30 Ways to Play With Nature

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Whether you’re a child or not, there’s no doubt that playing is half the fun of 30 Days Wild. While knowing the Latin name for every common wildflower is impressive, and there are many important nature campaigns that need supporting, sometimes the best thing to do in nature is play. Try one of these – whatever your age.

  1. Make a mud pie. Decorate it with seeds, flowers, pebbles and twigs so that worms will think it’s a palace.
  2. Paint a pebble as an insect, or paint the flowers you find during #30DaysWild on pebbles. You can write their name on the back to help you remember what they’re called, or just keep them as a visual reminder of your #30DaysWild finds.
  3. Have your face painted as your favourite animal. If you use glitter to add sparkle to your look, make sure it’s biodegradable. Lots of people avoid microbeads but forget about glitter which can also pollute.
  4. Make a daisy chain (or other floral jewellery: a ring is great if there aren’t many daisies, and a dandelion crown can look bright and beautiful. Team with double cherry earrings for an all natural look.)
  5. Wear nature fancy dress. Better yet, make your costume out of the contents of your recycling box, or tatty old clothes that were otherwise destined for the bin. Do not underestimate the usefulness of old tights:  they can be turned into tails of many kinds, be turned into paws with the addition of pads in the appropriate places, or sheer natural coloured ones can turn your head into a tortoise head…
  6. Make nature art outdoors using ‘found’ items (natural only – and you can always litter-pick too.)
  7. Make a petal stained glass window (this is a great way of using the plastic that wraps processed cheese slices, if you have a glut of them thanks to barbecue season – just put the petals on the plastic then put another piece of plastic over the top. Cut two cardboard frames of the same size from recycled cardboard then sandwich the plastic in between the card, sticking the top and bottom of the plastic to it, Leave a margin at the top and bottom of your pattern to allow for this.
  8. Camp out in the back garden overnight (hot chocolate made from grated chocolate and almond milk is extra tasty. Why not look for bats while you’re there?
  9. Find pictures and stories in the clouds.
  10. Plant a sunflower, and get friends or family to do the same. See who can grow the tallest sunflower.
  11. Make a rain painting, by painting a picture in poster paint, or scattering a damp page with powder paint, then leaving it in the rain until you’re happy with your natural collaboration. Lean your head back and catch a raindrop on your tongue while you wait.
  12. Impersonate your favourite animal. Will you roar like a lion or chut like a guinea pig? Chirp like a bat or peep like a duckling? Let your inner animal out. No biting!
  13. Make a snail out of clay (bonus points for using clay soil).
  14. Have a raindrop race down a window with a friend.
  15. Make a den.
  16. Draw the ‘street under your feet’ (you could win a prize from illustrator, Yuval Zommer).
  17. Make a ‘cress head’ from an egg shell and cress. You can do this as a family (or with housemates) and see whose grows fastest – and who can design the best face.
  18. Make animal shadow puppets on the wall.
  19. Make a fairy doll out of old tights. (Instructions at the end of this blog post about wildflowers and fairies)
  20. Make a snail out of old tights (easier than a fairy doll – just stuff the tights, roll them up and sew beads on for eyes.
  21. Hammer a plant.
  22. Draw something in the sand. Can you finish it before the tide washes it away?
  23. Make a fairy or dinosaur miniature garden.
  24. Play Pooh Sticks.
  25. Add googly eyes to plants, rocks and other wild finds (not creatures!) Take a photo then remove the googly eyes as they’re made of plastic and could cause harm. Better yet, make your own ‘googly eyes’ out of flower petals you find on the ground – put a coloured one in the centre of a larger white one. Play around with positioning to change the expression in the eyes – or make different animal’s eyes.
  26. Make a permanent sandcastle.
  27. Hunt for minibeasts.
  28. Make ‘perfume’ by squashing flowers in water (there are more sophisticated ways to make perfume that will last longer but I still treasure the memories of the ‘interestingly’ scented honeysuckle and water mix that my sister and I would make for my stepmum (who always accepted it graciously, even when it had been steeping for rather too long….)
  29. Listen to nature stories as you drift off to sleep (better yet if you can get someone to read you a bedtime story. Calm’s Sleep app has The Velveteen Rabbit, which is one of my favourite stories, if you don’t have anyone to read to you.
  30. Look for fairies at the bottom of the garden.

If you’re looking for more ways to play with nature, I’m donating all June profits from my book, Go Wild! Over 200 Ways to Connect With Nature to The Wildlife Trusts (and it only costs a pocket-money friendly 99p at the moment.) No matter what your age (and how sensible you are) there’s always a way to go wild.


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