After our frozen bubbles experiment was a flop in the snow last week (you need much colder minus temperatures I think!) and the temperature started to rise I was keen to recreate one of the children’s favourite outdoor activities from last year’s lockdown.
I’ve yet to meet a child (or adult!) who doesn’t love bubbles and our activity allows the children to get involved with the preparation as well as the activity itself.
First, we took an old plastic bottle out of our recycling (wide neck bottles work best for smaller children – we used a popular sports energy drink bottle). I then used scissors to cut off the bottom of the bottle (the area it would normally stand upon). The kids choose an old sock (finally a use for the ever-mounting pile of Daddy’s odd socks!) and carefully pulled it over the cut edge of the bottle (adult supervision needed if the plastic bottle is sharp after cutting). We secured it on with the elastic band but that’s not a necessity. At this point, you can decorate your sock bottle if you wish however my children are always keen to get to the main event.
Using a bowl we mixed washing up liquid and a little cold water (there are no exact amounts here just experiment a little) and dipped the sock end of the bottle into the liquid. When the child (or adult as I couldn’t resist!) blows into the bottle, a long wavy bubble snake will appear out the end. A couple of blows into the bottle will produce a good-sized snake which will eventually float away! You can add some paint or food colouring onto the end of your sock to make rainbow snakes too! The kids love this activity and when done outdoors the wind can carry the snake high and far.
There is increasing evidence that spending time outside can help children to be less anxious and improve self-esteem and I’m always on the lookout for activities that support their current interests. Whilst out chalking on a dry day my son starting tracing around his feet to make footprints (an idea which was born from his love of the invisible boy in his favourite show at the time). It then sparked my daughter’s interest as she lay on the ground and her brother drew around her. They spent a long time colouring in their silhouettes (great use of fine motor skills, patience and turn-taking) and my son added details such as his heart and facial features. Afterwards, they drew around my body and decided to turn me into a monster (amazing use of imagination and creative thinking).
Spring is in the air this week and all around we can see signs of nature peaking through the previous snow-covered landscape. This gives a great opportunity to go for a walk and talk to your child about how their environment changes with the seasons (lighter nights, spring flowers, festivals and celebrations). A great way to engage your child with their natural environment is through a scavenger hunt, whether looking for/collecting one particular colour in nature, various colours or seeking differing textures. We choose a nature hunt online and set out in our local park. This allowed the children to explore their environment and view it in a new way. We often recreate this by playing I-spy if we are in the park for unstructured play.
Being in nature is not about planning much or organising too many structured activities. Most importantly, it’s about encouraging your kids to get outside to explore and experience all that nature can offer.
We would love to hear about your favourite outdoor activities especially those for spring days! You can get involved by tagging @drbellsfamily on social media in your outdoor pictures!