It’s National Tree Week this week, where we can all take the chance to give our cherished trees a hug! It’s also a great time to look into what fun tree-related activities are going on around you – such as tree planting, climbing, woodland walks and foraging.
We all know getting outdoors everyday is good for you, but that is often easier said than done when it’s rubbish weather and the Christmas chocolates are calling, but I can’t think of a time that I didn’t feel better for getting out into the woods and having a wander. I promise your kids will be in a better mood for it too. Girl guide’s promise.
National Tree Week
National Tree Week is celebrated around this time every year to mark the start of the season for planting trees. It began in 1975, as an initiative by the Tree Council, in response to Dutch Elm disease outbreak. The Tree Council provide a useful map for you to search what events might be going near you.
Fun woodland activities for children (and their parents) during winter
Go on a walk and jump in muddy puddles
You don’t need to anything more than go for a walk to get enjoyment from the woods. We all know half the battle is getting kids out the doors. Once they are out, they (mostly) make their own fun. Let them take the lead and follow where they want to go. If you have a camera with you, let them take pictures of things they like.
Explore inside a tree
Some trees have great nooks and crannies to look into and see what bugs are hiding. For proper little nature detectives bring along binoculars and magnifying glass to see what you can see high up and low down. Near me, in a churchyard, is possibly the oldest yew tree in Britain, at over 4,000 years old. It even has a door in it. Completely fascinating. Further on, is another yew tree with a girth of over 10 metres.
Find a mountain bike trail
If walking is not your bag, many woods have set biking trails.
Go on a treasure hunt
Go search out pine cones, moss, evergreen foliage, leaves, twigs and feathers. Use your kids to collect stuff so you can make your own Christmas wreath. Two birds. One stone. Here’s some free printables for more ideas of what to collect. You’re welcome.
Build a den
The old classic. Most woods will have a hideaway somewhere, or start your own. You could try a couple of different sizes and shapes.
Do some art and take tree rubbings
Use your imagination and collect some bits and pieces to create a colourful masterpiece on the floor. If you are super organised, bring some clay along too for added texture. You could even make a treeman using collected stones and twigs along with the clay.
For no prep entertainment, track down hidden geocaches in the woods. All you need is a smartphone and the geocache app.
Make an obstacle course
Map out a small route, picking out logs to hop on, and branches to jump over. Bring a whistle if you remember for added excitement. You could add some different challenges into it too like marking out a circle and getting kids to slow down and try to throw a pine cone or conker into the circle before running on.
Climb a tree
I used to do this all the time when I was a kid. There were three trees in the playing field – all with their quirks and challenges. I don’t think kids climb enough really, but it’s so good for physical development as well as developing confidence and imagination too.
Have a picnic
Bring a picnic rug, hot chocolate and/or some warm soup (butternut squash would be the A game here) and bread. Find a peaceful spot and enjoy. You may want to bring extra layers if you plan on staying a while as it’s pretty chilly in the woods right now.
Make a Stickman or (Room on the ) Broom
Bring some pens and strings for this.And fFor complete parenting kudos, bring the books along, read them, then go assemble your creations. For more stick fun there is even a stick book – I kid you not. We have it. Its great.
More woodland activities for children
For more woodland activities, the Woodland Trust has a great section online that is separated into ages.