ul li {list-style-image: none;list-style-type: none;display:inline;} -->

The Open School of Creative Arts

The Open School of Creative Arts
Click here to go to our new site full of creative art activities

Five Things to Do in the Woods

We love going to the woods, after school or at the weekend for some exploration, free play, and a hit of nature... We often go and just walk through and back with the dogs, noticing interesting wildlife or fungi, but not particularly being present within the space. However, sometimes we will go to the woods to spend time playing and exploring, rather than walking, and I wanted to share our 5 favourite things to do in the woods.

The wood, like many outdoor areas, are a perfect playground, and provide so many opportunities for gross motor development, fine motor development, learning about cause and effect, developing spacial awareness, language development, science, numeracy, creativity, environmental awareness, and lots more!

I’m working with Petits Filous and BritMums promoting the #PetitsFilousPlayFree campaign about the importance of free play.

Check out this awesome video, as seen on Petits Filous' Facebook Page,  highlighting the benefits of free play!

The #PetitsFilousPlayFree project is about embracing free unstructured play. Free Play is critical
for children’s development, tapping into their imagination and encouraging creative thinking. It
helps their negotiation skills, teaches them cause and effect and helps with team playing. It’s
essential for every child, not to mention fun and inspiring!

1. Build a Den 

Building a den is so easy to do in the woods; you have everything you need right at your fingertips, and it is so much fun!! All you have to do is find some fallen branches, and a solid tree helps as a base, and build however your kid wants to! Even if your children need some help with any heavy branches, they can still be in control of the design, build, and outcome!

Den building offers opportunity for developing gross motor skills, creativity, engineering, spacial awareness, self esteem, and a whole lot of fun, not to mention team work and communication skills!

2. Jump in the Stream 
Jumping in the stream (where safe!), is just like jumping in puddles. It's a sensory overload; sound, feeling, sight, and sometimes even taste if the splash is really big!! I have never met a child who doesn't like splashing in water! Some grown ups find it hard to let kids get messy and wet, and that's fine, so if that's you, try waterproof clothes and a great pair of wellies. But even when the water spills over the wellies, it's a great learning experience of cause and effect!

3. Hunt for Nature
This can be a nature treasure hunt, an identification game, or just simply exploring. The woods are a perfect place for looking for nature, however old you or your kids are! Depending on the season, you can find fungi (mushrooms and toadstools), fauna and flora, trees, birds, mammals, fish, frogs and toads, insects, and fruit.

Hunting for natural treasures helps us connect with our surroundings, and can provide children with skills in investigation and identification, it can develop fine motor control and hand/eye coordination whilst lifting leaves and twigs or using tweezers to collect specimens. This type of activity can be fantastic for language development, early science, and numeracy.

My kids love discovering flowers and fungi the most, so its also a great opportunity to talk about safe foraging; the uses and dangers of wild nature!!

4. Make Anything! 

In addition to dens, there is a lot of stuff to be created in the woods! Art with sticks and leaves, leaf crowns, leaf and twig boats, fairy houses.... really anything your child can imagine! You have a multitude of materials available to you; solid sticks and twigs, bendable twine and stems, shapely leaves, malleable mud and clay, loose soil, bark, empty snail shells, feathers. Let your kids get creative!

Creativity always provides opportunity for self esteem, confidence, self expression, language and communication, team-work, all round learning, and of course the development of imagination. All these things lead to creative things, which is so very important in all aspects of life!

5. Climb and Balance 

Climbing trees seems one of those taboo subjects these days. Some people are still all for it, others think schools and other organisations are right to ban it due to health and safety precautions... personally, I am all for it!

Tree climbing is not only fun but it teaches risk assessment and spacial awareness, it develops so many gross motor skills; strength, balance, coordination;  it offers sensory experience not found in many other situations, it offers a new perspective for small children who are nearly always looking UP at their surroundings. Its a brilliant psychologically and physically beneficial activity for children (and grown ups) of all ages!

For much smaller children, even balancing on a fallen branch, or hopping from tree stump to tree stump, still offers many of the benefits!

The best thing about playing in the woods is the freedom! Freedom to play, explore and choose! Children learn so much when they are given the time to just play, free!

While you're still out adventuring, or when you get home, there is no doubt your kids will want a snack! In August and September, you might be lucky enough to have picked your own blackberries or apples, which make a great snack! You might find hazelnuts and have a go at making roasted hazelnuts or even chocolate spread... otherwise a small snack like some chopped up fruit, some nuts, a yogurt, or some crackers will always be a great pick me up!

Petits Filous fromage frais are a delicious and nutritional snack, with 50% of your child's daily Vitamin D allowance, which is great for these winter months, when sunshine is hard to find, no matter how much time you spend outside!! Even better are the Petits Filous snack pouches, which are perfect for taking out and about as you don't need a spoon and they can be kept out of the fridge for up to five hours! Perfect for boosting energy and calcium for fun adventures in the woods!

Let me know what you and your kids love to do in the woods, or your other ideas for outdoor free play! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

09 10