Life

Making a splash: Enjoy rainy days with your kids

Who says you can't play outside when it's wet? Here's some top tips on how to make the most of rainy days

Rain doesn't always have to stop play

AS WE head into autumn, rainy days will become evermore present. But that doesn't mean staying indoors and feeling glum.

Primary school teacher and forest school leader Katie Akers, and speech and language therapist Steph Scott, have penned the Rainy Days Kids Adventure Book to help kids embrace all kinds of inclement weather.

They write: "Shout 'Yippee!' put on your mac, pull on your wellies and run outside. A marvellous, multi-sensory adventure playground awaits you."

Here are three outdoor activities you can enjoy with the kids this autumn...

:: What you'll need: The Out Pack

All items in the Out Pack are easy to find and cheap to buy. You may already have some of them. Keep it well stocked so you don't run out of essentials while you're out and about. Here is a list of what we keep in our Out Packs...

1. Rainy Day Kids Adventure Book (Batsford)

2. Coloured pens

3. Masking tape. You won't need anything thicker than 12mm wide

4. Wool. You can get two balls of different colours, a multicoloured ball or just a ball of your favourite colour

5. Plastic-coated garden wire. You can buy this in a reel with a safe cutter from anywhere that sells garden supplies

6. Elastic bands. Flat elastic bands of many colours are useful

7. Paperclips

8. Ball of string

9. Wooden beads. Big and small, bumpy and smooth

10. Child-friendly scissors. They must be able to cut string

1. Puddle Pony

A puddle pony is a chunky stick with personality! It's the very best companion on a puddly day.

Collect together

From nature:

1 chunky stick

From the Out Pack:

Garden wire

2 beads

Wool

Scissors

String

How to make it

1. To make the eyes, cut a piece of garden wire about two grown-up hands long. Thread two beads to the middle and fix them in place with a pinch and twist of the wire.

2. Wrap the wire around one end of your stick. This is your pony's head. Secure the wire to the stick with a tight pinch and twist.

3. For the tail, cut a three arms length of wool and wind it round and round in a loop about a hand's-length long, or longer if you want a swishy tail. There will be loops at both ends.

4. Cut another one arm length of wool and thread it through the loops at one end. Tie a double knot to secure it and leave two long ends. Then cut through all the loops at the other end to make a bushy tail.

5. Wrap the long ends a few times around your pony and tie on the tail with another double knot.

6. Cut a piece of string about one arm in length.

7. Tie a fish-on-a-dish knot (clove hitch) just behind your pony's eyes to make its bridle.

8. Perhaps try out your pony's showjumping skills with a few spectacular splash fences. Giddy up!

2. Water Run

With a water run you can collect your own rainwater, catch the drops and watch as they make a stream. Where will they go next?

Collect together

From nature:

2 sticks, both half an arm's length

A bunch of thick leaves of different sizes

From the Out Pack:

String

Scissors

Masking tape

How to make it

1. Use a one arm length of string to tie one end of the sticks together. Pull the other ends apart to make a V shape.

2. Lay your leaves in a line on the ground, face down from biggest to smallest. Make sure each leaf overlaps the one before so there are no gaps.

3. Lay your V-shaped sticks on top of your leaves, with the tied end at the same end as your smallest leaf.

4. Use masking tape to attach your sticks to your leaves.

5. Turn it all over and then push the open sticks a little closer together. This will fold the leaves slightly to make a channel for your water to run down.

6. You can use your water run to fill up your fairy and elf pool. Put the tied end of the V into the pool. Prop up the other end with sticks so the water will flow in. You could even place a few water runs around the pool to keep it as full as possible. Or perhaps you could put one underneath a drip coming from the roof of your house.

3. Troll House

Down the stony path, past the leafy bushes and through the arching oak trees there's a happy stream giggling along. It flows gently under a little bridge, and it is just here that a grumpy little troll lives. His house is made of mud and stone, his door and window are made of the finest sticks and he has a sycamore leaf roof covered with luscious moss.

Collect together

From nature:

Stones

Leaves

Moss

10 small sticks (each about a grown-up's finger length)

From the Out Pack:

1 wooden bead

String

Scissors

Masking tape

How to make it

1. To make the door, cut a piece of string of about two arms in length.

2. Tie a fish-on-a-dish knot (clove hitch) to the end of one of your sticks.

3. Line up five sticks next to each other to make the door.

4. Lash the sticks to each other at one end of your door, weaving your string under and over each stick in turn.

5. Tighten the string in between the sticks by winding the tail end of the string around each of the joints between the sticks.

6. Repeat steps 2-5 to lash together the other end of the door.

7. Thread the bead to a small length of string. Attach this to one of the sticks where the troll's door handle should be. Tie a knot to secure.

8. To make the window, take three sticks and make a triangle shape, or take just one bendy stick and make a circle-shaped window. Fix them with tape.

9. Take two sticks and snap them into the right length to fit tight inside the window frame, and push them into place to make the windowpanes.

10. Prop up the door, and hook your window to a stone, a stick or a small branch, or just push it into the mud. Now your troll can keep a lookout for goats.

How many Billy Goats Gruff go trip-trapping over your bridge?

'Too many!' says the grumpy old troll!

:: Extracted from Rainy Day Kids Adventure Book by Steph Scott and Katie Akers (£9.99, Batsford), available on September 7.

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