games for your child’s next birthday party:

  • Cup and Water Race – a great game for coordination and balance

cup and water race

  • Bottle Bowling

bottle bowling

  • Limbo

limbo

  • Sack Races

sack race

  • Obstacle Course

rsz_obstacle_course

  • Water Balloon Pinata

water balloon pinata

  • Balloon Relay

balloon relay

  • Treasure Hunt

treasure hunt

  • Tug O War

tug o war

  • Balloon Burst, Toss or Stomp

balloon bust

  • Nature Scavenger Hunt

nature scavenger hunt

  • Frisbee Tic Tac Toe

tictactoe

  • Outdoor Twister

twister

 

If you like to theme parties, then try these ideas:

  • Olympics – play games were the children can compete against one another for prizes (or medals)
  • Zoo / Jungle – have animal races, go on a nature scavenger hunt, make binoculars
  • Fairy Garden – try ribbon twirling, making fairy garden terrariums, reading enchanted stories on the grass, butterfly catch and release
  • Army – camouflage paint face painting, commando style endurance games, tug o war, target practice, using balloons as ‘bomb’ detonation are all great ideas
  • Alice in Wonderland / Mad Hatters Tea Party – quirky games and lots of food is the key to success, as well as a game of croquet
  • Beach – with beach balls, sand castle competitions and a game of volleyball you’ll be all set to hose your next beach party
  • Teddy Bears Picnic – invite your small guests to bring their favorite furry friend for a picnic
  • Bubbles – what could be more fun than blowing, chasing, and popping bubbles for hours on end?
  • Garden – plants seeds, catch and release bug and make mud pies
  • Archaeology – bury “artifacts” for them to search out and uncover.
  • Nerf – set up an amazing obstacle course that the kids work their way through while also shooting at targets
  • Water Fun – set up sprinklers, a Slip ‘n Slide, water balloons, and water guns and let the kids go wild

 

When catering for a children’s birthday party it is important to make sure all guests stay safe, to make sure this happens, consider the following:

  • Ensure there is adequate supervision, at least 1 adult to every 3-5 children (more adults if there will be a pool party)
  • Protective gear (helmets) may be required for certain rough and tumble backyard games
  • Sun protection – hats and sunscreen are always essential for outdoor play
  • Bug spray might be needed if you party area is prone to mosquitos or sandflies or if the party will be scheduled at dusk or evening
  • Lighting will be necessary if the party will be scheduled in the evening

20 Creative Weekend Family Projects

Spending time outdoors as a family is always fun, so here we have compiled 20 Creative Weekend Family Projects, so you can spend time with your loved ones and create memorable projects.

  1. Build an outdoor cubby / fort

fort

  1. Build a bee hotel

bee hotel

  1. Make a kite

kite

  1. Make a bow an arrow

bow arrow

  1. Build a bird feeder

bird feeder

  1. Learn to forage

kids-foraging2

  1. Build a worm or ant farm

Worm-farm-how-to-6

  1. Make a campfire

campfire

  1. Sow some seeds in egg cartons

egg carton seeds

  1. Build a vegetable garden

vegetable garden

  1. Build a bird bath

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  1. Create a sensory / music wall

music wall

  1. Make wind chimes or sun catchers

wind chime

  1. Create a fairy garden

make-fairy-garden

  1. Build an outdoor kitchen using old pallets

kids outdoor kitchen

  1. Create an outdoor blackboard

outdoor blackboard

  1. Build your own tree swing

tree swing

  1. Build an outdoor play area – paver hopscotch / rock climbing wall

paver hopscotch

  1. Build and hang your own hammock

duct-tape-hammock

  1. Create a totem pole or other garden ornament / statue (like a scarecrow)

 scarecrow totem pole