So this wasn’t our first foray into the woods, one look at my Instagram feed will tell you that, but today we tried out a little outdoor learning session that was just so lovely I had to share it.

Well Natured is primarily woodland play sessions aimed at pre-schoolers but it’s the beautiful setting that helps to make it so special.

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The group is held at Rudyard Lake and therefore was really easy for us to get to. As some of you may know, we often walk down to Rudyard from home, but on this occasion we drove and parked at the lake carpark.

Rudyard Lake is a reservoir in Rudyard, Staffordshire, located north-west of the town of Leek, Staffordshire. It was constructed in the late 18th century to feed the Caldon Canal. During the 19th century, it was a popular destination for daytrippers taking advantage of easy access using the newly constructed North Staffordshire Railway. The lake is still used for many water activities such as boating, canoeing, fishing and also for walks and recreational steam train trips.

A view of Rudyard Lake from one of our visits earlier this year (Feb)

After meeting at the café (there’s a chalkboard sign highlighting the meeting point) we walked to the ‘classroom’ – a clearing in woodland with views of the lake, picnic tables, a bird hide, rope swing, and a talking tree (yes, really!). There is a small incline up to the site but it’s buggy and little legs friendly.

Well Natured set up

Nicola who runs the sessions puts a lot of thought and time into creating an environment packed with lots of little areas to explore. These included a mud kitchen, a potion making station, a small world set up, and a reading nook.

James exploring the mud kitchen

The sessions are self led, Nicola will ask the children if they want to join in with a group activity but there is no pressure to do so at all.

The rope swing

If this sounds like your cup of tea then dress for the weather, embrace the dirt, dress your little ones in wellies (there’s a stream) and take cups/beakers so that you can have a brew/juice and snack break.

Our session was an hour and a half long and this is what we got up to:

Small world play
Painted nature stones
On the way back from fetching water from the stream

As you can see Stanley and James had a great time and there was a lot of protest when it came to home time. Eli promptly fell asleep not long after we got there, he looked so peaceful.

Making natural potions
Nicola and my gruesome twosome
Stanley showing off the bird feeder he’d just made
James’s ‘suspiciously nibbled’ bird feeder

There’s something very calming about being out in the fresh air in amongst the trees, it’s definitely good for the soul.

Off on a bug hunt and to find forest friends

I’m a big advocate of children exploring outside in all weathers, here are my 5 reasons why:

1. Nowhere is better than the outdoors for running, jumping, throwing, catching, lifting, carrying, splashing and swinging. All these actions require motor skills that will improve with practice, and children don’t even realise they are getting great aerobic exercise it’s all just play to them.

2. Playing in the sun is a natural way to build up vitamin D in the body, which means stronger bones which, from a mother of three boys, hopefully means less trips to A&E too!

3. Self led outdoor play helps children to learn to take turns, share and help each other…which again is great news for a mum of three. They are more likely to explore and learn about their environment using their own imagination and physical abilities. Having fun playing with siblings or friends encourages language and communication skills too.

4. Fresh air and free play reduces stress levels (for parents also). My boys are always tired out and sleep better if we’ve been spent a good portion of the day outside.

All three had a nap on the way home!

5. And finally, an added bonus for me is that children who identify with nature from an early age are more likely to grow into adults who appreciate nature and want to protect the environment.

A ‘class’ room with a view

Nicola takes bookings for Well Natured from her Facebook page, but while you’re at it why not give her a follow over on Instagram too.

We took advantage of an introductory special offer as Well Natured is still a fairly new venture, but one that we highly recommend if you’re in the local area. Please see the Facebook page for pricing and details of upcoming sessions

As a Wiki Mama for North Staffordshire, I’ve added this Wiki place to wikiplacesforkids.com, your go to website for finding amazing places to go with your littles. Whether that be for an epic adventure or a much NEEDED hour out of the house!

All images are my own unless otherwise credited.

I’ve shared this post with:

Country Kids linky
3 Little Buttons

28 responses to “Review: Well Natured Forest Group”

  1. The Wandering Pram Avatar

    That looks great fun

    Liked by 1 person

  2. #DreamTeam link up 158… | Shank You Very Much Avatar

    […] from Dirt, Diggers and Dinosaurs shared a post about a preschool woodland activity day she went on with her boys. It looked like so much fun and a great way to get children […]

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Annette, 3 Little Buttons Avatar

    Oh wow! This looks like a fantastic activity to be involved in. I wonder if there is anything like this near us. I completely agree that being outdoors in the fresh air changes how we feel – it’s a great de stresser! Nothing like getting your hands dirty 🙂 Thank you for sharing this fab adventure with the #dreamteam xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dirt, Diggers and Dinosaurs Avatar

      It’s so good for the soul!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Heather Keet Avatar

    This looks like an amazing activity and a way for both children and moms to bond with their peers! #DreamTeam

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kerry Avatar

    It looks amazing, what a lovely set up! I wish there was something like that local to us when my kids were younger, they would have loved it! Thanks for sharing at #KidsandKreativity x

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Malin - Sensational Learning with Penguin Avatar

    Great activities, and such a beautiful setting! It still amazes me a bit that it seems somewhat radical or unusual to promote outdoor play such as this… When I was little, I didn’t know of any kids who DIDN’T play out in the forest or other nature areas. I’m not sure if that’s a Swedish thing or a 70’s/80’s thing or…? Either way, this Well Natured thing looks fab! X #KidsandKreativity

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Malin - Sensational Learning with Penguin Avatar

      PS. Is that a Brio car seat, that your youngest is in? It looks just like one we used to have! Was also going to say that I love the mysteriously nibbled bird feeder, lol! X

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dirt, Diggers and Dinosaurs Avatar

        No, it’s a Gracco one, part of a travel system we had for baby number 1, then used again for baby number 2 before buying a double buggy that it’s compatible with for baby number 3 albeit in a completely different colour…it’s like wearing odd socks! But, we are too tight to buy another for the sake of matching up colours and we’re saving the planet in the process!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Malin - Sensational Learning with Penguin Avatar

        Oh now that you say this, I realise our one was a Gracco too! We got a Brio one when he outgrew the Gracco! Sorry for my confusion 🤦🏻‍♀️ Probably bedtime soon, lol! X

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Dirt, Diggers and Dinosaurs Avatar

      Same here, we were never in! We built dens, went on bike rides and climbed trees, I was also in a fossil club (I know, I’m just too cool). Our favourite hang out was Bluebell Wood …it was just the norm in the 80’s but then it was before the great ‘screen age’

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Malin - Sensational Learning with Penguin Avatar

        That’s cool to hear, and I would have LOVED to be in a fossil club!! I used to collect stones (and quite a few other things too… was quite the hoarder really, haha)… I can’t blame the kids for loving the screens, I do too. But it was great to have such freedom to roam around. On the other hand, I think my parents were a little bit too naive and trusting, and I feel it was fluke that nothing really bad happened. I especially remember being stuck in a snow tunnel for quite a while, thinking ”this is it” 😬. That balance between safety and freedom, it’s always tricky. And not just for kids either xx

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Louise Avatar

    This sounds like such a great outdoor learning session and I love how well it seems to be set up. I love the painted nature stones and making nature potions is a fun activity too. Those bird feeders look good and so simple to make. I will have to try making one with Sophie. I’m with you on all your reasons for encouraging children to get outside in all weathers too. Outdoor play is so important. Thank you for sharing with #CountryKids

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dirt, Diggers and Dinosaurs Avatar

      We made one bird feeder and one mischievous 2 year old boy feeder! 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Michelle Twin Mum Avatar

    What a wonderful area and I love all the little activities that have been set up, it (almost) makes me wish mine were small again so we could join in! Mich x #CountryKids

    Liked by 1 person

  9. typicalmummy Avatar

    This sounds like so much fun! I love all the photos – especially the one of the boys all sleeping in the car!! #CountryKids

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dirt, Diggers and Dinosaurs Avatar

      I’m sure they will thank me for it when they’re older 😂

      Like

  10. Kids of the Wild Avatar

    Loving this all over again from #CountryKids!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Coombe Mill Avatar

    What a stunning setting for some natural outdoor fun. That little kitchen looks adorable and perfect for imaginations to flourish and learning to happen. There is nothing quite like the outdoor classroom and children are never too young to take part. #CountryKids

    Like

  12. Naomi Oikonomou Avatar

    This looks idyllic!!! My nephew goes to something similar and I’m desperate to find something for my two. What wonderful memories you’ve made! #kidsandkreativity

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dirt, Diggers and Dinosaurs Avatar

      If you have a local Wildlife Trust they sometimes do free wild play sessions, we’ve been to a few in Staffordshire and over in Derbyshire too.

      Like

  13. Kids of the Wild Avatar

    It’s so heart warming to see more and more people trying forest and beach schools or any sort of outdoor learning. Looks like a fabulous session, so glad you’ve got this near you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dirt, Diggers and Dinosaurs Avatar

      We’ve been to a few different ones but I think this one was the nicest setting so far!

      Like

  14. Lisa's Notebook Avatar
    Lisa’s Notebook

    Ah, this brings back memories of Flora’s nursery. She attended a local Montessori-run kindergarten with a huge garden and a Forest School too. It’s really set her up for a love of being outside and in nature, I’m very grateful. And I remember how well she used to sleep after nursery days too, haha. Great post, Emma, thank you 🙂 Lisa

    Liked by 1 person

  15. clairelomax2018 Avatar

    This looks fantastic! What a lovely idea for the whole family x

    Liked by 1 person

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