A man, woman and small boy go for a walk in a woodland

Play is one of the main ways in which children develop and learn. Through play, children learn about themselves and the world around them. To encourage families, child carers, playworkers and education groups to make the most of the Wales’ best playground – our wonderful, natural environment, we’ve compiled some activity ideas, tips and tricks to help keep children engaged and build their connection to nature.

Need simple ideas for Nature Play and Family Fun?

Whether you are visiting your local park, beach or taking a walk through a local woodland, exploring nature is a great way for children to exercise their bodies and minds. The natural environment offers the opportunity to engage in a variety of fun, simple activities regardless of age, fitness level or gender, so why not try some of our activity suggestions with your children.

Download our Nature Fun and Play Booklet for ideas and suggestions.

Our Education, learning and play YouTube playlist offers a range of a short how-to videos to provide inspiration for some outdoor adventures:

Pebble towers
Building a wormery
Nature fibs
Nature art
Minibeast safari
Scavenger hunt

Inspire their creativity

Check out our Getting Creative Outdoors booklet for ideas. From creating natural mandalas to making a peg butterfly, with 26 activity ideas there’s something for everyone.

Download our Getting Creative Outdoors Booklet to help inspire your children’s creativity when you are out in the natural environment.

For activity 15 you will need a couple of supporting resources. Remember to take them with you to help make shelter building fun for all the family.

Activity 15 - Shelters and dens (information note)
Activity 15 - Creative shelter challenge (resource cards)

Sensory activities to get your family exploring and discovering in the natural environment

Using their senses to explore the natural environment allows children to learn about the world around them and themselves. From using their sense of smell to create natural scents, to looking at the natural environment from a new perspective during a canopy walk, these interactive activities and games are guaranteed to stimulate exploration and discovery.

Download our Natural Senses Booklet and take the ideas out and about with you.

Some of the activities need some supporting information and resources:

Activity 7: Tickly prickly - (resource cards)

Activity 8: Animal snap – (resource cards)

Activity 14: Scavenger hunt coastal – (resource cards)

Activity 14: Scavenger hunt land – (resource cards)

Do your children enjoy nature stories and books?

Find out about what our friend Heti, thinks about a favourite story in this short film.

It might inspire you and your children to get outside!

Or alternatively, why not branch out into books with our trees and woodlands booklist?

Branching out into books – (booklist)

Not sure where to go?

Explore our woodlands, nature reserves, trails and open access land. Our places to visit webpages allow you to search by places to go or activities to do.

Tips and tricks to help you take your child out into the wild

Before heading out, check out our tips and tricks for a safe and happy play session with your children:

  • Time - Try to give your children as much time as possible to explore and investigate, test their abilities and follow their interests. Why not find a nice spot to sit and relax while the kids check out the area?
  • Clothing - Are you all wearing the right clothes for where you are going and the weather? If you are heading to the woods it might be cooler under the trees. The coast might be a little windier or hotter. Layer up if it’s cold; grab the waterproofs if it’s wet; sturdy shoes for walking and climbing; long light sleeves, leg coverings and sun hats to protect young skin from the sun. And don’t forget the insect repellent and sunscreen!
  • Food and supplies - Have you got enough snacks and drinks to keep everyone happy during your time outside? Children (and adults!) work up an appetite when they are burning off energy in the fresh air. Will there be somewhere to wash hands before eating? Maybe take some extra water/wet wipes/sanitiser. Don’t forget to carefully dispose of any wrappers, containers and leftovers or take them home with you so they can be recycled.
  • Ensuring a safe and enjoyable visit - Follow the Countryside Code for safe and happy visits to the countryside and coast, and to avoid causing problems for others. For more information on how to be #Adventuresmart visit AdventureSmartWales

Why play outside?

Check out our play poster for information on the multiple benefits to health, wellbeing and learning, of playing in natural spaces. Our other posters on connecting to nature, physical activity and wellbeing are available on our Outdoor learning research page.

Child’s play – Children have the right to play

Did you know that children have a legal, human right to play? The Welsh Government has led the way in promoting children’s right to play. If you want to find out more about play, Play Wales has lots of great resources and information.

We believe that it is every child’s right to grow up and live in a healthy and sustainably managed natural environment. Our Children’s Rights Charter shows how we will uphold and promote children’s rights in our work and deliver better services for children and young people in Wales. Find out more about the children’s rights approach from the Children’s Commissioner for Wales.

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