There are so many wonders of woodland walks for children. Forests, woodland and trees are fantastic places to visit and experience. Spending time walking in woodland is beneficial to our mental and physical well being.
They are nature’s playgrounds. Woodland has all the ingredients to help us learn about wildlife, inspire a love of the natural world and spark imagination and creativity.
Forests and woodlands are one of the most common settings for fairytales and many children’s books. From Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and Hansel and Gretel, to The Hundred Acre Wood, The Enchanted Forest, The Gruffalo and Narnia, they have been a source of inspiration for a very long time!
Here are some amazing reasons to go on a woodland walk:
Inspire a love of the natural world
Woodlands come in all shapes and sizes. They provide perfect opportunities for exploring, playing, discovering a sense of adventure and bringing us closer to nature. When we spend time in nature, we begin to connect with it. We develop an empathy for creatures and a sense of responsibility for the environment.
Use all our senses
Children are naturally inquisitive and keen explorers. Woodland and trees provide an abundance of colours, textures, shapes, sounds and smells. Why not go on a scavenger hunt, here are a variety of ideas from the Woodland Trust.
I particularly love their idea of different types of scavenger hunts based on our different senses such as touch. My favourite idea, however, is the ‘imagination based scavenger hunt’. This involves looking for make believe items, such as pirate shipwreck or a secret doorway in a tree. Woodlands are full of these!
We find ourselves becoming more aware of our woodland surroundings. This enables us to observe the smallest of details such as the shape of clouds and beauty of delicate blossom, green shoots appearing in the ground, the sound of crisp and crunchy autumn leaves underfoot, listening to birds or buzzing insects or smell of wildflowers.
There’s a huge variety of plants, shrubs and trees to see, as well as the animals and insects which are dependent on woodland for food and habitat. Did you know, for example, that an oak tree can support almost 300 insects alone?
Woodland is an ever-changing environment, from spotting the first shoots and buds in springtime, to seeing leaves change colour in autumn. It’s an amazing place to visit whatever the time of year.
Have a look at Woods Through The Seasons which explains the different woodland seasons and what to expect.
Spark Imagination & Creativity
As mentioned earlier, forest and woodlands are one of the most common settings for traditional fairytales, as well as children’s fiction.
Magical and timeless, beautiful and inviting, dark and mysterious, forest and woodland environments have been used by storytellers and authors for centuries and continue to be so.
At the time when fairytales were first told, our world was covered with much more forest and trees than it is today. It was a place full of wild animals and potential danger.
It made people feel vulnerable as they were away from the safety of their towns and villages. Forests were (and still are) full of different sights and sounds. They created a sense of unfamiliarity and uncertainty as well as awe and wonder.
These different sights and sounds continue to nurture our creativity even though woodland is less scary to us nowadays. There’s a magic in the shapes created by forest light and shade, the gnarled appearance of tree roots and branches, unexpected sounds from animals we may not be able to see but hear and the list goes on.
It’s exactly these qualities which ignite our imaginations and storytelling!
Exercise & Physical Well being
Spending time outdoors in green spaces is good for us. Walking is a fantastic way of exercising. It’s one of the simplest ways of keeping fit. It doesn’t require anything more than comfortable footwear and is completely free of charge!
Sunshine helps boost our levels of vitamin D and natural light helps us to better regulate our sleep patterns. Exercising in nature ensures that we are breathing fresher air. What purer air could you breathe than that being surrounded by trees?!
The beautiful surroundings help us to feel calm, relax and unwind. It’s also time away from the noise and busyness of everyday life.
Hope you have a wonderful walk and lots of fun!
Further woodland resources for children:
BBC Bitesize has a short video and quiz about woodland habitat and the plants and animals which live there
Tree Tools for Schools from the Woodland Trust has tree and woodland-related activities and information, including leaf identification, bark rubbing, pond dipping, creating a butterfly feeder and seasonal scavenger hunts.
Here are some free printable woodland walk activity sheets from the Woodland Trust. which include identifying autumn leaves, hedgerow fruits and seeds, a mini beast hunt and finding different woodland textures.