National Trust

We love our National Trust family membership. It’s great fun going out for the day exploring, and with an annual family membership we can take up to 10 children.  If you’re looking for inspiration for things to do outside with the kids the National Trust has updated its list of 50 things to do before you are 11 ¾.

It’s a great way to get out and explore even if it’s only in your back garden.  You don’t need to be a member of the National Trust to download the list and you can download a copy by clicking the list below

50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾ Categories

Remember the activities are split into 5 categories which are:

  • Adventurer – If you’re a brave adventurer then these challenges should be right up your street. From tree climbing to den building via stone skimming and kite flying there are heaps of activities to keep you busy outdoors.
  • Discoverer – these include going on a long bike ride, making a trail with sticks and making a mud pie.
  • Ranger – ranger style activities will keep you outside having fun. They include visiting a farm, making a grass trumpet and going stargazing
  • Tracker – If you can’t wait to get outside, then these are some of the best activities to find and meet creatures.  Make sure if you meet any creatures you’re kind to them and carefully put them back where you found them. 
  • Explorer – for all those explorers there are some brilliant activities that will keep you discovering loads of new things. From growing your own fruit or veg to rock climbing or cooking on a campfire.

Part 6 Of Our 50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 ¾

I have already published Parts 1 to 5 of 50 Things to Do Before You Are 11 ¾ which means we’ve now passed the half way mark with the publication of Part six.

26. Adventurer – Play Conkers (no 10)

Playing conkers is great fun and we’re lucky to have a huge Horse Chestnut tree in our garden.  Each year the Boys have great fun collecting the conkers.

Roald Dahl was a big conker fan. He tells us in his book, ‘Roald Dahl, My Year’ that,

…a great conker is one that has been stored in a dry place for at least a year. This matures it and makes it rock hard and therefore formidable.

As a game, conkers has been around for years, but do you know how to play?

How to Play Conkers

  • Two players, each with a conker threaded on a piece of string or a shoelace, take it in turns to hit each other’s conker, until there is one conker left.
  • The first player holds out their conker at arm’s length, hanging down, ready to be hit. The string should be wrapped around his or her hand to stop it being dropped.
  • They must hold the conker still as the other player hits it. If it accidentally swings, the second player can steady it before they take a strike.
  • The second player then wraps the string of his or her conker around her hand, draws it back and takes an aim.
  • He or she lets go of the conker as they swing their arm in an arc and tries to hit the other person’s conker.
  • The first player then has a go at hitting the other player’s conker and they take it in turns.

Be safe when you’re having conker fun

  • Enjoy your conkers but remember it is a game and a bit of fun.
  • You are likely to get bruised knuckles, so practise your aim without too much force!
  • When you play or watch, don’t stand too close.
  • Ask an adult to help make the holes as this can be very dangerous.

I hope you have as much fun playing conkers as we do.  And, don’t forget to put a bowl of conkers inside to keep spiders away.

27. Tracker - Track a Wild Animal (no 34)

We stayed in the Forest of Dean on a Forest Holiday.  One of the highlights of the weekend was when we went out on a night walk with the Ranger.

Our Ranger was Gerry who has a pet Barn Owl called the Professor who came on the walk with us.  Before we started our walk, Gerry gave us a quick talk and let the boys put a wild boar pelt on. We then spent an hour and half walking around the forest in the dusk looking for animals.  We heard something in the distance which Gerry said was probably Wild Boar but didn’t actually see them. 

The boys got to walk with the Professor and play with the Bat locator, we did see a lot of Bats, which they really enjoyed.

28. Tracker – Hunt for Bugs (no 31)

Our littlest Grandson is fascinated by wildlife and he loves exploring.  He spends hours in the rock pools when we’re at the seaside and he loves exploring ponds to see what creatures he can find in them.

The National Trust says:

It may look green and grim, but murky pond water is full of life. Scoop some out into a tub and check out what lives beneath the surface.

You’ll need to find a pond for this challenge, but once you’ve done that the rest is easy. Ponds may look like not a lot is going on when you’re peering at the top of the water, but you’ll be amazed what lives below the surface once you’ve had a look.

You’ll need:

  • A white tray or plastic container ready with extra water from the pond in it already.
  • A fine net
  • Somewhere safe to stand or sit for a while
  • An adult to go with you

Top tips for success

  • Keep out of the hot sun (you and whatever you’ve found in the pond!).
  • Use water the same temperature as pond water in your container or tray.
  • Scoop your net 3 times in a figure of 8 to pick up the smallest creatures and empty them into your tub or tray.
  • If you don’t spot anything at first, then take a closer look – pond life tends to be really tiny.
  • Remember to return anything you do find back to the pond once you’ve discovered what it is.

29. Tracker – Check Out The Crazy Creatures in a Rock pool (no 37)

First on your list should be a bucket and a net.  When you see a creature in the rock pool you can either gently scoop it up by putting your bucket in the water or if you are very careful you can use a net.  Don’t leave the creatures in the bucket too long as they’ll be missing their rock pool.

Make sure you wear shoes with a good grip when rock pooling. Old trainers, wellies or wetsuit boots with a thick sole are ideal. Flip-flops are useless!  Our grandsons wear the stretchy beach shoes which have a good grip and are fine to get wet.

It’s handy to have a good rock pooling guide book so you can have a look to see the names of the creatures you’ve found.  Or you can download a Spotter Sheet

10. Explorer – Canoe Down A River (no 50)

The Boys love being on the water.  Our eldest Grandson has canoed on the River during one of his school trips.  He also had some extra practice when we recently visited Center Parcs at Longleat.

That was part 6 of our 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾ that the boys have ticked off so far.  It’s great for kids to get out and about exploring nature but just make sure they do it safely.  The national trust has safety information guide

You don’t have to go far to do the activities and you don’t need any special equipment for most of them so they’re an ideal way to spend a couple of hours outside.  I’d love to know how many you’ve ticked off the list and if you have any helpful tips of where to go to do them?

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