Friday, 1 August 2014

Book Review: 101 things for kids to do outside

It's the summer holidays and like many other parents we are trying to come up with interesting activities to keep the children entertained. My children would spend all day staring at a computer screen if i didn't come up with other ideas, so this book couldn't have come through the post at a better time.

The five year old got her hands on the book first and was instantly excited by the ideas in the large photos and pointed out a few straight away that she would like to try. There are activities in the book to suit any time of the year or weather, so once i had convinced her that that a Halloween feast could wait a few months, she chose to make flower fairies.

We decided to make the fairies in our garden, meanwhile my other daughter who was engrossed in Club Penguin at the time, got off the computer to investigate what was going on. Result! She is almost eight and when i told her what we had planned she looked a bit bemused but soon got stuck in.

The girls spent ages gathering bits and pieces they could use and kept going back and looking at the ideas in the photos. We did have strawberries growing a few weeks ago but sadly they have all been used up so we picked a small apple from the tree and used a fir cone that one of the girls had found previously. Once we had the main body it was easy to find the other little bits to add on. They kept it simple and were very pleased with the results.

What really surprised me, was how this activity led to another and the girls wanted to continue the game and make a house and garden for the fairies. We ended up in the garden for almost two hours and i am not sure which one of us had the most fun!

Here are the results from the 'Make flower fairies activity'

Dawn Isaac, award-winning garden designer, blogger and mum to three young children, comes 101 Things for Kids To Do Outside, packed with games, projects, crafts, experiments and gardening inspiration to get your children to put down their game console controllers and race outside to try something new.

As a grown up looking back, it’s the long school summer holidays spent outside all day playing games, running through the crunchy - cold woods looking for conkers in autumn, picking the first buttercups of spring and building snowmen in icy winter that we remember much more fondly than the time spent in front of the TV or PC. With children aged 8 – 18 spending on average 7.5 hours in front of a screen each day (Kaiser Family Foundation), and childhood obesity on the rise, it is more important than ever to get children outside to explore, climb, run and laugh, whilst they are still children.

Dawn has put together a brilliant compendium of ideas for kids (and adults!), covering all four seasons and ranging from quick 10-minute activities to a full day of fun. From party games and treasure hunts to simple gardening projects, each project is simple to follow and illustrated with colour photography. Encourage your kids to sweep for bugs, plant an alpine colander, fly a home-made kite, make a mud pie kitchen, build a snow lantern, hold a mini Olympics or take the matchbox challenge alongside loads of other great ideas.

The best thing is, you don’t even have to have a garden to use this book to its full potential - a local park or small grassy area will work just as well. This hands-on guide will help children make the most of being outdoors, stimulate their imaginations and provide hours of entertainment for the entire family.

Dawn Isaac spends much of her time coming up with new ways to persuade her kids to go outside, a mission which is chronicled in her popular blog It is also the featured blog on the RHS family website. Dawn writes on garden design for the Guardian, The Telegraph and The Garden, and is currently running Family Garden Design courses in association with Mumsnet Academy. She is also the horticultural advisor for the award-winning CBeebies show Mr Bloom’s Nursery.

101 things for kids to do outside

Dawn Isaac

Published by Kyle Books on 27th March 2014, priced £14.99

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