Now we’re into summer holidays, there’s scope to get creative with bed times!
If a sleep out isn’t for you and your little ones, no problem – just have fun outside as it gets dark then get warm and snuggled in bed afterwards.
The RSPB have loads of ideas and challenges for enjoying the summer nights, but we thought we’d add our favourites too. Who’s intrigued by glow in the dark mud made from potatoes? Read on!
Go on a sensory walk
Get your jumpers on and take a trip down a familiar route – maybe a section of the walk to nursery or school, or a local green patch. How are things different to the daytime?
A good way to get the observation cogs turning is to do a sensory checklist:
What FIVE things can you see?
What FOUR things can you hear?
What THREE things can you touch?
What TWO things can you smell?
What ONE thing can you taste?
Remember that we are part of our environment too, so if you get stuck, get everyone to stand still and listen to their heartbeats, or notice the sounds of footsteps as you walk.
Look for moths
Moths often get overlooked in favour of their more colourful daytime cousins, the butterflies. But they are spectacular creatures in their own right, and there are over 2,500 types of moth in the UK, so lots of different species to spot!
You can set up your own moth gallery in your own garden, or local green space. Hang a white sheet over a washing line or bush, and then shine a torch on it. Moths are attracted to the light, so hopefully you’ll have some visitors before too long. The Woodland Trust has a handy identification sheet for some common types.
Make glow in the dark mud
As we promised earlier, it’s possible to make your own glow in the dark mud out of potatoes and tonic water! It takes a little effort and blending, but well worth it for the gloopy result (it’s also safe to eat in small quantities so fine for babies and toddlers to handle). The secret to the glow’s in the quinine – this ingredient in tonic water is made from tree bark and glows blue under ultraviolet light. Here’s how.
Wrap up warm and lie back to enjoy the skies. If you can get to a country park or nature reserve, that’s ideal as they will be further from light pollution, so you’ll see more. Just outside your home is fine if not. You don’t need any fancy kit, but if you do have binoculars or a telescope you’ll see much more. And if you take your phone or tablet along you can use apps like Skyview to identify what you’re looking at.
Build a fire
Nothing says campout like a fire. Even better with marshmallows. Whatever our age, there’s something magical about sitting around a fire, telling stories, watching the flames and maybe toasting a marshmallow or five. If you’re a fire-building novice, here’s a how-to guide for building a teepee-style fire. Everyone can help create the structure, and perhaps get involved in lighting the fire too – with close supervision of course!
We hope you enjoy your night time adventures. Please send us some pictures; we’d love to see your mud, fires and moths!