As the summer stretches on I often hear parents say that they have run out of places to take the kids. However, I don’t think that there is any limit on how many visits you can make to the woods. I work with children throughout the school year on a weekly basis, meaning that we visit the exact same patch of woodland over 30 times in a school year. And yet they never tire of going there, and we never seem to run out of things to do while we are there. The most powerful part of revisiting the same woodlands over the year is that we observe the changes of the seasons, even the most subtle changes are noted by the children as they have become so familiar with the woodland are very connected to all that happens there. As summer moves into autumn now really is the time to keep up your visits to the woods, you never know what magic awaits you on your next trip.
So for this week’s activity get ready to explore and open your imagination to the many possibilities that the woods hold in store for you.
I read the book “The Gruffalo” to my preschoolers one day with the idea of making story sticks but before I knew it they wanted to go looking for his footprints and even though I had not prepared anything in this way they found no fewer than 20 signs of the Gruffalo having passed through our woods. All of a sudden any patch of ground where the leaves had been disturbed they saw a footprint, and broken twigs on trees showed his large body had passed through and snapped them in his wake. One child even spotted his knobbly knee on a tree trunk! Equally, mention to a child that there are foxes in these parts and I’m sure one will say they saw a flash of orange, while another will have already found a hole in the roots of a tree that could be his den, or spotted a patch of earth where they’re certain they can make out a fox print. If you don’t dissuade them their imagination could lead them on a trail right through the woods. Try to suspend your own disbelief and see how easy it is to suddenly see signs of Fantastic Mr. Fox in every turn.