Village Kids living the country life
Things to do for kids
When you live in a rural area, there are no excuses for sitting on the sofa. Whist kids may not understand how important it is for them to be active, there is plenty on the doorstep to keep them happy and healthy and they don’t know how good they’ve got it.
In Britain, one in three kids are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school. This has a lot to do with what they are eating but static lifestyles are also to blame. NHS research suggests exercise reduces stress and stimulates the brain, boosting creativity and memory. Outdoor fun also encourages kids to take a few risks and brings out their natural thrill-seeking side. We’re blessed in Ramsbury to be surrounded by glorious countryside so here are our top activities to inspire local kids.
Pack a picnic and head off on one of the many local footpaths. You might discover a lost village or a Roman ruin. Don’t forget to get your kids involved in mapreading and taking photos. Make sure they are wearing the right footwear and clothing and don’t try to go too far too soon – give them a chance to build up their ‘walking legs’. It’s better to leave them eager for their next walk than resenting the last.
Join a Club
Children as young as four can join football and tennis clubs in Ramsbury. There are also many local franchises that offer pre-schoolers weekly lessons in all sorts of ball sports. Alternatively Ramsbury has active Beavers, Cubs and Scouts and there are weekly drama and dance classes for school age children in the Memorial Hall on the High Street.
Scoot to School
Ramsbury Primary School and Ramsbury Pre-School are both situated right in the heart of the village and if you live locally there really is very little excuse to not walk or scoot to school. The school even has a Scooter Park! Scooting halves the time it takes to walk to school while also giving your child a decent workout. According to sustrans.org.uk teachers find that pupils who walk, cycle or scoot arrive at school are more relaxed, alert and ready to start the day than those who arrive by car. They also have an increased sense of road safety and independence. Make sure they’re wearing a helmet and give way to pedestrians – especially on narrow Back Lane.
Cycling is healthy and fun and can of course be a practical way of getting from A to B. Ramsbury sits right on the National Cycle network and Wiltshire Cycle Way. Get going by planning weekend routes for both on and off road and your next cycling adventure in Ramsbury will be one to remember.
Train for a big event
If there’s a medal or prize at stake, some kids will do almost anything. The NHS recommends fun runs and charity walks to inspire children to exercise.
Grab a Frisbee
Make time to go to the park and kick a football or just throw a frisbee. Not only is it free but it’s an easy way to get kids running around and it will also raise your own pulse. According to the NHS’s Change4Life, taking part in an outdoor activity with your kids also provides a relaxed environment to chat to them about their lives and open up about any problems. Ramsbury is spoilt for outdoor space. Try out the park at Ashley Piece, or head up to the Rec when matches are not on. Alternatively nearby Savernake Forrest offers BBQs and plenty of wide open spaces for all manner of outdoor adventures.
Climb a tree
Speaking of which, a 2013 survey revealed more than a quarter of mothers wouldn’t let their child climb a tree. These days we’re encouraged to let our kids take more risks, and supervised tree-climbing is a great way to do this. Children enjoy challenging themselves and like to see how high they can go. All the while they’re developing strength, confidence, coordination and motor skills. They’re also learning their limits and how to avoid injury. Use your common sense, make sure the tree is a sturdy species with big branches, not wet or slippery and make sure climbers keep at least three points of contact (hands and feet) on the tree at all times.
Go fly a kite
Not every day is good for kite flying but it’s always fun to try! Kites require patience, coordination and concentration and to fly them children have to spend time in the fresh air. The White Horse Kite Flyers meet for flying days where experienced members offer advice and help, sometimes they run kite making workshops. Flying a kite allows you to stretch neck and shoulder muscles. It’s also a great activity for mental wellbeing – Flying a kite is relaxing. A kite needs an average wind to be able to fly – if the leaves on the trees are rustling and flags are waving there is usually enough wind. With your back to the wind, hold the kite as high as you can with its nose facing upwards. Don’t throw it – let the wind take it. Keep away from powerlines, cars and roads and don’t fly your kite with people right below it. We think Uffington Hill is an amazing place for a wonderful walk, picnic and a spot of kite flying. Barbury Castle is also popular.
Have a snowball fight, then go sledging
Everything looks great in the snow – space and the views are delightful.
You’ll need warm waterproof gloves, winter woollies or waterproofs, and lots of clean snow. Snow that squeaks when trodden on won’t make a great snowball because it’s too dry – go for the slightly soggier stuff.
Sledges don’t always have brakes so make sure there is plenty of space to stop at the bottom of your run and nothing you might bump into. Always go feet first, so if you’re going too fast you can plunge your feet into the snow and brake!
Build a den in the woods
Children love building dens and it’s a great way to develop construction skills, problem solving, thinking creatively and putting ideas into reality. Choose a dry flat spot, avoid sharp objects and don’t poke yourself in the eye. You could start by leaning sticks against a low tree branch or make a wigwam. Only use found materials, don’t pull up or cut down any living plants or trees.
Roll down a big grassy hill
One thing Wiltshire is not short on is rolling hills! Pick a big one with a clear run with nothing to bump into. Roll down the hill sideways and see how far you can get. Watch out for stones and sheep poo – yuck!
Skip a stone
The fords on Mill Lane are where my kids first learnt how to skip a stone. There’s clear flat water and a safe edge to stand so you won’t fall in. Choose your stone carefully – the flatter the better, round or chunky flints aren’t so good. Throw it hard, fast and low so it spins quickly across the top of the water. Make sure there is nothing in the way that you might hit.
Find your own food for free – eat it on the go or take it home to make a yummy blackberry and apple pie! August and September are prime blackberry picking time in Ramsbury. Later in the season berries can turn overripe or sour – traditionally you shouldn’t eat them after Michaelmas (29 September/11 October depending on which calendar you’re keeping) for feat that the Devil has peed on them in spite! In any case, you should certainly avoid berries below knee height at any time of the year – risk of dog pee etc – or from bushes alongside busy roads.
Track wild animals
Go tracking for animals when the ground is soft and wet or covered in snow. In some species the front and rear paws are slightly different and you may also find feathers, fur or poo to help you identify your quarry.
Badgers stick to regular pathways, so once you’ve found a track you’ll find another. Badgers have five toes and a kidney shaped pad.
Foxes wander all over the place and their paw prints are quite like a dog’s with four toes and a rear pad.
Deer have cloven hooves, so only two toes.
Rats and squirrels have four long toes and claws; their tracks look like a small hand print.
Rabbits have four toes – their tracks are easy to spot because of their long hind legs.
Find a Geocache
Hunting for a geocache is like combining hide and seek with a treasure hunt. A geocache is a small container with a logbook for entering the date you find it. It sometimes contains small trinkets that can be swapped – if you take something out, you put something else back in the container. The locations of geocaches are listed on geocaching.com and you’ll need a smart phone or GPS receiver to follow the instructions. Some geocaches are easy to find, others much harder – you’ll just have to try and find out.