There are times when persuading the children to get outside can be a struggle – but the great outdoors can be one of the best playgrounds and classrooms. Alongside the obvious benefits of getting some exercise, being out in nature, no matter your age, has proven benefits for your physical and mental health.
Who doesn’t love a scavenger hunt? Before you set off, make a list of things that you want to find on your walk and perhaps offer a prize to the first one who gets a full house? Perhaps you could look for things that start with each letter of the word “Nature” or your own name? Look for things that are heart shaped? Look for things that are your favourite colour? Or collect different textures?
As an alternative, you could try Geocaching. If you’ve not heard of it before, using GPS technology, you go on a treasure hunt to find a cache (a small container that has been hidden somewhere with a log book inside). Find the cache, log yourself as having found it and go off to find another! Some larger caches may also contain a treasure that you can take, providing you leave another in its place!
Why not gather together the fallen branches and make your own den? Use larger branches as the main supports and fill in the spaces between with smaller ones.
Can you also find dens, nests and homes of the local wildlife? Make sure you’re quiet around them in case someone is home so as not to disturb them!
Become a nature detective!
Perhaps you’ll find tracks left by an animal – how far can you safely follow them for? What do you think made the tracks? If you’re lucky enough to catch up with whatever made the tracks – remember to keep back and give the animal space so as not to frighten them.
First of all gather together things that have already fallen from the plants and trees or are on the ground. Once you’ve got lots of things together you can make pictures on the ground with them. You could even use fallen branches to frame your works of art!
You may want to create a mandala with what you find. A mandala, coming from the ancient Sanskrit language, meaning circle, are symmetrical, often geometric circular patterns. To create your own, start with the smaller, inner circle and work your way outwards with whatever you find. Aim to keep it as symmetrical as you can!
Go on an adventure!
Going out into an area you already know well, armed with your trusty Ordnance Survey map, is a great way to enhance your map reading and navigational skills – a basic life skill which will serve them well in the future! Use your map to plan a route for an adventure and then when you’re on the trail – compare the eagle eye’s view on the map to how the lay of the land is. Being able to compare the two will help you understand all that the map is showing you!