Saturdays when I am not at work are always the best. I work alternate Saturdays in a children's library - which I love to death - but nothing beats a Saturday at home with my own children. There's always an adventure waiting for us.
We do, ironically, spend a lot of time at our local library with our kids at the weekends, whether I am working or not. Reading is something I am very passionate about, and I am keen to foster a love of it in my boys.
Plus, it's free! And anything which is free for children to do at the weekend should be coveted.
The library is always such an exciting place for my kids - they ask about it over the week with an air of awe, as if magic lived behind those large wooden doors; which it does, of course (I am in no way biased).
'Mum, are we going to the library at the weekend? I really want to get a new book on Space!' Tom will ask, eager to learn more about his current school topic.
Or, from Ethan,
'Mum, I go to abary to get Bear Hunt Book?'
Ethan is currently obsessed with the Michael Rosen/Helen Oxenbury book We're Going On A Bear Hunt. It accompanies him in the car, in bed at night and even to nursery. We of course have our own copy, but Ethan still loves to get it every time we go to the library, and no amount of persuasion will advise him otherwise!
One afternoon he sat with the book on the couch and the video with it on YouTube, delighting in being 'read to' by the wonderful audio/visual and squealing with delight every time the bear emerged from the cave to chase the family home. It's a really funny video and lovely for wee ones.
After the library, we usually do something fun, and now that Spring is finally upon us (kinda), we are spending loads more time outdoors.
I'm loving the age that the kids are at just now - old enough to be slightly more independent and still young enough to just enjoy a tramp around the woods, with no agenda (another fab FREE activity!)
Everywhere we go, Ethan uses his imagination, and the rest of us get in on the act. He really does just delve right in, and we have had great fun doing all sorts of things together in the most random of places.
Today we find ourselves at Reres Hill in Broughty Ferry. If you've never been, Reres is a very old place, dating back to the pre-Victorian era. It sits nestled amongst new and old houses alike, along a busy main road and is mainly used by dog-walkers. But when you are in amongst the trees, you really could be in the middle of nowhere.
It was somewhere I went as a child with my grandparents, as a walk to the top of the hill takes you to one of the best, and most little-known viewpoints in Dundee. The path to the top is worn and not maintained and a lot of trees are very old and gnarled. Which is awesome - it's great having a feeling of untouched nature or a kind of 'lost age' in the middle of suburbia.
A lot of the root-structures of the trees look like this! And stretched out over the hill, they make excellent footholds when climbing up the steep path, let me tell you!
Someone's also planted some beautiful daffodils, which, as bulb plants do, have spread throughout the park to give a stunning display. The kids have christened it 'The Daffodil Park'.
So, we might have looked batshit-crazy to the few dog-walkers who happened to be marching their pooches through the park that day, but hey, when you have a small child with you, anything goes, right? Or, that's what I'm hoping!
Because...We're Going On A Bear Hunt!
The good folks over at PlayTalkRead.org ( http://www.playtalkread.org/making-play-part-of-your-day) advocate that any play with your child is good play - children build so many skills from playing in places like this, and adding in Ethan's knowledge of We're Going On A Bear Hunt gives us total brownie-points for his literacy development.
|My wee Hobbit|
|Dad saves the day!|
For maximum bear-hunt affect, we took the dog with us. He's 18 now, and not half as lively as he used to be, but he still enjoyed a good sniff around the woods. Doesn't he look great for his age? Here he is enjoying a particulary awesome smell. He might be slightly more blind and deaf now, but there's nothing wrong with his sniffer!
|Sparky's nose knows no age!|
We ran through those woods, we climbed the hills, we jumped out at each other from behind the bushes, we 'found' the bear and we screamed and ran from the bear. We had a great time!
Of course you don't have to go to the woods to re-enact your own Bear Hunt with the kids. We do this in the house, we sing it in the car, in the garden - the possibilities are endless! Most times we skip to the end bit - you know, because being chased by a bear is very exciting. Letting your kids explore and go wild with their imaginations is one of the pleasures of having children - you never know where they are going to take you. Like the magic that lies behind those library doors, the stories, the possibilities, the opportunities are endless.
|Ethan found the old path to the top in the end!|
If you are looking for some inside Bear-related fun, check out these FREE printables from WordsForLife and the Literacy Trust: http://wordsforlife.literacytrust.org.uk/bear-hunt
One thing's for sure, we WILL be going on a Bear Hunt again...and again, and again, and again!