Activity ideas

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  • General Ideas and Activities

Find out what the Forest Friends have been up to here  (note from the Forest Friends’ Forest School Practitioner – This site is used primarily as an assessment tool and record of evidence as it keeps all photos and memories in a managable way. Its a bonus that it can be shared with parents and give others ideas too!)

Real World Learning  The Real World Learning Network is a consortium of outdoor learning providers across Europe. Our goal is to explore and share successful approaches to outdoor learning that increase action for sustainable development. We believe that outdoor learning offers one of the best approaches for young people to engage with the world around them, and provide a stimulating context to explore how we can all contribute to a more sustainable present and future.

sharing nature with children Sharing Nature with Children –  ‘The classic teacher and parents nature awareness  guidebook’ by Joseph Cornell

Earth Education… A New Beginning  ”This book proposes another direction–an alternative that many earth-education-steve-van-matre-paperback-cover-art environmental leaders and teachers around the world have already taken. It is called The Earth Education Path, and anyone can follow it in developing a genuine educational program made up of magical learning adventures. Earth education aims to accomplish what environmental education set out to do, but didn”t: to help people improve upon their cognitive and affective relationship with the earth”s natural communities and life support systems, and begin crafting lifestyles that will lessen their impact upon those places and processes on behalf of all the earth”s passengers.” Some of the aims of a Forest School programme might be explored via an EE approach.

Mission: Explore celebrates John Muir (free eBook) The eBook features 20 activities that reflect the adventures and ethos of the Victorian Scot, created by the John Muir Trust and Mission:Explore. (Engaging book, lovely illustrations, discusses risk and how to manage risk and many of the missions could be completed as part of an FS programme)

Lessons From Nature – a new, pan-European project, enables participating schools to take advantage of free resources and learning opportunities, all of which use nature as a mentor for re-designing the human world. The project has brought together a wide range of educators to develop valuable new learning resources which are available to schools through the project website.

As part of the launch the Field Studies Council is offering free learning outside the classroom courses for pupils aged 12 to 16 (with a travel subsidy) and also free teacher training throughout the summer term.

Schools can get involved simply by emailing or by telephoning FSC staff at Epping Forest Field Centre on 020 8502 8500.  (info from LoTC website May 2013)

Project Wild Thing Lots of ideas that could be included as part of a Forest School programme.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust  Members of DWT’s Watch club recieve resources for both staff and pupils related to watching wildlife and environmental education, many of these activities could be used as part of a Forest Schools programme

DWT Schools Watch Club Leaflet

 Nature Detectives

Nature detectives is full of stuff for kids and families – run by the lovely people at the Woodland Trust (see also schools section) also see the Natures Calendar Survey which you can take part in.

Learning Through Landscapes

The national school grounds charity, which helps schools and early years settings make the most of their outdoor spaces for play and learning. Search through the database of free rsources for ideas for your FS programme

Little Gems Workshop Notes – Kim Hudson, Inspiring Outdoors  A selection of well thought out, short activities to keep up your sleeve! Kim Hudson of Inspiring Outdoors delivered this popular workshop as part of Derbyshire Forest School Day 2013

  • Activities based upon Current Events

Tree Charter  The Woodland Trust is leading more than 50 organisations in a call to define the charter and would are looking for children and adults to help shape the charter to be published in 2017 toshare their tree stories

Woodland Trust HS2 factsheets  Designed for the communities to be affected by the proposed new High Speed 2 rail link. If we lose areas of ancient woodland who will be affected and what will the impacts be? A complex current topic for investigation by pupils.

Ash Dieback Game (Facebook) – A game that uses real genetic data from ash trees and the Chalara fungus. Help scientists compare this information and potentially discover how the disease works.

  • Surveying and species ID

Earthworm Watch 

I Spot – iSpot is a website aimed at helping anyone identify anything in nature. Once you’ve registered, you can add an observation to the website and suggest an identification yourself or see if anyone else can identify it for you. You can also help others by adding an identification to an existing observation, which you may like to do as your knowledge grows. Your reputation on the site will grow as people agree with you identifications. You may also like to visit our forums which offer lively debate around observations and other more general topics. If you are interested in working with Ispot email

OPAL  Learn more about the environment around you with these free education packs developed by the OPAL Yorkshire and Humberside team.The packs are curriculum-linked, with activities for different learning styles but with an emphasis on active learning.They are designed for primary school pupils, but can be used by other age groups if preferred. Key Stage 1 activities are appropriate for ages 5-7 and Key Stage 2 for pupils aged 7-11.The packs are created for use in woodland and some need access to particular habitats, such as ponds, but there are also activities that would work in any outdoor setting or even a large indoor space. Most of the packs have activities you could do in the classroom before and after your visit.

Free Dragonfly Teaching Resources

Find Butterfly and Moth resources at Polli:Nation and Munching Caterpillars

  • Maths

Meaningful Maths Trails – Ideas from the University of Cambridge here

NRich Enriching Mathematics – Ideas for giving Maths a real life context for all age groups, most activities could be completed or started as part of a Forest School programme

  • Physical Education

Woodland Workout – Published by the Forestry Commission Scotland

Woodland Workout Activities

Woodland Workout Physical Activities

Woodland Workout Teachers Guide

  • Trees and Forestry

If you are planning a tree planting project you might find some inspiration in the videos below

Forest Man Film – Since the 1970’s Majuli islander Jadav Payeng has been planting trees in order to save his island. To date he has single handedly planted a forest larger than Central Park NYC. His forest has transformed what was once a barren wasteland, into a lush oasis.

Our Forests Our People –  A short (10min) and interesting (lots of discussion points) overview of UK Forestry produced by Confor

Timber! is a new website providing free, cross curricular, and creative resources, activities, and practical ideas on British trees and forests and their value. Many of the resources have been developed and used with young people both indoors and outdoors by teachers and Forest School Leaders in Oxfordshire in partnership with the Sylva Foundation team.

 Downloadable lesson plans to be used in the forest. Also visit the Activity Guide page to view a downloadable Forest Cycle presentation and other seasonal activities.

Forest Education Network Resources Page

These pages contain links to a selection of resources from our members and partners that are specifically related to all things forests and trees.

Teaching Trees

Teaching Trees is a project which encourages the educational use of woodlands. It is developed and funded by The Yorkshire Division of The Royal Forestry Society.

One Oak – The Sylva Foundation

OneOak is an education project of the Sylva Foundation. We aim to reconnect people with the concept of growing trees for wood, and of using wood, by following the life story of one oak tree.

The Woodland Trust 

A range of ideas, resource sheets, tree information and publications . Schools can also sign up for the Green Tree Schools Award. It’s free and has fantastic ideas for activities celebrating woods and trees

Eco Schools Tree resources – new for 2014/15

Forests for the Future Introductory Unit – Our Wood Culture. A resource investigating trees, forests and climate change

UK Forestry and Forest Education Resources for GCSE and A Level Geography specifications FEN steering group members have put together a handy chart highlighting the various resources available for woodland learning, and how these link to the curriculum.

  • Art

Land Art for Kids

Richard is a Land Artist, sculptor, photographer and film-maker. Julia is a qualified Teaching Assistant and is also a Land Artist. They make Land Art sculptures in beautiful places around the North West of England from their base in Lancaster. Lots of ideas and even ‘how to’s’ to include Land Art in your FS programme.

  • Crafts and Practical Projects 

The Stick Book

The Stick Book – loads of things you can make with a stick

                                             Making Woodland Crafts 


Basic Woodland Basket -6 steps

Wildwood Activities Resource Page some lovely ideas from Forest School trainer Lauren Stevens in handy step by step format.

Muddy Faces free resource booklets (and other FS related publications and equipment) from Muddy Faces. Craft ideas
Outdoor activities Forest School Mud Kitchens Mud & Play Map Clothing Being Cold Den building

  • Literacy

‘Write Out Of The Classroom’  A book by Colin Macfarlane exploring how to use the ‘real’ world to inspire and create amazing writing (Published by Routledge – 2014 – 236 pages)


hidden woods – A Poem by Hollie McNish

Hollies words (and the accompanying video) will call up memories of time spent in the woods and previous Forest School programmes. Have your Forest School group tried creating/performing/recording poems based on their time spent in the woods?

The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear

  • Science

Chemistry of autumn leaves

The world beneath our feet. Connecting soils and curriculum linked to all areas of the Scottish Curriculum

  • Songs

Michael Rosen Performing ‘We’re Going On A Bear Hunt’. This video is part of the exhibition running at the Seven Stories Museum of the Children’s Book, Newcastle.

  • Stories

Why tell stories and storytelling without a book

Tree Stories Published by the Forestry Commission Scotland this is a collection of stories written by Claire Hewitt. There is a tree story for every month of the year and tips for storytelling the traditional way ‘Eye to Eye, Mind to Mind and Heart to Heart’


 The Gruffalo “A gruffalo? What’s a gruffalo?”“A gruffalo! Why, didn’t you know? He has terrible tusks, and terrible claws, and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws.” And so begins the story of a quick-witted mouse as he encounters a host of predators who seem to think he might make a tasty treat. As he ventures deeper into the deep dark wood, stumbling across a hungry fox, a not-so-wise owl, and a slimy snake, spinning ever-extraordinary yarns about the scary, scaly gruffalo, he quickly realises that the hungry beast he has been talking of isn’t imaginary after all.


 Stick Man “Stick Man lives in the family tree With his Stick Lady Love and their stick children three.” But it’s dangerous being a Stick Man. A dog wants to play with him, a swan builds her nest with him. He even ends up on a fire! Will he ever get back to the family tree?
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Follow the family’s excitement as they wade through the grass, splash through the river and squelch through the mud in search of the bear. What a surprise awaits in the cave on the other side of the dark forest
Leaf ManLeaf Man Fall has come, the wind is gusting, and Leaf Man is on the move. Is he drifting east, over the marsh and ducks and geese? Or is he heading west, above the orchards, prairie meadows, and spotted cows? No one’s quite sure, but this much is certain: A Leaf Man’s got to go where the wind blows.
Bog babyThe Bog Baby When two small sisters go fishing in a magic pond, they find something much better than a frog or a newt. They find a Bog Baby. Small and blue, with wings like a dragon, the girls decide to take him home with them and keep him a secret.
superwormSuperworm Toad in trouble? Beetle in a jam? Never fear — Superworm is here! And he’s wiggling to the rescue! But when Superworm is captured by a wicked Wizard Lizard, will his friends find a way to help their favorite superhero escape?
The disgusting sandwich
The Disgusting Sandwich One day, a boy drops his sandwich in a sandpit, and the race is on! A very hungry badger wants it, but he’s just not quick enough. The sandwich is dropped, squashed and slithered over by everyone from a squirrel, to a fox, to a band of slugs. Will the badger ever get his paws on that sandwich?

The Woodland Trust/Nature Detectives Inspiring Stories List Woods and trees are the ideal setting for imaginative and exciting adventures! Here are some brilliant books for all ages, featuring woods, trees and nature

Spirit of Trees A varied collection of multicultural folktales and myths – a resource for therapists, educators, environmentalists, storytellers and tree lovers – this is a great resource, you can search by tree species or country.

The Man Who Planted Trees

The Man Who Planted Trees – In the foothills of the French Alps the narrator meets a shepherd who has quietly taken on the task of planting one hundred acorns a day in an effort to reforest his desolate region. The Woodland Trust have produced a downloadable assembly pack


An Alphabet by Molly Brett – learn the alphabet with nature

  • Recipes

DCC FS Day – Campfire Cooking Recipes Attendees at the annually held Derbyshire Forest School Days have had the opportunity to prepare, cook using a variety of methods and consume these tried and tested recipes.

  • Winter/Christmas Ideas

Try making and carrying and/or hanging paper/plastic lanterns or jars/tubs containing artificial candles or pre charged solar lights in order to balance the gloom with a little a magic!

Christmas Advent Submitted by Julia,Grindleford and Eyam Playgroup

candle spiralWe use the Moorland Visitor Centre at Longshaw Estate and invite all the children with their family’s to come and share a moment of peace, in the frenzied run up to Christmas.  We run for two hours and people are invited to arrive whenever and for as long as they want.  The children follow a candlelit trail ( in jars) from the car park to the visitor centre when on entering they are given a candle, they walk the spiral and place their candle.  Everyone around sings carols ( from a given sheet). People arrive when they want and leave when they want. There is no talking or chatting- just singing. It is a very calm peaceful Christmas celebration.

 The Wild Weather Book It’s raining outside – let’s get out and play!



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