Six reasons to get the children out into the garden!

Summer holidays!  How to have fun with the children...

The children are enjoying some 'down-time', the sun is shining, the garden is blooming and all is well in your world. Or is it? Are the kids squabbling? Are they bored? Scratchy (the children, not the dog)? It's raining. The flowers are battered. In fact there aren't many flowers, most of them have finished blooming. This is summer. The pinnacle of desire. You have waited all year for this moment and now it's not working out quite as you wished.

Rainy day in the garden A rainy day in summer. Is a pair of wellies all that's required in order to have some fun? It's hardly surprising that children get bored when they have a long summer without school. Kids have largely abandoned the outdoors in favour of technology and they are more likely to be slumped in front of a computer screen rather than racing around the garden.  Technology is an addictive pastime and not one that you would probably choose for your children unless teamed with more active sessions. computer children indoors Not great for posture or for physical and mental health   Computers and similar devices provide a limited range of stimulation and almost no physical movement. Social skills are not being practised and even the eyesight is being tested as it's all close-focus.  Once the balance between time spent indoors as compared to outdoors has shifted it's quite difficult to redress the result. A survey involving adventurer Ben Fogle found that many kids spend just 30 minutes or less playing outside each week. 1000 parents surveyed by Mothercare admitted that their children didn't play outside as much as they had during their own childhood. It is perceived that there are greater risks for children playing unsupervised outdoors in the modern age and this is largely due to increased media coverage of unfortunate incidents. Children Crime - we hear more about it but that doesn't mean there is more than there used to be Nobody wants to put a child's life or wellbeing at risk but part of the problem lies in the fact that parents have less time to direct and supervise play effectively. We all live in a busy world where most parents work and even grandparents are working too. The rise in popularity of summer schools, camps and clubs has been enormous in the last few years but many parents can't afford these expensive options.   swing So what can you do about this lack of 'outdoor fun'? Plenty. And it's one of the cheapest forms of entertainment too! Here are six suggestions to help you get your children excited by the garden or the wider world this August:

1:  Make a simple swing using a tree: a rope;  and a big knot - or a rope tied to a used tyre. If you want something purpose-built you can find all sorts of swings, including tyre swings that look like horses!

Tyre swing for children in the garden Everyone loves and swing. Especially when it looks like a horse!

2: Build a camp! You just need an old sheet or two; some twine and something over which you can build your camp. In amongst the shrubs, draped over fences - even the smallest garden has potential. You can buy purpose-built tents or wigwams for the ultimate camping extravaganza!

Tent in the garden. Children playing in summer outdoors. A purpose-built tent is an easy way for the children to build a camp in the garden. Or a simple sheet is almost as good! (Click the photo for more information)

3: Go wildlife spotting! Take the children on a little walk and spot birds; paw prints; mice; squirrels; shrews; deer;  water creatures; insects. The possibilities are endless! See how long your list is when you get home. Try drawing some of the creatures you found.

bird watching with the children Bird twitching set! Includes binoculars, ID sheet, 'magic eye', pad and pencil (click the photo to find out more)         )        

4: Build an insect hotel! It can be tremendous fun. You just need a framework which you can fill with hollow bamboo sticks; twigs, twine, leaves; anything in which insects can make their home. Or you can buy a ready-made insect hotel instead!

Insect Hotel children in the garden This ready-made insect hotel will inspire children to think about the natural world  (click the photo to find out more) Insect hotel Building your own insect hotel with the children is a great summer pastime!                

5: Get the children to help you make a raised vegetable bed. Fill it with compost and sow some salad seeds; perpetual spinach; winter-hardy spring onions; radishes and spring cabbages. You can make a simple raised bed using gravel boards or wood off-cuts or even buy something purpose-built. You might be giving your children a life-long love of growing.

raised bed for growing vegetables A purpose-built 1m sq raised bed is just right for children to have a go at 'growing their own'. (Click the photo to find out more) vegetable bed 1 This purpose built growing bed is really easy to use for all ages. (Click the photo to find out more)                  

6: Make a miniature garden! It's tremendous fun - not just for children but for all ages. Find a container - even a cardboard box, a broken pot or a seed tray will do. Fill it with soil or compost; add some grit or small scale gravel and find things that look the right size for the container. You can add twigs for trees; plants with small leaves (Buxus is good); even make little houses from Lego or card. There are small-scale items suitable for miniature gardening here.

Miniature garden What fun you can have making a miniature garden! Miniature garden How about some small-scale items for your miniature garden? There are bicycles, houses, arbours, benches, tables and much more. Click on the photo to see.                  

Never mind the weather! Get your imagination into summer mode and have fun with the children this August!