Parents in Leicestershire are being encouraged to get their children playing outdoors this summer, thanks to top tips and a series of wild summer play sessions run by the Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust. The sessions, which run throughout August, are funded by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.
Government research shows that only 10% of children in the UK are accessing outdoor learning and a staggering 74% of children are spending less than an hour outside each day, despite warnings from experts that it’s essential for healthy growth and development.
Martha Rose, Educational Officer at Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust says: ‘Active play is a vital, natural way for youngsters to learn about the world around them, but sometimes families need inspiration for fun outdoor activities that are suitable for the whole family. That’s why we’re running Wild Play sessions throughout the holiday, to encourage families to explore local wildlife whilst also giving them the opportunity to learn new arts and craft skills using the natural materials around them. We’ve also issued some top tips for encouraging outdoor play.”
1. Make a natural crown – with some card and double sided tape or glue, create a sticky band and then collect beautiful leaves and flowers to stick on it
2. Create a mud café or kitchen using some old pans or plastic crockery
3. Paddle in a stream (e.g. at Aylestone Meadows or Knighton Park) and make a mini raft to float in it
4. Look for colours in nature – collect some free colour charts from a DIY store and see how many natural objects you can find to match the colours
5. Start a nature table – whilst in your garden or local park, look for wild treasures such as feathers and empty snail shells and display them at home
The Wild Play sessions are part of the Trust’s Wild Forest School project which provides fun, engaging opportunities for children in Leicester to experience the natural world and discover nature through a range of wild activities. Wild Play sessions will be held at the University of Leicester’s Attenborough Arboretum and at Abbey Park. Activities on offer include mud painting, leaf art, wooden jewellery making and creating a gnome of fairy home.
Families can take part in the Wild Play sessions from 2nd - 18th August. Sessions at Attenborough Arboretum need to be booked in advance and cost £3.50 per child per session. Drop in activities at Abbey Park are free. To secure a space or find out more, please visit www.wildforestschool.org.uk/events
 Natural England, ‘Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment pilot study: visits to the natural environment by children’.