Poppet’s first birthday was at the end of April so she got a number of outdoor toys which I am really looking forward to using over the summer. I wrote about her smartrike for country kids last week and this week is all about the fun we had with her water table. She also got a ball, a ride on and some foam matting. We don’t have a big garden (in fact it’s more of a yard really and there is no grass) but I am determined to make the most of what we do have. We are very lucky to have two nice parks in walking distance of our house but it is also nice to have a bit of outdoor space that we can use as well. We are lucky that Poppet will only be in nursery two days a week so I know that the garden will get plenty of use by her.
After three days back at work, I woke up on Thursday excited to spend the day with Poppet. I was also pleased to see that the weather was gorgeous. I took her to the park on her trike after breakfast where she enjoyed the swings, then we popped in to the supermarket on the way home to pick up some fresh fruit and other bits and bobs. After lunch but before her nap I decided to put together her water table for the first time. I put water in one side and put all the toys in for her and then brought her out. I wish you could see her face, she loved it. There was lots of smiles, giggles and splashing too. She loved playing with the various toys and I used the scoop to fill the funnels so she could watch the water wheels move around. Yes her clothes were soaked after just 15 minutes but we had fun. So much fun that I let her play in it again yesterday morning too and we’ll probably get it out later today to show daddy how much fun it is.
I hope we will use this table lots over the summer. It is a sand and water table but for the moment we don’t have any plans to put any sand in. Right now Poppet is happy enough with just water but when she is a little older I hope to put things like cloud dough and other sensory materials in it for her. It’s lovely to see her so happy and excited as she plays with the water toys or just splashes in the water (and rides on her smartrike). I have to be honest, all the toys she has inside rarely get played with, they just don’t seem to hold her attention and she prefers to crawl or cruise around the furniture. These outdoor toys however really make her smile, laugh and hold her attention.
The Saturday between Christmas and New Year we decided that we needed to get out and have a short walk. We were staying with family and contemplated driving to Delamere forest which we love but was a good drive away & we only wanted to be out for the morning). Risley Moss in Warrington was suggested to us by my in-laws, they’d never been but it was often in the local newspaper and sounded nice. So we set off to explore this local nature reserve, It turns out it is a bit of a hidden gem.
As soon as you drive off the roundabout and in to the free car park you are greeted by this mother earth sculpture which I loved. Through out the nature reserved there are several other sculptures carved out of wood which we enjoyed looking at and I’m sure children would especially like watching out for and identifying what they are. The nature reserve is a mix of woodland, wild meadow and mossland. There are pathways through the woodland areas which are suitable for pushchairs but at this time of year they are a little muddy in places. The pathways are well sign posted and there is also a wooden map outside the visitors center, by the car park.
Inside the visitors center is a whole host of information on the reserve for you to browse. There is information on the wildlife you can spot at different times of the year, the history of the site and the life cycle of a dragonfly. There are also toilets and the rangers office in this building.
Slightly off the main pathway (sign posted), up a bit of a hill is this fantastic wooden, observation tower which allows you to view the mossland conservation site from tree top height. Well worth climbing the steps for the view of the mossland and the Peak District further away.
There are also two nature hides where you can view the wildlife from. The first one you come across is in the middle of the woods (woodland hide) and is easily accessible. In front of this hide are a couple of bird feeders so they are ideal for attracting birds in to the woodland. The second hide is for viewing the mossland. We did not make it to this hide as the path was very muddy in this area.
We enjoyed walking two laps of the main pathway, as well as exploring the observation tour and woodland hide and this only took us about an hour. I can see this being the perfect place to take a toddler in future visits to our family near by. I would love to go back in the spring/summer when the wild meadow is in bloom. I imagine the nature reserve would be completely different and even more special.
Last saturday we went to visit family. It was a cold, grey and drizzling day. The kind of day that before kids we would have stayed inside but with an active, almost four year old who likes to be outside (our nephew) and our baby who will only sleep in her cot, pram or a moving car (we were away from home so no cot) we took a trip to the park.
We enjoyed kicking autumn leaves.
Hunting for conkers.
Snoozing in our pram.
Spotting and photographing nature.
And of course playing in the play park. Our baby had her first go on the swings too since she is getting pretty good at sitting up with some support. She seemed to quiet like it.
Project wild thing, is the project of film maker David Bond, who has made it his mission to get the public (including his own family) to forget about modern technology and discover the benefits of nature. He has filmed a feature-length documentary about children and their lack of connection with nature which is set to be screened later this year.
There is also a website where you can sign up to take the pledge to spend as much time outside as you do looking at screens. You can also find inspiration for places to go and activities to do outdoors both recommended by the website team and by the general population (& of course you can share your own ideas).
Another great feature is the wild time app (available via the itunes store for free) where you choose the amount of time you have available (from 10 minutes to half a day) and it will suggest activities you can do in that time. Really useful if you are lacking inspiration and don’t want to waste time searching the local paper or internet for ideas.
PROJECT WILD THING – official trailer from Green Lions on Vimeo.
Overall I thing this is a great project and I am looking forward to seeing it expand. You can find the website here and they are on facebook and twitter too.
I don’t know about where you are but the weather here today is lovely and spring like and makes me want to go out walking in the country. At 39 weeks pregnant though the best I can manage right now is a slow ‘waddle’ round the neighbourhood. Things won’t be like this for ever though and I am very much looking forward to family days out from this summer onwards.
We are lucky in Great Britain to be surrounded by so many beautiful landscapes to explore. I am based in the North West and here in Cheshire we have great places to visit but we are also on the doorstep of the Peak District. We are also regular visitors to Yorkshire, Anglesey and North Wales and the Lake District. I can not wait to continue to explore these places with our little one.
I am a firm believer in the importance of children spending time outdoors and it seems I am not alone as I have discovered several projects/websites promoting the importance of kids getting back to nature recently. This has inspired me to start a series of posts showcasing these projects/websites/places which I hope you enjoy and find useful. Please get in touch if you know any locations, projects, websites or events aimed at getting families outside that you think I should include.
First up is The National Trust with their 50 things to do before you are 11 3/4, which is a virtual explorer site to encourage kids to have fun outside. The national trust has come up with 50 fun activities that they believe all children should experience which include sledging, camping in the wild, catch a crab, climb a huge hill and plant it, grow it, eat it. For each activity the site has top tips and suggestions of National Trust sites where you can complete it. When a task is complete the child can complete the task my writing about it and uploading a photo of them completing the activity on the website (only the parent and child can see the photo so it is not going public) and they will receive a virtual badge and reward (online games and clothes to personalise their virtual explorer). There is also a parents area with tips and safety advice for each activity.
Whilst we are talking about The National Trust it is worth mentioning that this weekend they are granting free admission to over 200 locations. For details of participating locations and to download your voucher visit their website here.
Below are a few photos I have taken at National Trust sites.
Tatton park, Cheshire
Marsden moor, West Yorkshire
Pod camping at Low Wray, National Trust campsite, the Lake District
Low Wray National Trust campsite, The Lake District
Hardwick hall, Derbyshire
Alderley Edge, Cheshire