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Forest schools are an innovative approach to outdoor learning, using nature and the things in our environment, that focuses on the needs and wants of the child. Your child, and yourself, will get to reconnect with nature, allowing them to grow and develop their own ideas and creativity in an environment away from their screens and scheduled lives, giving them natural, fun, and less stressful experiences. We’ve compiled a list of the top forest school and outdoor activities that your whole family are bound to love!
Sally’s Adventure Club
"Creating...listening..learning...making the most of London outdoors (and beyond)..family together...respecting Mother Nature...and just being" - Sally Bailey (Leader of Sally's Adventure Club).
Round up your children and bring them over to Highgate Wood in North London where they can attend one of the best forest school activities going. Watch them embark on an adventure to hunt for all of their favourite mini beasts and creepy crawlies. Sign up to Sally's Adventure Club's newest event and let Sally guide you and your family through the great outdoors while enjoying your morning singing songs, sharing stories and learning in nature.
From Bud to Blossom
Whether you're running out of ideas for free family fun, or simply love learning new skills with your children, From Bud to Blossom is the perfect family day out. Fulham Palace in South London are offering a free afternoon filled with outdoor fun right as spring starts kicking in. Your family will love a break from the school routine. Plus, getting to make flower crowns, using their own green thumbs to plant a seed and meeting birds of prey will surely make their day that much more special. Whilst you're there, explore the other 13 acres of gardens that Fulham Palace has to offer, reconnect with nature, and spend quality time with your family.
If you’re unsure of what to do with your children, why not head down to Walthamstow Wetlands in North East London and make the most out of their many free weekend forest school outdoor activities all year round. If you’ve got early years aged children then you can enjoy an afternoon of nature themed fun with activities ranging from storytelling, arts and crafts as well as an autumnal walk with lots of sensory play for your children to engage in and enjoy. There's no need to email, just turn up!
Get hands on with nature and join Mission Invertebrate. They run sessions all throughout the London Royal Parks, including the beautiful Richmond Park home to wild deer with history to boot. The park spans across the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. Your children will love going bug spotting on the famous bugmobile, dressing up as their favourite invertebrate and planting their very own pollinator friendly plants to attract bees and butterflies to your very own garden. Between using the friendly volunteers to help identify the bugs they find, and even getting to handle some of the small critters themselves, they'll never run out of stories to tell when they get back to school. The sessions are all free, suitable for children between the ages of 3-11, and there's no need to book or sign up with an email address. Just simple fun and learning in nature.
The Woodberry Wetlands located in the heart of North London holds outdoor family activities every weekend (so you'll never run out of ideas of where to go next!) where you and your children can get to know all about the wildlife that lives right here in London. Take part in pond dipping (a childhood favourite activity!) and see what wildlife you can spot; from kingfishers to reed warblers and even dragonflies, there will be something to spark your child's interest. The family will have the time of their lives spending their day here building habitats for all the mini beasts that they’ll be hunting for and learning about. It's easy, no email address needed, and all outdoor activities are free for you and the children to enjoy.
Located at Horniman Museum in South East London, the minibeast safari is perfect for your children who want something to talk to their friends at school about! Fun for all the family, you'll get to go for a scenic outdoor walk along the nature trail whilst your child hunts for creepy crawlies, bugs, and any other insects or interesting things that exist in nature. There is a tutor on hand to help identify all of your findings along the way, and they'll even help with ideas of where to search next. The nature trail is the oldest in London, so its not suitable for pushchair use. And even if you can't take part in the safari, the Horniman museum is the perfect place to go for some outdoor fun. With it boasting beautiful nature gardens, an animal walk to get up close and personal with some furry friends and a butterfly house, you'll never run out of ideas on where to go next.
When you need last minute ideas for which adventure to go on with your little explorers, head over to the nature detectives website, print out and use one of their many activity sheets that are guaranteed fun for the whole family! You can choose any activity you'd like and they're all free! We recommend the Winter Scavenger Hunt, as you’ll get to see what kind of amazing things you can find in the great outdoors. For bonus fun, why not get some school friends join in with ideas on which logs to look under or tree bark to inspect and compare findings at the end! If you’ve run out of ideas of where to go, we have a whole list of amazing parks that are perfect for winter walks with the children.
Kingston Forest School
Wild Play and Learning in Nature are fun, inspiring forest school activities and bush craft sessions run by Kingston Forest School in South London. The forest school is suitable for children of all ages, from early years (3-5) to teenagers. In these sessions your children will enjoy learning about using tools, how to safely create fire and build natural shelters. These group-bonding experiences based in South London will allow your children to develop their own ideas, use their new-found confidence to express their own creativity. They'll spend the day making friends, learning in nature and you're guaranteed that it will be time well spent. You do have to register and book, so just sign up with your email address and everything will be good to go!
Hackney Forest School
Instead of weekend activities, Hackney forest school in East London runs afternoon sessions twice a week for your children to attend after they've finished school for the day. You need to sign up with your email address to book in your children for a total of six sessions, but it'll be worth it to see them running around in a completely natural environment. They'll get to embrace nature, paint with mud, climb trees and make dens. Research shows that regular outdoor activity encourages children to use their imagination, and your early years aged children or even your preteens will learn how to make friends in no time.
London Wetland Centre
After a long week at school or work, the London wetland centre in Barnes, South London is the perfect place to unwind. Go for a walk along one of the many idyllic routes, watch your children using up all of their energy in the playground, or let them choose which activity to do in the hands-on zone. The centre also offers events that are free to join, your children can make use of the arts and crafts sessions, meet the otters and see other creatures in their natural habitats. Weekend sessions also include making seed-bombs perfect to use as a pollinator at home, brainstorming ideas on how to protect a village against flooding in the wetlands mini village, and even outdoor den building! All sessions and events are free for members, but included within the price of the entrance ticket - however, the wetland centre is offering a 10% discount if you sign up with your email!
For more outdoor and indoor fun, head to Kidadl.com.
Natalie has lived in London her whole life. Growing up her favourite days were the ones she got to spend exploring the halls of the Natural History Museum or running around pretending to be Peter Pan in the Diana Memorial Playground. Nowadays, however, she’d be more likely seen reading, listening to her favourite music, or hunting for special gems in the countless secondhand bookshops across the city.