Once again, the school holidays are almost upon us; for some of us parents we are looking forward to the lack of routine, no school drop offs and pickups, not having to pack lunches and of course the absence of a daily homework battle. For others, we are already dreading the inevitable sibling arguments, the extra mess and the constant cries of ‘I’m hungry’ or ‘I’m bored’. Whichever camp you are in, you may already be thinking about how you will fill in all those extra hours of free time when you have decided that the kids have had enough of playing their Ipads, Minecraft or Xbox or quite frankly you just need to get everyone out of the house and into the fresh air!
Getting the kids out and about whether into your garden or a local green space, finding ways to use up their access energy and spending valuable time together need not be expensive, and can be lots of fun (after having to listen to the initial groans of having to leave their game at that vital moment). Living in Queensland, we are extremely lucky with how many awesome outdoor spaces and parks there are on our doorsteps for families to enjoy together. You can find a list of some of our fantastic parks here
Whether you have a large or small garden or even a balcony, you can get your kids excited about nature by planting a tree, either in a pot inside or outside. Depending on your postcode, your local council may be running a free plant scheme in your area. A trip to your local nursery can be a fun outing in itself and the kids will get to talk plant expert to choose the best type of tree for their garden. Read our guide to choosing the best tree to plant here
Trees (especially large trees) make great hiding places in traditional game of hide and seek. One person closes their eyes and counts slowly to twenty while the rest run and find a good tree to hide behind, the counter then looks for the hiders until everyone is found. A fun variation of hide and seek is that the trees are numbered for example 1-10, the children hide behind a tree while the finder counts to 20. When they have finished counting they call out a number between 1-10, if they then call out the number of the tree you are hiding behind then you are out- this continues until everyone is out and the last person to be found is then takes a turn at being the finder.
For generations children have enjoyed climbing trees as a fun and free activity. This should be done under adult supervision with the children aware of the ‘rules’:
For this fun game you need plenty of trees and a blind fold. In pairs one person is blind-folded, the other player leads the blindfolded player to a specific tree. Next, the blindfolded ‘tree-hugger’ uses their hands to feel the tree trunk and has to remember, the shape, texture and smell of the tree. When they are ready they are taken back to the starting point, their blindfold is removed and they have to try and identify their tree. The pairs take turns to hug and identify trees.
Give the children a list of scavenger hunt items to find for example different types of leaves, a palm frond, a nut, a hollow, berries etc. Then go on a hunt with a camera and take photos of the items.
As with traditional tag, one person is ‘it’ and the rest must try to not be caught. However in tree tag, the leader calls out a tree name and if they manage to reach the tree without being caught, they are safe until a different species of tree is called out. When everyone is caught then another person becomes the tagger.