As a child, we could spend hours in the garden, climbing trees, digging in the sand, making caves out of sticks and just getting downright dirty and having so much fun.
When I look at my kids now, the closest they get to nature is probably the gorgeous forest screensaver on our TV. There are so many digital distractions in our world these days, and this, together with apartment living and small or non-existent gardens at home, makes getting out into nature more challenging.
But this Winter, I’m going to change all that. We recently published an eye-opening article that confirms that dirty kids are healthy kids and it highlights that exposure to dirt helps children’s immune systems. So it’s time to get out into nature and get grubby.
We are so lucky that we have the most gorgeous parklands and botanic gardens at our doorstep and some warm jumpers to keep us toasty, so there is absolutely no excuse to stay indoors.
Here are some of the activities we’ll be doing this Winter to get our fill of vitamin N(ature):
1) Bushranger Skills
I love the idea of my kids learning the basics of how to survive outdoors. Many of us enjoy our rustic holidays so I think it’s so important to teach our children some foundation bushranger skills. These Winter School Holidays, Centennial Parklands is hosting two kinds of Campfire Club programs. The first is Kids Vs Wild, where children will learn the art of campfire creation, using only the resources around them. They’ll then get to make and bake damper and stick bread. (11 & 16 July: 1pm – 3pm ).
In the Bushrangers program, kids get to enjoy a day of wildlife, bushcraft, outdoor challenges, games and free play plus firecraft – where they will learn how to light a fire from a spark without matches and make some delicious dampers. (10 & 17 July: 9am – 4pm).
There is also the Kids vs Wild: Survivor program at The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, which looks action-packed and amazing! This will be a morning of survival games, animal tracking, and trail making. Make a mud map and follow the nature-based treasure hunt whilst having an awesome time out in the Garden. (8 & 18 July: 10am – 12pm)
And of course, the little ones aren’t forgotten. Toddlers and Pre-schoolers have their own Taste of Bush School program for a morning of fun in our mud kitchen at Centennial Parklands. (2, 11 & 16 July: 2.5 – 5 years).
2) Cooking In Nature
So many kids believe that all our food originates from the shelves of supermarkets. So I think it’s wonderful to expose them to programs that teach them about edible ingredients in the wild and how they can use these to make delicious dishes.
I’ve already enrolled my kids into the Pizza Party in the Bush at Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan. During the two hour session, kids will learn all about native Australian plants and how they are used by Aboriginal people. They will put all ingredients together to make your very own yummy pizza, from materials right around them in the gardens. (10 & 17 July: 10am – 12pm).
Centennial Parklands also have a similar Bush Pizza Program on 15 July from 10am – 12pm.
3) Get Creative
My kids love doing art classes during the school holidays but rather than stuff them into an indoor studio for a day, they much prefer to get creative outdoors in nature.
These holidays, I have my eye on the Kids Aboriginal Art Program At Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. This interactive workshop is run by Aboriginal educators and is packed with hands-on fun to create Aboriginal art using a range of materials. Kids will learn about the different styles of Aboriginal Art to help them create their own unique art piece. (15, 16, 17, 18 & 19 July 2019, 10 am and 12.30 pm)
Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan is also offering an Aboriginal Art Class. Kids will learn contemporary Aboriginal art techniques and culture and tap into their creative talents to paint an Aboriginal art-style souvenir of their own while gaining an understanding of local Aboriginal culture through the stories of traditional culture and customs. (10 & 17 July, 1pm – 3pm).
My kids are also keen on learning the art of weaving and basket making at the Aboriginal Weaving Classes at Centennial Parklands. Kids will learn how to create baskets and tools using materials in the park. (8 July, 10am or 1pm).
The Weaving classes are also being held at Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan on 9 July, 10am or 1pm.
4) Fun In The Garden
Many of us don’t have large gardens for our kids to spend hours exploring. It’s just so important for kids to have some free reign in nature but it’s not always possible to give them these opportunities. Which is why I am outsourcing the outdoor fun to a much MUCH bigger garden these school holidays.
The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney are running two fantastic programs these school holidays, which kids will absolutely love. In Mossy Monsters, kids will go in search of the topiary Australian animals hidden in the Garden. They’ll find out how these unique animals rely on plants to survive in the Aussie landscape and make their own cool ‘Mossy Monster’ to take home. (8 – 12 July & 15 – 19 July 2019, 10:30 – 12:00pm OR 12:30 – 2:00pm).
Garden Grubs is an all-day school holiday program full of fun and adventures in the Garden. Kids spend the day exploring the garden and connecting with nature. There’s arts and crafts, cooking, music, games, outdoor play and so much more. Each day has a different theme – NAIDOC WEEK, Christmas In July And Bugs & Beasties. (9, 11 & 12 July)
5) Nature Theatre
I love taking my kids to theatre – it’s such a brilliant way to expand their cultural horizons and give them an appreciation for the arts.
These holidays, The Blue Mountain Botanic Garden Mount Tomah are hosting a unique performance called Ned Kelly and The Gang. Join some of Australia’s notorious and dangerous bushrangers and the people in their lives in this interactive performance looking at how they survived in the wild Australian environment while on the run from the law. (9 & 10 July: 10:30am & 12:30pm).
The same performance, called Ned Kelly And Co. is also on at Centennial Parklands at 12 July.
Join me these Winter holidays, in ditching the screens and getting the kids outdoors in nature.
How are you going to get the kids outdoors these school holidays? Tell us in the comments below.