Posted in Family Life, Review

Gruffalo Spotting

Yesterday we went Gruffalo spotting at our local Forestry Commission forest. This is an exciting new activity that has been introduced along one of the popular family trials. Before we left I downloaded the special app which is free, and made sure my phone was charged. The idea is simple you go for a nice walk and along the way there are signs, peep holes and clues to which animal is coming up. When you find the footprints you point your phone, with the app open, at the sign and the animal appears. You then have an opportunity to take a photo of the children with them. When we arrival the children were so excited to get out and run around; we visit this site a lot so they know where they are going.

We headed off to the beginning of the route and sagruffalo spottersw a big sign letting us know we were going the right way. The boys loved running ahead and Roran had the chance to practice his reading skills. Persephonie had decided that she was also going to walk the route today, which made us a little slower than normal. Each animal had a set of signs to encourage the children to guess who was coming up. These included an interactive turning circle with images of the animals eyes, tail, feet, etc. Then a peep hole for them to look through, which was facing another sign with part of the animal on it, giving them a good idea. When it was then obvious who we had found there was a congratulations sign just before the ‘footprints’.

The final sign would be the ‘footprints’, where we aimed our phone to bring up the video. The videos themselves were great. The animals would appear and move around so that they looked real to the children. When they were in position the camera button would come up and you could take a picture. This idea is great but not as easy as it sounds unfortunately. Getting the children in the right position was hard. They couldn’t see the animals from the other side of the camera and would either stand in front of them, blocking the signal and making the video to vanish, or standing behind it where they would then get blocked out by the image. Also, mine were unsure where to look as they were distracted which meant that they often weren’t looking at the camera or video
that they couldn’t see. Maybe some sort of markers on the ground would have helped.

Overall the children enjoyed themselves, which was the main point. They also got some fresh air and a good run around. So did Rufus who remembered it’s that lovely time of year for fox poo! The route is only a short one so, as always, we popped to see the statue of the gruffalo who lives at our local forest, before heading home. There is an opportunity to buy activity bags from the site centre which I am sure would make the trip longer but, as we arrived early, the centre isn’t open at that point. However, it is something we will probably do during the school holidays. We are pleased to have another one of this trails at our local forest as have enjoyed all the others. It is a great way to get the children out and about and enjoying the local area, even if it’s only for a few hours.

gruffalo

For more information about your local Forestry Commission site and Gruffalo Spotter trial please visit their website

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Posted in Family Life

The Day… Willem started his Outdoor Nursery

Today was new chapter in Willem’s life, he started a new nursery, First day at outdoor nursey.jpgbut not just any nursery, an ‘outdoor nursery’. We are so excited that he will have this opportunity as it suits his personality so well and will give him that space he needs to develop into himself, rather than just follow his brother’s footsteps, which is a concern we have with them both being so close in age and only a school year apart.

First of all, what is an outdoor nursery? 

It simply is a nursery outside, okay they do have an indoor area but around 80% of the time he will be outside, everyday, in all weathers. The indoor area is mainly for dropping off, breakfast
, pegs for bags and where the bathrooms are. Everything else is outside. They play outside, learn outside, eat snack outside, it’s all outside. The idea is taken from Scandinavian forest kindergartens, where children explore, learn and develop in the outdoors, whatever the weather and they have much colder weather than we do.

So what is the benefit?

Apart from making great memories for us, we all have them from our own childhood, the outdoors has a positive effect on children’s health. You know how great it feels to have some fresh air especially when feeling sluggish. It helps with concentration and therefore helps the children develop their thinking skills. It gives them the space and freedom to explore and learn their boundaries. With the open space children can test their abilities and develop them further. These days children are outside a lot less than when we were children. As a family we try to get out as much as we can, but it isn’t always possible and we don’t do it as much as we would like. This gives Willem that opportunity.

Willem is a natural explorer, he likes to wander off and investigate his surroundings. He enjoys his own company and spends a lot of time sitting, observing and pondering.  For him this is the perfect environment. However, we have made the decision to also keep him at his old nursery a few days a week in preparation for school next September. Whether that will be full time or flexi-school is yet to be decided.