Some of my most precious memories are from when we took our children on family outings. “Off we go” was our favourite phrase and the kids would jump up and down with excitement and anticipation. To turn family outings into lasting memories requires just a little bit of planning and forethought. But it is well worth it.

Where are we going?

So we are going to head for Kirstenbosch this week and have some fun. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is a UNESCO world heritage site and justly deserves the accolade but it can be quite daunting for little ones as it is very big! So it is a good idea to visit it in parts and plan some activities to make it really worthwhile. Before you go, pop the following items in a bag: some cardboard cut out from old cereal boxes or equivalent, some strong glue like bostik, scissors, a bag. Make sure your kids have comfortable walking shoes, a drink, some tasty snacks and a hat.

Download the map to this blog and become garden detectives. As you wander stop often to check out unusual flowers, look for spider’s webs, insects and other interesting things. At Monty’s rock, help the kids to climb on the rock and see how far they can jump off. Look for Monty Mongoose under the rock – he may just be hiding. From Monty’s Rock make your way towards lily pond and on the way start collecting anything lying on the ground that looks interesting. Kids LOVE collecting – look for seeds, feathers, bits of stick, soil from Mole’s mounds, leaves, bark. Pop all these special treasures into the bag you have bought with you. Stop at the Oak tree next to Lily Pond and check to see if Bushy the squirrel is hiding in his drey in the tree. See if anyone is at home in the pond – sometimes there are turtles and the weavers are often busy in the reeds building their nests.

Artwork masterpieces:

Make your way to the fallen down yellow wood tree. Have fun acting out the big storm that blew the tree down – kids love being the rain and thunder and lightening. Find a shady spot and carefully lay out all the treasure. On the cardboard, make some family Kirstenbosch creatures with the leaves and seeds.

When everyone is happy, use the glue to stick them down. Save this masterpiece until you get home as there is lots more fun to be had! Make sure you still have some treasures in the bag.

Make your way to Otter pond and look into the pond to see if there is a tasty crab for otter to munch or a boatman skating across the water. Wander along the medicine garden, use feely fingers to rub the leaves of the buchu and wild rosemary and then smell your fingers. Find a shady place down by the stream and have a picnic with your snacks. Soon it will be time to return home but there will be some great things you can do at home with some of the things you have collected and made.

Activities at home:

After supper and before bed, take out the Kirstenbosch creature and have a round robin family story time. Encourage your children to give the creature a name, find out where he lives, who his friends are, what he likes to eat, what he is scared of, who is his best friend – the wilder and funnier the better. Some of our happiest memories are the family story time.

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