According to recent research done by the Wildlife Trusts, fewer than 10% of children play in natural areas. I’m sure you’ve all heard the lecture and seen the shocking statistics but a few simple changes can have a massive impact.
“We are hard-wired to be part of the natural world.”
– The Wildlife Trusts, Every Child Wild
Playing outside has numerous benefits for children, and adults! Children feel more connected, develop meaningful relationships, take risks and cope better with stress, just to name a few. Being outdoors allows children to be happier, healthier and more creative, so why not?
I would begin with a scavenger hunt. Explore. Look closely. Over 50% of children have never seen frogspawn in the wild and now is the perfect time to spot some. What else can you find? Maybe some mini-beasts or a funny shaped stone?
For the more tech-savvy, you could try geocaching. It is basically a worldwide treasure hunt using coordinates or GPS. I already have a geocaching date lined up with a friend this Easter.
Get creative! There are so many natural materials to play with, especially sticks and mud. Fairy houses and mud monsters are always popular but how about making a magic star wand? Or using sticks as drumsticks to create a song? You could even upgrade a game of pooh sticks by designing and making your very own mini-raft and having a race.
Those lucky people that are visiting a beach over the holidays, see what you can find. Smooth pebbles, seaweed, old rope and even some colourful sea glass. Don’t stop creating.
Staying nearer to home? Make a bug hotel for your garden. There are so many designs and styles that you can really make it your own. Tiny, massive or hung up high, they are always fun to make. Use old bits of wood, bricks and other natural items. Maybe make a sign and add a lick of paint too. Keep checking over Easter, has anyone moved in yet?
The National Trust have a fabulous 50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4 list. It is full of really fun ideas and activities. You can look at the list on their 50 things website or pick up a free booklet from their properties to fill in. My friend Sam has been doing some of the activities with her class, including snail racing! See what she’s been up to here.
For the keen photographers and teenagers of the family, the National Trust challenge on instagram is really fun. Each week they choose a theme and you can enter your photos using the hashtag #NTchallenge. It’s just for fun but they choose a winner and five runners up each week. I’ve been a runner up a few times but keep trying for that top spot!
Raining? Don’t let that stop you. Get your wellies on, zip up your waterproofs and head out in search of the biggest puddles. You might even try building a shelter using a tarpaulin or natural materials to hide from the rain. Imagine a picnic in a tipi! If you don’t want to stray far, try making some rain art. Experiment with different pens, hang your picture outside and see what happens to it in the rain.
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”
– Alfred Wainwright
For a more peaceful activity you could go bird watching. Here at blackbird forest school we are a big fan of this. The RSPB are doing a big garden bird watch at the moment and have loads of information and resources on their website.
Finally, you could try some foraging. Do a little research before you head out so that you know what to look for. There is plenty of wild garlic around at the moment – see my wild garlic blog. You could even look out for elder or brambles that will have delicious berries on later in the year. Keep a mental note! Save your foraged finds for a rainy day when you can cook something yummy together.
If all else fails, find a friend who has a hand-built zip wire in his woodland!