If you’re able to join in and visit your nearest woodland, park or forest during our Trees Are The Key Awareness Week, here are some fun things that you and your support bubble can do during the restrictions.
On your way to the woods, what types of clouds can you see? Take a look at this guide by ZME Science: https://www.zmescience.com/science/types-of-clouds/ and see if you can spot cirrocumulus, cirrus, or a cirrostratus! They can go from the cute and fluffy to the grey and dull. You might even find you start seeing shapes in the clouds – faces or animals or even trees!
What birds can you see?
Birds love the trees, and hopefully on your walk there should be plenty. How many different birds can you find? This great tool by the RSPB: https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/identify-a-bird/ will help you identify up to 406 different bird species found in the UK, and maybe even a rare overseas visitor. You can input information such as what colour feathers the bird had, what its beak looked like and where you saw it into the filters and get an array of pictures that you can look through to find it.
Take a piece of paper and a pencil to your favourite tree. Hold the paper on the bark and gently rub the pencil over it (use the side of the point for best results). You might like touse different colours, so that once you’re home the rubbings could be used in collages or other artworks. Or simply make a collection of different tree barks!
Play word games
You could play the alphabet game, saying things that you can see in the woods or park, like A is for acorn, B is for berries, C is for clouds, D is for dog and so on – but some of the letters will be tricky! Or you could play I Spy, or even I Describe – where you describe something you see and others try to guess it.
What birds can you hear?
If you’re in the woods and you can hear the birds, but not see them, here’s a great bird song identifier: https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-songs/what-bird-is-that/ by the RSPB. The playlist has 19 different birds to listen out for. How many different species did you hear in the woods today?
Play hide and seek
When you’re out in the woods, or the park, play hide and seek! Trees make great places to hide behind. It can bring about a lot of laughter, and exercise too, as you run to find the best hiding place!
Make a trail!
Gather some big sticks and crunchy leaves from the ground or the woods, and lay a secret trail for your family to follow. You could make arrow signs with the sticks, have piles of leaves strategically placed – but kids of all ages might prefer to play with the leaves instead!
Hug a tree!
It’s purported that hugging a tree increases levels of oxytocin, the hormone responsible for feeling calm. When you’re out and about, find a tree and give it a hug! If you’re with your children and the tree trunk is too wide for one person, you could all hold hands and form a circle round it. You might even find a tree that’s just too big to hug!
What plants can you identify?
Do you know your bluebell from your hellebore, your wild garlic from your crocus? Take The Woodland Trust’s quiz: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2021/02/early-spring-flowers/ and find out about 13 flowers and shrubs that you could see in the woods near you from March onwards. First clue – is bluebells!
What else can you hear?
When you get to the park, or the woods, or if you’re just sitting in your back garden, be still for a while and listen carefully – what sounds can you hear? Can you hear the wind rushing through the trees, a train in the distance, a cow in the fields, cars on the road, birdsong, dogs barking? Take a moment just to digest what’s around you.
Have a picnic
Things always taste much better outdoors! It may well only just be Spring, but why not, on a dry day, take a picnic with you to the park. Many outside spaces have lovely views, so find a picnic table, or take a blanket, sit for a while and enjoy some down time with delicious food and drink! Remember to take everything back home with you.
Please check guidance on Covid restrictions for your locality to make sure this is permitted.
Have a Scavenger Hunt
Let your children explore the natural world. Create a list of items for them to find in the woods that they can tick off as they go. From pine cones, leaves and feathers to acorns, woodland flowers and even searching for the new green leaves of spring. Here’s a list of activities from TreeToolsForSchools by The Woodland Trust: http://www.treetoolsforschools.org.uk/activitymenu/?cat=scavenger
Practice some yoga
Take your mat to the woods with you and practice some outdoor yoga. Find a nice quiet spot, soak up the atmosphere of the woods, connect with nature, and just ‘be’ for a little while. Studies show that regaining a connection with nature can help lower your stress levels.
Don’t forget to send us a picture!
Whilst out in nature, take a selfie, or get your companion to take a picture of you with your favourite tree, or in your favourite woods. Upload it here https://www.wordforest.org/week/ so we can add it to our gallery of amazing trees from around the world, and also enter it into our competition to win 10 trees planted in Kenya in your name. If you have some card to hand, make a sign saying #TreesAreTheKey that you can take with you to hold when you have your picture taken.
Time to plant some seeds!
Now you’ve been outside and bathed in nature, maybe you could plant some native wildflowers or bulbs; whether it be in a few pots, in window boxes, or a flower bed in your own garden, you’ll really enjoy them during the summer.
Hope you enjoy whichever activities you choose to do. Let us know what you find most enjoyable!
Please be sure to check out the current guidance for what you can and can’t do in your area due to Covid-19 restrictions. Below are links to the guidance for the four UK nations.Please be sure to check out the current guidance for what you can and can’t do in your area due to Covid-19 restrictions. Below are links to the guidance for the four UK nations. If you live outside the UK, please find your local guidance.
Sue Jueno and The Team