Forest fun for families
As a forest and nature instructor, Ursula Fluri takes groups into the forest in every season – whatever the weather. Here are her tips for families.
What should families take with them on a forest excursion?
It’s always a good idea to take a magnifying bug box. that kids can use to collect and inspect things. And something to sit on, even if it’s just a newspaper in a plastic bag. And, of course, sausages to roast on an open fire are always a hit. However, far more important than any equipment is the need to take time and look around.
Why is it important for kids to get out and about in forests?
When a child pushes past a branch, it pings back and hits him. This way, kids learn that all actions have consequences.
What rules apply in the forest?
We have to respect the forest inhabitants, so no touching nests, burrows, protected plants, ant hills, etc. Of course children can collect leaves and plants, but they shouldn’t just pluck them willy nilly. It goes without saying that any rubbish must be taken home.
What are the risks and dangers?
The forest is no more dangerous than normal daily life. However, as with road safety, there are a few things to remember:
- Use a spray to protect against insects and ticks.
- Stay away from forests during storms or after heavy snowfall due to the risk of falling branches.
- Cook anything edible you find in the forest in order to kill off fox tapeworm eggs (the same applies to food in your garden).
- Never touch dead animals or droppings.
- Talk to your doctor about tetanus vaccinations.
Three simple forest games
1. Tossing the pine cone (with your feet!)
Every participant should collect three pine cones. Use a stick to draw a line on the forest floor. Take off your shoes and socks and stand along the line. Grab a pine cone with your toes and throw it as far as possible. Every participant has three goes each. Who can throw the pine cone the furthest?
Equipment required: none
2. Forest memory game
Someone starts by collecting five to ten objects such as stones, leaves, pine cones, berries or grasses. Give everyone around a minute to study the objects, then place a cloth over them. Now everyone has five minutes to find as many of the same objects as possible. The person who finds the most gets to choose the next objects for the others to remember.
Equipment required: cloth to hide the objects
3. Guess the tree
A child is blindfolded and led to a tree and given plenty of time to feel it. Back at the start, spin the child three times and ask him to find the same tree.
Equipment required: cloth for blindfolding
- Trees, Leaves & Bark (Take Along Guides), Cooper Square Publishing Llc.
An introduction to the world of insects, caterpillars, and butterflies including identification information, educational activities, and fun facts.
- Little Book of Whittling (Chris Lubkemann)
Excellent introduction to wood carving, using simple techniques, straightforward illustrations and simple non-expensive tools.
- The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book: 448 Great Things to Do in Nature Before You Grow Up (Falcon Guide)
A year-round “how-to” activity guidebook for getting kids outdoors and exploring nature.
- Last Child in the Woods (Algonquin Books)
About the importance of nature for children.
Forest and nature instructor