children pond dipping

7 Easy Forest School Activities for Summer

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If you’re looking for easy Forest School Activities for Summer, you’ve come to the right place! You’ll find easy ideas for bug hotels, flower crowns, and more!

We’ve curated some of our favourite ways to engage children during forest school sessions. Set the activity up and let them play and engage with it if they choose. Depending on the structure of your setting, you can facilitate free play with the resources or be a bit more formal in how you present the activities – it’s up to you and how you make the forest school principles apply in your setting.

These activities are also all great ways to spend some quality time with your family and get your children outside. Let’s create some summer fun adventures!

1. Build a bug hotel

If you want to create a habitat for a wide variety of insects, build a bug hotel. You can use a variety of materials to create the bug hotel, including recycled materials like wooden boxes and terracotta pots. A small garden made of tiles and propped up with sticks works just as well. You can also use pieces of broken china plate or tiles, knitting wool, and sand or soil.

Once you’ve built the base, place the roof and fill it with a variety of inviting materials. Don’t worry about the roof–it doesn’t need to be completely watertight.

In addition, you can cover the bug hotel with old tiles and make sure that it doesn’t get wet. Adding some color will attract more bugs. Try different locations and see which one works best.

Options to make this happen:

Work as a group to build a big-ish one for your forest school setting. Put it in the corner or up by a fence so the bugs are protected (and it doesn’t get in the way of your other activities).

Give each child a flowerpot to fill with sticks. They can lay the flowerpot on its side so the bugs can use it as a home. This is a good option if you want them to be able to take it home.

For older children, turn it into a woodwork project. Can they build a frame? Can they use tools to cut bamboo or sticks to the right length? Can they design their own hotel and then make it come to life?

make a den

2. Make a flower crown

A simple nature craft for younger children is a flower crown. It’s great for a day at the park or a Forest School activity. Using daisies and weeds, children can create a crown of flowers. Then, they can use these flowers to spell out a word from their vocabulary. Get them to identify the sound the flower starts with and find another word that starts with the same sound.

This is also a great craft for children who are learning about the seasons. To get started, follow Liz’s instructions at Say Yes!

Creating a flower crown from nature can exercise children’s fine motor skills, focus and communication.

boy wearing leaf crown

3. Do some natural painting

If you have a garden in your setting, you might also consider creating a natural painting activity using flowers. Children can use these to create pictures on paper or sticks.

Fern printing can be another fun activity that encourages children to learn about plants, get messy and explore their relationship with nature. Dip the fern into paint and then press it down onto paper or pale fabric to make the print.

Older children can make brushes from sticks and fine grasses tied together, or experiment with different painting implements — what can they make?

Another option: water painting

If you don’t want to bring paints to the forest school setting, and you don’t want to go to the effort of making natural dyes, then painting with plain water is great fun for younger children.

Give them a brush and a bucket of water, and let them paint tiles, concrete, wooden doors or furniture, tree trunks and so on. Our kids loved painting the wooden door to the shed, and by the time the sun dried it out they were ready to paint it again!

They will notice how the colour changes when the material is wet and how it changes back again once it is dry.

4. Go on a nature walk

There are many things to do while taking a nature walk with children. Bird watching is one activity that can help your kids get to know the local plants and animals.

For a hands-on learning experience, bring along a magnifying glass. Use it to see small details and learn more about what is living in the forest. Play “I spy” or find objects and label them for your child to identify. Then, gather leaves and make nature crafts.

While on a nature walk, make sure to use a quiet voice and watch for different shapes, colors, and patterns in nature. Encourage children to look up in trees to observe insects and birds, or down on the ground to look for spider webs.

You can also use sticks to make tally marks to add a bit of maths into what they find, if adding curriculum-based elements to your forest school summer activities is important in your setting.

Free scavenger hunt printable for summer

Want a helping hand with what to look at while you are out and about? Download our free summer scavenger hunt printable.

5. Make a memory game

Make a nature memory game by putting bits of nature together in an art project.

Cover the arrangement with a cloth and then one person takes away something from under the cloth. Don’t let anyone else see! Players then have to guess what item is missing.

This keeps my kids occupied for hours as they hunt for things and then try to make it as hard as possible to recall the missing object (which includes mixing things up under the tea towel to try to foul my memory).

6. Play with sticks

Easy forest school activities for summer include playing with different kinds of sticks. This will help kids develop gross motor skills and fine motor skills, improve hand-eye coordination, and develop concentration.

Additionally, whittling sticks can be meditative and fun. You can also make wands from sticks by wrapping the wool or garden twine around them. Then, let them use their creativity to decorate the sticks.

Another way to engage children in easy forest school activities for summer is to take them on woodland walks. This activity will allow them to explore the natural world and learn while having fun. Woodland walks are especially fun as they are educational, and kids love to get dirty!

7. Make nests

You can also create mini-bird nests using sticks, and foraged items. Once they’re done, you can display their masterpieces in an outdoor gallery for parents to view.

8. Go pond dipping

If you have water in or near your forest school setting you can set up a pond dipping activity. Make sure you have adequate adult supervision and have completed a risk assessment for all activities near or involving water.

We have a detailed step-by-step guide to how to dip in a pond during the summer months, so check that out for instructions.

Read our guide to how to do pond dipping.

pond dipping

More ideas

A great resource to have on hand during this time of year is Play the Forest School Way. We’ve had this book since 2016 and it’s a fantastic source of ideas to keep children occupied all through the year.

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