30 Days Wild- Nature and Art for Kids

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Yesterday’s 30 Days Wild found me strolling around one of my favourite places, the National Trust’s Anglesey Abbey, which luckily for me is just up the road. Normally I go just to have a wander and an explore but yesterday I had a purpose. I was feeling creative and wanted to have a think about the role of nature in art, especially with children. I am a huge believer in helping children see the links in the world and I think linking art and nature is a wonderful start. Not only does it help the children be creative but it also gives them an opportunity to observe nature in a bit more detail and from a different perspective.

As I was exploring I came with these handy ideas for getting children to think about art in nature.

Explore texture/ colour / shape

Once I started looking for interesting textures, colours and shapes in the nature of Anglesey I couldn’t stop finding some gems. I even filled up my SD card with pictures! Getting children to photograph what they see would be a great way for the children to observe the nature around them. You could get them to focus on finding different shapes in nature of different colours of the rainbow? Depending on the age of the child you could give them a range of different things to look for that use their senses. These photos could then be used back home to generate their own art work using different textures. Have a look at some of the photos below for some starter ideas.

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Look at the smoothness of this bark. It just calls out to be looked at and remarked upon. Whenever I wander around Anglesey I always happen upon someone remarking on its smoothness and colour!

These pictures would be good for looking at patterns in the world around you. These patterns could then be recreated back home. Warning- pattern spotting can be quite addicting!

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You can’t beat Spring and Summer for a lovely bit of colour! (ok, ok Autumn and Winter has some beautiful colour as well!) This would inspire me to do a bit of colour mixing to try and recreate some of these stunning colours. This would also be an ideal opportunity to find out what difference it would make if you used different paints and materials. How can you create different strengths in colour?

Sketching

You don’t have to have all the art fun at home! Get the kids to take their sketchbook with them and do some on location sketching. This would also be a great task for their nature journals!

Come back later in the month when I will share some more creative ideas for combining art and nature! Have a great day!

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30 Days Wild 2017

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If you have been following the Daylight Explorers for a few years you will know that we are big fans of the 30 Days Wild initiative led by the Wildlife Trust. As someone who craves a regular wander around the woods or gets excited to see a ladybird land nearby I can’t help but love another reason to get outside. So it is with great delight I signed up for this year’s 30 Days Wild. For those of you who are new to 30 Days Wild here is a very quick overview!

“Make room for nature this June – no matter where you are or how busy your life! When you sign up to the challenge, we’ll send you a pack full of ideas, encouragement and Random Acts of Wildness…
What is a Random Act of Wildness?

A Random Act of Wildness is anything that you can do in an average working day to bring a little nature into your life. They can take a few seconds, a few minutes, or if you lose yourself completely, a few hours!”

http://www.mywildlife.org.uk/30dayswild/

Interested? Want to know what to do next? Go sign up!

After that it’s up to you! Below are some tips for helping you get the most out of your 30 Days Wild Experience!

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1) Make your own Nature Journal to help you keep a record of all the fantastic things you see and do.

2) Check out the hashtag on social media! #30DaysWild is a brilliant source of community and ideas!

3) Check out my ‘Nature and Wildlife’ board on Pinterest for more nature related ideas.

https://uk.pinterest.com/daylightexplore/nature-and-wildlife/

4) Read some nature related books. In the month of June I am going to be sharing some great nature themed books that can be shared with kids at home and at school.

5) Get involved with your local Wildlife Trust!

 

Tweet me or leave me a comment to tell me all about your #30DaysWild adventures! Come back through the month of June to see what the Daylight Explorers get up to!

 

 

 

Letterbox Lab- The Interview

Over recent weeks I have been very excited to hear about Letterbox Lab, a fab new subscription box for kids to get them enthused about Science! Today I am lucky enough to share an interview with the folks behind Letterbox Lab and if you come back later in the week I will be sharing the contents of the first box I have received from them. Excited? Yes! But for now let’s find out a little bit more about Letterbox Lab!

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How did Letterbox Lab begin and why?

When Bryan and I got married we decided to jet off and see some more of the world. We used our experience working in science centres to offer training and consultancy in the Czech Republic and Norway, then spent a few months as teachers for the children of an indigenous tribe in Malaysia. We had a lot of time to think during our nine months abroad, mostly about the various challenges that prevent families from engaging with science such as accessibility of information and equipment, cost and perceived lack of convenience. We used whatever equipment we could find in our tiny village to run engaging science lessons in Malaysia, and realised that we had the skills to make science accessible to pretty much anyone, regardless of their background or facilities. We came home and dreamed up Letterbox Lab – the ultimate way to make the most fun and engaging science easy to play with, for anyone!

What got you into Science?

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t like science – I was always fiddling about with experiments and projects as a child. The only thing holding me back from science when I was in secondary school was the notion that it wasn’t a creative subject – I’ve always been quite artistic and theatrical and didn’t want to do something purely logical. I had a very inspiring physics teacher for my GCSEs who helped me realise that science is actually a highly creative endeavour that requires huge dollops of imagination. That realisation was what swung the scale for me, and I’ve never looked back!

What is your favourite piece of science equipment?

Difficult one! It depends what you’re trying to find out. I love space, so telescopes are high on my list – they give us the most fantastic images from incredible distances. On the other end of the scale but a similar vein, the images you get from microscopes – even quite weak ones – are stunning and reveal so many secrets about nature.

Who are you inspired by in Science?

People who inspire me with anything are those who can talk about their subject with passion and conviction. David Attenborough, and the bigwigs of science communication in the US – Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye and Steve Spangler among others – have always been inspirations to me because enthusiasm oozes straight out of them. They draw you in and make you care about things you might never have even thought about before.

What advice do you have for any kids wanting to get into science?

Always relish the times you are wrong and take pleasure in not knowing things. These are the times when we make the most exciting discoveries! The greatest scientists in history were confident voicing ideas that at the time were completely against common thinking, and today they are celebrated for it. Don’t be afraid to be wrong, be prepared to learn from the times when you are wrong, and question everything.

 

Thank you so much to Mia for answering these questions for the Daylight Explorers! Come back soon for details about my box.

Kelly

Disclaimer- I purchased my box with my own money and all comments and views are my own!

5 Ideas for Getting Kids Involved with Nature this Easter Holiday

5 Things Easter (2)1.Have an Easter Nature Hunt! We all know about the traditional Easter Egg Hunt but try a twist on this tradition. Instead you could focus on finding different insects or maybe looking for the signs of Spring. The possibilities are endless and could create lots of fun for the little ones (and grown ups!) in your life.

2. Find yourself a copy of Outdoor Wonderland by Josie Jeffery and Alice Lickens. This is a fantastic guide for kids to being outside. It is packed full of activities that can keep the whole family entertained. I love the wide variety of ideas on offer from Eco Art to ideas for windy and rainy days.

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3. Make a Field Journal. I have always been a huge fan of journaling and I am keen to find as many ways as possible to get kids involved. A Field Journal (Nature Journal) is a perfect way to get kids out there observing nature. You could even create a family journal! This great video from SciShow Kids is a perfect way to introduce kids to the idea of a Field Journal.

4. Geocaching! You don’t need a GPS device, you can get started with your mobile phone! I love Geocaching as it fits in with my love of exploring. Check out this blog post from Family Sponge for more about Geocaching with kids!

5. Check out the Daylight Explorers Nature and Wildlife Pinterest Board for a wide variety of ideas for crafts, journaling and other nature related ideas. But most importantly enjoy spreading love and appreciation for nature!

30 Days Wild 2016

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It’s nearly June, it’s nearly June! And that means it is finally 30 Days Wild Time!

I blogged last year about the background behind 30 Days Wild (I will wait patiently whilst you go and check out the link here which includes a squirrel with a light sabre! Back? Good, I will carry on) and I am so pleased to be taking part again. I will be blogging here and sharing some of the #30DaysWild activities I get up to with my class. Excitingly we will also be blogging on my school blog as well:)

I love these words from the Wildlife Trust,

Feel happier, healthier and more connected to nature by doing something wild every day for thirty days this June.

No matter where you live – from an urban jungle to a windswept mountain – wildlife and wild places are all around, waiting to be discovered by you.”

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Are you ready to discover the wild around you this June? Head on over to the Wildlife Trust to find out more!

 

 

Twilight at the Museums- The Volunteer Experience

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This Daylight Explorer adores museums. So imagine my excitement when I saw a tweet from the University of Cambridge Museums asking for volunteers for their annual Twilight at the Museums event. I sent off an email, including a form containing my expression of interest, and got invited to a briefing at the Fitzwilliam along with all the other lovely volunteers. The turnout was great and we were given a brief talk by Susan Miller the Events Administrator for the University of Cambridge Museums. Here Susan gave us a bit of background to the event as well as some information that would be useful for the night. It was also lovely to get the opportunity to talk to other volunteers about how they heard about the event and their backgrounds. At the end of the briefing we were asked to indicate the preferred areas we would like to be placed. As I spend a lot of time at the Fitzwilliam, the MAA and the Botanical Gardens they were my top choices and I was delighted to receive an email a few days later asking me to volunteer at the Botanical Gardens! At all stages of the process the communication was superb and very clear.

In the week preceding the event I got an email from Sally Lee, the Education Officer for the Cambridge University Botanical Gardens, containing all the need to know information for the evening. Armed with a schedule and some handy background notes I counted down the days until the big event! The big day dawned and the evening arrived with…rain! At this point I was really pleased to be inside the glasshouses! Sally and the team at the Botanical Gardens had made the glasshouses look absolutely spectacular and I felt thrilled to be part of the evening. All the staff and volunteers were so friendly and the teacher in me was thrilled to receive a glow in the dark name badge! Yes it is the simple things! Here I have to also pause to say how wonderful the staff (and the volunteers who dressed up) looked as Victorian plant hunters. They made a superb effort and it really added to the atmosphere. I now have a hankering for copying the look myself…

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Visitors had been given a lovely card illustrated with a glasshouse to use to collect stamps as they hunted for different plants around the glasshouses.

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My first station was in the Oceanic Glasshouse to help guide the intrepid plant hunters find the Aeonium plant. I enjoyed sharing the facts I knew about the plant (e.g. it was from the Canary Islands) and lots of people were really interested in the rosette of overlapping leaves that really made it a striking plant to look at. After my shift of a few hours (including a quick break of coffee and biscuits, thanks Sally!) I bid farewell to the Aeonium and went off to my next post in the Arid Lands glasshouse and the Agave Salmiana. I actually ended up with a clipboard, chatting to people and taking email addresses so the Gardens could get feedback from people in the future. It was absolutely wonderful talking to people and I had so many interesting conversations. Everyone had had a wonderful evening and I felt very proud to have played a small part.

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So my experience as a volunteer is over but I have two things to end with.

  1. If you haven’t been to Twilight at the Museums as a visitor please go! All the different museums have so much to offer and it really is wonderful to see them with a different perspective!
  2. If you had been thinking of volunteering and weren’t sure, go for it! The team made the whole process so smooth from beginning to end and it will be something that stays with me for a long time. I will definitely be putting my name forward again next year!

I believe wholeheartedly in museums and what they can offer the young and old alike. Seeing people of all ages and from all backgrounds engaging with the museums as they did on Wednesday was wonderful to see and events like this help inspire the younger generation to visit these wonderful places on our doorstep.

Anglesey Abbey Winter Lights

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The Silver Birch Grove. I love this spot.

A few weeks ago Mr Daylight Explorer and I were lucky enough to go to the Anglesey Abbey Winter Lights. I have been going to Anglesey Abbey for years but had yet to make it to the Winter Lights and so when tickets went on sale I snapped up a pair. The weather was perfect, not too cold, no wind and no rain! We wrapped up warm and set off for our evening adventure! (Is that allowed on the Daylight Explorers, evening stuff?!)

When we arrived I couldn’t believe how busy it was! By the time we arrived it was our allotted slot time and so we bypassed the marquee outside and went straight in. I was worried about having to walk around with a big group but actually the crowds thinned out quite quickly and one of my favourite parts was actually listening to all the exclamations of joy as people rounded a corner and were dazzled by the lights on show. Walking somewhere I go at least once a month in the daylight was certainly a different (and dare I use the word magical?) experience at night.

I felt for poor Mr Daylight Explorer who just wanted to walk and experience the lights because he was with me, an avid memory keeper who wanted to take photos at every point! If it had been light enough I would have whipped my journal out of my bag 😉 But instead I tried to capture the evening on my little phone camera and actually some pictures were not too bad!

One of my favourites shots came as we rounded the corner near the dahlia garden and this performer appeared from the darkness. It was a true ‘oooh’ and ‘aaah’ moment from the crowd!

Angelesy Abbey Winter Lights Performer

Our only regret is that we didn’t take money because, as we walked around, our senses were enticed by several gorgeous smelling eateries. We did manage to cobble together enough money for some donuts and the long wait for them certainly made us enjoy them even more! As we queued we were entertained by the music provided and it was great to take in the wonderful atmosphere.

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Families and friends were really enjoying the night together. I loved the sight of one little one draped in lights, oh how I wish I could have taken a picture! But I did manage to get a short video of some people truly having great fun! Have a look at this!

Thank you Anglesey Abbey National Trust for such a wonderful evening! I can’t wait for next year!

The Daylight Explorers