Five Easy Ways To Get Outdoors This Half Term
The lure of the outdoors is often weak on dreary February days. Cosy fires, blankets, books and TV come calling instead.
There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but this time of year can be a magical time to be outside, with snowdrops and other early bulbs signalling the start of spring. Plus getting active in the fresh air for a while helps lift moods, burns energy and relieves cabin fever.
So whatever your local patch of outdoors looks like, here are some low-cost ways to get out there and enjoy it.
- Treasure hunts
Kids from preschoolers to preteens love treasure hunts. If you feel like splashing out, you can buy trails routes for locations all over the UK from Treasure Trails.
Or it’s easy to make your own. If you’ve not got chance to prepare and hide clues in advance, try making outdoor bingo cards. Give each child a grid of words (or pictures for the pre-readers) of things they might expect to see on your walk: a robin, a tree, a fence, a cat, a car, a snowdrop, a river… tailored to your neighbourhood. Then head out for a stroll and see who gets to call bingo first.
- Build a den
Dens come in all shapes and sizes. If you’ve got some woods handy, or can head to a natural playarea, then you can get creative with sticks and tree hollows. But just as good is getting outside with blankets, sheets, cushions and clothes airers, creating space for secret adventures in the garden.
All sorts of magical things can happen in a den: you can thwart robbers, battle dragons or fly to Mars, for example. But it’s usually even better if there’s some hot chocolate to hand.
- A night walk
The days are getting that bit longer, but it gets dark early enough to not keep little ones up too long past bedtime. Wrap up warm, take torches and get ready for a night-time adventure.
If you live close to somewhere wild, take the chance to listen out for the sounds of nocturnal creatures: maybe the call of an owl or rustling in the hedgerows. If you’re in a more urban setting, notice what’s different at night-time: what can you hear, how does it feel, what’s lit up and what’s dark?
If it’s not cloudy or too light polluted, see what the sky has to offer. What phase is the moon in – is it a rounded full moon, a crescent new moon, or somewhere in between? Can you see any stars? Here’s a summary of the constellations on offer above the UK in February
- Outdoor art
There are so many ways to get creative outside. If you’ve got some paving slabs or bricks that you’re happy to use, hand out the chalks and let everyone get artistic, safe in the knowledge it will wash off with the rain (or a wet cloth!).
Watercolour pencils are fantastic for wet days. Get drawing then leave your artwork in the rain and watch the colours flow and blendas the rain (or watering can) falls.
Or create sculptures: gather twigs, pebbles, feathers, grasses, seedheads - whatever you have to hand. You could create a temporary frame for your pieces with sticks, then photograph each creation. Or try embedding your materials in mud or air-drying clay to make shelters and playareas for small animals or fairies.
- Feed the birds
Winter’s a tough season for birds – the ground is hard and berries are in short supply. Bread is bad for birds, but you can help by making birdseed cakes: an easy but sticky mixing job that many children love! Here’s what you need:
- 300g birdseed mix, 150g raisins, 150g peanuts, 250g block of suet or lard
- Pine cones (or use yoghurt pots) and string
Then you need to:
- Cut your lard or suet into small chunks and put in a bowl. Mix in the other ingredients.
- Tie the string securely to the pine cones then press the fat mixture firmly into the cones
- Let it harden in the fridge for an hour or so
- Tie to tree branches or washing lines and watch the birds enjoy. Which birds have visited you?
P.s. If your half term plans involve jetting off for ski or winter sun, hopefully you’ll be getting your outdoors fix. Have you got all the kit you need? We have a full range of wind, waterproof and warming stock in!