10 nature activities to try with your family

We believe woods are the world's best playgrounds. They spark children's imaginations, inspire a love of the natural world and help to create happy memories that will last a lifetime. Spending time outdoors also makes us healthier and happier, so it's a win-win!

These activities will help you explore woods with your kids and learn about nature. You can also enjoy them at home or in a green space near you.

Love your woods

Discover our top tips to help you enjoy your woodland visit while protecting precious wildlife.

1. Go on a scavenger hunt

A scavenger hunt is an exciting way to explore the natural world and helps little ones develop their observation skills. It adds fun to family walks too (especially if you introduce a bit of friendly competition!) and the possibilities are endless.

  • Try seasonal scavenger hunts and search for signs of spring or autumn treasures.
  • Choose a colour theme – encourage younger children to look for all the colours of the rainbow and challenge older children to track down different shades of one colour.
  • Explore with your senses and hunt for textures, scents or sounds.

Check out our scavenger hunt blog for more ideas.

2. Spot wildlife

Do your kids get excited about bird watching or love getting up close to creepy crawlies? Woods are teeming with wildlife, so there's no better place for young nature lovers to explore. Grab a magnifying glass or some binoculars then head outdoors and see what you can find. Our pocket-sized wildlife ID books can help you identify birds, minibeasts, trees and flowers while you're out and about. They feature clear colour photos to aid recognition and they're packed with fab facts too.

Some woodland creatures are difficult to spot because they're nocturnal or super-shy, scampering away into the undergrowth at the first sound of a child's voice. They often leave plenty of clues for us to find though, so why not become nature detectives and learn how to identify poo and prints on your next adventure?

3. Have a picnic

An alfresco feast is super-exciting, especially for kids. So next time you head out on a woodland adventure, don't forget to pack your picnic basket with some yummy goodies.

Our woods have beautiful views to enjoy while you scoff your sandwiches. Leafy trees also provide plenty of sun-dappled shade in the summer months, while a winter picnic will warm you up on colder adventures. And remember, you can help us look after our woods by taking your rubbish away and recycling it at home.

Visiting woods

Find a wood for a picnic

We care for 1,000 woods across the UK. They're free to visit and open every day, so they're ideal for picnics and family walks.

Find a wood near you

4. Build a den

Den building is a hands-on activity the whole family can enjoy together. Use branches and sticks to make a shelter that protects you from the elements, or build a secret hide where you can watch wildlife. Before you start, read our den-building guide for some top tips and techniques.

Remember, woods are home to shy animals and fragile plants, so please be considerate with your den making. Use fallen branches and twigs – don't break pieces off trees. And if you’re in an ancient woodland, leave den building to the badgers and foxes. Look for on-site guidance if you're not sure.

5. Make natural art

Woodlands have inspired artists for thousands of years! The natural materials found in woods can be used to make sculptures, collages and other creations. Youngsters can seek inspiration from the ever-changing colours, shapes and textures of the forest scenery too.

While you explore, keep your eyes peeled for fallen leaves, petals, sticks and pebbles. You could build a tower out of twigs, design a pattern using colourful leaves, or even make funny faces on the forest floor. What will you create?

6. Identify trees

Woodland is the perfect place to do a bit of tree detecting. You'll discover plenty of different species and you can study their leaves, seeds, twigs or blossom depending on the season. We've got lots of resources to help you become tree experts – get started with our printable tree ID sheets designed to help children develop their identification skills. Our handy leaf swatch book is great for families too – it's the perfect size for tucking in your pocket on woodland walks and it features leaf photos and facts from over 30 common British trees.

7. Make a nature diary

Your whole family can get stuck into this memorable project. Team up to create a nature journal and record your woodland walks and wildlife encounters. There are no rules – write notes, draw pictures, paste in photos, add stickers, decorate the pages, stick pressed flowers in it… whatever captures your experience. As well as a fun activity to enjoy together now, it will become a wonderful keepsake to look back on in years to come.

8. Play in the rain

Don't let a bit of rain dampen your enthusiasm for the outdoors – chuck on your waterproofs and embrace the opportunity to become wet weather explorers! Go puddle-jumping, make mud pizzas, or search for slugs and snails slithering about in sludgy soil. Read our rainy day play blog for more inspiration.

9. Learn how to whittle

Whittling, sometimes called wood carving, is a brilliant bushcraft activity that uses fallen sticks from the forest. Once you've mastered the skill you can make all sorts of fun projects, such as spoons, simple figures or flowers.

To get started safely, check out our whittling tips for kids and beginners.

10. Build a wildlife home

Inspired by the wildlife that lives in the woods? You can help the creatures in your own garden or neighbourhood by building a bug hotel, nest box or hedgehog house. A cosy home provides important shelter from the weather, as well as a safe space to hibernate. Some animals may even raise their young there! We've got a range of guides to help you make a wildlife home with your kids, whether you've got a generous garden or a pint-sized window box.

Enjoy more adventures together

Had fun in the forest? To receive regular inspiration throughout the seasons, take a look at Woodland Trust family membership.

When you join, you'll receive activity packs stuffed to the brim with outdoor ideas, wildlife facts, nature crafts, recipes and puzzles. It's ideal for families who love wildlife. Plus, as members, you'll help us plant trees and protect woods, creating a healthier planet for future generations.

Family looking at Woodland Trust family membership materials

Get wildlife activities delivered to your door

Our family membership helps you enjoy nature all year round with children's activity packs, our member magazine and a handy tree ID guide.

Find out more about family membership