I don’t think there’s been a time when I have felt this fortunate to have our own garden. Our garden is small but over the past few weeks of lockdown I’ve grown to appreciate every square inch. We’ve embraced this period as an opportunity to make the best of this strange situation and have decided to turn the garden into our very own campsite each weekend. Every Friday we ‘pitch up’ and get stuck into the outdoors the best we can. The children are learning new skills having fun as a family, whilst the event also acts as a clear way of distinguishing blurred week days from the weekend. It’s been a really positive experience so I’d like to share 10 ways we’ve used to add fun learning to our camp at home adventures.
Putting up the tent
Make sure you get the whole family involved in putting up the tent. It’s incredible how quickly even the youngest of campers get stuck into a clear role. We have my 4 year old on peg and pole distribution whilst the ten year old helps feed the poles through and clips the inner. They have it nailed now and the whole process of putting the tent up is quicker and less stressful – after all it’s only right that we prepare our offspring with the necessary skills for surviving their first festival!
Make a fire
We’ve got a fairly small garden so have decided that we’ll do camp fire and cookout sessions on nights when we don’t have the tent up. It works really well as the children look forward to different activities throughout the week. We bought a small fire pit from Amazon which cost around £25 and got the children to help source the fire wood on one of our daily walks. I try to involve the children as much as is safely possible in prepping the pit with paper, kindling and small logs. They then take it in turns to be the ‘fire starter’ (closely supervised for both). The fire makes a great focus for the night whether for a cook out, toasting marshmallows or sharing tales as the evening draws in.
Camp fire cooking
If you’ve already got the fire pit going then you may as well go the whole way and cook your dinner whilst you’re at it. Most fire pits allow a grill to be placed on top allowing you to cook sausages, burgers, kebabs etc fairly easily. If you can’t use a grill consider wrapping potatoes in tin foil which will cook really well in the embers leaving them for a good 45 minutes. If all else fails get your marshmallows soft and gooey and squish them between two chocolate biscuits to make the perfect s’mores. Always makes for a happy camping session.
Watch the stars
We’ve had some incredibly clear skies recently – and with April’s Pink full moon gracing the night skies there’s been plenty to interest and budding astronomers. Why not try the Star Walk App which will work out your location and tell you which stars you should be able to see. You might also like to print out a seasonal night sky map to give you an idea of what to look for. Personally, I have terrible eye sight and can never make out the constellations…but I just love to sit back and look at the sky and get a bit philosophical with the kids.
Join a virtual festival
The ultimate way to enhance your camp at home experience is by adding the essence of community joining one of the many virtual festival events taking place over the coming weeks. Top picks for us have to be Camp Bestival Stay at Home Easter Sleepover from April 11th-12th and the Big Tent, Little Tent Festival hosted by The Caravan and Motorhome Club on Wednesday 15th April. And no hot sweaty hike from the car park to pitch your tent!!
Hang up a reading hammock
Our children love a hammock but complain about reading. Our solution has been to create a reading hammock. They can spend as much time as they like relaxing in the hammock but they must take a book with them. It reduces the arguments over turn taking and they generally succumb to getting stuck into their book. We use the Amazonas ultra light hammock which we’ve found easy to put up, light weight and durable.
Even in our small garden we receive a large number of feathery visitors. We spent a lovely evening last night listening to the different sounds the birds make and trying to work out which bird was making which sounds. I think its great for children to see their adults showing an interest in learning so we ended up looking up a few bird songs together. The RSPB have some great printable resources including a bird spotter sheet which is great for all ages.
Map reading / treasure hunt
Work together to create a map of your garden or house. Allow the children to decide on key landmarks then colour code your map. Once your map is completed hide some edible treasure and mark it’s hiding place with a big X on the map. Educational, fun and rewarding!
Tracking nature with a camera
You’ll be amazed at what you can find in your own back garden if you look close enough. Children have an incredible skill of seeing things from a unique perspective – one that adults might over look or write off as insignificant. Set your little ones up with the task of tracking nature visually using a camera – this could be something like a Kidizoom or Ipad. Start them off with some guidance e.g. find something with lots of legs, find something green, find something that lives under a rock and see what they discover!
Embrace Family time
All children really want is to spend time with mum and dad…so if anything beyond that is too much just be assured that being together is enough. Relax, talk and enjoy spending time together the best you can. It’s all they need. It’s all any of us need!