setting up camp

Hands up! How many of you survived Half Term without the aid of technology? Parents everywhere seem to bemoan the amount of screen time their children subject themselves to these days. I am one of them but my children will tell you that I am happy to engage in the occasional battle. They are used to 'going cold turkey' from technology. Yes. I was the mother who included a (beautifully-wrapped) funky kitchen timer along with their much longed for pre-loved laptops at Christmas. Strict instructions on use also included!

For parents who need a helping hand to prize their darlings away from ipad or xbox, enter a fairy godmother in the shape of Dawn Isaac. Dawn is a Chelsea medal winning garden designer, mother of three and author of the informative and witty 'Little Green Fingers' blog. She knows a thing or two about how to package and sell 'the outdoors' as a desirable commodity, providing children with a veritable cornucopia of low-cost, high-fun things to do outside. 101 things in fact, from racing snails* to igloo building and plenty in between. Activities are helpfully arranged into seasonal and location-specific groups, easy to do and will provide hours of entertainment. 

This book is aimed at children who have lost the art of messing about outdoors without parental interference - or who never had it in the first place. Each activity is engagingly presented, beautifully photographed and written specifically for children. Parents can stay away and let them get on with it, though a sneaky peek will give the 'olds' a few ideas for 'wild time' parties and teachers the resources for creative outdoor play with youngsters in the early years at school.

Published by Kyle Books and available from Hive, Amazon, The Book People and all good booksellers. I even saw it in the National Trust bookshop at a South Wales tin mine last Monday!

Well - that's children sorted out. You didn't think I'd let parents and teachers get off scot free, surely? You need a tech break too. Try the late Elspeth Thompson's 'The Wonderful Weekend Book' - another gardener who understood the benefits of getting outside. Her book is packed with ideas to 'reclaim life's simple pleasures'. Do it. We can all benefit from paring down, reconnecting with the seasons and switching off.

And for long lasting reconnection plant a flower patch of course.

snail racing team marked up and raring to go

The snail racing team all marked up and raring to go!

* Some ideas may even be translatable into fundraising opportunities for your school summer fair! Last year at Sara's village fun day one of the highest profit and most popular stalls was a snail racing stall entirely organised and run by some of the village children. It was so popular it will be back by special request this year! Young eco enterprise at its best! Sara is hoping the snails don't race to eat the flowers on her flower stall! Oh! and that's another reason for schools to grow flowers - to sell at your school fairs and cake sales and PTA events etc etc! Cally's school garden group have been busy planning their marketing strategy for their school flower stall at their fundraising event. There'll be more info on this soon. Suffice to say they are loving the real life experience of running a business that they are gaining through Our Flower Patch. 


 Nature walk bracelets Dawn IssacDoing the laundry Dawn Issac Sweeping for bugs Dawn Issac

Photographic credit to Will Heap & Kyle Books.