Autumn activities with the Woodland Trust
The long summer holidays are a distant memory. The nights are drawing in, but there are still lots of ways to entertain your children in the great outdoors. If you want to prise your kid’s fingers from their Playstation controller or the TV remote, the Woodland Trust has some great ideas for you.
Autumn conjures up images of spooky Halloween parties, watching fireworks on Guy Fawkes night in the chilly November air and drinking hot chocolate to warm up. As the days grow shorter and colder,leaves turn from vibrant green to shades of brown, yellow and red before falling from trees to create a carpet of colourful leaves to be gleefully crunched underfoot!
One woodland flower that bucks the trend and continues to bloom into autumn, between September and November, is Ivy (hedera helix). It’s a valuable source of nectar for many insects before they hibernate. Just be careful not to touch as it may cause a nasty rash! To learn more about ivy check out our website: www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/ivy/
But why do the leaves change colour? This interesting and educational activity sheet gives the answer and helps children to learn the names of the other coloured leaf pigments as well as explaining how the weather affects leaf colour: www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/leafcolour/
Kids love conkers. And apart from the traditional game of conkers there are plenty of other activities to enjoy involving these autumnal super seeds that come from the horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) tree. To find out more about this fantastic tree take a look here: www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/horsechestnut/
Can you find a horse chestnut tree near where you live, in a park or woodland? Go hunting for real conkers - how many different shapes and sizes of conker can you find? Big, small, round, lumpy and bumpy they’re all interesting, look carefully do they have swirly patterns on their glossy shells? For some fun colouring activities download the activity sheet here: www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/conkercolouring/
If you fancy a baking activity you could make some tasty treats in the shape of conkers. Download the activity sheet and recipe here: www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/chocolateconkers/
Once the kids are done with traditional Halloween activities such as carving Jack-o-Lanterns from pumpkins, or bobbing for apples they could go exploring in the woods. Make sure they keep their eyes peeled and their ears open for spine-tingling nature spots such as a full moon, a spider’s web, screeching owls or the howling wind. You can print off a spooky bingo activity sheet here: www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/spookybingo/
If you’re feeling crafty around Guy Fawkes night why not try making some fantastic leaf fireworks? You’ve already enjoyed searching for beautifully coloured leaves - now collect them up - they’re perfect for making colourful leafy fireworks. Download an activity sheet here: www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/fireworks/
If you’re inspired to get out and about, a great starting point is to find your nearest wood at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods. Don’t forget to wear tough shoes and pack wellies and an anorak in case of bad weather. You can also pack a picnic and before you go download some spotter sheets or other activities from the Nature Detectives site. If you enjoy them you might consider joining the Woodland Trust as a fully paid up family of Nature Detectives. You’ll get a fantastic welcome pack bursting with awesome activities, an activity folder, stickers, bookmark, membership card and seasonal activity packs for outdoor adventures all year round. Find out more at: http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/naturedetectives/membership/