Recording and observing

I’ll admit that I’m struggling to get my kids outside lately.  The house is starting to get chilly and we’re getting those first colds of the winter and all we want to do is snuggle up and watch a dvd!  I know we do feel so much better if we do get out, but it can be so hard can’t it?  I must try harder!

One idea I had that would be good to keep connected with nature even if you don’t want to get outside too much would be to start recording some data.  I’m thinking:

  • the times of the sunset each day,
  • the date of the first frost
  • the date when your favourite tree starts to change colour
  • perhaps when you stop seeing bats at night if you have them near you or hedgehogs
  • a graph of temperatures
  • any visitors to your garden

Just a couple of ideas there and if you look again next year you can see if any dates are wildly different.  What we used to do, although it was more in the summer when hedgehogs were out was to put food out and keep a note of the times the hedgehogs came to visit.  It was really interesting to watch!

So just a quicky update here.  Sorry for the absence!  I’m going to practice what I preach though and start recording some visitors to our garden to renew the excitement of the outdoors :)


Photography challenge 2 – All the colours of nature

So the challenge for the last couple of weeks has been to get outside and try and capture some colours in nature with the camera.  We wanted to try and get every colour in the rainbow, or maybe even a rainbow itself!

Unfortunately no rainbows were to be seen when we had the camera, so we headed ot one evening and had a lovely walk in the fading sunshine, which just made for some lovely pics.  Here is what they came up with.

DS (age 12)

Red poppy


Pink / Red


Green holly leaf red edge


Blue sky with diagonal plane trail



And from DD (aged 10)

Red leaf with brown


Birds foot trefoil yellow


Blackberry green leaf sun through


Plae train in the blue sky


Purple lavender


cluster flowers pink


It was amazing the colours that were found when we took the time to really look up close.  Who would think that holly leaves would sometimes have an edge of colour all the way round them?  Or that those white flowers look a beautiful pink when you look close.

Summer is the perfect time to see the riot of colour so why not take the camera out and see what you can find?  If you want to link up with me then leave me a comment and I’ll add your link into this post.   Huge thanks to Jax from LiveOtherwise and Big for their contributions from their camping trip last week!

Also if you want to try out our last photography challenge then look here where we were exploring patterns in nature.

So next challenge?

We’ve been really enjoying this challenge, it gives up focus to have a nice walk out and slows us down to look for things.  So, the next theme will be WATER!  Rain, river, stream, sea, puddle, splashes – what can you find to take a picture of in nature?



Star gazing – Perseid Meteor Shower

There’s nothing like gazing up at the stars to while away an hour or so on an evening.  It can make you feel so small and insignificant, but in a good way!  In August there is an amazing meteor shower that comes round each year called the Persei Meteor Shower.  (or more likely in this house they get called Percy wotsits!)

This year, in 2012, the peak of the shower is from August 11th to August 13th so if it’s clear skies then do have a look outside.

  • Make an evening of it perhaps?
  • Grab a picnic blanket and lay on the ground looking at the sky.
  • Maybe set up a tent in the back garden and have a proper evening outside.
  • Or just wrap up warm with blankets and sit on the chairs and have a good natter while looking at the stars!

image credit – Evosia (flickr)

While you’re out there you can try and identify some constellations.  Two of the easiest ones I think there are to find are the Plough, which is like a giant scoop, and Cassiopeia which is a little bit like a W.  I think this year I’ll aim for us to recognise something new.  We’ll take it a little bit at a time!!

The BBC have a good guide on their site too which, if you’re like me is great as I need all the help I can get when it comes to stars!  But really spotting a shooting star is easy and oh so satisfying, so when they predict up to 60 an hour you’ve got to give it a go and see if you can see some eh?  Plenty of opportunities to make a wish as well.

I’d love to know i you see any, do comment or keep in touch on Facebook or Twitter!


Ten ways to get kids outside when they hate nature!

Some kids really do not like nature which although is a shame, is just part of us all being individual.  So what kinds of things can you do if  you want to get kids outside but they hate bugs, birds wildlife?

Here are my top ten ideas:

  • Get on your bike

with TeamGB’s cycling successes this year in the Olympics what more inspiraton do you need to get out on bikes with the kids?  Finding a nice park that you can ride safely is a good idea if you have complete beginners before trying out riding on roads.

  • Geocaching

Geocaching is great fun and gives purpose to walks outside.  If you have a smart phone then download the app and give it a go.  Kids really enjoy the hunt.

  • Climb a hill

Go for a proper hike with maps and learn a little about how they work.  Perhaps find a big hill nearby and go on a walk to the top?  Maybe see if there are any geocaches around while you’re there.

child climbing on rock in Peak district

  • Trampolining

Big trampolines are getting ever more popular in gardens now and are perfect to get some fresh air and expend a little energy!

  • Find an outdoors water park or have a water fight

Many large parks have water areas you can paddle in.  Pick a gorgeous day and it can be refreshing, but perhaps a little busy.  Or why not get the water pistols out and have a water fight?

  • Gardening

Anyone have green fingers?  Maybe set aside a small patch and see what you can grow.  Flowers or vegetables, it doesn’t matter.  The sense of achievement when you see something grow is amazing!

  • Beach Art

If you happen to have a beach nearby or you’re on holiday by the sea then why not give some beach art a try?  Find shells, stones, seaweed and make a picture.  Small or big, just give something a go!

  • Stone skimming

While you’re at the beach, or perhaps a lake take some stones and see if you can skim them.  I am completely rubbish at this, but my DS loves doing it and is getting really good! If you ever see me do it though, perhaps don’t stand too close ;)

  • Photography

Take a camera outside and see what you can take a picture of.  It doesn’t have to be nature – find buildings with funny angles or watch some watersports on a lake and try and get a pic of some sailors or wind surfers!  You can always take part in our photography challenge too.

  • Picnic in the garden

This is my fall back plan.  We often have lunch outside, read stories, listen to music and just relax.  Getting outside doesn’t have to be exhausting ;)



Getting involved with Wildlife Surveys

One thing that was introduced to us last year was wildlife surveys and they can be a really great way to give focus to a walk or, if like me, there are only so many times you can walk round the country park nearby without getting bored!

Yesterday while were were out walking and taking photographs for our challenge we noticed there were loads of butterflies around.  We tried to take pics of some but it’s hard to get up close!  It gave me an idea for another day out though as I had seen on twitter that it was time for the annual Big Butterfly Count.  I remember trying to do it last year and we really struggled as it was so rubbish weather!

So today the sun was out and we got out early.  The idea with this survey is to spend 15 minutes somewhere and count what butterflies or day flying moths you can see. You can print of an ID chart and really it is the simplest thing to do.

It made me realise hw sketchy my identification skills are but we managed to ID quite a fair few butterflies using the chart and can add to the records that the Butterfly Conservation team are working on.  The Big Butterfly count is on until the 5th August so it’s not too late to join in.

I’d encourage anyone to give surveys a go! A great free and worthwhile activity.

We had a lovely walk as well, which is great, I love having this chance to chat and be with the kids.  On the way back we saw loads more butterflies including a gorgeous blue one that M tried and tried to get a picture of:

We’ve never seen a blue butterfly near us so that was a lovely end to our walk.

There are many surveys that kids can get involved in through the year, you might want to check out these links:

RSPB garden birdwatch (happens in Jan/Feb)


Swift survey