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Gardening For Kids

Mucking About In The Garden

Gardening is something we do all-year-round, not just in Spring and Summer.  So, as a kids activity it ticks all the boxes by getting our little ones into the open-air and sharing experiences. Plus, it’s fun AND you don’t even have to have a garden to do it! Here are some practical ways of getting started.  The BBC working with the RHS has made it easy to stimulate enquiring minds with lots of great ideas.  These include projects to do at home, in your own garden, indoors and there’s plenty of factual stuff too. What little boy can resist fascinating facts about wriggly creatures. Go to the BBC link below.
Bee On A Beautiful Flower

Bee On A Beautiful Flower

When planting in the soil or in pots choose easy to handle large seeds for little hands like peas, beans and sunflowers.  Look for plants, which can be readily distinguished from weeds. Keep a pet dandelion! An interest in gardening can be fostered anywhere and doesn’t have to be in a formal garden setting.  Scent trails, where you search for and identify different plants can be followed in your own garden, along a country trail or in a public park.  Challenging for grown-ups as well!

Green-fingered benefits

The RHS and schools, who have collaborated throughout the UK in recent years in setting up gardens and gardening clubs, point to the many health benefits of gardening for children - getting them away from screens and into the open air. RHS research suggests that kids perform better at school and develop healthy eating habits as a result of their interest in self-grown veg. The RHS Campaign for School Gardening found that children built “life skills such as confidence, teamwork and communication”. The Kings Fund in 2016 reported feelings of positive well-being, personal achievement and empowerment among young gardeners, particularly amongst children with learning and behavioural difficulties.  These youngsters in particular experience a sense of pride in a world where so often they are unable to shine.  They also find gardens to be peaceful places, “conducive to meditation”, suggests Caroline Levitt, founder of Diggers Forest School and Nursery, Midhurst.  Children learn to communicate with the world about them, which in turn puts them in touch with their inner selves.

Life-long love

Gardening with the little ones in your life can initiate a shared life-long love of plants and the outdoors. The continuity of the seasons fosters a long-term commitment to the world about us and a better understanding of the environment.   You never forget seeing your first seed emerge from the dark earth and from that moment we become a part of the wider ecosystem. Take them into the garden one warm night and just let them lie on the grass and look up at the sky.  They’ll never forget it!

Ice-cream van

Treats and Rewards for Kids

We’ve been talking lately about the tricky question of what treats really are and what happens when treats become the norm.

Are sugary treats bad?

Opinions will vary but experts tell us not to underestimate the power of sugar addiction. An article in Parents Magazine states, “The average kid under 12 consumes 49 pounds of sugar per year, according to the USDA Economic Research Service.” Treats that consist of refined sugar and empty calories add up over the day, even if they seem individually insignificant. There’s also the message that is sent by using sweets as rewards. Nutritionist and Kids Kritic Spokesperson, Carolina Lima Jantac, says, “Kids associate feeling happy and accomplished with sugar”. This continues into adulthood with self-rewarding of something sweet when you feel down and ultimately can lead to habits which are hard to kick. No one is talking about an outright ban on ice cream and cup cakes but it looks like it is not a good idea to use them as rewards.

Other kinds of rewards

I’m sure we’ve all used stickers and charts at various times and they can work very well, as children can actually see their progress. Rewards that seem to work equally well can be doing something really special together that creates a memory. You can go to a park together (remember to take photos), do a class together at a local museum or gallery or what about borrowing a neighbour’s dog and take it/them on a walk.
Walking a friend's dog

Walking a friend's dog

Using Treats to motivate

Psychologists call what motivates us, our currency and your child’s currency is what motivates him or her now. It will change with time and as their priorities and latest enthusiasms change. Younger children will “jump through hoops” (as Carolina puts it) to have an extra 15 minutes of lights on before bed. Collecting sets of things can really enthuse young kids. Hang on to the cards that are handed to you at the supermarket till. Kids love collecting sets - and they’re free!

Singing from the same song-sheet.

Often grandparents and other carers are considered a “soft touch”. I know how difficult it can be to resist the pleadings of my sugar-deprived grandchildren. But I know it’s important to support the parents’ house rules. If kids are already hooked on ‘unhealthy ‘ options, it’s difficult to institute a sudden ban. They still have access to treats when outside the home. This is where grandparents can help. Paediatric psychologist, Eileen Kennedy, suggests buying the smallest-sized packet of a favourite treat or a large economy bag of small-sized packets. Keep these out of sight, which avoids mindless snacking by the kids – and by you! Always have fruit (and veg!) out on the table and visible in a bowl. LINKS: Carolina Lima Jantac, MS, RD, LD. Nutrition and Social Media Manager and Kid Kritics Approved Spokesperson. Parents Magazine

Binky Bear’s days out with the kids

It's getting colder, but here are some ideas for days out with the kids, whatever the weather. How about planning a day out with something seasonal included, which is free. There are lots of things to watch in public places at this time of the year.

Norwich's Tunnel of Light

Start with a walk round the historic street of the town and then walk through the 45 metre ‘tunnel’, 50,000 tiny lights, which reflect the colours and patterns of the Northern Lights. Norwich’s seasonal lights will be switched on 17 November. For info about the historic city as well, go to:- norwich tunnel of light

Winchester's Woolly Hat Fair

Or if you are Hampshire based keep your eyes out for the Woolly Hat Fair coming to Winchester. Events will be free to attend and will take place at 5pm every Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday between 3 – 22 December.

Hamleys Christmas Toy Parade- London

Binky throw up autumn leaves on days out with the kids And if you just happen to be in London on 20 November after doing the Binky Bear walk through St James’s Park - like Binky (finishing in Trafalgar Square) join all the fun of Hamleys Christmas Toy Parade. The whole of Regent’s Street will be closed to traffic for the event. night photo of christmas lights London’s Christmas lights are already starting to go on, so check on-line for specific dates. Seasonal lights are now going on all over the country, so check in your local press for exact dates.

Reindeer Spotting

If you want to splash out on an extra special day this Christmas how about visiting Santa’s reindeers, somewhere in the UK near you? This link has a few pointers:-

Binky Bear Goes To Woodlands Primary

A rather wonderful thing has happened at Binky Bear - Woodlands Primary in Carnoustie, Scotland has opened a Binky Bear trail. We spoke with Deputy Head teacher Judith Connor to find out more.

1. Tell us about your school and your part of the UK

Our school is Woodlands Primary School which is in Carnoustie in Angus. Carnoustie is often called 'the home of golf'. We are very lucky to live in a small town on the coast with a beautiful beach. Woodlands Primary School caters for children from 5 - 11 and we also have a nursery class for 3 - 5 year olds. We are an eco school and are currently working on our 4th green flag and we are also a fairtrade school with a fairachiever award. reading-about-the-trail-at-woodlands-primaryContinue reading this article...

Taking Pictures – photography for children

By Moira Blackwell As you know Binky Bear books are photographic picture books and all our books are illustrated with colour photographs. Photography is a great sharing activity and encourages children to be creative and aware of the world about them. So, here are 6 ways to get your child started. 1. Get them their own camera. This may sound obvious but start by getting them their own camera, rather than lend them your mobile phone to take an odd picture now and again. So ‘their own camera’ could be your old phone or a cheap and simple digital camera. There are quite a few to choose from and at the foot of the page* we have included a link to a review of the latest digital cameras. Prices range from about £20 up. When a child has their own camera, the resulting photographs will be THEIRS too. 2. Get into the habit...Whenever you are going out together get them into the habit of taking their camera with them. 3. Start by photographing things that stay still! The view from their window, their favourite toys or a brightly coloured bowl of fruit. Later they can try photographing a tame granny but start with something simple that they like. Encourage them to come up with their own ideas. 4. Get down to their level when they are taking the photograph and see things as they see them. Help them to look at the framing of their picture (what is in it). This will help them with their composition. You’ll be surprised what they see and you don’t! If you go out on a Binky walk take their camera with you and encourage them to photograph a scene from the book. 5. Look at their pictures togetherBack at home spend time looking at their pictures either on the camera or better still, on a screen. Talk about their photographs. Praise and offer suggestions, just as you would for their homework. Looking at the results is very much about reflecting and learning from the experience, and is valuable - ‘together-time’. We take over 3,000 photos for any one of our books and believe me, reflecting and learning is what we do a lot of. 6. Let them choose their favourites and ask them why they like them. Then either get them printed or print them yourself. And by the way, photographs make excellent ‘grannie gifts’! Finally, a very big thank you to Evie for letting us use her photograph of her Binky Bear and other toys to illustrate our post. Happy snapping everyone! **This review from will give you a quick idea of the pros and cons of several cameras. A note of caution: as you look at these reviews don’t be put off by price. For some reason the first camera Safe Sound review costs £250 on Amazon today (ouch!) but as you scroll down you will see well recommended cameras, like the Crayola Digital Camera, for as little as £20.00

We have a winner: Binky Mug Competition

We have a winner.  Thank  you to everyone who entered. We had several correct answers and the name that came out of the hat was.....Drum roll please Binky..........   Laura Marsh! Congratulations Laura.  Email us your address at and we shall get your Limited Edition Binky Bear mug out to you without delay. We asked where Binky was when his picture was taken and he was standing outside lovely Tudor House in Southampton. There will be another Binky competition starting this Saturday so look out for details on our Facebook page.

We have a Winner!

Drum Roll please Binky............... We are delighted to announce that the winner is of our 'Binky on a bus in London' competition is......... Kelly Hunt! Congratulations Kelly and thank you to everyone for some cracking comments and new Binky Book ideas! Kelly send us an email to and let us know which of our three books you would like us to sign and who you would like your book dedicated to.  Include your address and we will get your book out to you early next week.

The Royal Horticultural Society Wisley have got signed copies of Binky Goes To London

After reading Binky Goes To London to a group of very excited Binky fans, Liz signed some copies for you to buy in the RHS shop at Wisley and you can also pick up a free Binky bookmark at the till!  Big thank you to Alistair for being a very capable page turner! There is still lots to do for children at Wisley this summer holiday.  Click here for more details.  Look out for some Interactive Story Telling this weekend and of course their wonderful Great Garden Quest.

And the winner is….

Drum roll please......................

Sally Butcher!  Congratulations!

Sally please send us your address to Your Little Binky Bear is ready for his journey to your house and he is very excited!

The location is Abbey Gardens, Winchester.  In the background is the statue of King Alfred. What a fabulous response from you all.  Thank you for entering our competition and look out for the next one, coming very soon.

Binky had a day out at the Royal Horticultural Society – Wisley…

Moira and Binky helped the RHS at Wisley kick off their summer season of brilliant activities for children with a visit on Saturday.  Check out the RHS website for details of events every day during the summer holidays.  Look out for their Great Garden Quest. Binky will be there again on Saturday August 16th.  Come along and shake his paw and hear Liz read Binky Goes To London. You will be able to buy your own copy and ask Liz to sign and dedicate it for you.