Spring is one of those times of the year that feels like it is bursting with wonderful things to do outdoors. In and amongst the play and laughter, it’s always nice to take some time to celebrate the wonder of nature that surrounds us. We decided to take a closer look at foraging and the wonderful opportunities it creates for play.
It may be that you choose to go foraging in your own garden. Or perhaps you can go a bit further afield and explore a park or a woodland walk.
Wherever you choose to base your foraging adventure, remember to treat your surroundings with respect and only take what won’t be missed. Before you step outside we recommend asking your children to talk to you before they pick things up or take flowers off plants. That way you can be sure you’re exploring without causing any damage.
We’ve compiled a list of five favourite foraging play activities. We hope you enjoy them on your springtime adventures.
Spring is a time of new growth, flowers and bursting buds. Wherever you walk you’re sure to spot beautiful examples of nature growing. So how can you responsibly collect some treasures to bring home again?
Creating a beautiful spot to display your foraged flowers and sprigs of springtime leaves is a great way to limit what you collect while making sure that the treasure you find gets maximum appreciation. Try building up the contents of your jar over a week so that it serves as a lovely memory jar of the fun walks you’ve taken. You can ask your children to remember where collected items came from as you take time to appreciate them.
Either choose a small plain glass jar from your cupboard or decorate a jar to create a special springtime display. We love this demonstration from wikihow on how to decorate your jar with decoupage. You can either fix a full photo or try tissue paper pieces to create a beautiful abstract design.
Sometimes a Spring walk needs a little inspiration to get your children interacting with the world around them. One great idea is to turn your walk into a treasure hunt and see if your children can find wonderful objects to match a list.
The list you create could be the letters of a name, colours, or a selection of different objects – a pebble, a flower, a feather, a stick. Try a combination of repeating the same list or changing it out. Your children will marvel at the variety of objects they can find that start with the same letter or match the same colour. Meanwhile you’re teaching them to observe and interact a bit differently with the world around them.
It’s all too easy for the most beautiful Spring treasures to turn into rubbish if you don’t know what you’re going to do with them. Planning an activity in advance is a good way to make sure you forage with purpose and put your treasure to good use.
You can make pictures with flower petals and leaves; press flowers using a flower press or heavy book and turn them into future projects making cards and calendars; or even find beautiful pebbles to paint and decorate to create treasures for other children to find.
We love this activity sheet from the RHS in the UK. It sets out really clearly how to find and decorate pebbles with your children and is a great way to turn a Spring walk into a fun activity.
Springtime is such a lovely time of year to appreciate everything growing in your garden, you may find it’s a good time to encourage small budding gardeners too.
One lovely way to inspire our next generation of gardeners is to allow them to create their own garden. You can do this with some sand or soil in the bottom of a plastic lunchbox, old container or seed tray.
Make sure you water the soil or sand in the tray before you start as that will create a better base. Then send your children out foraging in the garden for sprigs, flowers, sticks and stones – basically anything they could add to their garden.
Once picked, the different pieces can be pushed into the soil or sand and arranged to create flower beds, paths and even ponds! Encourage your children to add craft items like lollipop sticks and pom poms for fences and creatures. They can even populate their garden with toys and figures.
Many children have a wonderful combination of keen eyesight and natural curiosity which presents a great opportunity to teach them about the world around us. Local libraries are packed full of reference books that explore the natural world in gardens, woodlands, beaches and more. An exploring Spring walk is a wonderful way to bring this to life.
If you can, take pocketbooks with you, or sketch books and cameras to capture what you see. The trick with this activity is you want to see what your children can spot and then help them use the reference books to identify their finds when you get home.
Once identified, why not create a visual diary or a list on your fridge that shows what you have seen on your walk each day. One idea we like is to use the New Zealand Garden Bird Survey Tally Sheets. They provide a wonderful visual reference of what you see and lots of fun for the whole family as they add to the count. You may even want to take part in the proper count when it comes around in 2022!
Spring is a fun time to explore the natural world around you. There are many activities that you can do that harness your children’s natural curiosity and turn exploring nature into an opportunity for fun play. If you enjoy these ideas then don’t forget to read our other blogs. You can also follow us on Facebook for updates on how we are taking the opportunity to enjoy Spring.