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1,000 Hours Outside

1,000 Hours Outside* is a goal that aims to give children lots of free play time outdoors, the goal being to spend 1,000 hours outside, in a year. One of the benefits to being outside is that nature provides a rich sensory environment which helps children rapidly develop. There are lots of other perks too, such as increased physical movement, extra vitamin D and less mess in the house.

We love this initiative but it’s definitely a challenge as it equates to almost 3 hours every day 😲 Right now we don’t even step foot in the garden some days, but we’re taking on the challenge and have jotted down a few ideas to make it a bit easier, we hope 🤞

Mud kitchen – These don’t have to be elaborate. Some old plastic containers, hand soap pump bottles and pots and pans (not your best) from the kitchen will do.

Scissor skills – Our eldest is practising her scissor skills right now so we’re going to put her to work on finally deadheading the big hydrangea.

Toys for outside play – We’ve got some traditional outdoors toys but we’ll also be leaving a few Lanka Kade figures in a basket by the backdoor for our little ones. These toys are robust enough for a slight shower and a bit of mud and will hopefully inspire a bit of creative play outside without being too prescriptive.

Painting stones – One of the great thing about being outside is that mess is less of a problem, so we’ll be using our water-based paints to decorate stones.

Sensory play – Sand all over the grass is way less of an issue as it is across the living room floor. Along with the sand we’ll be taking out some pieces from our Bamboo building set so the girls can tip and pour to their hearts delight.

Finding new local walks – We’ll be using the Ordnance Survey App and our local council’s site to track down new trails, along with asking other people for inspiration in our local Facebook Groups.

Walking supplies – There are a few essentials such as decent footwear, clothes, drinks and snacks but we’ll also be packing some old bags and tubs to collect some foraged bits & bobs as well as taking along a magnifying glass.

Viewfinders – We’ve created these from bits of cardboard in the past but also take a look at some of your child’s toys, we’ll be using some of our rainbow and sensory blocks to inspect the great outdoors through a different lens.

Treasure Hunts – These don’t have to be kept for special occasions like Easter, why not grab a few of your little one’s favourite things and hide them around the garden with clues or jot down a list of things to spot on your next walk, we often go shape hunting on the school run.

Adventure stories – We’ll be looking to our bookshelves for inspiration for outings, Bear Hunt springs instantly to my mind, but inspiration might come from the most unlikely of places in a children’s story.

When it’s wet (as it so often is)

Yes wet weather days are probably going to be the toughest to reach the 3 hour target, but we’ll make up for the shortfall on nicer days. Apart from puddle jumping the day away what else is there?

Changes – One thing the rain (and snow) certainly does is change things outside, things sound different, look different, feel different and even smell different. Aside from asking questions like ‘what sounds can you hear?’ and ‘what looks different in the rain?’ we’ll be taking some everyday objects outside and seeing how the wet weather affects them, does the rain run off, soak in, change their shape or size, make them soft.

Building a den – Obviously one for nice weather too but in the wetter weather we’re going to attempt to construct a den out of our picnic blanket or something a bit more water-resistant than an old bedsheet. It’ll probably all come crashing down around us but that’s kind of part of the fun.

Whatever happens don the puddle suits and keep telling yourself they (and you) are not made of sugar.

We’d love to hear any ideas you have for keeping it interesting and inspiring us to get into the great outdoors a bit more.

*for more info about the 1,000 hours outside initiative and to download some handy printable tracker sheets pop on over to 1000hoursoutside.com

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