10 close-to-home (but amazing) outdoor adventures to do with your kids this April
Spring has arrived.
And while we might not have that Spanish heatwave they promised us just yet, what we do have is April. And the occasional sunshine. And some rain. And plenty of puddles. Green parks, the beach, the woods – in other words; everything you need to have some great outdoors time and plenty of adventures with your kids.
Hailing from Scandinavia myself, I'll be the first to admit I am all about the benefits of outdoor play for kids. It can literally do wonders, not only for their general health and fitness, but also for their mood, their mental health, their energy and their imagination
We recently sat down with with mum of one and Cork blogger, Louise O'Connell, who recently teamed up with TK Maxx (seeing as they are a great spot for kitting out the kids for whatever the outside can throw at them this spring) to talk al fresco play and what the heck to put the kids in when the weather is all over the place.
Here are her top tips to inspire some great outdoor adventures this spring:
INTO THE WOODS…
1. Woodland Walks
Ireland has so many wooded areas that are easily accessible and free of charge to enter. Why not head off with the kids to explore the one that’s closest to you. We like the ones that have a looped walk. Stop at the map at the entrance to the woods to let the kids plot your route and discover the way out. Many of the walks are colour coded which is a great way to build up their confidence and let them practice their reading and colours along the way.
A waterproof coat is a must for outdoor activities. I go for a light raincoat with a hood in a basic colour that will go with anything. These are easily folded into a backpack and do not take up much space. Look out for the ones that are packable and fold into the pocket or a pouch – super handy!
2. Nature Scavenger Hunt
Make a list of some of the nature items found in Irish woodlands. From acorns to pinecones, daisies to daffodils, be as creative and adventurous as you wish and let the kids find as many items as they can. Consider giving each kid a little backpack or small bag to collect their treasures in.
Wellies are a must-have for outdoor excursions or else waterproof / thermal boots with grips will ensure there’ll be no slipping and sliding!
3. Champion of the Woods
Pick 3 of the wooded areas you like to visit the most and take a scavenger hunt list with you to each one. Whichever wooded area the kids can find the most scavenger items in wins the ‘Woodland Champion’ prize. This activity can go on for a few weeks and is a great way to get the kids out of the house when they have extended time off.
SEA SIDE ADVENTURES…
4. Beach Fun
Beaches are always somewhere the kids are guaranteed to find endless hours of fun. When it is too cold to swim we love to wear our rainy-day gear and paddle on the shoreline, build sand castles, collect seashells or even skim stones along the waves. With the right clothing, beach time is not limited to sunny days and the kids will love the novelty of it.
We sometimes seek out beaches when the tide is out so we can discover what is in the rockpools. This may take a little bit of research on your behalf but the options are endless. Depending on where you go you can expect the kids to find rock fish, shell fish, crabs, star fish and maybe even some shrimp.
6. Scavenger Hunt by the Sea
A beach themed scavenger hunt is also enjoyable. Get the kids hunting for as many different seashells as they can find, different sized rocks and even different shaped seaweed. We have a collection of pebbles at home from all of the beaches we have visited over the years.
Look for several layers that can be removed as your child warms up during play. Remember you will be outdoors, you may not be able to nip back to the car or run home to change, so be prepared.
7. Garden Games
You don’t always have to travel, simply get out into the garden after the rain for some unlimited fun. While the ground is still wet, encourage the children to explore - you can even search for ladybirds and caterpillars to make the adventure all the more exciting! Use a magnifying glass to see what little creatures you uncover.
8. Marshy Meadows
You may live near fields or marshland. One of our favourite activities as children was to find a large pond with frog spawn. We would visit every week or so and watch them turn into tadpoles and then into frogs.
Most cities now have large parks that are geared towards kids. Know that local playground that is busy on sunny days? Why not take them there on a wet day. With the proper clothing kids can play on wet slides and swings without the fear of ruining their clothes. Jump in puddles, get mucky – they'll love it.
I don’t like too much black in Finn’s wardrobe but I do find darker colours practical. Therefore, we usually opt for greys, navy or burgundy. They hold the dirt well and can be mixed and matched with lots of other colours.
Consider buying a size ahead. Things like trousers often come with adjustable waists so you can alter it as they grow. Legs and sleeves can be turned up and you’ll see the true value from an item of clothing if you get lots of wear from it.
10. Snap Happy
Finally, if you have none of the above available to you, you can still encourage your kids to get outside. Consider buying each child a disposable camera. They are inexpensive. Create a photo scavenger hunt whether it’s an item beginning with L or something yellow. Get outside with your list and mini photographers to explore. Get the photos printed and make a scrapbook of their adventure to get a second day of activity.