Get Outdoors and Play - for Free!
• have had enough of children glued to computer games
• are fed up of providing expensive entertainment
• wish your children could be enjoying the outdoors...
then this list of play sites is here to guide you. At any time of the year there are things to do outside. Why not look at some of the ideas we have listed - and it needn't cost a thing!
Most children love playing outdoors. Given the freedom to do as they please without being organised, they will soon be occupied with make-believe games and creative activities - or just playing in water and getting muddy! But if your children need encouragement to decide what to do, here are a few suggestions to help them.
10 Things to Do Outdoors in Somerset
Lay trails for a hunter (a friend or grown up) to follow
Find twigs and sticks and make a trail of arrow signs on the ground pointing left, right or straight on. Space them out so that the hunter has to look hard. You could hide at the end of the trail or put some treasure there like pine cones or something else interesting that you have found.
Roll down grassy banks
This doesn't need much explanation! Just find a nice grassy bank or small hill and have races rolling down from the top to the bottom. Rolling straight needs a bit of practice and you need to space yourselves out so you don't crash into each other!
Build stone sculptures
Collect some stones or pebbles and make your own sculptures by piling them up in towers or you could balance just a few different coloured stones to make a more delicate sculpture.
Play Pooh Sticks
Quite a few of the places on our list of outdoor play sites have small streams. This game of racing sticks from bridges is probably very well known. Everyone finds a good straight stick and at the same time drops it in the water - the first stick to appear at the other side of the bridge wins. You could do this by making a start and end point on the bank of a stream so you don't have to be on a bridge.
Metre of earth hunt
This is especially good to do in a wood or forest. Find some sticks and mark out an area on the ground about a metre square - one square for each person. Now get down close to the ground by the square and see how many interesting things you can find - leaf skeletons, mini creatures, flowers, cones, nuts. Having a magnifying glass with you is good.
Fly a kite
Where there is open ground and a bit of wind, flying a kite can give hours of fun. Just a simple kite will do for children to master the art of flying - an old fashioned pastime but it is still a good outdoor activity that can be enjoyed at any time of the year. If you don't have a kite, a frisbee is good fun too.
Make a pebble picture
Collect small pebbles or stones and arrange them into a picture on the ground. You could also decorate with shells, flowers, moss, seaweed and other things you find lying around.
Make a leaf boat
Another thing to do where there is water. Find one or two large strong leaves and lay them one on top of the other to make the boat part. Now find a straight thin twig and one good leaf. Poke the twig through near the bottom of the leaf and then near the top of the leaf - this becomes the sail. Make a hole through the leaf boat and push the end of the sail into it. Now you're ready to sail it.
Build a den
Everyone likes dens - even grown ups. But don't let them take over building it! Please don't break down trees or branches but look for loose stuff lying around. Find a few tall strong poles and arrange them into a wigwam shape. Collect bracken, smaller branches and twigs that are lying around and lay them against the wigwam until it is covered up, except for an opening. Start with a small den to see how you get on.
Make a snow angel
Simple! Just lie in the snow and move your arms up and down to make a shape.This is sometimes called a snow angel.
Why Play Outdoors?
Can you remember your favourite memories of playing as a child? Ask almost any adult this and and it will have been outdoors, often out of sight of adults. Memories of playing with sticks, climbing trees, building dens, playing in rivers and getting muddy are very common.
Freedom to play
Unfortunately today's children do not enjoy the same freedom to play outdoors as their parents or grandparents did. Lots of children are not allowed further than their own garden or the end of their road.
Children today are supervised more than ever before, meaning they have less chance to play freely, develop independence and learn from their mistakes.
"Playing is what I do when everyone has stopped telling me what to do"
Benefits of outdoor play
We believe that -
Interested in Outdoor Play?
If you are interested in outdoor play and would like more information, here are some resources that you may like to explore.
Somerset Play Forum is a network of people in Somerset who are passionate about children's play. We run an Annual conference and network meetings
Playing on the Wildside is a comprehensive resource pack produced by the Playwork Partnership. Visit the Outdoor Play section of their website at http://www.playwork.co.uk/
Play England has a range of useful resources on children's natural play. Available to download at http://www.playengland.org.uk/
Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv is a really good read on why playing in nature is so good for children. Available to buy from www.richardlouv.com
No Fear by Tim Gill is a brilliant book about the problems our children face growing up in a 'cotton wool' society. You can buy it from www.rethinkingchildhood.com
Now is the moment to get children playing outdoors again - an article written by Fiona Reynolds for The Guardian in 2012, it discusses ways and ideas to get children out in the wild again. Read the whole article here http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2012/sep/27/children-playing-outdoors-recession?INTCMP=SRCH
Play place of the month
Just a short walk from the centre of Wellington, this area has lakes, trees, a river, wild places and small streams ideal for getting muddy! There is a small skate park and logs to climb on. Parking and toilets at Tone Leisure Centre.