Beach Faith

During the Christmas break our little family enjoyed a week away at Coffs Harbour.  The kids and I particularly enjoyed the time we spent on the beach together (while SquiggleDad was sleeping in!)  We collected shells and pebbles, built sandcastles, explored the rocks, watched birds, and chased waves.  I grabbed a “teachable moment” to spontaneously talk to the kids about God too… Continue reading

Bug Hunt

My kids are energetic.  Very energetic.  I think most happy, healthy kids are – but it’s good to slow them down sometimes and help them to notice life’s little things.  One way we like to do this outside is to go on a bug hunt.  There are interesting insects and other small creatures all around, but often we don’t notice them because we are too busy.  Open your child’s eyes to the wonder of bugs! Continue reading

Embracing Winter Days (like Dirtgirl)

Lately I’ve been hearing a message I really dislike:  Keep your kids out of the winter weather.  I’m not sure where the message is coming from, or why.  Of course we have to make allowances for weather, but there is no need to keep kids indoors.  Outdoor play is an important part of a child’s day – every day.

Almost a year ago to the day, I wrote here on the blog about Playing Whatever the Weather:

I don’t think we can expect children to tolerate extremes of temperature they are not accustomed to, but I do think they should be able to enjoy outside time in their home climate.  For my kids, temperatures range from about 10 degrees celsius in winter, through to around 35 degrees in summer.  Winter play means wearing lots of layers.  The days start chilly, but do warm up and beanies need to be replaced with sunhats.  Winter play doesn’t mean staying inside with the heater on.  Summer play means sunscreen, hats and sun-safe clothing.  It also means drinking plenty of water, and playing out of the sun during the hottest times.  Summer play doesn’t mean staying inside with the airconditioning on!  Ok, yes there are days when I use the heater in winter, and the air con in summer – but we don’t stay trapped inside and I always find the kids have more fun outdoors.

A year on, I am nodding along to my own words. My opinion hasn’t changed.  I still think it’s important for kids to get outside, whatever the weather.  Next week the school holidays start, and I know it will be a great opportunity for my two munchkins to play together outside.  Here’s what a typical home day in the winter holidays looks like for us (with the morning routine relaxed because we’re not in a rush to get to school):

  • 6:30 – 7:30 Breakfast
  • 7:30 – 8:30 Get dressed, brush teeth, make beds, do morning jobs
  • 8:30 – 9:30 Play inside (or help Mum with housework)
  • 9:30 – 10:30 Morning tea and outside free play
  • 10:30 – 12:00 Creative activity together, preferably outside (anything from painting to playing pirates!)
  • 12:00 – 12:30 Lunch
  • 12:30 – 1:30 Quiet Time in bedrooms (read or rest)
  • 1:30 – 3:30 Outside free play or continuing activity and afternoon tea
  • 3:30 – 4:00 Pack up sandpit, outside toys, creative mess
  • 4:00 – 5:30 Play inside, TV on (while Mum gets dinner ready)
  • 5:30 – 6:15 Dinner and bathtime
  • 6:15 – 7:00 Stories and BED

It’s a pretty fluid schedule – times are just there to give you an idea. You can see though that the kids can easily have three or four hours outside during the warmest parts of the day.  I know that some days they will have extra time outdoors, because they’ll be keen to get outside straight after breakfast despite the chill, or because they’re still hunting for dinosaur eggs at 4:30 and haven’t noticed the temperature dropping!

I don’t mind the tv going on in the late afternoons at all.  I know that the kids have had lots of outside time, and they’ve usually had enough of each other by then.  We’re all getting tired, crankiness creeps in, and I need to get dinner ready.  And what do I put on? Dirtgirlworld of course!

Dirtgirl knows that winter is wonderful outside.  She loves winter’s nourishing soups, rugging up in lovely warm clothing and gumboots, and making the most of the sun when it’s out – even if it’s just for a little bit.  Me and Dirtgirl? We’re so on the same page.  Even when my kids are watching tv, they are getting the message that outside is where the fun is at.  Dirtgirl and Scrapboy give my kids ideas for tomorrow’s play, and encourage them to get their boots on and head outside all over again.

Thanks to my friend Dirtgirl (and the gang at Madman) I have five amazing prize packs to give away. Each one has the Winter DVD, as well as Dirtgirlworld’s Spring, Summer and Autumn DVD collections!  To win all four seasons DVDs, just leave a comment below sharing what your kids like to do outside in WINTER.

Usual rules apply: Aussie residents only, one entry per person, winners drawn randomly, comp closes Sunday 26th June 6pm Qld time.

If you’re a fan, you might like to follow Dirtgirlworld on facebook and twitter, and check out all the cool stuff starting to happen on their blog too.

Family Getaway

Where do you and your family go when you really need to get away from it all?  For us it’s the rainforest.  When I’m there my heart rate slows down, my brain stops buzzing quite so loudly, and feel like I can breathe. We have just returned from a wonderful week away at Springbrook.  Here’s what a fun but refreshing family holiday looks like for us.

Bushwalking together (Miss 4 walked 4.6km on her own!)

Early morning bird watching with Mummy.

Photographing AWESOME bird life.

(This is a male Golden Whistler pachycephala pectoralis)

Exploring caves.

Climbing trees.

Discovering new creatures.

(This is a Land Mullet we found while bushwalking)

Venturing behind waterfalls.

Making new friends (Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary)


Capturing rainbows.


What’s your idea of a great family holiday?

What do you and the kids enjoy doing together?

Any other rainforest-loving, bird-watching, rainbow-chasing families out there??

Water Spray Play

Spray bottles are a regular play item in our backyard during the warmer months, but with Autumn in the air it’s been a little too cool for this:

So instead I’ve been encouraging the kids to use the spray bottles differently. They’ve enjoyed using them to water in new plants, and lightly mist delicate fern leaves.  They’ve had fun squirting them high into the air.  Most of all, we’ve enjoyed creating water spray art together.  Continue reading

Backyard Lifecycles

We {heart} our nature cubby.  Not only does the leafy roof provide shade for the dirt kitchen, but it also provides a home for many garden creatures.  The plant is a Monkey Rope Vine (Parsonsia straminea).  Monkey Rope is common around Brisbane, and it is an interesting (and fast growing) vine thanks to its adventitious roots.  These are roots which come out of the branches and stems of a plant.  Monkey Rope is also one of the host plants of the Common Australian Crow (Euploea core) butterfly. Continue reading

Fantastic Fungus

This summer has been so damp here in Brisbane, and while the resulting mould inside the house is NOT fun, the fungi growing outside has been amazing!

The great thing about having multiple species in one area is that the kids have been able to compare them.  We’ve been able to talk about

  • colour
  • size
  • shape
  • smell

and identify similarities and differences.  We haven’t touched the fungi in our yard.  Many species are harmless, and most are only problematic if eaten, but I cannot guarantee that a 2yr old (or even a nature loving 4yr old) will keep hands away from little eyes and mouths.  I am particularly cautious with red and yellow species as these are often “danger” colours in the Australian bush.

My blogging friend and educator Juliet from Creative Star Learning in the UK has some thoughts on children and fungi, and whether or not kids should be encouraged to touch. Please note that her recommendations are for Scotland though and NOT for Australia.

Without doubt though, the best species we have had in our yard is this one below.  It is definitely from the Stinkhorn family (Phallaceae or Dictyophora of some kind I’m guessing).  Stinkhorns grow from a button just below the surface, and stink like rotting meat when they emerge!  Miss 4 can tell if one is around the second we walk outside.  Flies and other insects are attracted to the stinky slime and swarm around.  They aren’t small, yet seem to pop up over night. Absolutely fascinating.

What do you think about investigating fungi with kids? Does the idea interest you, or disgust you? Would you have called this post Fantastic Fungus, or Freaky Fungi?!!