Throwing a Forest School Party: Ideas for Games, Food, and Fun!
Throwing a party for kids can be an overwhelming task, especially if you’re trying to do something different and special. If you’re looking for creative ideas that will make your forest school birthday party stand out from the rest, then look no further!
We’ve got some great tips on fun games, activities, crafts and even food that is sure to impress any child who loves being outdoors. From outdoor exploration ideas to other unique activities – we have it all covered when it comes to planning the perfect forest school party ideas!
Before we start: I recommend you engage an experienced forest school leader to organise and host your forest school birthday party. If you are a forest school leader wanting some ideas for outdoor fun in perhaps a little more organised and structured way than your child-led sessions would be, then this is for you. Equally, if you are a parent doing a forest school DIY event, you’ll find some easy to do ideas below.
So let’s get started with our list of top suggestions for making this event one they won’t forget in a hurry!
Nature Scavenger Hunt
A nature scavenger hunt is a great way to get kids excited about exploring the outdoors. It can be tailored to any age group and allows children to use their creativity and problem-solving skills while having fun. To play, create a list of items for each child or team to find in the forest school setting. Examples include leaves, sticks, rocks, feathers, acorns etc. Give each child or team a bag or basket so they can collect their finds as they go along. The first one back with all the items on their list wins!
Make it easy with our printable scavenger hunt templates:
Autumn/Fall scavenger hunt printable
Spring scavenger hunt printable
Summer scavenger hunt printable
Winter scavenger hunt printable (you’re doing a winter-time outdoor birthday!! Brave.)
Animal charades is an entertaining game that encourages kids to act out different animals found in nature. To play, divide players into two teams and have them take turns acting out different animals without speaking or making noise – only using body language and gestures!
Players from the other team must guess what animal it is before time runs out. This game helps foster communication skills while teaching children about wildlife in a fun way.
Create your own custom bingo cards by drawing pictures of plants and animals commonly found in forest schools onto small pieces of paper, or you could print off some pre-made ones.
Place these papers into individual bags then hand them out randomly amongst players who will search for these items around the area until someone has filled up their card with five across, down, or diagonal lines – they are the winner.
Party games are a great way to get kids outdoors and having fun. The next heading will focus on crafting activities that can be used for the forest school party.
Party Food is an important part of any birthday celebration, and a forest school setting can provide the perfect backdrop for some creative and nature-inspired snacks.
What better way to celebrate than around a campfire? You’ve got to have a fire unless it’s a scorching hot day or you’re in an area where that wouldn’t be allowed.
As the afternoon draws in, have the children help with fire lighting (fairy fires are great as they are easy to control) and heat some water in a kelly kettle to get some hot chocolate going.
Roast marshmallows over an open flame and have biscuits handy for s’mores or cook up some banana boats filled with melted chocolate chips and mini marshmallows wrapped in foil over hot coals.
You could also make popcorn cones by filling paper cones with popcorn kernels then wrapping them in foil before placing them near the fire until they pop! We also have a couple of wire sieves on the end of a stick which lets the kids see the popcorn popping before their eyes.
Read more ideas for easy campfire food.
Any leftovers can be put into party bags.
Try making butterfly sandwiches using whole wheat bread, cream cheese, cucumber slices, and raisins to create wings. An easier option is just to make a normal sandwich and then use a cookie cutter to make a print on the top — that’s what we do for a bit of interest!
Make caterpillar kebabs using fresh fruit like grapes, strawberries, pineapple chunks or melon balls on skewers. For something sweet try making dirt cups with chocolate pudding topped with crushed Oreos as “dirt” and gummy worms poking out of the top!
Crafts and Activities
Try to theme your forest parties around the interests of the birthday child. For example, preschoolers tend to love the idea of a teddy bears picnic. Perhaps you have a child who loves using the mud kitchen and wants a ‘perfume workshop’ or cooking session.
Crafty kids might like to make leaf crowns and wands or journey sticks. Collect leaves of different shapes, sizes, and colors from around your area. You can use glue or tape to attach them together into a crown shape for kids to wear as they explore the outdoors. For wands, you can use sticks found in nature and decorate with leaves, feathers, or other natural materials.
Not all kids like to get messy, but if you have a group that doesn’t mind they might enjoy mud painting and making clay sculptures. I have access to a pretty good source of clay so I can take buckets of it to a forest school session and have the kids make clay faces or models.
If you don’t have access to clay, any mud mixed with water until it’s a thick paste-like consistency will do. Then let children paint on rocks or tree trunks using their hands or sticks as brushes. Or if you want something more permanent try making clay sculptures out of air dry clay that can be painted after they are finished drying.
Get crafty by creating jewelry out of items found in nature such as pinecones, acorns, shells and stones. Kids will enjoy stringing these items onto yarn or twine to make necklaces, bracelets or anklets.
Outdoor Exploration Ideas
How else can you fill the time? In my experience, it’s good to have a few activities set up so the kids can have some free play time in and around any structured activities you want to lead like a bear hunt or blowing out the candles on the cake. Here are a few ideas that always go down well.
Tree Climbing and Rope Swings
Tree climbing is a great way to explore the outdoors and have fun at a forest school birthday party. With the help of an adult, children can safely climb trees with ropes or ladders for added support. Once they reach the top, kids can enjoy spectacular views from up high! For even more excitement, you could set up rope swings between two trees for some swinging fun.
We use a tyre to make a swing around a big tree. The only challenge is that kids aren’t that great at taking turns, so I find that needs a bit of supervision.
Hammocks are always far more popular than I imagine! Older kids love to lounge around in them. Younger kids are constantly getting in and out.
Make a rule about shoes off before getting in the hammock to save on clearing up the mud mess afterwards.
Walking and Exploring Trails
Going on walks/hikes in nature is another great way to explore the outdoors during a forest school birthday party. You can choose trails that are appropriate for your group’s age range and skill level. Encourage kids to observe their surroundings as they go along – look out for animals, plants, rocks or anything else that catches their eye.
Tie this in with a scavenger hunt if your group would enjoy that. Adding a prize always makes it more fun!
Building Forts and Den Making
Ah, a classic. If your site has enough materials, constructing structures in nature, such as dens or treehouses, is an excellent activity to do at a forest school birthday party. Kids will enjoy being creative by using natural materials like sticks, leaves and stones to construct their own unique structure.
Some sites will already have dens made. Our local forest and our forest school preschool area, which is in a local green zone, are open to the public and other groups have made shelters there. Bonus for us as we get to play in them too!
Know your area (and have permission for the party) so you know what resources are on site.
Other Fun Ideas
Storytelling is a great way to bring people together and create an atmosphere of fun and relaxation. It’s also a perfect activity for a forest school birthday party! Gather around the campfire, tell stories about your favorite characters or make up new ones. You can even use props like puppets or masks to help bring the story alive.
I think this works best with certain groups of children, and as a party leader you have to have the confidence to be able to lead and adapt stories to go with the group. If you feel like you could do this, go ahead.
Singing songs with instruments: Music is always a hit at any party, especially when it’s in nature! Bring some instruments along such as guitars, drums, tambourines, maracas or whatever else you can find. Have everyone join in on singing songs that they know and love or teach them some new ones.
Bonus if you can sing in the round — I have happy memories of campfire singing as a child!
Plan for success
Planning a forest school party can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Engage the help of the birthday child’s adult to find out what they like and what they want to get out of the session. Have enough activities planned for the number of children attending, and chat through expectations like what food should be provided: is it just hot chocolate and cake or are they wanting a full party tea?
You don’t necessarily have to provide the party food, but you will have to gather the children at the time for eating, if the host is providing a picnic, for example.
With the right ideas, you can create a unique and memorable event for your children, or the children attending your event, to enjoy. From games and food to crafts and outdoor exploration, there are plenty of creative ways to make sure everyone has fun at your forest school party.
Don’t forget that with the right forest school party ideas, you can ensure that all of your guests have an unforgettable time.
About the author: Jon Borley
Jon qualified as a Level 3 Forest School Leader with the Sussex Wildlife Trust. He works independently as a practitioner running forest school clubs and also within schools both in a forest school capacity and as an outdoor learning teaching assistant, working with preschoolers to secondary-aged children. He has previously led sessions for adults as part of professional development events for the Sussex FSA, and is a member of MIAS.