Christmas is fast approaching, which often means the focus is on buying presents. Children will soon be off school and wanting to be entertained, and due to our location, we can’t think of a better, more affordable activity than to get out into the forest for free! But once you get out into the forest, what do you do?

Here we have a little list of activities to keep the kids entertained, and you may even have fun doing them yourself!

Natural play is great for children’s development: research has shown it can boost cognitive abilities, increase physical fitness and reduce symptoms of attention deficit disorder.

Hit the target with pine cones
Get the children to find three pine cones each. Now find an area of bare ground and draw a circle, then another circle around it, then another. Players stand a distance away from the target and try to throw their pine cones into the circle. Make your own scoring system & rewards to make it more fun!

Woodland artists
Find an area of bare earth and draw a ‘canvas’ of about 1m x 1m with a stick. Now ask the children try to make a picture within the canvas using what they can find such as earth, bark, grasses and stones.

Catch a Falling Leaf
This is a game for the Autumn only, on a windy day. Get the kids to look up into the sky and watch the trees, waiting for a gust of wind. When leaves fall, it’s a race to catch them. The winner is the person who catches the most leaves. No cheating by picking them up from the floor!

Build a den

What you’ll need:

  • Branches
  • Leaves
  • Your hands

You’ll need to find a good tree to start. Look for a sturdy tree with lots of nooks and nobbles, or a low branch. This will help keep your sticks in place when you start building. Get building

Top tip: if you lean sticks against a tree like a wig-wam, you don’t have to do as much building.

Search for some strong branches on the ground that will make a good framework for your den to start. Make sure they’re wedged into your tree, so they won’t move easily. Then you can start filling in your walls by placing more sticks close together against your tree and main branches. As you collect your branches, what can you see? Are there any patterns on the wood, or creepy crawlies hiding underneath?

Use sticks to build a home for wildlife

Lots of tiny creatures love to have a dry, safe place that they can hide away in. Can you create an insect hotel with your sticks? Choose lots of twigs, add some grass and other dead material from the ground such as leaves. Try to build your hotel in a tucked away spot where it will be safe and won’t be trampled upon. Then you can leave knowing that you’ve helped wildlife!

Tree stump snare drum

Grab some sticks and tap out a drumbeat!

All you need is a sturdy pair of sticks and a tree stump, and you’ve got your woodland drum!

Try your drumsticks on different textures – is there a difference in the sound?

Make other natural instruments and set up your own woodland orchestra!

There are so many more forest activities to try, which are all available for free on the forestry commission website, or woodland trust and many other sites. If you do manage to try any of these activities out in the coming weeks, please share with us any of your experiences!!