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Wild Activities for Everyone

Family by fire by Diane GouldFamily by fire by Diane Gould

All you really need for hours of fun is nature and you…

Nature is full of treasure to find! Below are some activities to get you inspired. Some of these activities involve collecting nature but before you collect anything remember:

  • Several of the places we suggest to explore are nature reserves. They provide habitat for special, and sometimes rare or endangered animals and plants living in them. PLEASE RESPECT THEIR HOMES.
  • When making things, only collect nature which has already fallen to the ground.
  • Wild food foraging is wonderful (eg.blackberries, nettles, hazelnuts) but make sure you know what it is.
  • Watch out where dogs have been!
  • Some berries are poisonous. If you aren't with an expert or 100% sure what a berry is then DON’T pick it.
  • None of these activities involve picking up mushrooms or toadstools as these in particular can be harmful and difficult to identify. By all means have a good look, but don't pick! If you’re interested in fungi why not try going on a guided walk with an expert.

Also remember that if you have made things while you’re out and about please make sure you can either take them away with you (reasonably - don't try to take a den home with you on the bus!) or that they can be returned to nature without any bits of card, string, or tape left on them which may harm wildlife.

Some of the activities involve taking string, sticky tape, scissors or a collecting bag with you – don’t forget them! You could make your own collecting bag by folding a piece of card or thick paper in half and then stapling or taping down two sides leaving the top side free for stashing your finds.

Activities

Click on an activity to find out more.

Conkers

Blackberry Picking

'Nature Me' Stick

Nettle Nosh

Camouflage

Nature Notebook

What shapes can you spy in the trees?

Rainbow Chips

Texture Challenge

Shower Curtain Challenge

Leaf Art

Earth Banners

Mobiles/Hanging Things

Seed Socks

Mini Beast Hunting

Leaf Badges

Tree Bingo

Mud Faces

Go on a Listening Walk

Cloud Gazing

Tracking and Trailing

Make a Mapstick

Digital Camera

Bat and Moth Game

Secrets of Shallow Streams

Meet a Tree

Make a Nest

 

Conkers

Conkers Photo copyright Alan Price/Gatehouse StudioAn old favourite! Conker championships have been played in this country for centuries. All you need is a piece of string and something sharp to make a hole. An adult can make the holes in the conkers and you can thread your string though and away you go. You take it in turns hitting each other’s conkers. The aim usually is to have the strongest conker that doesn't get smashed. Can you think of your own versions?

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Blackberry Picking

Blackberries. Picture: Amy LewisYum yum yum! Our hedgerows are full of wondrous treats to eat but you are right to be cautious when seeking out 'wild food'. However, blackberries can be easily recognised by everyone and turn an autumn walk into a feast. Take a bag or box with you then make a delicious crumble when you get home!

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Nature Me Stick

If you wrap a piece of masking tape (sticky side out) around the top of your wellies, or the cuffs of your coat, you can cover it with fallen leaves, interesting twigs… In the summer you could give yourself claws with long dry grass! Another option is to use double sided tape on card - try taking a pre-cut card mask with you (or collect nature to stick on your mask when you get home). Turn yourself into a creature of the woods!

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Nettle Nosh

Another wild food that you are safe with - as long as you use gloves! The fresh top leaves are the tastiest (remember it's best to stay away from edges of roads and dog walking paths). Put the leaves in a pan, cover with water and simmer until soft. These can now be used in soup, omelettes or as they are with butter and seasoning!

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Camouflage

With a bit of cloth you can be completely camouflaged. Calico or cotton are cheap to buy and you can make them in to a tabard. Alternatively an old white t-shirt or one from a charity shop will do. Rub grass and mud all over it for a really good disguise. How about making a disguising crown from card or cloth? Put a strip of double-sided tape round on the outside and add leaves.

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Nature Notebook

Staple bits of scrap paper together and take this and a pencil with you. Each time you are out record what you see or hear or discover.

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What shapes can you spy in the trees?

Some woodlands are dark and have ancient twisty branches. Have a look through the trees. What shapes can you see? Are there dragons lurking? Are there snakes or giant beetles? When the sun shines can you see woodland fairies? Lying under any tree you can do this - in your own garden or in a park or an orchard.

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Rainbow Chips

Cut up some coloured card (or collect paint colour sample cards and cut those up). On a small piece of card stick two lines of double sided sticky tape. Peel off one of the sticky tapes and stick three or four of your coloured pieces onto it. Your challenge whilst out and about is to find things in nature which match these colours.

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Texture Challenge

Find something prickly, something soft, something bendy, something hard, something furry… Why not take an empty egg box with you - you could have a separate compartment for each texture.

Have fun with other challenges. Find something:

- That reminds you of holidays
- That looks like a creature
- That is heavy

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Shower Curtain Challenge

Tie a piece of string between two trees. Use your finds from the texture challenges and hang them down in lines from the string. Eg. If you have to find 'prickly things' hang all the prickly things on one line.

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Leaf Art

Especially great in autumn when millions of colours swirl to the ground. Can you make a butterfly from autumn leaves? Or a snake? Can you make a colourful path that leads your friends into the woods?

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Earth Banners

Cut a square of calico or cotton cloth then use nature as your paints. Rowan berries, blackberries and elder berries give reds and purples and use different muds for a palette of browns. Rub the cloth on the grass for green. Dandelions and buttercups can be rubbed on for yellows. But remember - don’t pick rare wildflowers. If you have collected these things to make your banner at home you could put them in a real paint pallet and mix with water. Haven't got a paintbrush? Fingers are great!
Or to make a brush: collect a stick, collect some bristles (grass, smaller twigs) and bind them together with masking tape. If you want to get fancy use strips of masking tape to mask off areas to stay white whilst you cover the rest of the cloth in nature paints.

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Mobiles/hanging things

Collect nature's treasures and you can make all sorts of things with just a ball of string and some scissors to cut it!

A mobile: Tie treasures at different lengths of string to a strong stick. You could hang this from the branches of a tree in your garden. If you find a bendy stick make a circle to hang things in. Or make a frame by lashing fours sticks together and hang your finds inside.

Tree earrings: Trees need jewellery too! Especially in the winter time if they don't have leaves, flowers or seeds. Choose your finds carefully and thread or tie them onto string. Take them home to decorate your garden!

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Seed Socks

Take a spare pair of old socks with you into the park or grassland. Put them on OVER your shoes. Your feet are now like animal feet picking up and carrying seeds! Have a good look at the different shapes and sizes of the seeds. What plant have they come from? How would they normally get carried? Don't forget to give your socks a good shake out before you leave!

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Mini Beast Hunting

In the undergrowth, around trees, on river banks in parklands live many many millions of tiny creatures. What can you find today? Take a plastic drinking cup, a plastic spoon and you can carefully pick up the bugs and put them in the pot to have a look. Always put the creatures back where you found them. If you want to look even closer bug pots with magnifying lenses can be bought from places like Early Learning Centre.

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Leaf Badges

Thread the stalk of one leaf through another leaf and so on till you have made yourself a dangling leaf badge - the trees will welcome you into the woods now.

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Tree Bingo

Why not look in a book before you go out, or on a rainy day, and draw the shapes of six different leaves. Copy this out for each member of your family and take it with you, the first person to spot all six leaves shouts leaf bingo!

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Mud Faces

Take a lump of mud in your hands, squidge it and squash it onto a nearby tree. Add leaves, twigs, grasses, berries for eyes, ears... Does it have a long beard? Pointy hair? A crooked mouth?

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Go on a Listening Walk

Don't talk just listen... Is that possible?! If not stand still for a minute and play elephant ears. Put your hands over your ears and count to 10. Then, take your hands away but keep them behind your ears, like an elephant, and be completely quiet for another count of 10 or longer. What can you hear? Your elephant ears will funnel the noises and make them louder.

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Cloud Gazing

Out on open grassland? In a park? Take time to lie on your back and look up. What shapes can you see in the sky? What stories do they tell?

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Tracking and Trailing

Can you lay a trail? Divide your group into two. The first group set off and lay arrows for the others with sticks/stones/seeds – whatever is available on the ground. Wait at the end and see if the others can find you. Or head back to them to help them round if its really tricky!! Invent your own symbols - but make sure you agree them before you set off!

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Make a Mapstick

Whilst you are out wandering on your journey, collect some treasure and a longish strong stick…

When you come back lay out your treasures next to the long stick. Use string to tie things onto your stick in the order you found them. You could use different colour wool to be the sky or the sun. Leave one end clear and you can stick your stick in the ground.

It is an upright map showing the places you explored.

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Digital Camera

If you have a digital camera why don't you all have a go at taking what you see in a particular spot. Or one person could use the camera and the others close their eyes. Try looking up and down as well as straight in front of you, and use the macro setting to get some close ups. When you look at the pictures later see if you can each guess what the others pictures were or where they were taken.

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Bat and Moth Game

If there are quite a few of you (seven or more) you can experience the twilight world of bats! Especially good played where bats might live – in woods, near old barns, along old hedgerows. Form a circle. One person is the bat and enters the middle of the circle and is blindfolded (an old scarf will do). Two to five others also go into the circle. They are moths. The bat tries to catch all the moths staying within the circle. The bat calls out 'bat' and the moths then call back 'moth'. This mimics nature as the bat sends out his 'sonar signal' to see where his flying food is!

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Secrets of Shallow Streams

Kingfisher. Picture: Margaret HollandLook gently under rocks for insect larvae. Take time to have a picnic or a drink break beside a stream or river - that way you might get chance to see the dragonflies, kingfishers and other special wildlife that lives along our waterways. (Unless your picnic is a very noisy one!)

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Meet a Tree

Perfect in an orchard or a clearing! In pairs, one person is blindfolded and is led by the other to a particular tree. (They don't need to go far). Ask the blindfolded person to feel the tree. (Don't let them get poked by any low pointy branches!).

  • What is the bark like?
  • Can they put their arms around it?
  • Can you feel anything growing in it?
  • Then the blindfolded person is led back by a slightly different route to where you started. Remove the blindfold and see if the person can find their particular tree!

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Make a Nest

Giant or tiny. This is great in the spring time when all the birds around you are making nests. Gather twigs, leaves, wool, feathers anything you can find and make a nest on the ground.

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