Outlined below are lots of fun and exciting activities that the whole family can enjoy together both outdoors and indoors from Leaf Art and Willow Crown making to Pooh Sticks and Shadow Tag gaming! You can do these activities in various places around Buckingham like Pooh Sticks from one of the Bourton Park bridges, Building a Den along Railway Walk or maybe even a Twig Maze in Chandos Park; lovely memories can be created anywhere. What will be your favourite activity?
Places to try these activities are highlighted on the Buxplore Green Trail!
Leaf art can be a fun and easy craft for all children to enjoy outdoors and indoors! The simplest version of leaf art is by using leaves to create wonderful and imaginative pictures whereas, more advanced leaf art requires you to take leaves home and then press and paint them to create cool and colourful pieces of artwork.
What will you need for simple Leaf?
- Lots of Leaves all different shapes, sizes and colours
- You can also include stones, sticks or nuts – Forage away!
How to make simple Leaf Art?
- Collect lots of leaves and stones, sticks or nuts of your choice and place them on the ground
- With your materials, start positioning them to create a picture
- Once your picture is complete, take a photo to remember what you made
What you will need for advanced Leaf Art?
- Plate or Palette
- Small Paint Roller
- Newspaper or Paper Towels
How to make advanced Leaf Art?
- Choose leaves that are still fresh and pliable. Leaves that are dried will not work, as they usually snap and crumble when pressed or worked on.
- Lay newspapers down to protect your work surface.
- Select a piece of paper for your leaf print and then squeeze a little paint onto a small plate or palette.
- Paint the surface of the leaf with paint. This is best done by placing the leaf on kitchen paper towel and painting over using a small paint roller suitable for craft projects and make sure the entire leaf is covered.
- Gently flip the leaf paint side down onto the paper and then carefully but firmly press on the leaf to ensure that the leaf touches the paper.
- Peel the leaf from the paper and then you should have a printed mirror image of your leaf.
- Repeat the previous steps again with the same leaf and or different leaves. The same leaf can be used up to six times before it ceases to leave an acceptable imprint. And by adding different sorts of leaves, you can build a pretty pattern or design for gift paper, cards, a painting, or any other paper craft project.
- Let the paintwork dry and then frame your masterpiece!
Dens make perfect bird watching hides, as well as shelters and basecamps for woodland walks. Building a den is also great fun for the whole family and a wonderful way to spend time together, so head outdoors and try building your dream den!
Den making materials:
- Long, straight branches and sticks
- Lots of thin, bendy sticks
- Dried leaves, twigs and grass
Make sure to not break off living branches from trees or bushes to ensure you don’t damage them. If you use any unnatural materials such as string or rope, remember to take them home at the end of the day.
How to build your den?
Coming up with your own den design is part of the fun, but here are a couple of simple ideas to get you started.
- Find a tree with a fork in the branches that's quite low down.
- Make a frame by propping some long, straight sticks in the fork and fanning them out. Also make sure that any branches are really secure – you don't want them slipping.
- Weave bendy sticks in and out of the upright sticks to make the walls. Leave a gap at head height for a window.
- Cover your den with natural materials so it's camouflaged and weatherproof.
- Then scatter a carpet of dried leaves on the floor to make your den extra cosy.
- Find two forked trees that are close together and place a long stick between them.
- Prop a row of sticks against it on each side so you end up with a tent shape.
- Weave your bendy sticks in and out of the upright and add your plant materials to furnish.
Make a mini den
This activity is a lovely way for very small children to have a go at den building.
- Simply collect a handful of small sticks and prop them up against a tree trunk
- Then make the inside of the den nice and cosy with some fallen leaves and then it’s ready for their favourite teddies or dolls to play in.
Don't forget to dismantle your den!
Before you head home, please remember to take your den down. Don’t worry though, on your next visit you can have fun building it all over again, or you can experiment with a different design altogether.
Too wet and cold to go to the woods? Never mind – you can practice your skills by building an indoor hideout instead.
You will need:
- Four sturdy dining chairs
- A large sheet and some blankets
- Cushions, pillows and maybe a duvet
- Some heavy books
- Fairy Lights and a few clothes pegs (optional)
How to build it:
- Start by finding the best place to build your den. This could be against a wall or the back of the sofa.
- Then place two chairs on each side with the backs facing inwards to form the walls and continue to hang blankets over the chair backs.
- Drape a sheet over the top to make the roof and put some books on the chair seats to hold it in place.
- To finish, put a blanket or duvet on the floor and arrange some cushions or pillows around the sides. For some extra optional magic, decorate with fairy lights, using the pegs to attach them to the sheets.
Your indoor den can be the perfect place to read stories together, come up with new games or to have an impromptu sleepover!
Nature crowns are magical things. Weaving branches, flowers, leaves and little bits of nature into a crown, gives children a wonderful opportunity to connect with nature and engage in imaginative outdoor play.
What you will need:
- A few willow tree branches
- Other bits of nature like flowers, leaves, berries or feathers
How to Make a Willow Nature Crown?
- Gather willow tree branches and other bits of nature from the ground and then take one long willow branch and wrap it around your child’s head to measure how big the crown should be.
- Weave a circle out of the willow branch.
- Then start to weave or wrap the willow branch around the circle to make a willow crown.
- Start adding in your flowers, leaves, berries or feathers for decoration by tucking the stems into the willow crown. If you have any stems or bits poking out, use scissors to cut them off.
- It’s then time to wear your beautiful crown and see what adventures await you!
A weeping willow is a deciduous tree that is commonly found in the Northern Hemisphere (North America, Europe and parts of Asia). The tree likes to grow near fresh water lakes and ponds and has long thin branches with light green leaves that can grow all the way to the ground. The branches are perfect for weaving into nature crowns because they are long and flexible.
You may think building a maze out of twigs is hard but after you accomplish it, you will feel so happy with your creation. It’s also a definite game to help you become less bored!
Materials for the stick maze:
- Paper and pen for the maze planning
- Lots of long sticks and branches
How to build a stick maze?
- Draw a Maze design - basic is better.
- Collect a heap of sticks and branches from outside.
- Then nominate a leader to help direct where to put the sticks and materials following the design of your map.
- If you make the outside of the square too small and then have to change the plan, its fine. Builders have to change their plans all the time too!
- Once it’s complete, enjoy running through the stick maze together.
More fun? Blindfold yourself and ask your children to navigate you through the maze with their voices. You’re not allowed to touch a stick!
Pooh sticks are a simple but thrilling sport, first invented by the famous bear of the same name in the stories, Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne.
What you will need:
- Two or more players
- A stick of your choosing
- A bridge over moving water.
How it works:
- Stand on a bridge over moving water.
- Make sure you check which way the water is flowing so that you can throw your sticks in on the right side to ensure that they get carried underneath the bridge with the current.
- On the count of three everyone must throw their pooh stick into the water below.
- The stick that floats underneath the bridge fastest wins.
Top secret tip:
Try to choose a place on the bridge above the fastest flowing water. This way you’ll have an advantage over the other players.
This bird feeder is really simple to make, which means they’re a quick and fun project to do with children of all ages. They can be customised in any way you like with string or pretty ribbons, or try using other shapes, like stars or triangles. The birds will love them all!
To make bird seed pizzas, you will need:
- Mixed bird seed
- Baking tray or Plate
- Round cookie cutter (other shapes are optional)
How to make this bird feeder?
- Gently melt 100g of lard in a saucepan. Add 250g of bird seed, ensuring all the seeds are coated in the fat.
- Place the cookie cutter on a tray or plate, fill it with the seed mixture and press down with the back of a spoon to ensure its tightly packed.
- Use a skewer to make a hole through the pizza and then put in the fridge to set overnight.
- When its set, ease the solid mixture out of the cutter, thread with ribbon and then hang in a tall tree.
- Once you’ve shaped your feeders make sure you leave them to dry thoroughly to avoid them cracking and crumbling when you try to hang them up.
Pick a tree near to your window so that you can see your bird visitors up close when they visit.
Shadow Tag is a great, free activity to get children off their screens and moving whilst at home. Shadow tag is similar to other games of tag, like freeze tag, and Marco Polo but with one big difference. Instead of touching other players to tag them, the goal of the person who is ‘It’ is to tag the other players’ shadows, rather than touch them.
What you will need:
- A bright light for indoor play or a bright, sunny day for outdoor play
How to play shadow tag?
- Choose a player to take the first chance at being “It”.
- The player who is ‘It’ chases the other players, trying to step on their shadow.
- If a player has their shadow stepped on, they are now ‘It’.
- Repeat the above steps until you want to finish playing.
Shadow Tag for younger children:
Toddlers and pre-schoolers can be fascinated by shadows, but they usually can’t keep up with the pace of the game. So, instead of running, why not have all the players pretend to be slow-moving objects like snails or sloths?