Children need to get outside, because that is what they are hard-wired to do. These days, many ‘indoor parents’ get so frightened, that their children are hardly allowed out. Children’s nature campaigner Richard Louv writes that when he was a child ‘Nature was my Ritalin’, but today he meets zombied-out children who spend their lives playing computer games. He says a sad day was when he asked a child of his favourite place: the child replied ‘indoors, because that’s where all the sockets are’.
Obviously we don’t want children falling out of trees, but he did say that doctors say that now rather than broken bones from outdoor falls, they see children with depression and repetitive strain injury, caused from playing computer games.
- Diary of a Young Naturalist chronicles the extraordinary story of a 15-year old boy with Asperger’s and autism, who uses nature to heal from bullying and isolation. Follow a year in his home Northern Ireland patch, as Dara spends the seasons writing. These vivid moving diary entries on his connection to the wild world, sees the world in a new way.
- Wild Child is by nature writer Patrick Barkham, who draws on his experience as parent and forest school volunteer, to explore the relationship between children and nature. Unfolding over the course of a year of snowsuits, muddy wellies and sunhats, this is the story of children finding their place in the natural world – and delight found in modest patches of green.
- Our Wild Calling is the latest book by Richard Louv, who has updated his last book and this time applied it to how wildlife can teach us and children their wisdom. We need empathy and care to survive. Learn how dogs can teach children ethical behaviour, and what role human-animal relationships play on our spiritual health.
- Backyard Playgrounds is a book on how to build amazing treehouses and swings. Children of all ages can enjoy the outdoors in their own backgrounds, with these fun projects, that also teach about building, exercise, staying in shape and working together. Learn how to build a treasure chest, a circle swing, a lemonade stand and a treehouse.
- Marmax Recycled Products makes coloured playground furniture from milk bottle jugs. The range includes cabins, boats, sand pits, wheelchair-friendly picnic benches and board games. Fresh Air Fitness makes outdoor exercise equipment for parks, including for children with special needs.
Outdoor Games for Children
All toys require adult supervision, see each item for age ranges – and keep small items away from pets. For little explorers, GeoSafari Junior Binoculars (age 3+) are lightweight with a wraparound soft eye section, to block peripheral vision. Don’t let children study insects through a magnifying class, reflected sun rays can harm.
These Woodland Animal Skittles are FSC-certified are decorated with child-friendly paints and fully CE tested for 2 years up (supervised). These bright skittles love nothing more than being toppled over, straightened up and then knocked over again! Little ones can practice counting, when they see the skillets fall and also count how many remain. They can then keep score and play with a friend, which helps to practice patience and taking turns. Also helps dexterity, by carefully standing the animal skittles.
Wooden Garden Boules is a classic European game for children and adults. Find 8 large wooden zig-zag decorated balls and one small yellow ball. The aim is to get the large balls as close to the smaller balls, which encourages concentration and dexterity. Suitable for children over 3 (supervised).
Giant Wooden Four in a Row Game is a family game to get the first of two players to get four of their coloured counters in a row (horizontally, vertically or diagonally) using logic and concentration. Includes beautifully decorated counters with grey and blue zig-zag lines. Age 4 plus.
Personalised Wooden Swing fits to a swing frame or tree with swing hooks. The ropes are adjustable to alter the height, depending on the height of the frame/tree and who is using the swing. Recommended minimum age 3 years plus and maximum weight 75kg. The ropes can be adjusted simply with the included clip, instructions included.
Personalised Wooden Horse Swing is strong and durable, made with naturally finished wood and extra high sides, with a backrest for a secured seat. The horse’s head provides a secure place to hold, whilst the child is swinging. Easily attaches to a tree or existing swing frame. For children age 18 months and over.
Street Chalk includes a selection of 12 colourful chalk with pencil form, so are easy for children to hold. The chalk has tapered points for children over 3. Obviously only use this in a supervised area, and with permission.
Retro Pink Scooter is perfect for children over 1, who are confident walkers. It helps to develop fine motor skills and has multi-directional castors, so good for small spaces. No complicated peddling, just free-flowing movement in all directions. Simply assembly and in many other colours. Adult supervision required. Includes strong plywood and plastic casters with rubberised strip.