Summer is a great time to explore the wild. Here's a collection of our favourite adventures to both embrace the sun and cool down in the heat.
(Cover image: © Tim Sackton)
1. Make a tadpole and frog pond
You can use a big plastic bowl or a tub, fill it up with some water and stone arrangements, add shells and create a little ecosystem of your own. Find the nearest pond or stream and catch insects, tadpoles, frogs and water plants to place in your little pond. It's great fun to watch the behaviour of all the different insects and frogs - they may also pull some tricks on you, like stay still for a long while, leaving you to think they've died and then hop away when you're not looking. Make sure to release all your wildlife back to nature eventually.
2. Create fans from tree leaves
This will not only be a great help for cooling down during the heatwave, but can present a fun opportunity to notice how many different types of trees are growing in our neighbourhoods, identify and learn about their origins and uses. The trick is simple - find the biggest leaves you can get, use a long stem and tie a few leaves together if necessary, then just fan away. Feel free to decorate and get creative, perhaps set a challenge to create the biggest fan you can!
3. Dig in a herbarium & make pressed herb art
If the weather is dry and sunny, go for a walk, collect some interesting flowers or herbs and then press dry them between a couple of white sheets of paper, under a book. Once they've dried you can use some glue and create patterns and flower mandalas on a paper. If you have a spare piece of transparent plastic or glass (use a towel or cloth to safely handle it), you can make a herbarium by digging a flat area into the ground, placing your plants there and pressing them with the transparent cover. Then cover it up with soil and come back again after a few months to find your herbarium still in place.
4. Fort hideaway & reading time
Create a nice and cosy shade in your own garden. Pack a lunch, grab some books and board games and enjoy the summer warmth. A cute little hideaway is very simple to make, just take a hula hoop and a shower curtain or use a rope, laundry clips and a spare bedding or blanket, hang it down a tree and there you have it.
(Credit: © The Craft Nest)
5. Climb a tree / build a tree house
Trees are a great spot for shade. On a hot day, pick your tree, explore and hide from the sun. Perhaps even build a tree house or a little chair in a tree so the kids can sit and read up in a great tree!
6. Go wild swimming or boating!
If you're lucky enough to have a wild swimming spot, make use of the hot weather to splash around, there's nothing like swimming in nature. Canoeing and boating is great fun and will always be a memorable experience for the kids Just make sure to wear sun cream!. If you cannot do either yourself, make some paper or cardboard boats to float in a local pond or lake. If you want to release them down a stream, write down some good wishes for whoever will find them at the other end!
7. Sprinkle, sprinkle and more sprinkle!
Do you need to water the garden? Great, let the kids have a go, everyone will be happy, and very wet. Car washing can also be very handy fun for hot days, kids tend to love it as it gives them an opportunity to play with water and get a little muck and soap all over. And it's helpful!
8. Just sit
Save energy and have a calm moment with the kids. You can meditate under a tree, the back garden or a park, somewhere grassy and with a little bit of shade. Mindfulness has great benefits to mind, body and spirit and teaching that to kids from a young age will really aid them later in life. And what better way to tune into the sounds and smells of the natural world - when we go quiet, our senses sharpen.
9. Have a family picnic
We all have busy schedules, but it's important to make the best of the summer weather and spend some quality time with the whole family. Pack a basket and head outdoors, even just your own yard, eating together outdoors is always a load of fun. Family picnics are surely some of our best childhood memories, right?
10. Sleep out!
These warm summer nights are perfect for sleeping outdoors, be it setting up a mattress in your balcony, rooftop or a tent in the back garden, and if you're lucky and have the time - head out camping somewhere wilder. In any case, outdoor sleeping and late night stories are a load of fun and just a great way to have a real sense of adventure with just a little effort.
12. Create lawn art!
Stretch out an old bed sheet and let the kids go wild with paint! It's perfect to do this outdoors as no one needs to worry about pain splashing around. And they'll have lots of space for their imagination and creativity to be expressed.
(Credit: © Mama Leisha)
14. Make a bath for hedgehogs, bees and butterflies
We all need plenty of water when it's hot outside. Wildlife has an especially hard time finding spaces for habitat, sources of food and access to water. In urban areas it extra difficult. Ponds are tricky spots for bees as they can easily fall in an drown, but by building a small watering pond with plenty of stones you can provide them safe and easy access to a refreshing break. Here's how to make one! (from David Suzuki’s Queen of Green blog, written by Lindsay Coulter):
Step 1: Place a shallow plate in your yard or garden at ground level where you've noticed bee activity. Better still, place the bee bath near sick plants to attract aphid eaters like ladybugs!
Step 2: Add a few rocks to the plate to create landing pads or islands.
Step 3: Add fresh water but don't submerge the stones. You won't encourage mosquito larvae if you keep the water level low.
It's okay if the water evaporates, refill your bee bath as needed. And don't be afraid to move it around your garden/yard.
(Credit: © Lindsay Coulter)
15. Build underwater binoculars
It's quite simple! All you need is a large can (coffee or Pringles can would do perfectly!), some heavy duty plastic wrap and a duck tape. Remove the ends of the can, wrap one end with plastic and use duct tape to make it tight and secure. Once you've got your viewer, find your local pond or stream and submerge the plastic wrapped end of your viewer into the water. Enjoy the sights of the magical underwater world.
16. Last, but not least - stay hydrated!
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