|The bluebells are so pretty in the springtime|
One thing I love is walking through our local wood. If you are looking for days out in Hertfordshire I can definitely recommend Sherrardswood Park in Welwyn Garden City. The woods are always so peaceful and of course they are different every time we go in so the children never tire of them. As the seasons change there's always something new to discover. In Spring the bluebells are out in abundance covering the woodland floor in shades of blue and lilac. In Summer you can hunt for bugs and minibeasts. In Autumn you can dodge the falling acorns or jump in piles of golden leaves and in Winter you can take a brisk walk on a chilly morning and look at the patterns made by the frost or the dew droplets on a spiders web.
There are surprises to come across too. You might see some horses trotting along or find a secret den. In the middle of the woods you will come across some wooden animal sculptures. Last week I went for a walk with my friend Charlotte and her children and we discovered that the medicinal properties of dock leaves really do work on nettle stings! You even could forage for blackberries to stew and nettles to make into soup if you fancy doing some woodland cookery.
1. Play the Gruffalo game
My children always refer to the woods as the "deep dark woods" and you can have great fun trying to spot the different characters from the book. Is that pile of wood the snakes logpile house? Does that feather belong to the owl? Perhaps you can find a nut or acorn for the mouse to eat. Luckily though we haven't spotted a gruffalo...yet!
2. Go on a minibeast hunt
Take a magnifying glass with you and go on a minibeast hunt to see what creepy crawlies you can find lurking under stones or in logs. If you are feeling brave you could put them in a creature peeper jar and take a closer look. Remember to let them back safely into the wild though.
3. Collect a woodland collage.
Find items on the woodland floor that could inspire you to make a fantastic woodland collage. Fallen leaves, twigs and pinecones can all create a wonderful picture - or even a sculpture if you are feeling extra creative.
4. Search for the flower fairies.
See what flowers you can find and talk about what flower fairies live there. You can find some toadstools too where the gnomes live and if you are lucky you might even find a fairy ring - a circle of toadstools said to appear where the fairies dance!
The list of things that you can do is really unlimited but to give you some more ideas you can visit the Woodland Trust for some great printable activity sheets to take out to the woods with you (thanks to my friend Karen for sending me the link). You could also have a look at The Stick Book to get some inspiration for what you can do with all the sticks you collect.
Of course I do like an incentive at the end of my walk and it usually comes in the form of a nice lunch or a bowl of chips at the Red Lion Pub in Welwyn. You can find it as you come out of the woods at the Ayots side of the woods. Its a large pub with outdoor seating for sunny days. Whenever I've been there with the children they have always been lovely and welcoming towards them and there are babychanging facilities too.
So find out where your local woodland is and get exploring