How to have an adventure at home
This article has been written by Alex Gregory.
Having a home adventure is the best way for everyone to join in together, ignite imaginations, expend a bit of energy, enjoy some happy moments and create fun learning experiences together. With a few simple tips, hints and ideas anyone can get adventurous from the comfort of home! So here are some ideas to get you going…
Encourage your kids to open their eyes wide, turn up that hearing and awaken their sense of smell to the max! Most of the time, most of us walk past things and don't see, hear or smell what’s really there. Maybe we’re distracted, thinking about something else or simply not used to noticing what’s around us.
Next time you head out for your daily walk awaken all your senses and turn it into an explorer’s journey. Encourage your little one to try and see things they’ve never seen before, point things out, big or small, talk about them, really get into the environment you’re in. Listen out for sounds you aren’t usually aware of and smells that you haven’t smelt before. (This can be good and bad!)
Your walks may now take a little longer, but they’ll be so much more interesting!
Build a den
Everyone loves dens. There’s something inside us all that loves the protective feeling of a space away from the world. Dens are somewhere hidden and safe. They can be made indoors or out with minimal equipment, just a little thought and planning. And to make it a real adventure you really have to sleep in it!
Indoors you can use a large bed sheet to create the canopy hung over a sofa back or a chair. As a parent, it’s the clearing up afterwards that gets me, so challenge the kids to keep it simple and use as little as possible to get the best den possible.
Outdoors you can use a waterproof tarpaulin to set up a den. Tent pegs are always useful to hold the sides down. A piece of rope will come in handy to hang the tarpaulin over too. A den can also be a tent and don’t forget, as long as there’s room, tents can be put up indoors or out!
Once the kids are inside, encourage them to use their imaginations to transport themselves to anywhere in the world they wish to go – whether it’s imagining the sound of a waterfall or sleeping next to lions – they can escape to wherever they like!
Make a compass
Every adventurer needs a compass to tell them where to go, so they are great things to learn how to make. Help your child make a compass outside or inside, all you need is a bowl or cup of water, a needle, a magnet and a small flat surface that floats. For example, a leaf or a piece cut off the top of a cork.
Place the leaf or cork piece carefully on top of the water so it’s floating. Next carefully rub the magnet from one end of the needle to the other, always in the same direction 20 - 30 times. Next, very carefully lie the needle onto the floating item and watch what happens. The needle will spin around until it settles in position. One end of the needle will be pointing North, the other end will be pointing South. There’s your compass!
Encourage your little adventurer to use clues in their surroundings to work out which end is pointing North – for example thinking about which direction the sunrises (East) and sets (West). There are a whole host of natural navigation markers you can use to give you more clues. It’s a brilliant little activity and will get kids thinking about the earth’s magnetic field.
Now is the perfect time to create a scavenger hunt for the family to help lead each other through the most remote parts of….your home, garden or street!
There are a number of ways you can do this, one is to write clues on paper and hide them along the chosen adventure route. One clue will lead to the next and so on until the final destination is reached. Perhaps there’s a prize at the end, the explorer’s long-lost city! Writing clues is also a brilliant creative writing and lateral thinking exercise for kids, so make sure you get them involved at every stage!
Another alternative is to leave clues along a route for you to follow and find the way. You could use chalk to draw marks or arrows or create arrows on the ground from sticks and twigs. The great thing about this adventure is that it’s fun creating these routes and trails and it’s fun following them too - win win! Take it in turns to create the trail and to be the explorer and you’ll get the best of both worlds.
Whatever adventure you choose to have, whether it’s indoors or out, remember to keep it simple, keep smiling and nothing needs to be perfect. Some of life’s greatest adventures and the things we remember most when we’re old, are the things that didn’t go to plan - that’s all part of the adventure of life!
Alex is an Olympic Gold medalist, World Champion and Word record holder for the Great Britain Men's Rowing team. He is also a patron of the British Exploring society and the author of You Can Have an Outdoor Adventure from Collins.