Robyn Taylor shares some of her favourite outdoor activities for all weathers…
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” The weather has been very temperamental over the last few weeks – between Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis, there have been beautiful spring-like days, with snowdrops and daffodils appearing, and then some snow days. All within a week!
I am passionate about encouraging residents to get out and about in colder weather. Living in England means we should be used to the different, and sometimes challenging, weather conditions, and it shouldn’t put us off doing the things we love to do. Here are a few ideas to support you with outdoor activities over the next few months.
- Get your raincoats, appropriate footwear, scarves, gloves and an umbrella, and go for a short walk in the garden or down the road. Get everyone singing ‘Singing In The Rain’, and spin your umbrellas around, while pretending to be Gene Kelly.
- Make and hang wind chimes in the garden, and take a walk outside to hear the music the wind makes.
- Catch raindrops and snowflakes on your tongue – many of the residents would have done this as children and will delight in this simple activity. Even if you are outside for just 30 seconds, the sensation of the rain on your face and the coldness will bring back feelings of youthfulness.
- Observe the rainfall – make a rain gauge out of a plastic bottle and place it near the back door. You can check to see how much rain has fallen in a day, in a week or a month and discuss it with your residents.
- Take a walk or a taxi ride to the local park on a breezy day – enjoy the feeling of wind in your hair. Stand on a bridge and throw sticks (called playing ‘pooh sticks’) and see who wins. (Some towns do this with rubber ducks for charity – normally around Easter time. Search for local ‘duck races’.)
- Make rain art – colour a piece of paper with different coloured washable markers and place on an outdoor table in the rain. Watch what happens from the window. (Be inspired by Monet – do this with a blue pen and once the rain has settled and made a speckly pattern, place green circles over the top.)
- Take photographs in the rain – do this in all different types of weather. Compare and discuss. You can even buy waterproof cameras.
- Have a staff and relatives’ water fight – get all the residents watching from windows, cheering everyone on.
- Place pots and pans upside down outside – stand in the doorway and listen to the sound of the rain tapping on the metal pans – this is a great sensory activity and even better if you use different materials such as plastic, tin, foil, ceramic etc.
- Jump in the puddles – nothing helps reach your inner child more than this, and is a wonderful one-to-one experience too, especially if a resident needs support to walk or jump.
- Making snowmen – pick a place where people will be able to see from their windows. When making the snowmen with residents, support them arm-in-arm while walking in the snow, and ensure adequate clothing and gloves are worn. You could even make a snowman near the back door so that people can sit in the doorway and watch, or not have far to walk to join in.
- Make and fly kites in the wind or, even more simple, just use long pieces of fabric to swirl in the air.
- Make pinwheels and place in the ground – talk about windmills and how they are helping the environment.
- Debate and discuss climate change – you could talk about rainfall, snow, big freezes, heatwaves and flooding.
- Look at the clouds and see how fast they are passing over. What shapes can you find?
- Star gazing – a great night-time activity in the summer, search for phone apps that will map the starts for you; it’s great fun!
- Hang tea towels, clothes etc on a washing line – a great occupational activity as residents can watch them blowing in the breeze. Talk about the tradition of ‘Monday Mother’s Washing Day’.
- Shovel leaves, snow, twigs – depending on the weather.
- Focus on the senses – what can you see, hear, feel? Wind, rain, snow or sun?
- Look for four-leaf clovers, or any other flower or weed that is seasonal.
- Plant things – either vegetables, herbs or flowers.
- Continue local trips into the community – if the weather is bad, look into taking a taxi and getting dropped off at the front door of your destination. Just because the weather is rotten doesn’t mean you should miss out.
AT THE END OF THE DAY…
After participating in these outdoor activities, there is nothing better than sitting in front of the fire under a blanket, with a hot drink, reading the newspaper or talking about your day. The benefits of these outdoor excursions can last all day and provide so much opportunity for ongoing discussion. Remember, it may not be for everyone, but those people who have been outdoorsy will really appreciate the sensation of being in nature again.
TIP: Near the door to the garden have a coat stand with a variety of coats and boots for anyone to grab. Often someone wants to go into the garden but is put off by the time it takes to get dressed up for going out – the easier it is, the more likely they’ll want to persevere. You could even make it a little feature, with a chair and gardening books.