Notes from MAma:

Very useful tips! I’m just going to add one more tip – Don’t forget your water bottles and stay hydrated!

Via The Wilderness Society: Take your kids hiking: 10 tips to make the adventure fun for the whole family

Hiking with kids is a great way to get them connected to the outdoors at a young age, but it can also be intimidating for the parent planner.

We challenge you to get the kids in your life out on the trail this summer, because part of preserving wilderness for future generations is teaching youth to appreciate and enjoy nature. Here are ten tips to help:

Keep it easy & feature-friendly.

For at least the first few times, select a hike that isn’t too long or too strenuous – remember that for kids, the hike is about the experience. Picking a trail that has some features – be it a lake, stream, waterfall or something else will keep kids occupied and give them a goal to reach. And remember, it’s about the journey not the destination. If your child is more interested in getting down on his or her hands and knees to explore the undergrowth, then that is the experience for the day – there will always be a next time.

Time is your friend – so plan for lots of it.

Kids are natural explorers and want to pick up and touch everything. This is one of the greatest things about hiking – there’s so much of the natural world for kids to discover and examine – make sure they have time to get their wilderness fill.

Prepare for anything.

This pretty much goes for any hike, regardless of whether or not a child is involved. Always make sure to pack the 10 Essentials. Additional kid-friendly supplies are: wet wipes or tissues; lip balm; binoculars; magnifying glass; field guides (to point things out to kids); camera; and safety whistles for each child (and teach them what they are for and when to use them).

Dress for success.

Layers, layers, layers. Make sure that you take ample amounts of clothing in case your child gets chilled while out on the trail. Always bring rain clothes – aside from the wet weather, they can also be great windbreaking clothing. Don’t forget hats and gloves for everyone – even in the summer, mornings can be chilly. Make sure your kids have adequate hiking shoes, depending on terrain, this could range from sandals to tot-sized hiking boots. Finally, always pack a change of clothes for each child and leave them in the car for your return from the trail – chances are your children will be wet or muddy!

Plan frequent energy stops.

Hiking requires a lot of energy. Energy-sapped kids often equate to cranky kids. Keep your child happy and motivated by taking numerous small breaks for fluid and food. You can also use energy breaks as a way to keep your child moving by saying, “at that footbridge, we’ll take a break and have a snack.” Chances are, by the time they have had that snack, they will be eager to continue. Also take a medley of snacks in case your child becomes a picky eater out on the trail.

Pick a leader and make sure to rotate.

Kids love feeling like they are in charge. Having the children take turns leading the hiking group can help the kids feel empowered – just make sure that the leadership rotates or this could lead to arguments further down the trail. By allowing the kids to lead, you can also make sure that the pace is slow enough so they can keep up.

Make it fun!

The key to hike success is to keep the kids motivated and having fun – so why not combine the two? Create games that you and your children can play out on the trail. Have them look for signs of wildlife (scat, bird holes in trees, fur) or count wildflower species. Organize a scavenger hunt and have them find things are bumpy, smelly, small, big, living, wet…the list goes on!

Believe in the power of positive reinforcement.

This is something parents excel at and it shouldn’t be left at the trailhead. When hiking, go overboard in telling your child how well they are hiking, how strong they look and how fast they are – even if they aren’t. Kids need to hear that they are doing an awesome job, especially if it’s their first time out on the trail (I’d say adults need this just as much, really!).

Leave no trace.

Kids are future stewards of our public lands, so we might as well begin teaching them how to take care of those spectacular wild places at a young age. When out on a hike, make sure that all of your trash is collected – taking a gallon size zip-top plastic bag always works well for this – the “pack it in, pack it out” concept is fully embraced on our trails. To further reinforce this idea, you could also take a small garbage bag and have the kids pick up any litter they see on the way back to the car. While taking a break, make sure to examine the area and see that everything is in its place. If your child dug a hole with a stick, cover it up again before you leave. For more information on Leave No Trace, visit www.lnt.org.

Hike often!

Start a family tradition of going hiking one or more times a month. Kids love the sense of adventure and doing something new. There’s a wide range of trails, terrain and sights for children to behold. With kids spending a good chunk of their time indoors during the week, hiking on the weekend is a perfect way to get them outside – be it an urban park or wilderness area trail.

Now that we’ve shared some of our trail tips with you, we’d love to hear from you! Tell us your tip to taking kids hiking!


Via The Telegraph: Outdoor kids: creative ways to enjoy your autumn garden and get your children off the sofa

Autumn is a magical time of year, with its glorious golden hues, the inevitable glut of apples, blackberries and pumpkins, and the promise of Bonfire Night looming large in the diary.

But as children get stuck into their schoolwork and we return to our routines after the heady days of summer, it’s all too easy to forget the joys of spending time outdoors. However, the benefits of playing outside are well-documented (and that goes for adults, too).

A National Trust report recently stated that the UK as a whole is suffering from a “Nature Deficit Disorder”. Meanwhile, according to Forest School Training, children and young people are stimulated by the outdoors with overwhelmingly positive effects. So, here’s how to make the most of the garden at home during the autumn:

1. Build a hedgehog house

Hedgehogs are struggling to survive, and their numbers have fallen below one million in the UK – down by 30 per cent in just over ten years. But according to the Devon Wildlife Trust, we can easily make a crucial difference in our own gardens.

Make a start by downloading the Trust’s hedgehog home-making guide and take a look at their advice on nesting sites and making water safe, and even learn how to create a ‘hedgehog highway.’ It’s a wonderful way to learn about natural habitats.

2. Sign up to Earthworm Watch

Earthworm Watch is a free UK-based citizen science project which helps families to exchange screen time for time digging into the wonderful world of earthworm science. It’s a collaboration between the Earthwatch Institute (Europe) and the Natural History Museum in London. The data collected in spring and autumn, when earthworms are most active, contributes to scientific research.

3. Get crafty

It may seem a rather simple suggestion, but the opportunities to get creative with leaves and even sticks are boundless. According to Ordnance Survey, who recently launched their popular #GetOutside initiative, finding golden, amber and scarlet leaves should be a part of every childhood.

After identifying the leaves and trees you come across with the help of Forestry Commission England’s tree name trail, try making a leaf crown, leaf rubbings, or even incorporating them into sewing back at home. Back in July, the creative crafting area at family-friendly festival Latitude even had a stick art zone, where baskets full of lovely fabric, ribbons, wool and even flowers were provided to weave and wind around fallen branches and twigs – elevating the humble stick to a piece of art.


You could also practise making Christmas wreaths (the Royal Horticultural Society have a brilliant how-to guide) – although there’s nothing to stop you making an autumn wreath instead.

4. Wood carving

Whittling and carving is, of course, an age-old pursuit. It’s also hands-on and extremely therapeutic. Carving for Kids: An Introduction to Woodcarving by Robin Edward is a good place to start to get the hang of the basics.


Both Muddy Faces and the Forest School Shop have kits suitable for younger children (a great gift idea, perhaps, for any child who is looking to get into bush craft or enjoys outdoor activities – if you’re organised enough to be thinking about Christmas already).

The Forest School set comes with a range of animal-shaped stencils to use as a guide and for practice, and everything you need to start whittling straight away is included. They also have a range of other tools included axes, bill hooks, bowsaws and wood saws – so you could even take it a step further and have a go at chopping firewood.

5. Make a mud kitchen

Muddy Faces provides Forest Schools and outdoorsy families resources for play and learning. These include an intriguing ‘A – Z of mud play’ and ‘creepy crawlie recipe sheets’, as well as extracts from their book ‘Making a Mud Kitchen.’

“There is little more important in our physical world than earth and water and they are truly intriguing things, especially when they interact,” the book explains. “Mixing soil, water and a range of other natural materials has a foundational role in early childhood which has deep importance and endless possibilities for well-being, development and learning.”

6. Head in the clouds

Do you know your cirrus from your stratus? If not, it might be worth checking out the Field Studies Council’s Guide to Clouds, which can help you and your family to identify them quickly with the help of colourful illustrations.

CREDIT: RII SCHROER/AURORA CREATIVE

The Field Studies Council is a registered charity committed to helping people of all ages to understand the environment, and to be inspired by the natural world. Their Garden Safari wildlife pack is another great resource for identifying wildlife and engaging with the natural world you can access in your very own back garden.

7. And beyond…

If you’re still hankering for adventure elsewhere, here are some of the best playgrounds to combine with a visit to a historic garden – perfect for making the most of a precious autumn weekend.


Via Lifeopedia: Six Tips for Teaching Sports to Kids

The Benefits of Sports Activities for Children

Sports provide many benefits to children. The games teach children teamwork
and help them develop a commitment to something bigger than themselves. However, you want to ensure that you introduce sports to your child or children in a positive and life-affirming way. That way, you can make the sporting event a pleasant experience for everyone.

Six Tips for Teaching Sports to Kids

Different sports require different skills. However, there are certain steps you should always take when introducing kids to the world of sports play. These steps include the following:

1. Plan your sessions in advance.

It is helpful to introduce the sport slowly rather than just jumping into a game. For example, if you are teaching a child to play baseball, then you might want to start with learning the fundamentals of catching, hitting and pitching before you delve into all of the rules and regulations of the game. You should introduce the skills slowly and have short sessions where kids can practice fundamentals. Plan these sessions in advance so you know what activities you will be covering and what information you want to impart.

2. Get the necessary equipment.

While you don’t want to spend a ton of money on equipment until you are certain that your children will enjoy the sport, you do need to ensure that you have the basic equipment needed to participate in the sport. You can often buy used sporting equipment inexpensively online, in local classifieds or resale stores.

3. Teach safety first.

One of the first lessons that should be taught to kids is how to participate in a sport safely. Explain the basic rules of the game and the fundamentals of safety when participating in sports. Be sure to explain the importance of any safety equipment or pads that may need to be warn during play.

4. Start teaching the basics.

At each sporting session, you can spend a little bit of time on the basics of the game. You want to ensure that the kids have a good time and do not get bored by mundane practice drills. This means you will typically want to have several different activities at each session, focusing on a different aspect of game play. For example, you may plan a four minute warm-up, followed by four minutes of throwing and four minutes of catching. You can then try a catch and run activity. Both explain how to do the essential tasks of the game and illustrate the essential skills by showing the kids what they need to do. Then, give the children lots of time to practice each skill, gently offering suggestions on how to improve their technique.

5. Work up to game play.

Once the children understand the basics of how to play a game, introduce playing in a low-pressure way. You typically do not want to keep score right away. Be sure that every child on the team has a chance to play and to enjoy the sports experience.

6. Sportsmanship.

Focus on being a good winner and a good loser. Kids need to know that not everyone is going to be great at sports, and that they cannot win every game. It is important to teach kids how to be gracious whether they play well or play badly.

Keep in mind that while adults tend to be competitive in nature, unlike winning being at the top for most adults, children are playing for fun (depending on the age). For most children, fun is listed as the top reason for participating in sports. The goals of sport participation at a young age is to stay active, stay fit, learn new skills and valuable lessons such as good sportsmanship and establish a healthy competitive nature.


Via Everyday Health: 5 Tips for Trampoline Safety

Trampolines can provide hours of outdoor entertainment for kids, but they can also cause hours inside the ER if you’re not careful. Follow these safety tips.

To many parents, a trampoline may seem like an innocent way for kids to have warm-weather fun, but if the right safety tips aren’t followed, your amateur gymnast could bounce right into the hospital.

According to the most recent statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 87,000 kids in the United States visited the hospital in 2009 for a trampoline-related injury. In fact, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has warned against the use of trampolines in any home, school, or playground setting.

Most childhood accidents from trampolines occur in the upper extremities, such as the arms and wrists, says Meghan Imrie, MD, a clinical assistant professor of pediatric orthopedics at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Stanford, Calif. “It comes from falling improperly,” Dr. Imrie explains. “When you fall, your first instinct is to put your arms out in front of you, so that’s the area with the highest risk of injury.”

Other injuries can occur, too, such as sprained ankles and leg fractures. Though rare, there have also been reports of spinal cord injuries that resulted in paralysis.Younger children are the most likely to be injured because of their smaller size.

“Kids younger than 6 are lighter, and they’ll be the ones to sort of fly off if the bouncing gets too intense,” Imrie says. “Also, they don’t quite have the coordination and balance to protect themselves. There is a place for trampolines in a kid’s life, but it’s important to take steps to decrease the risk of injury.”

Many childhood accidents from trampolines are due to carelessness, and the majority of them can be prevented with a few precautions. Follow these safety tips the next time your kids want to head to the backyard for some bouncy fun:

Read the manual.

Follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions when assembling and using the trampoline. There may be maximum weight limits, for example, or specific methods for assembling the frame.

Pad it and lower it.

The bars framing the trampoline should be adequately padded to prevent bumped heads, and the surfaces around it should be cushioned in case of accidental falls. Lower the jumping surface closer to ground level, too; a fall from a higher surface means a greater risk of injury.

Keep trampolines off-limits to young children.

The AAOS advises against trampoline use by kids younger than 6. Remove ladders or any other devices that might allow young children to climb up by themselves.

Always supervise trampoline use.

Even older children should be watched while using the trampoline to prevent horseplay. Don’t allow jumpers to perform somersaults and other risky tricks without expert instruction and protective gear like harnesses.

Institute a “one-at-a-time” rule.

For maximum safety, only one child should be allowed on the trampoline at any given time. This keeps kids from being tossed around.“When you’re jumping with someone else, your timing gets thrown off,” Imrie explains. “You get their momentum as well, which can send you up higher in the air.” However, Imrie adds, part of the fun of a trampoline is bouncing with someone else, so if a multiple-bouncer situation is unavoidable, you should at least make sure that the kids are evenly matched in terms of weight and height.

There is no definitive answer on whether trampolines are safe to use, though caution is a must if you greenlight the activity. “It’s a trade-off between having fun and learning balance and coordination,” Imrie says, “and the risks that are inherent to using a trampoline.”


Via Parents: 19 Tips for Camping With Kids

Leave the screens behind and pitch a tent at your nearest campground for a nature-filled, home-away-from-home your kids won’t forget.

New at This? Camp Like a Champ

Stick to these do’s and don’ts when camping with young kids for the first time.

Don’t rough it. Car camping, in which you drive up to your campsite, is the way to go.

Plan ahead. Campgrounds, especially those in national and state parks, fill up quickly. Best to book six to nine months in advance. ReserveAmerica.com is the largest provider of campsite reservations in North America.

Conduct a test run. Try sleeping in a tent in the backyard first, suggests Vicki Wright, Girl Scouts of the USA Outdoor Initiative Lead. Take notes as you think of things you’ll need on a full-blown trip.

Rent a tent. Or borrow one instead, advises Wright. Public parks often have programs to lend camping equipment. You can also rent gear from websites like OutdoorsGeek.com.

Don’t overpack. Most people bring too many clothes, says Toby O’Rourke, of Kampgrounds of America. Leave the “just-in-case” items at home and know that you can re-wear things.

But do pack for all kinds of weather. Even if it’s hot during the day, the evenings can be cool—so bring an extra layer or fleece pullover/pants for nighttime, suggests Tom Kimmet, general merchandising manager at REI. Don’t neglect rain gear!

Unpack and set up camp while you still have light. Get the kids involved with a chore, like gathering kindling. Set up the tent first. Then, if you’re planning to cook over a fire, get it going right away (see our tips below).

Don’t be overambitious on Night 1. If you’re arriving at the end of the day, plan a super-simple meal.

Stick to your usual routine as much as possible, especially with young kids. Follow the same bedtime rituals and nap schedule to ensure a good (okay, a decent) night’s sleep.

Don’t unpack your devices. Leave the tablets at home, dig out your digital camera (or forgo pics), and stash your smartphones in the car for emergencies.

How to Build a Campfire

A roaring campfire is half the fun of camping—that is if you can get the darn thing lit. (Pro tip: Buy wood at the campsite. Many don’t allow you to bring from outside their forest.) Follow the advice of Tom Kimmet of REI for fire-building success:

  1. Bring some newspaper for kindling, and pack more than one source of fire, like matches and a lighter (in case one fails you). Fire-starters such as nontoxic Lightning Nuggets can also help start your blaze.
  2. Make a square using four large pieces of dry wood. Then put a pile of crumpled newspaper in the middle.
  3. Create a tepee shape of smaller wood pieces (#2-pencil size) inside the square of logs, directly on top of and around the newspaper kindling.
  4. Crosshatch mid-size pieces through the tepee in a #-shape.
  5. Light two or three sides of the bottom edge of the crushed paper to start.
  6. Keep adding to the # as needed to keep the fire going.
  7. Before you go to sleep, drown your fire with a 5-gallon bucket of water.

Breakfast Camp Bread

Whether you make homemade dough or cheat with biscuit dough from a can like we did, this campfire-cooked bread is a hit with kids. Simply stretch and wrap the dough around one end of a long, clean stick. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. Cinnamon-Sugar Mix for a hint of sweetness. Grill above the coals for about 5 minutes.

Pack Like a Pro

Check out our Ultimate Camping Packing List for a full list of everything you’ll need for a camping weekend with kids, including must-haves, nice-to-haves, and little luxuries. Plus, don’t forget these items that Parents editors and their family members say they couldn’t live without:

“I pack scissors to easily open packages of food, but I’ve also used them to free cords of wood and cut rope into a laundry line. I know a real outdoors woman would use a pocket knife, but I feel safer with scissors!” admits entertainment editor Jessica Hartshorn.

“Bring a winter hat,” says Declan O’Connor, son of senior editor Gail O’Connor. “At night it can get really cold, even in your sleeping bag.”

“I always pack a long rope to rig between two trees, where we hang wet stuff to dry—and also food, if we’re in an area with bears,” says deputy art director Maria Stegner.

“Forget instant coffee. I recommend a French-press coffee mug,” says editor-in-chief Dana Points.

“Come prepared with extra heavyduty garbage bags,” advises food stylist Stephana Bottom, who uses them to bag up sooty camp cookware at the end of the trip.

“Don’t leave home without a spade or small shovel,” warns executive editor Chandra Turner, who notes that you may need it for discreet bathroom trips.

Don’t Forget Lighting

The latest camp lights have extra functionality, like charging electrical devices or repelling bugs. No matter what types of light you choose, make sure you have multiple sources.

The lightweight Scout Lantern creates a 15-by-15-foot mosquito-free zone while also illuminating your campsite.

The mtnGLO Tent Light is a 100-inch strand of LED lights encased in nylon tubing, which clips to your tent frame.


Outdoor Playground

If you are thinking of what are some of the physical activities for kids you can start with. Think no more. It’s actually so much easier to get kids to exercise than adults. Rule of thumb – keep the fun, play and fit will follow!

Children’s Playground

An outdoor playground, is one of the best place to start. With all the running, jumping, climbing and stretching, to them it is all play but for us adults those are exercise for kids.

So, if you have one near you, go out and let them play! Let them be explorative and imaginative. Encourage them create their own games and enjoy their self-made little adventure. All we need to do is follow their lead. It is really that simple.

However, if they are stuck in a rut and no one’s moving. They’re all mopping around which may never happen obviously if they are at a playground. But just in case it does, here are some playground games using the equipments to spice things up:

Playground Olympics – The whole family can participate in this. The rules: You have to go through all the playground equipment (swing on swings, slide down slides, climb all the bars and rock the seesaws), and whoever gets through first wins. Repeat couple of times till tired or bored. If you have small kids, even you can get a workout by helping them with the equipment.

Standing Swing – Your child likes a bit of a challenge. This is how you play: Have your child stand with both feet on the swing and hold tightly onto the chains with both hands. For an older child, challenge core strength by encouraging him to get himself swinging independently.  For younger child, gently push and see if he can keep his balance and tolerate the sensory experience of swinging while standing. Stay close to your kids when they do this.

Monkeying Around – Monkey bars are always very popular with the older kids. Kick it up a notch by timing how fast your child could complete the bars. In no time, he will want to challenge his personal best time.

Role-playing Ground – Playground equipment are awesome for the role-playing games. Imagine it to be a spaceship, a castle or maybe mountains with waterfall! Sky’s the limit. Let their imagination run wild and you can play along too!

Ok, so enough of the reading for now. Go on move along now and enjoy your day out in the sun!


 Kids Exercise

We live in Southeast Asia where it is mainly tropical-hot and humid all year round with plenty of rainfall. Yet with that much of sunshine, it’s so surprising to find out that there is a rise in vitamin D deficiency particularly in young children. The lack of Vitamin D in children can potentially cause rickets, delayed motor development, muscle weakness, aches and pains, and fractures.

About 80% of vitamin D is made by our skin when it is exposed to sunlight. Only a few food naturally contains vitamin D like fresh fatty fish (salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines), liver, mushrooms, cheese, egg yolks and fortified milk. *According to Professor Geok Lin Khor, International Medical University, Malaysia insufficiency levels of vitamin D are predominant among the primary school age children aged 6-12 years ranged from 30% to nearly 70% in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, depending on urban-rural locations and gender.

While we are not concluding that the lack of vitamin D in children and obesity correlates, but studies have shown that obesity and diet-related diseases are making its way to the tropics. Could it be due to our lifestyle? Are we focusing too much on education that our children are spending more time in sedentary activities and have less or no outdoor activities? *** Download our FREE “Fight the Flab” ebook for more information.

Benefit of vitamin D

Vitamin D helps our body absorb calcium for bones to grow, develop well and stay strong.

There are many indirect health benefit from the sun for children. By taking them outdoor for regular exercises and physical activities:

    • Reduces their risk of developing type 2 diabetes
    • Helps boost their immunity
    • Improves their metabolism, lowering risk of obesity
    • Facilitates better sleeping
    • Makes them feel good because exercise releases HAPPY chemical called endorphins

So what are you waiting for, time to take them outside and say “Hello Sunshine!”.

IDEA: Not sure where to go? Take them to The Playground. Be sure to teach your children about Sun Safety.

Reference

  1. ILSI Southeast Asia Region Seminar on Vitamin D in Nutrition and Health – PDF document
  2. Should we include a reference to our ebook here?