Now is the perfect time to go exploring in your local forest. The canopy is starting to thicken, the forest floor is a carpet of colour and the sunlight seeping through the trees creates a magical light that makes walking in the forest feel otherworldly. Just stepping into a forest brings out the kids in us and we’re sure it does you too. Here are 10 great ways to play in the forest
Make you very own stick man, or take it further and make a whole tribe with huts and have some small world play in the forest.
Write the alphabet with sticks and other items found in the woods. The first one to get all the letters wins. You could expand this by creating shapes or even finding natural shapes and letters in the forest. Go on a treasure hunt of letters, numbers, shapes and colours.
Try out some tracking. Choose a small area of woodland, preferably with a feature in the middle, such as a small group of trees and shrubs. Mark out a boundary around it with stones or large twigs then get your children to explore the area just by sight, so no touching. Then send them away to play for 10 minutes while you make some subtle changes, such as snap a hanging twig, flatten down an area of grass, hang some hair or a feather in a bush. Then get the kids back to discover what is different. This one might take some time to prepare for and set up but kids love it and it can really get everyone paying attention to changes in their surroundings.
Play hide and seek. The forest makes a perfect spot for this game. For safety it is always a good idea to agree a boundary and a key word before you start. No-one can hide outside the boundary and if anyone gets in trouble or the game needs to end then you can shout the key word for everyone to come out of hiding. Beware though, the forest offers so many great places to hide you could all be there a while!
Den building. Well this has to be a given when playing in the forest. Every good game needs a base. There is also something so satisfying about personalising it, making it yours. If your forest is a regular haunt then why not visit your den on a regular basis and make it your special spot for a picnic.
Discover woodland birds. Just stop, close your eyes and listen. Birds are singing loud and clear this time of year and if you take the time to listen it can seem as if they are singing just for you. Take out some binoculars and see what you can spot. Why not build a nest big enough for all of you and then take a #natureselfie.
Climb a tree. This is another ‘must be done’. Climbing trees has so many benefits for children. Children learn their limits and build their confidence climbing trees but it can also be a relationship builder. Try letting them go a little bit further than you normally would while guiding them along the way or get your kids to talk you through climbing a tree. Get them to stand at the bottom and help you get to a safe spot to take in the view.
Tell a story. Stories take on a new meaning in magical forest surroundings. Let your imagination run wild. Why not start a family story where the kids get to help build the story. Alternatively you can stick with a classic and search out the Gruffalo or go on a bear hunt.
Let them run wild. Sit back and relax while the kids take the lead. Let them go wild and don’t interfere. Take the chance to enjoy your favourite book or simply revel in watching your children blossom.
Explore the flora. Discover all the different flowers and make up stories about the fairies that might live on them. See how many you can identify, how many different colours you can find or how many different shape petals they have. Flowers can also be a great subject for photos if your little ones like to get behind the camera.