As the days shorten and the shadows lengthen we still like to get out and about together whenever we can for family walks. All our kids are good walkers but they have not always been too keen to set off; the idea has occasionally seemed unappealing and they have needed a bit of persuading!
One way to encourage little walkers out and about is to take Treasure Boxes with you to collect foraging finds as you go. My daughter has copious pockets and is frequently to be seen with her nose almost touching her toes as she overloads herself with stones, shells and large pieces of driftwood or struggling along, pockets bulging lumpily with pine cones, conkers, fairy cups and beech nuts. Treasure bags and boxes have prevented her from doing permanent damage to her spine over the years by limiting her (when I remember to take them) to a few select pieces usually with a plan in mind for when we get home. The boxes can be as simple as a shoe box or as grand as a specially made wooden chest and I always keep birthday and Christmas gift bags which are usually strong and look glamorous enough to be worthy of treasure. We have, of course, resorted to plastic bags but they don’t create the same frisson of excitement!
As they have got older we try to remember to take a camera to take photos of things which catch our eyes as it is the things we see which hold their interest rather than the things they gather. The mobile phone is a godsend here as I always have it with me and I chose one with a good camera above everything else. The children have become good photographers and amateur naturalists and are really good at looking carefully as we walk to spot the unusual. They are very lucky to have a little person of their own to share all this with! Bonus Boy is always a willing listener when his big siblings are showing him the wonders of nature! (especially if it’s gruesome involving blood or poo or something a bit scary or dangerous!)
When they were all younger we did a lot of leaf rubbing, made sculptures, collages and mobiles (and I am really enjoying all this again with Bonus Boy!), we have made fir cone creatures, jams and jellies, twig people and a banquet for the fairies. We have climbed trees and played We’re Going on a Bear Hunt through mud and meadow, we have imagined we are wizards, fairies, giants and elfin folk and we have found dens and built our own.
But my Daughter and I have a favourite thing; we like to collect and press leaves and flowers and collect feathers and seeds so that we can make gorgeous costumes for fairy folk.
Our favourite book to share together is Fairie-ality: The Fashion Collection from the House of Ellwand which is a gorgeous fashion collection designed for Faery folk made entirely from natural objects such as feathers, flowers and leaves. It is an incredible book and has given us hours of pleasure! In the picture above (which we gave as a wedding card) I drew the head shape and a pencil line body to help with perspective but my daughter did the rest – isn’t it fabulous?!
Here are some ideas to get kids treasure hunting over the next few weeks:
Sunday 10th October is the date for the World Conker Championships so get them out collecting and hold a tournament of your own
The Big Draw takes place throughout October every year, take sketch books and pencils on a walk and get drawing
With Halloween approaching take them on a wand hunt. Can they find a special stick which has been dropped by a tree and is waiting for a witch or wizard to pick it up? Whittling the tip with a pen knife (and adult supervision/help) when you get home and designing a wand case is great fun!