Rainy day, outdoor play

This Blog was originally posted on outdoorchildren.co.uk, during the dismal spring of 2012 – thought it stood the test of time, so here it is again!

Rainy days can be a challenge for families who like being in the fresh air, so with the UK ‘enjoying’ the wettest spring for a century, this seemed like a good time to put the Hahahopscotch sou’wester on and get this Blog started with some rainy play ideas.

So, does this rain mean that we need to stay in and watch telly for the rest of 2012? No! Absolutely not! Wellies were invented for a reason (early 19th century, by the way), so pull them on and get out there.

Rainwear: classic, funky, improvised

But having mentioned wellies, it seems only fair to point out that this year Wellington Boots have evolved into Splats, a new type of footwear that is puddle-tastically waterproof, but also light enough to still be comfortable if and when there are sunny breaks in the downpours. (www.thesplats.com)

That said, don’t get too caught up in having the right gear, because great fun can be had designing your own wet weather protection. No kid is too cool to have a go at making their own anorak (no instructions needed, give them a bin bag, sellotape and a pair of scissors, then step back). Perhaps best worn only in the back garden though …


Puddles … bubbles

Anyhow, whatever you’re wearing, have you realised that puddles weren’t just made for jumping in? (And let’s not even speak of those who walk nervously around the edges.)

In fact, puddles are perfect for bubbles! Just pour in a pot(ish) of bubble mixture, stir with a stick or a toe, and watch the domed delights appear, ready for prodding, puffing and popping. And if you are lucky enough to have wind as well as rain, the effect will be even more frothy and enchanting! We are fortunate that the pavement in front of our Secret Den HQ has a big tarmac dent – we leave a splash of bubble mixture in it and love the post-downpour magic of the bubbles appearing all by themselves!

Puddles … paperboats

But, hey, don’t stop at bubbles. Puddles are also just crying out to have a little boat floated in them. Kids in a hurry can grab a leaf, stick a twig through it, and bob’s your uncle, but those with time to spare can have a lovely time making and decorating a vessel out of paper. The key to successful paperboat making, in our mind, is to not get too caught up in the exact engineering of every fold and design detail, otherwise eager minds soon get frustrated and lose interest.

Hahahopscotch’s Officially Endorsed Paperboat Manufacturing Method is:

–        take a piece of A4 paper and fold it down the middle into a card shape.

–        take the two corners of the folded edge and fold them downwards to make a triangle shape. Leave an untriangled flap at the bottom.

–        Fold up the untriangled flap on each side, to seal your triangle.

–        You should now have what looks like a boat shape, but one that has been flattened by a steam roller. Gently pull the bottom edges of the boat to puff it out into a 3-dimensional craft.

–        You now have a perfectly adequate paperboat shape, ready to be refined or decorated as you see fit!

(PS If your puddle is too shallow for sailing in, just fill a saucepan, bucket or somesuch container.)

But enough of these instructions! The best outdoor play is enjoyed when children are allowed the freedom to improvise, to get muddy, and to probably also be a little bit silly. Don’t forget, even if you wrap children from head to toe in cellophane, they will still find a way to get wet … but they do dry out!



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