Take a Kid Fishing!

On Sunday afternoon we tagged along with our neighbours and went fishing down at the wharf in Ahuriri.    It’s something we haven’t done for ages and I don’t know why because Alex loves it.   It’s also something both Chris and I did as kids too.   Even though the majority of the time you only get small sprats, not knowing what could be on your line is always exciting.

You don’t have to drop your line in for very long until something comes along, especially when you entice them with a bit of bread at the surface.   Before long everyone who had a rod in the water caught a fish.   Alex got lucky near the end of the day when he hooked the 15-20cm Wrasse that is in the above photo.

So what do you need for a trip to the wharf:

  • Fishing rod or hand line.   These days kids fishing rods don’t cost much, and if you don’t want to buy a fishing rod, a small hand line is fine to use on the wharf.
  • Small hooks – purchased from Hunting and Fishing, The Warehouse or any other outdoor store.
  • Bait. On this day our neighbour had some small soft baits that we tried, we also picked a few booboos (sea snails) from the rocks and used them. Otherwise, you could use Pilchards or even cat food.
  • Bucket for your fish
  • Bread
  • Pocket knife

It’s good to tag along with someone who has been fishing before, so you know where to go, have them show you how to tie hooks, tie the bait on and unhook the fish without hurting them.  If not there seems to always be someone down there in the weekend, so just sort of go where everyone else is,  leave a bit of room to move between yourselves and the next person (tangled lines are no fun).

Throwing out bread will attract the little fish up to the surface and then you can see what you might catch.     It’s great to have a bucket of sea water so you can pop your fish in the bucket and everyone can have a look at what you have caught.  Release the fish back into the sea when you head home, or it it’s a hot day you may need to do this sooner, depending on your length of stay.

Have a go, it’s a really easy and quite an addictive adventure to have on a Sunday afternoon.

PS – If you don’t catch anything sizeable to take home, there is always the Fish and Chip shop up the road.





Celebrating Autumn Equinox with Children

This afternoon we went and visited the beautiful upgraded Waitangi Estuary Regional Park near Awatoto. The park which in the past has seen illegal rubbish dumped, vehicles driving all over the place, has now been replanted, has designated parking and walking tracks that will be completed at different stages.    What I personally find special about this park is it now has a celestial compass and four Pou depicting north, east, south and west. The celestial compass was important for early navigation, and knowing where the stars would rise and set along with watching the large ocean swells you could navigate our seas. Stars were also used to announce the Autumn harvest and in New Zealand, Autumn is the time when the Kumara crops are harvested.   It seemed rather poignant that our impromptu visit today was on the first day of the Autumn Equinox, and earlier today I started writing this post.

Autumn is one of my favorite seasons and having grown up on a farm when I was young, I was able to experience the changes in the seasons, through the work that was done, the look and feel of the land and the vegetable and fruits that were grown and picked.

In Hawkes Bay, we are lucky to have very distinctive seasons.  For me, it’s important that my children get to experience this as I did as a child but is now much harder since we live in town and that we celebrate Northern Hemisphere holidays at the wrong time of year.

A few years ago, I purchased a book  Celebrating the Southern Seasons, Rituals for Aotearoa by Juliet Batten.  Along with outlining Maori customs and ceremonies, it talks about Pagan and Christian celebrations, which is where many of our commercial holiday celebrations originated from and why celebrations are back to front for us, they originated from the Northern Hemisphere.  This book is wonderful for anyone who wants to celebrate our Southern Hemisphere seasonal festivals and festivals that are unique to New Zealand.

Autumn Equinox is the time of harvest, this is the time of year that food is abundant. We harvest our late Autumn berries and stone fruits, grapes, apples, figs and Kumara are some of the fruit and vegetables that are plentiful now.  When out walking you will notice pine cones dropping, chestnuts and rosehips. You will see (Harakeke) flax seed heads bursting and hear Bellbird calling.   It’s quite a magical time of year and one that children can easily be a part of.

The easiest way to experience Autumn is getting outside, below I have listed a few activities that you could do with your children to experience Autumn.

  • Collect pinecones for winter fires
  • Jump, run, hide and play in piles of leaves
  • Picking Mushrooms
  • Make walnut shell boats and sail them in creeks or puddles or the bath
  • Make a pinecone bird feeder
  • Collect leaves and Autumn treasures to make an Autumn centrepiece
  • When out walking talk about how the trees change colour and have a life cycle
  • Read stories that talk about the Autumn Harvest (The Cicada and the Ant)
  • Visit pick your own orchards
  • Carve out a pumpkin
  • Bake an apple or Feijoa crumble
  • Plant Spring bulbs
  • Blow bubbles onto dew on the grass (the bubbles stay for longer and the kids can run and jump through them).
  • If you live in Napier – visit the Celestial Compass at Waitangi Regional Park

There are many more adventures you can have with you children to get out and explore our Autumn days.   Collecting treasures and displaying them and also baking and cooking season fruits and vegetables is a great way to bring Autumn inside.  I will continue to share our Autumn adventures on Facebook and Instagram and let me know if you have any special rituals that you do in Autumn.






Bubble, Bubble, toil and trouble

Last week we were lucky to be selected by Kidspot and Ecostore to review the new Ecostore for kids  Double Trouble Bubble Maker Bubble Bath and Foam to the Max 3 in 1 Conditioning Shampoo and Body Wash

I had been hoping I would be selected to try these out because Alex hates his hair being washed.    Pretty much his hair is rinsed, and on the odd time when he may have got filthy from mud and sand and it needs a good wash, it’s all hands on deck to try and get it done without too many tears or shampoo going in his eyes.

So on Saturday morning when the postman turned up, we were all very excited to open our package.   As soon as you open the bottle the smell of sweet juicy pear greats you, it’s divine.   Not that I don’t love Ecostore’s Lavender Baby/kids products, I love lavender, but I think the pear is more child-friendly.   It also smells natural unlike other branded bath products for babies and children, yes even ones that claim they are natural and safe usually smell like chemicals.

First off we tried the Double Trouble Bubble Maker.   I popped a few squirts in under the tap and let it do its thing.  It definitely lives up to its name, there are lots of bubbles, Alex walked into the bathroom and said “Wow look at all those bubbles”   I would say it’s one of the bubbliest bubble baths we have had in a while.  The bubbles also lasted the whole time the kids were in the bath, which ended up being a good 20-30 minutes.

Midway through having a bath, Alex suggested that he should wash his hair (this kid never says that) so taking his lead I suggested that we use his new Foam to the Max 3 in 1.  He was a bit hesitant but I said “let’s just give it a go”  As soon as he realised when he pushed the pump bottle and out came foaming shampoo he was sold, “I love this mum”   he happily shampooed his hair, styled it into the obligatory mohawk and then lay back in the bath and washed it out.  He was so excited that he wanted to wash his hair again and he is very excited to show his dad how he can wash his hair by himself now.

I love how the pump bottle is easy for kids to pump out themselves and it has a locking device on it so if you take it away on holiday it won’t leak out.   Also the fact it is a 3 in 1.  You don’t have to have a separate body wash and shampoo/conditioner.    Ecostore products are made from plant and mineral based ingredients so there are no nasties. Their products are Cruelty and GE free and also use a renewable sugarcane plastic for their bottles which is a whole lot more sustainable than your petroleum-based plastic. I read Malcolm Rands book a few years ago, where they have come from, to now is impressive. They really do walk the talk and it is a great kiwi company to support, check out the website below if you want to know more about them.


Thanks again Kidspot and Ecostore.

KidsPlayNZ recommendations

I thought I would do a post on some of the great books, articles and pages I follow on Play and Gentle Parenting. I get asked this question a lot, it’s also a blog I will update when I read something new or find a great new page to follow.  So let’s just say it will be a living document.

I wish I had known about many of these blog pages and facebook groups when I was a new mum, it’s really hard not to get caught up in mainstream parenting advice and education when you have no support from the alternatives or don’t even know where to start.  Along the way I have joined local facebook groups on babywearing, wait it out parenting, breastfeeding support and I am now finding out about homeschooling and alternative education.  I have found all these groups very welcoming to answer questions and support you through the harder times of parenting.   The book I am currently reading Free to Learn by Peter Gray is most likely the most amazing book I have ever read.  He speaks my language, he has done a few TED talks so you may want to google him and see what it is all about.


  • Dance with me in the Heart – Pennie Brownlee – The adults guide to great infant-parent partnerships.
  • Magic Places – Pennie Brownlee – The adult’s guide to young children’s creative artwork
  • The sacred urge to Play -Pennie Brownlee with Kimberley Crisp – Unfolding your’s child’s intelligence, imagination, creativity and joy for life.
  • Our Babies, Ourselves – Meredith F. Small – How biology and culture shape the way we parent.
  • The Continuum Concept –  In search of happiness lost – Jean Liedloff
  • The Whole-brain Child – Daniel J. Siegel, MD – Revolutionary strategies to nurture your child’s developing brain.
  • Free to Learn – Peter Gray – Why unleashing the instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life.


  • The Natural Parenting Magazine

Blogs and Facebook Pages:

These are just a few of the many resources I have read over the past 4 years.  I would love to know any books or blogs and pages that you recommend.  Let me know in the comments section or leave me a message on Facebook.







Hunting for Nature’s Treasures

“Let’s go and search for rocks mum!”   At the moment rock hunting is what everyone is talking about, well anyone with young children that is.  This is such a wonderful initiative to get families out of the house and into nature.

For those who may not have heard about rock fever – basically, parents and children are going crazy over hunting for painted rocks in parks or anywhere in fact that a rock can be placed safely.  The rock painting is not only for the kids, parents too are getting their creative on and having a go painting too.

With so many families out hunting, sometimes as much as people paint and hide, there are days you go to the park with eager children and there isn’t a rock to be found.

So what do you do when there isn’t a rock to be found and your children are feeling a little flat.    For me I am a hunter/gatherer from way back, I have always loved picking up treasures on my walks around parks and beaches, I love finding feathers, shells, acorns, pinecones and it’s something I have done with my children since they could walk. However, something that I started last Autumn was searching for food treasures or what is know as foraging.

Foraging is something we would do as kids, and Autumn is one of the best seasons to forage for wild foods, there are Autumn berries, mushrooms, walnuts, elderberries, figs, pears, apples, quince that can be all found you just need to keep your eyes peeled.

In Hawkes Bay, we have so many parks, rivers, coastal walkways, bike tracks where we are walking or riding on that have opportunities for foraging.   How many times have you gone to the river and had to walk around blackberry vines?   How many times have you walked past mushrooms growing in the park?  The secret is to walk slow, look up, look down, sideways and see what you can find.   Once you start you will be amazed at all the natural treasures that can be found in our parks and public areas.

A couple of important points to remember while foraging:

  • Identify your fruit, flowers and berries.  If you are unsure of something, don’t just eat it.  Check with some – online pages, books or call into your local garden centre and ask.
  • Don’t go onto private property without asking, there are plenty of places to forage without going and raiding the local apple orchard, or your neighbours lemon tree.
  • Check to see that places you are foraging are free from chemicals and pollution.  You don’t want to be collecting watercress from a polluted stream.

So next time you can’t find rocks at the park, maybe try looking for something a bit different and let me know what you find.   #kidsplaynzforaging

Check out my facebook page for some of the treasures we have found foraging.


If you want to get in on the rock painting craze check out our two local groups on facebook.

  • Hawkes Bay Rocks  https://www.facebook.com/groups/209885829437311/
  • Hawkes Bay Wandering Stones https://www.facebook.com/groups/wanderingstones/

If you don’t live in Hawkes Bay, most regions, towns and cities have local groups, or you could start one up yourself.

Enhancing Play with Loose Parts at Home

The other week I was sitting at an outside cafe in Napier with cousins that were visiting from Kapiti.   At this cafe, they have oversized checkers counters.  Every time we go to this cafe I see children playing with these counters.  Either stacking them up, placing them side by side, moving them about, the list is endless as to what you can do.   This day the boys (after making a number of towers and smashing them down) had decided to space them out and jump across them like stepping stones.  It was interesting watching them discussing what they would make, working as a team and then playing on the end creation.

The definition of loose parts:   Loose parts are materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, and taken apart and put back together in multiple ways. They are materials with no specific set of directions that can be used alone or combined with other materials.

Loose parts don’t just to have be something at Kindy or Daycare, they are great to have at home too and usually, you can find many items for free or for a small amount at opportunity shops.  Your collection can be built on, refreshed with the seasons, and you can feel good that generally, it doesn’t have a huge impact on the environment.

Listed below are items to start you off, ideas can be endless, it’s just keeping an open mind when you find something.

  • Blocks – this is a give in.   We have a number of old school wooden blocks of various sizes.  Useful to have a number of the same size.  I have picked up all our blocks up from second-hand stores or markets.  You can also find them locally (Hawkes Bay) at Hohepa or on Trademe.  Kmart has boxes of smaller building blocks.
  • Cardboard cylinder rolls – These are something I saw at Kindy and have picked them up from places that process photos.
  • Shells and driftwood.
  • Feathers, small Pinecones and Acorns, these have been treasures we have picked up around the parks. Frankie will put these items into her baskets to transport around the house.
  • Stones
  • Nesting containers, these can be anything really, from you commercially bought ones to paua shells that stack into each other.
  • Kindling sticks – See featured image.  These kindling sticks which you should be able to buy soon from places like Mitre 10 and Bunnings.   Endless tower building fun with these.
  • A wooden rainbow
  • This week I have added some small coasters.

All these items can be used to build, make patterns, be transported or used as anything the child imagines.    Last week Alex used a piece of driftwood as motorbike handlebars and raced around the backyard.   Frankie is currently enjoying transporting items in small baskets.

Loose Parts are displayed on a shelf in our lounge, this is where we spend the majority of our time when inside. I don’t have everything out at once, but gauge what Alex and Frankie are enjoying.  I have used baskets and containers bought from Op shops so that items can be seen.   One of the first things Alex will notice when he comes into the room is if there is something different on the shelf.

If you want further inspiration, Pinterest has loads of photo ideas, just search loose parts. Or check out our facebook page for photos.  

Putting Down my Phone Camera

Resolutions!     I have never really been into making New Year resolutions because I figured if I wanted to change something, I could change it at any time, not just at the start of the year.  However last year I made a new years resolution to “live greener” it was a broad resolution but ultimately I wanted to be more conscious of what I was dumping onto our planet. I also wanted it to be a sustainable change, that I would be able to continue and not give up in a few weeks because it became “too hard”.

So this year again my resolution was to not give up something but to try and do something different.   So this year I am ‘putting down my phone camera’ and ‘picking up my real camera’.  I figured if I was writing a blog about Play and recording memories of my children I needed to be more present and observant in what they are doing.   Like so many parents (if you want to admit it or not) these days, we use our cell phones far too much in the presence of our little ones.   When we have our faces glued to our cell phones we actually miss out on seeing and observing our children playing, and this is the play where there is no adult intervention, they start playing make-believe, they change loose parts into massive constructions, they line objects up from smallest to largest. You will see how they interact with a baby doll or a teddy. You will see that they can climb a tree without your help.  These are the special moments that you don’t want to miss and these are the moments that you can capture on a camera because you are still present in the child’s play, but removed enough that they play naturally.

So it began, I started taking photos with a real camera.   It’s only a few weeks in, but already I have noticed how much more I have learnt about my children.   I love following their lead and I am more conscious of what they are enjoying and not moving them onto something else.   It also makes you realise you don’t have to take photos of them doing everything and that sometimes bringing the camera into the equation is going to be intrusive.

If you want to take a challenge or a February resolution, give it a go, put down your cell phone camera and start using your real camera.  I’d love to hear your feedback and see your photos.  #kidsplaynzusingmyrealcamera