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Animal tracking for kids – how to get started

By Kirsty / February 24, 2017
Animal tracking for kids
One really fun nature activity for kids is animal tracking – looking for signs that an animal has been around a certain area and working out which animal it is.  It’s fun and accessible – even toddlers and little kids can do it.

So what do you need to get started?

In actual fact, you need very little.  Perhaps a book on animal footprints and signs (I like the Usborne spotter guides), but other than that, you just need to keep your eyes open.

What to look for:

Footprints

animal tracks for kidsThe most obvious of tracks are footprints.  Check out any muddy areas or look for prints in snow if it’s winter.  Can you find anything?  Dog paw prints are probably the easiest to find and recognise and it’s worth knowing these in case you find anything different.  What about bird prints – if you ever go for a walk near water can you see any webbed prints from ducks?

Making a plaster cast of prints is a good activity for keen children – there’s a guide to how to do this here.

Fur or feathers

Finding birds feathers and identifying them is a good way to get started too – how often are feathers picked up by kids with eagle eyes?  Can you tell the type of bird?  What about the size of it?

Keep an eye out for fur being caught on fences too.

Poo and pellets

Another obvious one and something that most kids are fascinated by!  Animal poo is a a classic way to tell if an animal has been around and again, unfortunately, dog signs are the most prolific. It goes without saying as well – no touching of poo!  Take pictures if you want to try and identify it later.

Rabbit poo can be found easily, or sheep and deer poo if you’re off on a walk in the countryside.

Owl pellets are an interesting thing and if you know where some owls are then it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for them.  They are the fur and bones that an owl can’t digest so they cough it up as a pellet and discard it.  If you can find one a quite fun activity (some might think gruesome) is to try and dissect the pellet and see what the owl has been eating.  Put it in some water to soften it up and use tweezers to remove and separate the bones – you might even find a skull in there!

Scratches

Can you see any signs of animals scratching trees or posts?

Trails and worn paths

Lastly, something to look out for is trails and worn paths that don’t look like they have been made by humans.  If you see paths leading to dense bushes or under fences you might have found a path that animals take regularly.  Why not look around and see if you can spot any other signs?

Tips for keeping kids active

Tips for keeping kids active

In this day and age sedentary kids who spend all their time in front of screens are not uncommon.  Unfortunately, it comes with a host of problems from concentration issues all the way up to childhood obesity and more.  One way to try and combat these things is keeping kids active.  The funny thing is that kids are naturally active and want to do things, but the way that society has evolved has thwarted that desire.  TV programmes, especially kids ones, are designed to keep them watching.  They are short and brightly coloured, so they keep them wanting to see what’s next.  Before you know it, hours have passed!  Here’s some tips for getting kids more active:

9 tips for keeping kids active

  • Encourage walking over car use

This is one of the hardest things, especially with how busy our lives have become.  It’s so much easier and quicker to jump in the car to do chores, pick the kids up from school and head on to other activities.  If we can commit to walking whenever we can it sets great habits for kids and will get their hearts pumping in a good way!

  • Brainstorm ideas to keep active

Involve your kids with your ideas to keep them moving.  Maybe they’ll have some thoughts on what they’d like to do that you’ve not thought of yet.  The best way for them to be happy to do it is if it’s part of their own plan!

  • Have plenty of toys that encourage movement

Trampolines in the garden, swings and climbing frames are all great toys to have on hand to encourage some activity before an evening of game playing or TV.  Start small if you need to and set a time that you want your kids to be out and playing before they are allowed electronics – maybe 10 minutes at first – you’ll maybe find they are having so much fun to come back in!  It’s definitely a good habit for them to get in to.  Bikes, skateboards, scooters or just some good old fashioned garden toys will mean they aren’t sat down.

  • Turn the electronics off

It will be hard for kids to get themselves outside and playing if the TV is blaring or if their phones are beeping at them. Commit to an electronic free time period and if the weather is playing ball, get them outside and playing.

  • Try a fitness tracker

Some kids love the ‘game’ of trying to get as many steps as possible, maybe beating a sibling or a parent in the process. It can be just the visual stimulus that some children need.  There are plenty of child friendly trackers on the market these days that are fairly inexpensive too – see here.

  • Go on ‘activity’ or outdoor holidays

When booking your holiday for the year why not consider something that the kids will be more active in – maybe a biking holiday, somewhere with a pool or just simply a camping holiday where there is no tv or game console around.

  • Sign kids up for sports they enjoy

If your kids show an interest in a sport then encourage that by signing them up for lessons, groups or maybe a summer school where they can participate.  It doesn’t have to competitive sports and the interest might not last forever, but exploring and trying out what they enjoy is a good way to get them to find something they will be happy doing often.

  • Make ‘being active’ normal

Don’t make a big deal of trying to be active.  Make it a normal thing to walk to the shops instead of driving, going for a weekly swim or having a play in the garden before tea time.  Kids have a knack for seeing that we have an agenda so just try and make it a normal thing.

  • Involve the whole family

Finally – involve everyone!  This is especially important if you have just one child who is perhaps more inclined to put on weight or is just drawn to screens more often.  Don’t single them out and don’t just make them get active – get everyone doing it.  Go for a family swim or have a family enforced electronics down time.  You can’t expect kids to get active if the adults are sitting on their butts!

Garden skatepark ideas

By Kirsty / February 10, 2017
Garden skatepark ideas

I’ve said before that one way to get your older kids outside more is to encourage a sport such a skateboarding, BMX biking or stunt scooter riding.  Choosing the right skateboard or stunt scooter is one thing, but the next part is getting some tricks under their belt and that requires practice.

Perhaps you’re lucky enough to have a skate park that is nearby, but even if you do you might not want your kids hanging there all day long, especially if they are still young.  So one way to appeal to their new found hobby and keep them practicing is by setting up your own skate park in the garden.  This has the added benefit that if any accidents happen you’ll be nearby to help out.

Some things that you’ll want in your garden skatepark will be:

  • ramps – you can single ramps or double with different gradients.  For larger gardens a four way ramp could be good too
  • a grind rail

Best skateboard ramps for kids

If you’re looking to get some ramps for your kids to have in the garden then the following are some good products.  What I like about these are that they are portable and can be brought to the park for meet ups with friends or even when you go on holiday.  They are really solid even though they are made from plastic – they’d be great to start with for kids.

Rampage Single Mini Launch Ramp
List Price: £13.46
Price: £13.46
Price Disclaimer

 

If you’re looking for a grind rail you can get them in a regular size or a mini size too – perfect for smaller gardens

Rampage Mini Skate & Scooter Grind Rail
List Price: £34.99
Price: £26.95
You Save: £8.04
Price Disclaimer
Rampage Large Skate & Scooter Grind Rail
List Price: £29.99
Price Disclaimer

 

Building your own skate ramp

Another idea for kids who are really serious about their stunts is to build a skate ramp.  If you have a big garden then you can go all out here and create something really special.  If not or if you want to just start small, then starting off with a small skate ramp  is a good idea.  I’ve found a load of tutorials on YouTube and I’ve shared a couple below.

These projects would be a great way to get older kids involved with making things and it’s a great way to connect with them and make them proud of their first DIY projects.

 

Getting outside when your toddler doesn’t want to walk anymore – some tips

By Kirsty / February 3, 2017
toddler doesn't want to walk anymore

It can feel quite liberating when your toddler starts to walk well enough that you can start making trips and days out.  You can have all sorts of ideas of getting outside from walks in the countryside, maybe including a bit of hiking or even just managing to walk to the shops with the idea that it might tire them out.  But what do you do when your toddler doesn’t want to walk anymore and it’s becoming a bit of a nightmare?  Here’s some tips to get past this stage with your nerves intact.

  1. Slow down to look at the world.  If you let your toddler dictate the pace you’ll find that they might walk fine.  Normally what is hard for them is the pace and the fact that they can’t discover the world around them as they are walking.  Stop when they do and look at the flowers or the ants crossing the road.  Give yourself time to enjoy the world on a toddler level.
  2. Start with small walks.  Take a short stroll to the park and work your way up to the bigger walks.
  3. When you do try out longer walks, if you can, break it up in to manageable chunks.  Perhaps stop at the park on the way there or the way back.
  4. Try some spotting games like i-spy or simply count how many red things you can see on the way.  Giving your child something to focus on can stop them thinking they are bored and wanting to be carried.
  5. Pick your battles – this is actually my number one parenting tip in the world, but it applies really well here.  Decide before you go out whether it’s worth the hassle of making your toddler walk when you want and if it’s not worth it, try another tactic – there’s a few ideas below on how to help.

 

Some ways to help toddlers and kids walk more

It’s not always ideal to take forever to walk with your child at their pace or sometimes you’ll know that your toddler is getting tired so won’t be able to do the long walk.  If that’s the case, think about ways to combat it and give your child a rest when they are ready.

If you have a new baby but aren’t keen on getting a double pushchair then getting a buggy board can help.  It can allow your toddler to have a rest when you need them to or if you are in a bit of a rush and they can’t keep the pace.  You can even get some with seat attachments nowadays.

If you’re looking to get out and about in the countryside but know that while your toddler will enjoy it for a bit, they’ll likely want carried after a while, a walking or hiking carrier could be a worthwhile investment.  Get something with plenty of back support to keep yourself comfortable and you’ll be able to really keep up your hiking hobby.

If your kids are a little older than toddler age but still aren’t that great with walking then maybe something like a scooter to take along and ride will help.  Or even a push along trike – so long as you’re happy with carrying it when the novelty wears off!

 

Do you have any tips for getting toddlers to walk more?  Let me know in the comments section.

 

Best playhouse for toddlers and children

By Kirsty / January 27, 2017
best playhouse for toddlers

Playhouses can be great fun and a brilliant way to encourage creative and role play in kids.  They are also great at being their own little space, a place where they can draw, read or even watch wildlife from.  Of course, some of the plastic models are also good for bringing inside if you have the space for them too, but generally we think of playhouses or wendy houses as outdoor toys.  This article will be looking at the best playhouse for toddlers and children to help with what can be quite a large purchase.  I hope you find it helpful.

Tips on choosing the best playhouse for toddlers and children

best play house for kidsWhen choosing a playhouse for kids you’ll want to bear in mind a few things.  These are large purchases, not specifically in the pocket (although they can be) but in actual size so you don’t want to get it wrong and be stuck with something you’re not happy with.

  • what kind? – do you want a plastic or a wooden playhouse.  Plastic is lighter and can be moved around more.  It can also be cheaper and fairly maintenance free.  The downsides are that although they can last a while they’ll look faded and tatty after a few summers.  Wooden playhouses are more of an investment but can last for much longer, look much better and can often be better for tall toddlers and older kids.  You can also personalise them by painting them to suit your kids and your garden.
  • Size – I know it sounds obvious but make sure you have plenty of space for the playhouse to be and also make sure that it will be big enough for your children.  If you have more than one you might need more space and if your kids are tall they might find some that are marketed at toddlers to be too small for a lot of use.
  • How much assembling does it require?  Most need a little assembling, but that will vary with all the different kinds.  If you’re good with DIY then don’t fret too much, but if you’re not and time will be hard to come by then go for something that is easy to assemble.

 

Best outdoor playhouse – plastic

The following playhouses are all plastic which are durable and maintenance free.  They may well fade in the sunlight but that won’t mean that they won’t last for a long time!  They tend to be cheaper than the wooden options too so if you’re on a budget check these out.

Keter Wonderfold Playhouse

This is a really great, multi use playhouse.  I say multi use because it can go outside, it can go inside and it can even fold away for if you want to take it to the grandparents house or store overwinter.

It’s incredibly easy to assemble, so if you’re at all worried about that part of it, don’t be.  The pieces snap together really easily and they even claim it can be put together in 30 seconds!

The dimensions of this one is 111cm (3ft 7) high x 102cm (3ft 4) wide  x 90cm (2ft 11) deep so it’s not the biggest of playhouses, but I think it’s a good size for toddlers.   The price point and the fact that you can move it indoors and out quite easily makes up for it.

See more reviews on Amazon here

 

Little Tikes Cape Cottage

I’m a big fan of Little Tikes toys because they are so well made and they tend to think of things that other brands don’t.  This playhouse is a perfect example of that.  It’s a lovely bright and fun design with features such as a mail slot, a flag pole and opening and shutting windows.  It’s perfect for kids who like to do role play!

As with all Little Tikes play toys it’s really robust plastic and it represents good value for money.  I always manage to get good resale value on my Little Tikes toys when my kids grew out of them so for me they are definitely worth it.

The dimensions of this playhouse are 124cm (4ft) high x 109cm (3ft 7) wide  x 89cm (2ft 11) deep.  It’s also available in another colour if you didn’t like the red – you can get a tan colour too.  It’s suitable from age 2 – 5 years.

Check more reviews and the latest price here

 

Best wooden playhouse for the garden

There’s something special about wooden playhouses – perhaps that home built feel to them and the fact that the natural materials have a connection to nature too.  They tend to be more expensive and might need more upkeep with painting but if looked after you will have something that will look good and last for a long time where a plastic one will have faded and be looking shabby.

4×4 Honeypot Snug Wooden Playhouse

This is a cute playhouse that is quite popular at the moment.  I love that it’s easy to customise and make your own – it would be a great project for those who like decorating!

As the name suggests it’s a small, 4ft x 4ft playhouse with a total height of 4ft 7 at the highest point.  The height of the door is 2 ft 10 – might require some crawling through as your kids get bigger!

It complies with safety regulations and even comes with a 10 year anti-rot guarantee, although you’ll need to do some painting of it with preservative for that to be valid (and each year after).  It’s a DIY project and should probably take a couple of hours to put up with 2 people assembling it.  Allow more time if you’re planning to paint it.

See more about this item on Amazon

 

Redwood Lodge Children’s Wooden Playhouse

If you’re looking for something a little more quirky and interesting for your garden then you’ll love this one.  It has a really exciting design that suits a playhouse really well – it looks like something out of a fairytale!  It has a crooked door, round windows and a chimney.  The door and windows close with soft magnetic catches too.

One thing I like about this one is that it comes with a felted roof and they have gone to lengths to ensure that the playhouse stays waterproof so that if they want to go outside when it’s a bit rainy they’ll still have fun and it will also make sure what’s inside stays dry.  It comes pre painted too so that’s one less job!

The dimensions of this one are 145cm (4ft 9) high x 145cm (4ft 9) width x 110cm (3ft 7) depth so quite a nice size too that will last for quite a few years.

See more about this playhouse on Amazon here

 

Best toddler carrier for hiking

By Kirsty / January 25, 2017
Best toddler carrier for hiking

If hiking is your passion then you’ll be pleased to hear that it doesn’t need to stop when you have children.  Yes it might require some more planning, but by doing so you’ll be able to keep yourself out, enjoying the outdoors and most importantly, introducing your kids to it.  While your little ones struggle to walk much a baby or toddler carrier can come in handy and that is the topic of today’s article.  We’ll be looking at the best toddler carrier for hiking and giving our reviews on them so you can keep getting outdoors!

What to look for in a child carrier for hiking

When choosing a good back carrier for your toddler you’ll want to bear in mind a few things.

Age range – will the carrier be suitable for your child.  Most carriers seem to go up to around age 3 but if your child is on the light side you might be able to carry them for longer

Storage options – do you need to be able to take provisions with you and if so does that need to be incorporated in to a back pack.  If you walk with another adult then perhaps they’ll carry any other food, drinks and toys so you won’t need inbuilt storage.

Having an adjustable hip belt makes sure that the weight is distributed evenly and won’t hurt your back.

Does it come with accessories like rain or sun covers?  If you plan to hike in the UK you’ll know that we have a variety of weather, but similarly if you plan to go abroad where it’s sunny you’ll maybe want some form of sun protection.

The base weight of the carrier is something to bear in mind as well – when it’s on your back every gram counts!

 

 

The best toddler carrier for hiking – our reviews

With all that in mind, here’s some of the best carriers on the market right now.

LittleLife Ranger Child Carrier

If you’re looking for a nice, basic and lightweight carrier then this Ranger carrier by LittleLife is a great choice.  It doesn’t have lots of bells and whistles, it doesn’t have extra bags and pockets to store things, but that makes it lightweight and comfortable which is paramount when off on a hiking trip with your toddler.   You can get an accessory pouch that attaches if you want some storage but it does have some small zipped pockets in the waist belt.

  • Pivoting hip belt
  • Top grab handles for your child and a soft face pad
  • weight – 1.7kg
  • Suitable for ages 6 months – 3 years
  • Max weight – 20kg (44lbs)
  • Fits adults from 5ft 2 to 6ft 2

The Ranger one of the cheapest in my list too so if you’re unsure whether you’ll enjoy hiking with your child and want to try it out with less cost involved this would be my recommendation.  You can see how it works in the video below.


Check out the reviews and latest price of the LittleLife Ranger here

 

Montis Hoover premium child carrier

If you want a more all in version with storage, a sun shade and more rain cover options then this carrier from Montis Hoover might suit you better.  It is much more expensive than the LittleLife Ranger but it’s in a completely different category I think!

This version is orange but there’s also a more subdued black if you would prefer that.  There is a backpack on the back that can be removed, bottle holders at the side, a sun shade for really hot days and you can buy a full size rain cover for it too.

  • adjustable back system
  • plenty of storage options
  • weight – 2.5kg
  • child weight – up to 25kg (55lbs)
Check out more reviews of this item here

 

LittleLife Voyager S3 Carrier

Going back to the LittleLife range, as I said the previous model was the basic option – this one, the Voyager S3 Carrier has a little bit more going for it.

This one includes a sun shade, foot stirrups to keep your child in the right position and comfortable, a zip off backpack as well as all the other things you might be looking for.  There’s a storage pouch at the bottom and an insulated bottle pocket.

  • weight – 2.9kg
  • Suitable for ages 6 months – 3 years
  • Max weight – 20kg (44lbs)
  • Fits adults from 5ft 2 to 6ft 2
  • Rain cover available
See the latest price on Amazon

 

Osprey Poco AG Plus child carrier

Finally we have this back carrier system from Osprey.  I have had some good experience with Osprey products over the years – they make backpacks too which we really like.  I love the quality of their products and this child carrier is no different

It is the heaviest of the carriers we’re looking at today but it comes with a host of features that make it great for serious hikers and walkers.

It has a mesh back that allows plenty of airflow to your body, a built in sun shade with an SPF 50 rating, removal and washable drool pad, integrated and detachable rain cover included, a child safety harness and lots of storage pockets and compartments.

  • weight – 3.48kg
  • No stated age suitability but I’d say around 6 months – 3 years
  • Rain cover and sun shade comes with it
  • comes in three colours
See the latest price of this item here

Best sand and water table for toddlers and kids

By Kirsty / January 24, 2017
Best sand and water table for toddlers and kids

Sand and water are two things that will captivate toddlers for a long time which is definitely something to be cherished!  So a sand and/or water table is a great investment when looking for a toy for little ones.   Most tables can be kept inside for cold weather play, but really they are brilliant as garden toys because your toddler can really let loose and have fun without worrying about making a mess.  In this article I’m looking at the best sand and water table for toddlers that are on the market today.

How to choose a good sand and water table

You’ll want to bear a few things in mind when looking at these play tables.  As much as I’m a budget conscious (i.e. tight) mum it’s worth looking to spend a bit more on these and not going for the absolute cheapest around.  Cheap tends to mean not very sturdy and when you have toddlers who may be still a bit unsteady on their feet and a pile of water and sand, you can probably imagine the consequences!

  • Look for a good quality brand with a sturdy plastic frame
  • how important are toys being included?  If not included you may have to buy more
  • size may be a concern if you might want to bring it indoors in winter or if you have more than one child
  • a cover is a good idea to keep everything clean and free of bugs

Best sand and water table for toddlers – our reviews

With all those points to bear in mind, here’s our thoughts on some of the best play tables that can have either sand, water or both!

Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship

Little tikes are well known for their good quality and robust outdoor toys and this pirate ship is no different.  This is just a water play table with no separate area for sand although I guess it could hold sand instead of water if you wanted.  I think water is the best bet with this style though.

There are lots of spinning features that come to life with the addition of water – you can keep it moving by using the pump or by pouring water from the crows nest.  There are mini slides, pourers, buckets and sieves to add to the water fun play.  It provides hours of fun.

It is quite large but it’s easily emptied so can be moved around or indoors if needed.  It’s also one of the more expensive items in this list, but I also have found Little Tikes has good resale value once your kids grow out of them.

You can see more about the Pirate Ship on Amazon here

 

Smoby Sand and Water Table Toys

This is one of my favourites that can hold both sand and water.  It’s a really great, well thought out design with lots of features that mums and dads will love.  For example, the trays that keep the sand in can be fully removed to give them a wash.  This is great, especially if you want to use it for something like some messy play, because you can be sure to clean it easily either by hosing down or just washing like normal.

Another feature that I like as a mum is that it can also be used as a regular table by using the covers.  That means if your child wants to draw while outside or just use it to play with toy cars, they don’t have to get in to the sand and water if they don’t want to.

It’s sturdy and well built and it also comes with a few toys too – you might find you’ll want some extras but it does come with a couple.

Overall I love this one and, although not the cheapest, it’s not too expensive either!

Check out the latest price and reviews here.

 

4 in 1 sand and water play table

This is a fairly budget table which still comes highly recommended and also comes with quite a few accessories too.  The table divides in to 4 different parts which means you can separate some sand and water or have it fully one or the other.  It’s great for more than one child at a time as they can have their own little spot that’s theirs to play in.

The table comes with some attachments such as a digger and a rotating wheel and it also has some accessories like a watering can, bucket, scoop and rake which means you get pretty much all you need to get started (doesn’t come with sand though – you’ll need to get that separate).

Finally this one also comes with two stools to allow your kids to sit down while playing.  Each section has a plug hole to allow for easy emptying and moving from inside to outside if needed.

Overall this is a good choice if you want both sand and water play and you’re on a budget.

See more reviews about this item here

 

Sand and Water fold away play table

This table is a neat idea.  Basically it has leaves that can have the water portion of your toddler’s play and you can fold that over the centre part when not in use.  Don’t be completely fooled by the name of this one – it doesn’t fully fold away and the legs need to be removed manually rather than folded.  I do think it’s a good design either way.

It comes with just a few accessories – a rake and spade and also some attachments that add on to the table.  You could happily use this for just sand, just water or both.

It should also be noted that although the side trays provide cover for the sand it’s not fully airtight so rain or bugs could still get in.

Check out the latest price here

 

daAO Sand and Water table with chair and lid

Finally we have another good budget option.  This one from deAO also comes with a lid that means that the table can double up as a regular desk and a chair too.  This is great for cold weather when the kids spend more time inside if you have space for it.

Although this does have space in the middle for sand it’s only a small space that can have it and keep it separate.  I think I prefer this table as more of a water table but your mileage may vary!

It comes with quite a few little toys and accessories as well making this a really good value water table – there’s spades, rakes, buckets and much more.

You can see more reviews of this table on Amazon here.

Best charities to teach about nature and wildlife

By Kirsty / January 20, 2017
kids nature wildlife charities

Over the years I have had the chance to visit some wonderful nature reserves around the UK that were run by charities.  My kids have also learned loads from being members of charities and getting through newsletters and magazines.  So which ones are worth looking at to teach kids about nature, wildlife and our environment?  There are quite a few to look in to – I’d encourage you to donate or join any that resonate with you!

RSPB

One of the major charities in the UK and one you’ll almost certainly have heard of, the RSPB does some amazing work in our country not only for birds but for wildlife in general.

They have a dedicated children’s section of their website which is brilliant for getting ideas about outdoor activities or games to play.  They also run the Big Garden Birdwatch which is a great wildlife survey to get involved in.

You can join the RSPB as a family which then gives the kids their subscription to the Wildlife Explorer group within that.  Membership lets you visit all the RSPB reserves in the country and you also get magazines six times a year which are really interesting and aimed just right at young kids.  Once you’re a teenager you can also join the Phoenix club which is aimed at a higher level.

You can see more about the RSPB here.

 

Wildlife Watch

The Wildlife Watch are part of the Wildlife Trust which is a conservation charity.  They are split in to areas so you’ll likely have a local Wildlife Trust to you.

This is another one my kids were involved with a lot when they were a bit younger – they run Wildlife Watch groups around the country and my daughter joined one a few years ago now.  Normally they take place monthly and it’s a nice way to get involved with local nature groups.  They’d learn about new things each session, sometimes flowers, sometimes trees, sometimes about pond life.

Their website is also great for activity ideas, competitions and it encourages you to join in!

See more about the Wildlife Trust here.

 

YPTE

The YPTE is a great charity, it stands for the Young People’s Trust for the Environment.  It aims to help and encourage understanding of our environment and it talks a lot about sustainability as well as nature.

They provide a great website with lots of factsheets about all sorts of aspects of the environment and nature free to download.  They also have a section for teens who may also be needing information for school projects and exams.  It’s a really great site and charity worth supporting.

See more about YPTE here.

 

Marine Conservation Society

The Marine Conservation Society looks out for our marine wildlife in and around our coasts.  They help organise beach clean up events which kids are often welcome at – a great way to get involved in volunteering for a charity.

They have a nice section on their website with lots of interesting facts about the wildlife in the sea as well as environmental concerns about keeping our seas clean.

You can see more about them here.

 

Woodland Trust

The Woodland Trust is all about protecting our woods and trees in the UK.  Their children’s section is called Nature Detectives and it’s another great place to get ideas for things to do with kids out in nature.

As well as the free info on their website, you can join as a family or join the kids up individually and be sent a Nature Detectives pack to get your little ones out and exploring nature.

See more about the Woodland Trust here.

 

Winter craft activity – Make fat balls for birds and a bottle bird feeder

By Kirsty / January 20, 2017
Make fat balls for birds and a bottle bird feeder

As you probably know, I’m a big advocate of introducing kids to nature as a way of getting them outside.  It’s not only a good excuse to get outside, it’s also fun and can foster a real respect for the world around us – not bad!  Winter is hard to get outside, especially if it’s cold and rainy so one idea is to bring nature to you inside – make a bird feeder!

Obviously I don’t mean bringing the birds inside themselves, but thinking about nature and wildlife while also being cosy inside is still a worthwhile thing to do, especially around winter.

At this time of year, in the depths on winter, food is in short supply for our garden birds and they can often not make it through.  Providing a good, clean supply of fresh food for them can be a lifeline.

You don’t need any special equipment and you can do all sorts to feed your garden birds, but making a dedicated bird feeder is something that even young kids can help with.

Make fat balls for birds

The first really simple activity is to make some fat balls for birds.  Yes you can buy them fairly cheaply from the shop, but that’s not nearly as much fun!  Here’s what you need to do:

You’ll need:

  • some empty yoghurt pots or plastic containers
  • string
  • lard
  • a mixture of bird seed, oats, peanuts, bread crumbs, grated cheese

One you’re ready:

  1. get your empty yoghurt pots and peirce a small hole in the bottom.  Thread through some string and tie securely in a loop so you can eventually hang your fat balls up.
  2. cut the lard up in to small pieces.  If it’s really hard then perhaps soften some ever so slightly in a pan or in the microwave.  You don’t want it too liquid as it may run out of the hole in your yoghurt pot.
  3. mix in your bird seeds and scraps of food into the lard
  4. fill the yoghurt pots with your mixture
  5. place in the fridge to set
  6. hang outside on a tree or a bird table and let the birds know!

Simple bird feeder from an old bottle

This is a great idea for a child friendly project that can be done and hung up in a day.  This one is courtesy of Sainsbury’s Bank and it is made using an old, clean plastic bottle and some pencils for perches.  It’s a simple idea and you could even make different ones to hang in different spots in your garden.  Why not vary what seeds you put in each one and see if it attracts different birds?

Build a bird feeder visual guide

What is the best stunt scooter on a budget in 2017?

By Kirsty / January 19, 2017
best stunt scooter under 100

In my quest to get my teens outside more and more I’m always on the lookout for good ideas for activities that they might enjoy.  Learning tricks on scooters is something that definitely fits the bill.  It’s something teen friendly but these trick scooters are equally good for younger kids too!  In this article I’m looking at what is the best stunt scooter on a budget in 2017 so if you’re looking for a gift for a teenager or an older child this might be just the thing!

Scroll down for individual comments on each item!

Namemax weightheightageour ratingprice


Fox Pro RAW Tang
80kg75cm5+4.8££


MGP VX6 Pro
100kg80cm8+ 4.8£££



Sacrifice Complete
100kg82cm8+4.7£££



Stunted Kids XT
100kg80cm8+4.6££


TBF XV Pro Street Tricks
100kg79cm5+4.7£

What’s the difference between a stunt scooter and a normal scooter?

So your child is asking for a stunt scooter and you have no idea what that is.  Unfortunately it’s not exactly the same as a normal scooter so you’ll want to get it right by not buying a normal scooter instead – how do you know the difference?

stunt scooter reviewsFirst off, what is a stunt scooter?  

An ordinary scooter is designed to just move you (or your child) around in a fun way, but it isn’t designed to do much more.  A stunt scooter is for doing tricks and stunts, as the name helpfully suggests! (They are also known as trick scooters too)  Yes you could try doing stunts on a normal scooter, but it’s not built to do that and you could find that they’ll break or fold up when doing the trick so it’s also not a particularly safe or ideal thing to encourage!

If you think your child is going to want to do stunts on their scooter then do get them the right type.

  • A stunt or trick scooter generally won’t have adjustable handlebars – you don’t want them changing height by accident when you’re doing a trick.  Likewise, they won’t fold up like normal scooters.
  • Stunt scooters are also slightly heavier, often built out of more sturdy materials like steel rather than aluminium.  This is for durability as the scooter is designed to take some serious playing on.
  • Sometimes the wheels are smaller too and made of alloy so much stronger.
  • Durability and strength are the key words really – they are designed to take a lot of beating so should be up to doing all sorts of tricks and jumps.

 

Our stunt scooter reviews

I wanted to look at some really good stunt scooters but also keep them under around £100 for this review, obviously prices do change so check the links to Amazon for the latest price.  I’m focusing on products that are suitable for kids so budget and cheap are words I like!  Cheap doesn’t always mean bad quality though, there are some really good value options presented here in a wide range of prices.

You can get some brands that are more than this amount but you’re starting to get in to the serious stunt scooter territory!  As a starter to see if your kids like it these ones should definitely do well and they could definitely upgrade once they are ready.

The more well known and best stunt scooter brands are Fox Pro, Madd Gear, Sacrifice, all of which are represented below.  AO is also a good brand but the scooters didn’t fit in my price range (but you can see them here)

One thing to consider with buying trick scooters for kids is being able to get spare parts.  There’s nothing worse than it breaking and being worthless so it is a good idea with these scooters to go for good brand names as they often have spare parts available.

 

Fox Pro RAW Rang Stunt Scooter

This is a really popular scooter and comes in at about mid range in the price points of this review.  You get a really good and well made scooter for a really good price and that’s why it’s the first one in this list – my top choice.

There are a few different colours available – red as shown, purple, blue and silver/black but mostly it’s a really great and well built bit of kit.  For the price you’re getting a really good model, with high quality parts that’s also not too expensive should your child decide it’s not for them.  Highly recommend this one!

  • high quality parts  including 4 bolt collar clamp, internal compression system
  • variety of colours
  • Scooter weight – 3.6kg
  • Height – 750mm
  • Max Rider Weight: 80kg
Check the latest price here

 

MGP VX6 Pro by Madd Gear

This one’s at the top end of my price range I was sticking to but is a really good brand and so if your kids are serious about getting in to using stunt scooters it could be one they are asking for.

It comes in a couple of different colours too as well as the black shown above – click here to see them all.  It’s suitable for not only older kids but also adults too so if you’re worried about size being an issue it shouldn’t be.  It can also be cut down for use by a smaller child should you want that, although obviously it won’t have the longevity once your child gets bigger.

  • well known brand
  • for ages 8+
  • weight limit – 36kg – 100kg
  • scooter height – approx 80cm
  • weight – 3.76kg

 

check more reviews and the latest price here

 

Sacrifice Complete Stunt Scooter

Another good brand stunt scooter and again at the top end of the price range, this scooter from Sacrifice is a good choice for an affordable option.

Like the MGP scooter above it’s suitable for adults so if you have older kids or teens this one will definitely be ok for them.

It’s a much more subtle design this one and looks really plain in my opinion, but I also think that highlights the simplicity of it and doesn’t detract from what it can do of course!

  • good for adults as well as older kids
  • for ages 8+
  • weight limit – 100kg
  • scooter height – approx 82cm
  • weight – 3.8kg
see the latest price here

 

Stunted Kids XT Stunt Scooter

This mid range scooter is suitable from the ages of 8+ and comes in the blue shown above and also a nice red.

It would be a good choice if you are looking for a stunt scooter for younger kids who want to get started with tricks but who might not be ready for the adult ones as it’s slightly lighter than the others on this page.  It has some great reviews on Amazon as well as you can see by clicking below.

  • for ages 8+
  • weight limit – 100kg
  • scooter height – approx 80 cm
  • weight – 3.4kg
See more reviews and the latest price here

 

TBF Stunt Scooter XV Pro Street Tricks

Finally, and on the lower end of the budget is this scooter from TBF.  It’s probably the best cheap stunt scooter around and if you’re buying for a couple of kids and worrying about it getting expensive this might be a good compromise!  It’s got some really good reviews on Amazon so you can be sure it’s a good choice.

It comes in a variety of colours – Black, Blue, Green, Mint, Pink and Purple which again if you want different ones for different kids means you’ll know which one belongs to which child!  It is on the heavier side compared to the others in this guide and I think this is reflected in the cheaper price.

  • inexpensive stunt scooter
  • for ages 5+
  • weight limit – 100kg
  • scooter height – approx 79 cm
  • weight – 6kg
see the latest price here

 

 

The best stunt scooter accessories

You’ll not need need a huge amount of accessories for a stunt scooter but the following safety equipment and a ramp would be a great addition to a scooter gift.  Ramps are especially good to have in your garden to encourage more play outside and the practising of tricks in a safe spot away from others will be good for those kids with self confidence issues.

 

Rampage Double Mini Launch Ramp
List Price: £19.99
Price: £19.32
You Save: £0.67
Price Disclaimer

 

 

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