Looking for ways to keep your kids entertained this summer? We’ve rounded up ten activities from forest schools across the UK, to keep kids busy all summer and beyond! Find inspiration with a range of games and crafts from outdoor experts.

Woodland treasure hunt
Let’s go fishing
Nature pictures
Hapa Zome
Mud painting
Nature crowns
Eagle eyes
Nature weaving
Spider webs
Rush rafts

Woodland treasure hunt

What you’ll need
A handkerchief, cloth, tea towel or piece of paper

Instructions

Children often wish to find treasures in the woods, so why not create your own treasure hunt? You can use a bit of cloth, a handkerchief, tea towel or piece of paper for this. Lay it on the ground, then add different objects you spot on the forest floor.

Ask children to look for matching objects and to place them on top of the corresponding ones on the fabric. You can use items of different sizes, textures, colours and shapes for your woodland treasure hunt.

Claire Crowley, Root and Branch Out CIC, Rutland

Let’s go fishing

What you’ll need
Sticky weed, a stick, wool, a hole punch or Sellotape, card, glue, felt tips or crayons.

Instructions

This activity is perfect for late spring and early summer when sticky weed grows in abundance. Find a stick and tie a length of wool to one end, then tie some sticky weed to the other end of your wool. This will be your fishing rod. Cut out a fish shape from your card, decorate it and make two holes in the tail of your fish with a hole punch (if you have one). Attach some wool to the tail, either by threading it through the holes or with Sellotape. Now it’s time to go fishing! Once you’ve perfected your technique you can make more fish. How many can you catch in a minute? How far from your ‘pond’ can you stand and manage to catch your fish?

Alice Tucker, Goblin Combe Adventures, North Somerset

Nature Pictures

What you’ll need
A piece of cardboard, air dry clay (or sticky mud), nature items – e.g., leaves, sticks, feathers or pinecones.

Instructions

Explore the area and see what exciting natural items you can find! Push the clay or mud onto the cardboard (air dry clay and sticky mud act like a glue) and stick your items into it to make your creation. Recently, we made stick men at our forest school, as that was our story for the session. You can adapt it to make anything though.

Emma Webster, Sidcot Forest School, Somerset

Hapa Zome

What you’ll need

Plain fabric cut into smaller pieces (old pillowcases or bedsheets are ideal), plus flowers, leaves, grass and other colourful nature items – the brighter the better! Dock leaves and dandelions work particularly well, and ferns can make lovely tree shapes. You’ll also need masking tape, plus a hammer, mallet or stone.

Instructions

Hapa Zome is the Japanese art of smashing leaves and flowers to release the pigment onto fabric or thick paper. Find a flat, hard surface, then select your flowers, leaves, etc and lay them on your piece of fabric or paper. Lay another piece of material on top, fold your material in half to create a mirror image or simply put tape over the top of your nature items to keep them in place. Using your hammer, mallet or stone, carefully hit the fabric repeatedly to release the colours. This may take some time to do, but it’s fun. Peel away the flowers or leaves to reveal your picture. It can be a great technique for making flags or bunting too.

Top tip: dock leaves are easily cut into shapes with scissors – e.g., heart shapes – and the colour comes out well.

Kim Jarvis, Wirral Wildlings CIC, Wirral

Mud Painting

What you’ll need
Mud, water, pots to mix, paper, sticks, leaves, feathers and string

How to

Have a look around you for some sticks, leaves and feathers. Tie the leaves or feathers to the end of a stick with some string. Next find a good patch of mud and use another stick to scrape up some of the mud. Put it in a pot and add some water, then mix it. Use your original stick as a make-shift paintbrush, to make a beautiful nature picture.

Emma Webster, Sidcot Forest School, Somerset

Nature crowns

What you’ll need
Cardboard or sticky weed, double-sided tape or glue, scissors, scavenged nature items (e.g., grass, flowers, leaves or feathers).

Instructions

An A4 piece of cardboard will create two crowns, when cut into four long strips. Using a small piece of double-sided tape, attach two strips together end-to-end to make them long enough for a crown. Measure the strips round your head first to make sure they’ll fit. Using a piece of double-sided tape, fix the ends together to make a circular crown shape. Stick a long piece of double-sided tape around the crown. Collect nature items and stick them onto the tape. Make sure the items are dry, so they stick easily. You can also use glue instead of sticky tape.

If using sticky weed, you’ll need to twist a few strands together and shape them into a crown. Wrap the ends round and they should easily stick in place. Then poke your nature items in between the sticky weed strands. They should stick quite easily.

Kim Jarvis, Wirral Wildlings CIC, Wirral

Eagle Eyes

What you’ll need
A space to play in. A wooded area is ideal but anywhere with plenty of hiding spots will work.

Instructions

This game is a classic that our group asks for again and again! Choose someone to be the eagle. Eagles have amazing eyesight that helps them hunt their prey. Everyone else is a rabbit: the eagle’s prey. First, the eagle chooses a nesting spot with a good view of the surrounding area. The eagle then announces that they are closing their eyes for 15 seconds and counts down. When the eagle’s eyes are closed the rabbits must find hiding spots. After 15 seconds the eagle opens their eyes and tries to spot the rabbits. The eagle must stay in their nest and only move their head. If spotted, a rabbit then becomes an eaglet in the nest for one round before returning to the game.

Once the eagle is satisfied it can’t spot any more rabbits it closes its eyes and counts down another 15 seconds, during which the rabbits need to find another hiding space. The aim of the game is for the rabbits to evade detection by the hungry eagle. Want to make the game more challenging? Decrease the time the eagle closes their eyes for. You can change the eagle-rabbit roles to any predator-prey relationship too. The kids always bring their own brilliant ideas.

Lucy Cursham, Braid Hills Forest School, Midlothian

Nature weaving

What you’ll need
Cardboard or a y-shaped stick, string or wool, scavenged nature items (e.g., leaves, flowers, grass, feathers)

Instructions

If you’re using cardboard, make little snips round the edges of the cardboard with scissors, then wrap string round and round to stay firm in the little indentations. If using a y-shaped stick, wrap the string back and forth across the ‘v’ shape and tie each end so it doesn’t unravel. Weave your nature items in, out and underneath the string to make a beautiful piece of art. This can also be done on a large scale by wrapping string between large sticks, branches or tree trunks.

Kim Jarvis, Wirral Wildlings CIC, Wirral

Spider webs

What you’ll need
Some brightly coloured wool (that snaps easily)

How to

Wrap your wool around trees and bushes (this should be done by an adult) to make a web. Then the children have to carefully climb through.

Emma Webster, Sidcot Forest School, Somerset

Rush Rafts

What you’ll need

Common, or soft, rush, an easy to identify plant that grows in clumps in grasslands and wet woodlands. It has smooth, green stems that are spiked at the end and can be easily peeled to reveal a spongy centre. This spongy centre makes it buoyant and the ideal material for river faring craft.

Instructions

This is a simple but immensely satisfying craft activity that provides a great excuse to safely muck about in the shallows. And who doesn’t enjoy that? Pick a rush. The longer the rush the bigger the boat you can create. Start with the thicker end and wind it around itself in a spiral motion, making an elongated oval shape. Once halfway through the rush, wrap it a few times around the middle of your raft, like a belt, catching the initial wrap so it doesn’t come undone. Then stick the end up through the middle wrappings. You can add a leaf or bark for a sail or whatever else you think your sea faring vessel needs. The final step is the most important: take it to the water for its maiden voyage!

Lucy Cursham, Braid Hills Forest School, Midlothian

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