totbag – short for ‘think outside the bag’ is an outdoor activity bag for children aged three and above.
The brainchild of three busy mums with a friendship spanning over twenty years and 10 children aged between 12 months and 15 years between them, totbag outdoor activities was born out of our shared passion for being outdoors with our children and teaching them about the world around them.
Meet the three friends behind totbag and its mission to get the kids away from their screens and outside learning about the world around them.
Sophie York - Design
Along with Tessa, i’m jointly responsible for all the lovely creative bits at totbag, drawing on my experience as a secondary school art teacher (I have a PGCE in secondary education) and an artist and designer with a BA (hons) in three dimensional design. I get such joy from thinking up the activities for the seasonal bags, then collecting, making and photographing everything. Once that’s done I liaise with in-house and outsourced designers and suppliers to make sure that our product always reaches our very high standards.
The idea for totbag was dreamt up at a girlie catch up and it’s come a long way since then. We’ve developed it with the help of our close friends, our mummy friends and the whole parent community that are always looking for activities to do with their children. totbag gives a busy, conscientious parents the opportunity to spend quality time with their children and take play back to nature and creativity.
I have so many friends that love the idea of spending time with their children in this way but wouldn’t have a clue where to start and even if they did they’d be overwhelmed by the task of finding all the resources. totbag solves that problem and provides everything for any family to get involved, whether they are creative or not. It gives us a purpose to our family walks and bridges age gaps with ease – my children’s ages are so diverse it can be hard to find things to do all together, but all of my children love totbag. The smallest of time outside becomes a sensory adventure enjoyed by all of us and I am committed to ensuring that totbag remains unique, fresh and continues to bring families together in the natural work around us…. Even if just for one day.
My perfect family day:
“Life is busy with toddlers and teenagers so on the rare days we do get to spend all together we like to get out and make a real day of it. Long walks with muddy boots and big sticks or bike rides and picnics. My kids love a picnic! Building dens, climbing trees and collecting nature treasures. We always come home with a bag of delights that the kids have discovered and use them to make something when we get home!”
Tessa Kimmel - Education
In my professional life I have worked with primary-age children with a range of additional educational needs, so my focus at totbag is planning and developing activities that link to the curriculum and enhance learning for all families and children, before letting Sophie work her creative magic on them! I also work closely with Claire to ensure we spread the word about totbag’s latest activities to our customers as well as looking after the logistics of the business.
I’ve always been passionate about getting children outdoors and exploring the world around them. My teaching practice has been deeply influenced by the Forest School approach to learning, taking children’s education outdoors and getting back to nature, rather than being stuck in a stuffy classroom and that influence carries through into our totbag activities.
There have been countless times we’ve been out as a family and my boys have become
bored fairly quickly not content to just go for a walk or visit the park. For me totbag combines
being outdoors and giving children a fun, creative and imaginative focus enhancing the
My perfect family day:
“Getting up early, packing a picnic, spending the whole day outdoors and even having camping trips in the summer. I especially like getting the boys out on their bikes as they can burn off lots of energy. It’s great coming home at the end of the day ready for a quick bath and then bed!”
Claire Speksnijder - Operations
I’m a Liverpool-based social worker with years of experience looking after young people with a diverse range of needs. I’m the organiser of the group, working with my two wonderful and creative friends Tessa and Sophie to ensure our customers know all about our fun and educational outdoor activities, through direct liaison, events and social media.
I’m a busy working Mum, so for me totbag is about providing parents like me with an easy, fun, cost-effective and educational experience, so they can just enjoy being with the kids, without having to spend hours searching for activities and sourcing the materials needed to do it.
There’s nothing better than getting back to basics with the children and exploring the outdoors. If totbag can help make that happen AND take the pressure off parents by letting them just enjoy precious family time, then we are achieving our mission.
My perfect family day:
“Visiting a local park with the kids in wellies and puddle suits and letting them be as free as possible to explore their surroundings, without boredom setting in (we’ve all been there when the novelty of running around wears off). totbag always maintains their interest in exploring the outdoor and watching their enthusiasm and imagination in completing the activities is amazing.”