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Enjoy the great outdoors this summer

PUBLISHED: 16:46 30 July 2018 | UPDATED: 11:33 03 August 2018

Den building with Beyond Escapes Picture: Tony Charnock

Den building with Beyond Escapes Picture: Tony Charnock

Tony Charnock

Over a third of parents say their children don’t play outside enough. Here are some ideas to coax them out of the house

Picture the scene. It’s the 1980s, and a young girl is making mud pies, in between rescuing worms and letting snails travel up her arm.

The girl is me – I loved playing in the garden in the summer, and I hope my daughter will too as she grows up.

But over a third of UK parents – 36 per cent in fact – don’t think their children spend enough time playing outside, according to a recent study.

The study of over a thousand mums and dads found that although they remember climbing trees, den-making, playing hide and seek and making mud pies as youngsters, they think their children don’t get outdoors enough.

The amount of time playing outside has halved since the last generation. And although 32 per cent of those questioned have built dens with their children during the past six months, they have been mainly been made from sheets, curtains, chairs and towels – indoors, in the lounge.

In fact, just over half of all dens are now made at home in the bedroom, playroom or lounge.

The study was carried out by Beyond Escapes, which has launched a new wild den making initiative BE Wild! For each den built and photographed at Beyond Escapes, the business will make a donation to Save the Children.

If you’re keen to get your children den building in the own garden, follow these steps from The Wild Network and Beyond Escapes:

Find: Locate your perfect den spot

Forage: Source the material you want to use to make your den

Foundation: Pick your base tree to build your den around

Frame: Construct your den frame

Finesse: Add the final personal touches to your den

Fun: Think of games to play in your new den

Friends: Make den friends and have lots of adventures

Other outdoor activities

Need some more ideas on how to get the children out into the garden this summer? Here are nine to get you started:

• Lie back on a rug and star or cloud gaze

• Make some wild flower perfume

• Make a sundial with sticks and stones

• Cook marshmallows around a campfire

• Try to find that elusive four-leaf clover

• Make a mud pie

• Play a game of Poohsticks

• Take off your headphones and tune into nature and write down what you can hear

• Make your own bird feeder and see how many different birds you can spot

Beyond the garden

East Anglia boasts some beautiful outdoor spaces, such as beaches, parks and nature reserves. Spend a day visiting one or take part in one of the planned activities taking place over the summer. Here are some ideas to try:

• Go rockpool rummaging at West Runton Beach on various dates over the summer. £3 for Norfolk Wildlife Trust members, £3.50 non members, plus car parking charge.

• Hunt for painted pebbles on Felixstowe beach. Rehide them and go home and paint some of your own to hide on your next visit. Share your finds on the Felixtowe Finds Facebook page.

• Go crabbing at Walberswick.

• Find out about edible plants in Rendlesham Forest then sample some treats made from foraged foods. For adults and accompanied children aged eight and over on Thursday, August 16. £10 per person.

• Follow The Highway Rat activity trail at High Lodge, complete activities and interact with the forest. Site entry fees apply. An activity pack is available from the café for £3.

• Go on a barefoot walk around Foxburrow Farm Nature Reserve on Wednesday, August 15, and find out what’s living beneath your feet. Suitable for six to 10 year olds, £7 per child.

• Visit RSPB Strumpshaw Fen during the holidays for Wild Fridays. At the drop-in events, there will be bug hunts, pond dipping, wild art, crafts and games. Adults £4.50, children £2.50.

• Birdwatch in Christchurch Park, Ipswich.

• Head off on a family nature walk at RSPB Minsmere on various dates over the summer. £3 per child, plus usual entry fees.

• Meet the native wildlife and rare breed farm animals at Earsham Wetland Centre.


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