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