5 fun Autumn activities

As the seasons turn I always like to have a think about the activities we have been doing over the last few months, and think of some new ways to entertain my girls in the coming season.

We are starting to clear the garden now, and while the bikes and scooters, and possibly even the sand tray will stay around throughout the winter, the water toys have gone into hibernation along with the sun loungers and picnic blankets.

Autumn is probably the most exciting season in terms of the senses. The colours, noises, sounds and even smells are just incredible and it is a season in which I do not find it hard to entertain my children. For this reason the these five activities are simple activities that require no planning, no shopping and no preparation, just wrap up warm and away you go! (I will be adding more activities in time so follow us on facebook to stay tuned.)

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  1. Make a leaf rainbow.

Okay so it wont be an accurate rainbow so to speak but the idea here is to collect as many different coloured leaves as you can. What you do with the leaves is up to you. Your children might take pleasure out of simply throwing them in the air and running about, or stamping on them to listen to the noises they make. Or you can use them to decorate your house with a beautiful leaf garland. [see here]

 

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  1. Teddy hide and seek.

Ask your children to collect lots of leaves into a big pile. This is an activity in itself and can keep them entertained for ages! Give little ones a bucket and send them round the garden, young children generally love collecting things so this will be a welcome task. Then simply hide some toys in the pile, depending on how old the children are you can vary the size of the toys you hide, making it more difficult the smaller the toy. Just remember to count how many toys you hide or there may be tears when they realise they have lost one!

 

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  1. Autumn seeds

Who didn’t collect conkers when they were younger? While conker fights seem to have gone out of fashion these days (partly for health and safety reasons) children still adore collecting nice shiny conkers. Sycamore seeds are also really popular. See here to find out what you can do with them…

 

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Encourage children to stop and listen to the world around them.

4. Sensory walk

Pop down to your local park and find things that will stimulate the senses. For example, stamp in some dry crispy leaves and listen to them crunching, look and see all the different colours on the trees, listen out for animals foraging in the under growth and see if you can smell any bonfires. Encourage children to sit quietly and take in their surroundings whilst doing this activity, it can be great after a really busy or stressful day. Alternatively, let the children dive into a pile of leaves and experience the senses in an active and engaging way.

 

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  1. Tree and leaf rubbings

Grab some paper and pencils and head outside, or collect some leaves and bring them inside, either way this is a fun and educational activity for children of all ages. Simply press the paper up against the tree bark, or leaves, and rub over it with crayons. This can be really fun if, as seen in the picture above, you can find funny shapes in the trees.

There are so many fun activities to do in autumn, and I will update this list as we progress through the season. If you have any activities you enjoy doing please comment below!

Make your own butterfly Garden

It’s that time of year when parts of the garden start fluttering, and butterflys can be seen dancing in the wind and lazing in the sun.  Whether you have a huge plot or a small terrace with just enough room for a few pots, with the right plants you can build your own butterfly haven.

What is a Butterfly Garden?

It is simply a sunny spot, filled with plants that specifically attract butterflies and are generally nectar-producing flowers. Butterflies are present in almost every region of the world, so with the right plants virtually any spot can become a haven for them.  Children will love spotting them fluttering about, and it can make a good game identifying the different types you see. If you are lucky enough to find one bathing in the sun, you can creep up, using one of our magnifying glasses and take a proper look. Be careful not to touch them though, butterfly wings are very delicate.

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So here are a few pointers:

It it good to have a variety of different plants that flower at different times of the year, ensuring a ready supply of nectar for your visitors.  In Spring good nectar providing plants are Cuckoo Flower (Ladies Smock), Forget-me-not, Wallflower, Sweet Rocket, Primrose and Daisies.  In Summer and Autumn, Budleia, French Marigold, Lavender, Ice Plant, Red Valerian, Michaelmas Daisy, Scabious, Knapweed and Ivy are all good. The seeds provided in our Butterfly Garden Grow Set offer a range of perfect flowers that are sure to attract butterflies into your garden.

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Grow set with everything you need to start your own butterfly garden.

Butterflies thrive in the sun and the plants that attract them are typically plants that require lots of sunlight. When choosing your location, look for an area where there will be plenty of sun throughout the day.

Try and pick a spot that offers good protection from the wind – Butterflies are delicate and like sunny areas with very little wind. By creating a sheltered garden you will attract more butterflies. You can do this by planting tall plants and shrubbery to act as a barrier around smaller nectar producing ones.  Choose plants that butterflies like to lay their eggs on too, they love cabbage plants but be careful as they will take over.  Perhaps if you are growing cabbages leave a few unnetted so the butterflies can lay eggs on those rather than your whole crop.

Most pesticides kill or repel butterflies so organic growing methods are a great choice for a butterfly garden. Choose an area where pest control isn’t necessary or where you can limit your use of chemicals.

Most importantly enjoy and protect the butterflies that visit! Encourage children to observe them in their natural habitat and talk about the vital part they have to play in our ecosystem. Butterflies are a beautiful part of the garden and one to be truly cherished.

5 reasons you should garden with your 5 year old around.

Gardening with children can be a challenge, and I have to admit that with my 1 year old I try to avoid it at all costs. The constant ‘no dear, slugs aren’t food’ or ‘stop it sweetie the beans don’t like being jumped on’ can get a little tiring after a while. However, my five year old has recently developed a liking for the garden, and the allotment, which I am so happy about. (You may remember when I started the Garden Mama website, this definitely wasnt the case, read here to find out more!)

So here are a few reasons why it can be really fun to garden with a 5 year old around:

  1. They make you laugh.

Whether it’s funny comments about how yucky all your vegetables are or just the sight of them trying to use the hoe that’s twice their size! When my daughter is around I am always smiling, and so is everyone else near us -she tends to have that effect on people.

  1. You will have someone to talk to.

It might be just me but like to talk when I garden. Mostly complete nonsense, so having a 5 year old to chat with is quite handy as the level on conversation doesn’t need to be too intense. A nice easy conversation about whether it would be better if the world were made completely out of flowers or lady birds is just the ticket when you are concentrating on other things.

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  1. You will try new things.

We have recently started searching for bunnies at the allotment in the evenings. On our first visit we saw two scurrying away rather guiltily from a plot near ours. Before taking her with me I would have thought they were nothing more than pests eating all the crops. To a five year old however, a wild bunny is one of the most exciting things they can think of, so now we will be eagerly awaiting their return -maybe I should plant some more lettuces?!

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4.It’s good for them.

To be outside, in the fresh air, connecting with nature is so much better for children than being cooped up inside all day. They learn so much about the natural world and will soon be eager to learn more. I am amazed at how many flower names my daughter knows now, she has actually taught me a few (I think my mum can take the credit for that!)

  1. You get to spend time together.

Just you and them, which for us, isn’t something we get to do very often any more. This is a totally selfish one on my part but I love getting my daughter all to myself, even if it’s just for an hour. Anyone with more than one child will know that while we love all our kids the same, it can be nice to spend quality time with them each individually. Since Lily started school last September, it is something I have really missed. Going to the allotment together in the evenings has become our little bit of time together, and what better surrounding could we have?!

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Even if you only go outside for 10 minutes, it is so worth it. More and more people are starting to recognise the benefits of being outside and interacting with nature, it is such a great opportunity to spend real quality time with your children.

I am trying to create a little garden for my daughter at the allotment to make it even more fun for her. Click Here to read my plans for that.

Lessons from a ladybird

The joy of finding a lady bird is a very simple one, and was one enjoyed by my daughter this morning. A year ago she might not have so willingly held it, as she has always been a little unsure of bugs.  This morning, however, she asked for it to go on her hand and after a little conversation about how careful she must be with it, I obliged.

She gently giggled at the tickling sensation, and gazed adoringly at the lady bird, before long, skipping off to find it some flowers to play on (still lovingly held in her hands.)

Here started the natural inquisitions of a five year old, and the subsequent lessons learnt. We chatted about whether it was a boy or a girl, after coming to the conclusion that we will never know as you can’t tell the difference (in her simple words) she decided hers was a girl. Males are hereby known as ‘gentlemanbirds.’

On she went, letting her ladybird crawl round the flowers she had picked for it, openly declaring that they were friends and would be together forever. I quietly continued with my work preparing some earth for her fairy garden,  (article to follow.)

After a while she decided to put the ladybird down, so we found it a nice leaf for it to sit on. She ummed and ahhed and I eventually left her reunited with her friend, only to soon discover her frantically searching and calling for it.

After another discussion with me about what ladybirds eat (what aphids are, whether they are good for the garden, if it will eat leaves and flowers etc) she had put the ladybird down and gone off to find it something to eat. On her return, she found that the her friend had abandoned her and run away. She was devastated and despite my attempt to comfort her, she felt utterly betrayed. ‘But I thought we were friends, that we would always be friends, but it wasn’t my friend, it left me!’ she sobbed into my arms. I let her mourn the loss of her little friend and she soon perked up, only to discover that the ladybird was simply hiding a few leaves down – reunited once more!

I seized my opportunity to talk to her about whether the ladybird was in fact hers, or whether it wanted to be wild and free. Luckily we have a fantastic book about this exact issue (see below) so I referred to that and after a little chat she seemed to accept that her little friend was in fact a wild animal and would be much happier remaining that way.

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This book explains very clearly the impact of capturing a wild animal.

Another string of questions ensued about how ladybirds have babies, I admitted my ignorance on the issue but we agreed that somehow baby ladybirds are born and she decided that hers was, in fact, a baby.

Not long after, the ladybird was to leave for a final time but this time, the loss was manageable. She lovingly laid a trail of leaves near where she had last seen it, in case it got hungry, happily declaring that it was probably going to live in our garden for ever and maybe even have more babies.

The whole experience cannot have lasted much longer that 10 minutes but I get the feeling a lot was learnt in that short time, I also feel the lessons learnt will last for some time!

 

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7 plants to grow with children

One of the best things about gardening with children is that it creates an interest that runs deeper than what plants look, smell or taste like.  When a child plants a seed and watches it grow they become attached to it. They learn, that aside from light, water and earth, plants also need care, attention and protection in order to grow. more “7 plants to grow with children”

Fun at the allotment

I have decided that the time has come for me to commit to making the allotment, as well as the garden, fun for my children, and that means sacrificing some space for them. All that is currently there is a big patch of soil, split into vegetable beds with horse poo on. It is not really surprising that my daughter doesn’t want to go! So, I have selected a space that I will give her, and will let her design it herself. 

more “Fun at the allotment”

Fingers: green versus pink and sparkly, every little girls dilemma…

I started my allotment when my eldest daughter was about 18 months old; with blissful images of her tottering happily along behind me while I worked, and then off we would go to enjoy our home grown produce together.

Sadly, and perhaps predictably, it was not to be. Visions of my green fingered angel soon evaporated as she trampled over seedlings, fell on the courgettes and wailed at the spots of mud on her skirt. She was an early talker, which meant she told me very simply “NO I wont go to the allotment” early too. At least there was no confusion about the matter…

more “Fingers: green versus pink and sparkly, every little girls dilemma…”