Woodland and forests are an exciting place to take children on an adventure! There is so much for them to see, hear, touch, and smell. We’ve put some activities together for you to plan a woodland walk with children.
When I think about my childhood my fondest memories are nothing to do with the things I was bought, instead, they are the long days spent exploring woodland and forests. Feeling absolutely tiny in comparison to mighty trees, picking apples, collecting berries, hunting for fairies, making dens, and spending quality time with my family.
“Restore balance. Most kids have technology, school, and extracurricular activities covered. It’s time to add a pinch of adventure, a sprinkle of sunshine, and a big handful of outdoor play.” ~ Penny Whitehouse
Children immerse themselves fully in nature, they run, get messy, and have lots of fun. By allowing children to interact with natural environments they learn by actually getting involved, they will ask questions and experiment with ideas. Experiencing the outdoors offers authentic learning nothing like being in a classroom. Children will take risks, try and fail, and try again, they gain resilience and confidence.
Read through our ideas on how to keep children busy and engaged on a walk in the woods. All you will need is a sprinkle of imagination, an area full of natural resources, and in some cases a little prior planning.
Check the weather
Make sure that you check the weather before you visit, we live in the UK and the weather can be very unpredictable at the best of times. You might need to pack waterproofs, boots, or even wellies. Even during the Summer months, woodland can be damp and muddy.
Pack food and drinks
Always take drinking water with you and if you’re making a day of it why not pack snacks or a picnic. From experience, children will always want snacks! Just please don’t leave any litter behind, take it with you or find a bin so that we can preserve our woodland and keep it free from litter.
Link your walk to a favourite book
There are so many opportunities to make a trip to the woods exciting for children. Why not link to books and for example you could go on a trail through Delemere forest to find the Gruffalo, hunt down Stick Man and take him back to his family tree or go on a Bear Hunt. Trudge your way through the deep dark woods. You could take a favourite teddy for a teddy bears picnic. A really lovely way to get your little explorers to link reading to physical activities, and using their imagination.
Hold your own woodland concert
Children love nothing more than to make lots of noise, so let them! Encourage children to pick up sticks of different sizes and textures, bang them against trees, tree stumps, or against other sticks. Listen to the different sounds they can make. Can they play really loudly or really quietly? What ‘instrument’ makes the best sound?
If you have more than one child with you, why not work together and make a rhythm? You could even make up your own song! We’d love to hear them.
There is nothing more natural for a child to want to do than climb a tree. Just make sure that the tree is safe to climb and supervise them at all times. Climbing trees will help children to develop physical strength, focus, and concentration as well as giving them a giant boost of self-confidence and self-esteem.
Play hide and seek
This game will never get old. You truly can’t go wrong with a game of hide-and-seek or tag. Tree’s make great places to hide behind or even camouflage yourselves with leaves! These are a great way to tire children out, get them moving and the challenge of getting into the perfect hiding place will help improve their overall balance, agility, and coordination.
One positive about having phones on us all the time is they have cameras! Get children to take photos of things that inspire them and that they find interesting. This might be the way sunlight filters through trees, an animal they spot, or an interesting flower they find. When you get home, upload their photos and encourage them to print them, scrapbook them, or get really creative and edit them.
Geocaching is a form of treasure hunt using GPS to locate containers that are hidden in different areas. This is a challenging and exciting activity for all even the adults! Children love a treasure hunt and what a great way to encourage getting outside and walking. Children will be so distracted looking for treasures that they won’t even realise how far they have walked!
Play word games
We often play I spy in the woods to engage children as it helps them to notice different things they wouldn’t usually in their surroundings. Another good word game is the alphabet game, simply go through the alphabet and for each letter say something you can see on your walk for example A: apple tree, B: branch, I promise some of the letters are going to be tricky!
Build a den
Make them, break them, make-believe play in them! This is a great activity for children with tonnes of imagination. There’s lots of natural building material to use in forests and woodland, fallen branches, sticks, logs, leaves, and bracken. Encourage independence and let children go for it by themselves and see what they create. This is a great problem solving and teamwork activity. Learn how to build a den outside here.
Try our scavenger hunt
Children love to collect things, they will naturally pick things up they are drawn to during a walk. This activity can be really educational, a great exercise for the body and mind. There are so many things you can find, don’t forget to take a small bag to fill with treasures! Download our free printable here.
You can make your scavenger hunt into a game and take our Woodland Walk bingo card out with you! Don’t forget to tag us in photos of you completing our Bingo Card on our Facebook, and Instagram we would love to see your collections and all your woodland adventures.
Hopefully, we have encouraged you to plan a woodland walk with children! There are so many activities you can use forests and woodland as your playground for. Let us know if you do any of these in the comments below.