Posted tagged ‘playing out’

Where are the kids?

February 10, 2016

How much freedom do you give your kids? I didn’t give mine enough when they were little according to a smart-thinking dad and geographer, Daniel Raven Ellison, who is deeply concerned about the lack of free range children. For more ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children follow this blog or get my book Homemade Kids, out of the library. This post is by Nicola Baird, also see

Exploring London with dad and dog isn't the same as playing out in your nearest bit of woodland. Find out more by reading research by Daniel Raven Ellison

Exploring London with dad and dog isn’t the same as playing out in your nearest bit of woodland. Find out more by reading research by Daniel Raven Ellison

“Where have all the children gone?” sang Cat Stevens.

Or rather “where are the kids?’ as my husband might say… Mine have come home from school and are making some pasta before homework. They got to school on their own, and back again, but they haven’t done any exploring today.

OK, it’s February and cold, but what if it was a warm, long summer holiday day with light until late evening? where would they be then? Would they be out and about? Probably not.

Daniel Raven Ellison, a fascinating explorer and campaigner, has done research about children playing out and his work is published in London Essays at this link I totally recommend reading it.

It’s sad research, but he has a positive outlook arguing:

London is full of great childhoods, so let’s let children out to enjoy them.

Can parents do that? Let me know what you think.





Ways to play out when it’s wet

October 6, 2012

Horse chestnut trees drop their conkers after rain.

This blog post is by Nicola Baird sharing ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children. This post suggests it’s time to get out in the woods, or just listen to a tree. For more info about my book Homemade Kids, with lots of ideas about parenting click here.

My dad hated taking a walk where he might run into people – so he used to take the dog out in the dark, and when it was pouring.

Perverse, yes, but it did make me look forward to bad weather so we’d have fun outside. Even if you don’t much like rain, it’ll pay off to try and convince your children it’s more fun outside when it’s raining as it gives them a chance to let off steam. So, just in case it starts tipping down again – and the long distance weather report suggests it will – here are a few ideas to make trips out in the rain something to look forward to.

1 Dress for the wet (rather than the cold) – waterproof the bits that touch the ground, fall down or want to splash. Crawl suits (all in ones) are excellent. For walkers wellies (gum boots) are perfect, and the posher brands are comfy enough to wear all day. If your children can do laces (or you don’t mind retying them) walking boots. I’m a fan of gore tex (waterproofed) trainers – if it wasn’t for a school uniform policy that forbids them that’s what my kids would be in until they ran away from home just to get their toes into winklepickers…

2 Little children love splashing in the rain, and big storms can be incredibly exciting to experience. So if it’s raining cats and dogs just go outside anyway and enjoy hailstones, fat rain drops and gushing drains. Just remember not to stand under trees if there is lightning/thunder.

3 If you want to sit down at the park or playground, take something you can sit on. Newspapers are great impromptu lining for cold metal seats but they go soggy quickly in the rain and drizzle. A nappy changing kit can double up if you want to pop a little child on the swing without leaving them with a soaking bum. Or grab a bit of pvc (chop up one of those spare kitchen aprons into a decent sized rectangle, or just take the apron) and use it on all the playground rides, even the slide. Watch out, you may go fast. Or not at all.

4 Would your child enjoy weather watching? Paint occasional diary entries for whatever the season throws at you – and add in seasonal pleasures too. Conkers, sweet chestnut and apples litter the ground after rain, if you know where to look. Or just put different sized containers in a spot where they can fill up with rain. Then pretend to be weather gurus. How long do they take to fill? Is it a record? What creatures start living in the containers?

How to play conkers

It’s a traditional autumn game for two players. Both need a conker which has had a hole pierced through it. Through this thread a 30 cm approx length of garden twine (or similar) and knot at the bottom to stop the conker falling off.

Player A holds the end of the string so their conker dangles beneath them. Player B tries to whack Player A’s conker with their conker. It’s much harder than it looks. You may get a few satisfying strikes. Or you may get bruised knuckles.

The winner is the player who doesn’t give up, or whose conker does not break. A champion conker gets named after its number of victories – onezy, twozy, threezy so on (or 1er, 2er, 3er). Beware of players who claim this is a 79er – they clearly mean business.

5 Hang up damp/soaked clothes when you get in so they dry. Turn damp wellies upside down and leave in a warm spot, or better still stuff with scrumpled up balls of newspaper. Dry clothes = everyone ready to play again tomorrow…

Is your child free range?

March 7, 2011

Warning: this is not a food fad! Post by Nicola Baird, with some ideas loosely adapted from Homemade Kids: thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children.

My favourite cartoon currently pinned to the fridge has two women indoors looking out at a garden where 2 kids play. “I see that even your children are free range!” says one quite shocked to the other, coffee cup dropping (I kind of imagine my sister in this exchange for some reason).

I like the idea of “playing out” although appreciate it is hard to do so in areas beset by traffic. So it was a shock to read Orange prizewinner Andrea Levy’s amazing recall of growing up on a north London council estate, Every Light in the House Burnin’, and find that kids not that long ago (1950s and 60s) would use the whole of Highbury as their area for hide and seek.

Imagine how fun that would be – my children often use just one room for hide and seek, which really can’t be that good. But for most families living in Highbury now, I suspect such a vast game is simply not going to be allowed to happen.

Tackling the way we increasingly cage our children is Daniel over at Love Outdoor Play. He’s made a cunningly short film (less than 2 mins) to help us think about whether the caged life is the one we want for our kids – and whether this is good for the kids. I recommend you watch it,  see here.

Now, if you’ve got any tips for getting your children’s friends playing out share them here. Thank you.

Get Fit With Azmain

“A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools.”



Islington Faces Blog

Everyone has a story: interviews with people who live or work in Islington

making tracks

Boredom and Adventure

Bevin Court

Community restoring the past for the future

Just Go Places

Share Travel Experience


Islington Word Festival

Art Attack

Discovering art in everything

Second-Hand Tales

Spreading the love of all things thrifted, recycled, swapped and free

This Is Monkixx

Just another site

Yorkshire Dales Press, Books and e-magazine

Books and Ideas on women voices across Private and Public spheres. From Family life to Politics the Yorkshire air helps you think. e-magazine and blog. New authors welcome


Must have desserts for people with a sweet tooth

Keats House Poets Forum

Poetry Lives Here!

Hollywood? Bollywood? No!! this time it's all about Nolly and Ghallywood!!

I believe that everyone knows Hollywood, and that a lot of people know of or about Bollywood (Indian movie Industry), but what about Nollywood and Ghallywood? In my blog it's all gonna be about the West African specifically Ghanaian and Nigerian movie industry.


My Journalist self follows fabulous people into fabulous places.

Lights, Camera…Islington!

The Unbelievable Mr X presents

%d bloggers like this: