The Covid-19 pandemic that swept the world in 2020 altered the way we live and work. While many aspects of our daily lives have changed – including the way we interact with nature – there is one activity that has become much more difficult and, in certain circumstances, even dangerous. We ask ourselves, “How can I take my kids out for a walk in the woods when I don’t know how safe it will be?”
Thankfully, there is an alternative solution that doesn’t require traveling to a forest during a time of day when dangerous wildlife might be out and about. Instead, we can use the sun’s energy to our advantage and keep our kids warm and safe during outdoor play sessions. You can create a solar energy blanket that will provide heat (depending on the size of your family) beyond what ordinary body heat can offer alone. All it takes is some creativity, a bit of fabric and glue, and the ability to measure a few angles with a protractor or compass.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Materials Needed For The Blanket
- Yarn. This will be your basic building material, the material that provides the stretchiness that allows the fabric to retain its shape. In general, the thicker the yarn the more durable the fabric will be. Cotton, a polyester blend, and linen are the most common types of yarn used for weaving solar blankets. These materials are all machine washable and dryer suitable, making them easy to maintain.
- Fabric. This will be the material that provides the body of your blanket. There are many different types of fabrics used in making solar blankets including polyester, acrylic, silk, and cotton. The majority of these fabrics are durable enough to withstand multiple washes and dryers but are not thick enough to retain their original shape when woven. To prevent your children from snagging their clothing on sharp objects while outside playing, select a thick and durable material. Spandex is another option that is both thick and durable. When selecting this type of fabric, take into consideration how you plan on wearing the blanket. Thicker fabrics work best when the edges are finished with a heavier thread or when a drawstring is used to close the hood. This provides a better hold when pulling it over your head.
- Buckles (metal or rubber). These are the clasps used to fasten the front of your fabric and keep it in place while playing. Metal buckles are generally preferred when strength is needed, and rubber ones are ideal for a slushy or snowy day. The most common types of metal used in making solar energy blankets are stainless steel and aluminum. These types of metal allow for a strong yet lightweight structure that is easy to transport and store.
- Hood. This is what will cover your head while playing in the snow or sitting in the sun. It should be large enough to fit over your ears but small enough to keep the wind from running wild and taking your jacket with it. For best results, use a 100 percent cotton or a 100 percent wool fabric as your base layer, and the hood should be at least 10 degrees warmer than your body temperature. In some instances, a fleece pullover with a hood can be a good intermediate layer. The best way to choose the right size of the hood is by feeling it. If you are still getting used to the idea of being outside without a jacket, a smaller hood might be the solution you are looking for.
- Velcro Closure. This is the thing that will keep your child cozy and warm. You can use any type of fastener you want, but Velcro Closure seems to be the most common choice when it comes to kids’ clothing. It provides an easy fastening mechanism that can be removed when needed. This will depend on your child’s preferences but could be useful for adding a layer when they get cold or removing it when they overheat. It’s functional yet simple and offers a good price-quality ratio.
- Rag. This is what will serve as the filling in the middle of your solar energy blanket. When shopping for a piece of cloth to use for making your solar blanket, make sure that it is long enough to cover your hips at least. The more you have on the middle, the more it will fill and warm up your baby when they wear it. You should select a material that has a medium thickness to allow for light wind to flow through it when playing. Some types of rags, such as the kind used to make old-school American flag skirts, are even thick enough to serve as a base layer when it gets cool.
- Glue gun (or hot glue) and pins. These are the items you will need to fasten your fabric together. A glue gun provides even distribution of the hot glue while allowing you to work at a comfortable pace. When using a glue gun to make your solar energy blanket, make sure that you apply the glue to all the raw edges of your fabric. Wait for a few minutes for the glue to dry, and then start your sewing process. Pins provide extra holding power when sewing your fabric. Avoid using metal pins as these can become hot and pose a burn hazard when touched.
- Sewing Machine.
Once you have gathered all your materials, it’s time to get started. Take your time and go slowly to ensure that you get the shape you want. Make sure that you have everything before you start sewing. Use the above mentioned materials to fashion a long strip of fabric. Make sure that there are no holes or tears in the material before continuing. Weave one end using the 3/16″ seam allowance and leave the other open to form a loop. Once you have reached the end, whipstitch the loop closed using your preferred method. It’s good to go!
Now that you have a basic understanding of how to make a solar energy blanket, let’s get back to our original question: how to make a solar energy blanket for your kids.
First, take a quick trip to the store to grab some essentials, including some protective gloves and boots, and a warm hat. You will also need to measure the height and length of your child on an empty stomach to ensure that the blanket fits them perfectly. After you have gathered all your materials and have followed the instructions described above, you can begin sewing. You will need to use your sewing machine with a longer stitch length to ensure that the entire blanket is seamless and has no noticeable stitching. Once you are finished, use the provided needle to put a hold on the remaining length of the material. This is now ready to be used!
Walking In The Woods With Your Kids
If you live in a region of the country where winter sports are a possibility, then taking your kids out for a walk in the woods becomes much more appealing. However, during the pandemic, the idea of going out into the snow with your kids might feel more daunting than ever. What if you and your children get sick from the cold? What if you lose your way? These are some of the many questions that plague parents during these uncertain times. Fortunately, there is a solution: the solar energy blanket. This product provides the warmth your kids need while also shielding them from the elements. In this section, we will discuss different ways you can take your kids out for a walk in the woods and still feel safe.
The Backpack Method
One of the simpler and more practical solutions to take your kids out for a walk in the woods is to use a backpack. Backpacks allow for easy transportation of your children from vehicle to vehicle and can keep them warm en route. They are also compatible with most child carriers and car seats. This makes them ideal for active families who need to constantly switch between cars. For instance, if you are going to be at a park for a while and your child needs a break from the stroller, a backpack allows you to take them with you to nearby equipment like swings or sandboxes. This will not only give your kids a change of scene but could also improve their mental wellbeing through physical movement. We all know how sedentary time can increase the risk of obesity and other health problems. Walking is one of the simplest and most effective ways to reduce this risk.