Mi­cro ad­ven­tures catch on

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

Keep­ing the kids oc­cu­pied over the school hol­i­days can be a chal­lenge. Heather Knox knows all about those chal­lenges. She has has two small pre-school chil­dren, but has come across a novel way of keep­ing them ac­tive and amused.

Ear­lier this year, Heather set up a lo­cal fam­ily ad­ven­ture group with the aim of not only stim­u­lat­ing her own two and fouryear-olds, but to con­nect with other lo­cal fam­i­lies who like get­ting out­doors with lit­tle kids.

‘‘We’ve called it Manawatu Fam­ily Mi­croad­ven­tur­ers (MFM). We started to­wards the end of last sum­mer, but have been out and about all win­ter do­ing things with our chil­dren. The group is about shar­ing lo­cal in­for­ma­tion and get­ting out and get­ting muddy!

‘‘We’ve been out there in tor- ren­tial rain... and it wasn’t the kids who were com­plain­ing.’’

The idea takes ad­van­tage of the free parks and play ar­eas, and Heather has taken her chil­dren on a ‘‘slide crawl’’ through all the city parks.

‘‘In June I started an in­for­mal, out­door, rain-or-shine play group on Fri­days which has been meet­ing at dif­fer­ent lo­cal parks and play­grounds.’’

Heather sees this as an al­terna- tive to or­gan­ised preschool ac­tiv­i­ties that all seem to meet in­doors all year round. So far they’ve been to Bledis­loe Park, the Es­planade Rose Gar­den for ‘‘a bit of ori­en­teer­ing’’, and to Sledge Track.

‘‘There were three of us with six kids. We took our fish­ing nets to see what we could find.’’

She also rec­om­mends that fam­i­lies go camp­ing in their own back yard. In win­ter. It’s an ad­ven­ture.

‘‘Peo­ple thing we’re crazy. We go camp­ing in the win­ter.’’

Mak­ing use of the freely avail­able great out­doors play area has sev­eral ad­van­tages over in­side. There’s the nov­elty of it all for a start.

MFM has set up a Face­book page and is work­ing with Friends of Waitoe­toe Park to de­velop an out­door play area for preschool­ers and chil­dren at Riverdale Kinder­garten.

Mi­cro ad­ven­tur­ers Heather Knox and Kather­ine Par­lane and the ‘‘Eey­ore house’’ they build out of sticks and fallen branches for their chil­dren in Bledis­loe Park. The ‘‘con­struc­tion pro­ject’’ was easy, free and pro­vided a happy out­door di­ver­sion for their chil­dren. Photo: MUR­RAY WIL­SON / FAIR­FAX NZ

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