We've just got back from spending a week at Centre Parcs. We had a lovely time and were fortunate that the weather was on our side and we were able to make the most of all the nature around us. We went exploring in the forrest, got out on a pedalo on the lake (a nerve wracking experience with a bouncy 2 year old!), and saw squirrels, rabbits and even deer . It was so good to be able to spend time together as a family without the hustle and bustle of everyday life getting in the way. It also made me realise that in life it really is the simple things that make children happy, and actually you can have great fun for free if you make the most of the world around you.
Here are some of the things we got up to that are free and easy to do anywhere!
Feeding the ducks
It was great to be woken up by some excited ducks quacking on our patio and the children loved feeding them. It's a simple pleasure - you just need some old bread and then head out to your nearest park or lake. It's also nice for the children to learn to help animals by feeding them, especially as the weather gets colder.
Collect some nature for craft activities
You don't need lots of expensive materials to have fun doing crafts with the kids. You can take your inspiration from the natural world and see what goodies you can find. As there were a lot of pine trees where we were staying we decided to collect fallen pine cones to make some glittering Christmas decorations. You could also collect sticks, conkers, acorns and autumn leaves.
Design a nature trail treasure hunt
This is very easy. Just pick a topic such as animal footprints or leaves and trees. Then copy pictures of your subject from the Internet onto a worksheet. Children can then tick off as they find the items on the list. You could also make it into a treasure hunt by getting them to collect items that they find on their way such as 3 different leaves, an odd shaped stone etc. I find a prize for the winner is also a good incentive too!
Always a winner (especially as my children think it's poo sticks so it often entails a lot of sniggering at the 'p' word). Simply grab a stick, find a bridge over a stream and throw the stick in - seeing which one comes out the other side first.
After all these outdoor activities it's nice to warm up again with a real hot chocolate drink. This recipe is lovely and goes down very well with children (and it's a good way to get some milk into them). It's easy to make and provides the perfect end to a day out.
Ingredients to make real hot chocolate - serves 4
1 ltr milk
180g dark chocolate - grated or chopped
60g milk chocolate - grated or chopped
2 tsps sugar (or add to taste)
Optional: 1 vanilla pod and 1 cinnamon stick
Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and gently heat until the chocolate and sugar have melted in. Then remove the vanilla pod and cinnamon stick if you are using them and serve into mugs. Add some whipped cream and mini marshmallows and drink. The simple things really are the best!