Tag Archives: learning outside the classroom

Welcome signs of spring

A late winter visitor - a waxwing
                       A late winter visitor – a waxwing

At this time of year the weather is often unpredictable with frost and flurries of snow, heavy rain and flooding mixed with warm, sunny days that reminds us that spring is almost here. Wildlife also reflect this ‘in-between-the-seasons’ character with winter visitors from Scandinavia such as waxwings feeding on the last of the autumns berries at the same time as the drumming of woodpeckers establishing their breeding territories can be heard. Here are some activity ideas to help reawaken your senses and look for those cheerful first signs of spring. Continue reading Welcome signs of spring

Winter Trees

Trees in winter - discover an upside down world
             Trees in winter – discover an upside-down world

The New Forest’s woodlands become different places in the winter. Leaves fall from deciduous trees, in a myriad of autumn colours, to reveal bare branches and twigs with pointy buds. Suddenly leafless, this is the best time to study the shapes and silhouettes of trees; the ancient oaks look bent and wrinkled whilst silver birch look slender and smooth. Here are some fun ideas to help ID and learn about trees in winter: Continue reading Winter Trees

Animal tracks and signs

Deer slot tracks
                                             Deer slot tracks

It’s been a wonderful season for wild food foraging. Harvesting reminds us that we are part of nature and the importance of taking only what you need. Many animals are also busy collecting and eating this bounty of autumn foods to prepare for the winter ahead. As many mammals are nocturnal or very secretive now is a good time to look for feeding signs and animals tracks to see what’s about. Read on for ideas and how to improve your detecting skills: Continue reading Animal tracks and signs

Nature inspired autumn land art

Where does a Leaf Cat go when the wind blows? Don't forget to take a photo of your land art
Where does a Leaf Cat go when the wind blows? Don’t forget to take a photo of your land art.

Autumn is my favourite time of the year to be outdoors exploring the New Forest; foraging for juicy blackberries, collecting fallen crab apples and enjoying the season’s changing colours. It’s also a wonderful time to create some amazing land art – all you need are leaves and a creative imagination. Continue reading Nature inspired autumn land art

Moth Mania

This ‘Old Lady’ visited our sugar trap.
                    This ‘Old Lady’ visited our sugar trap.

Moths are fab – not drab! They are as brightly coloured and patterned as their day-flying relatives, and come in all shapes and sizes. With an amazing 2,500 different types of moths, compared to 58 different butterflies in the UK, looking for moths and experiencing their world at night is a magical and wonderful way to learn about nature. For fun ‘mothing’ techniques read on. Continue reading Moth Mania

Hedgehog Hogitats

'Merlin' - a rescued hedgehog checking out a hogitat house
‘Merlin’ – a rescued hedgehog checking out a hogitat house

Hedgehogs are one of our most iconic British mammals and the worrying decline in numbers could mean that these snuffling spiny hogs might become a rare sight in the future. The plight of our hedgehogs and how people can help is an excellent study to introduce to children the concept of wildlife conservation and hands-on investigations about hedgehogs and their habitats. Read on for ideas to help plan your hedgehoggy investigation: Continue reading Hedgehog Hogitats

Minibeasts and bughunting

'Bug-napping' - making a pitfall trap
‘Bug-napping’ – making a pitfall trap


Learning to observe and record wildlife is a vital for understanding the natural world and conservation. Wildlife is all around us so it’s important to focus, to start with, on one group of animals or plants, and on a local patch – a garden, school grounds or woodland. For beginner groups invertebrates or ‘minibeasts’ offer many opportunities for study: whether they crawl, creep or buzz they hold endless fascination particularly for young observers. Follow these fieldcraft tips to help develop young enquiring minds. Continue reading Minibeasts and bughunting