Thursday 2 May 2019

Wonderful Woodland Fun with Well Natured - Explore. Learn. Outdoors

(Review - Gifted)

If you go down to the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise! Hidden away, just off the beaten track in the beautiful grounds of Rudyard Lake (in the Staffordshire Moorlands), you'll find a miniature woodland wonderland waiting to be explored!

Well Natured - Explore. Learn. Outdoors is run by Nicola, who has a background in education and working with children. She has recently taken the brave step to put her lifelong passion and dreams into action and create a magical, outdoor, multisensory learning experience for young adventurers.

I asked Nicola what her motivation was for starting up her woodland stay and play sessions (suitable for early walkers up to 4 years of age) -

"I have always had a love of the great outdoors, having had lots of exposure as a child on long country walks and bird watching with my parents and nana. Something I continued to do once I had a family and in schools setting up nature clubs. It was whilst completing my degree I discovered forest schools and the benefits of outdoor learning. Since then, I have continued to read more research and discover the benefits to children’s well being. More than ever now children spend much more time using technology and children’s access to outdoors is decreasing because of this. I feel that children are so much happier and creative when the walls are removed!"

We had the pleasure of joining Nicola on one of her exciting sessions this week, to try out all of the activities she had on offer - and we were not disappointed! I'll let the photos tell the story of our afternoon...

After meeting at a little chalkboard by Rudyard Lake café, we were taken to a clearing in the woods where we found the enchanting, outdoor learning space. There was a mud kitchen to "bake" in, complete with utensils and cake cases and the cutest recipe book about mud pies!

Mud kitchen complete with recipe book, utensils, cupcake cases and bunting!
We spent time in the tepee playing little wooden games, role playing with woodland puppets, and looking at insect books.

I loved the small details like this insect themed game.
There was a cosy reading nook for little bookworms and a gardening area for green-fingered children.

Reading nook and gardening corner.
We loved the bug hunt and bird watching station complete with binoculars, tick sheets and puzzles.

For my daughter, the highlight was walking down to the little stream to collect water for some potion making! She really enjoyed rubbing and crunching the rosemary and mint to release the scents, and mixing all the herbs up with pine cones and leaves to make her potion! She was totally in her element!

Come and make a potion...
Lots of textures and smells to explore!
We also visited the small world area full of wooden figures and painted stones, which is great for encouraging imaginative play and for building vocabulary.

The playdough section was also a hit, with lavender scented homemade dough to get creative with. It left our hands smelling delicious!

The lavender playdough smelled so good!
The children were shown how to make their own environmentally friendly bird feeders using an apple and some twigs, which was a lovely little memento for them to take home.

Making bird feeders with Nicola.
Nicola provided us all with refreshments, gratefully received by the parents and kids alike after all that exploring! Us mums even got 5 minutes peace to appreciate the beautiful setting whilst Nicola took the children on a hunt for woodland creatures. They were so pleased to come and show us what they had found in the woods!

I asked Nicola why she considered outdoor play to be so important -

"There are so many benefits of children accessing outdoor play.

- Children will value nature and be more inclined to want to protect it, use and love it. 
- It increases confidence and creativity as they explore freely and have to use their imagination and thinking skills.
- It offers a sensory experience unlike no other, as they feel and listen to branches crunch under their feet, see and hear the birds, smell and touch flowers and plants.
- It increases spatial awareness as they navigate the uneven woodland area and negotiate branches and obstacles thus improving gross motor skills.
- It helps to reduce stress levels, as research proves children are happier outdoors.
- Exposure to germs in the environment helps builds immunity.
- Being outdoors benefits general well-being.

Nature is an open ever changing book that creates a sense of wonder and is constantly telling a story." 

Everyone I spoke to during the hour and a half hour long session said similar things - how lovely it was to see the children so engaged and happy being outside, exploring new sights, sounds and textures, involving themselves fully in all that was on offer. We will definitely be returning every week - both my daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! As our blog name suggests, my kids like nothing more than to be outdoors, exploring in their wellies! This stay and play is just perfect for us!

Well Natured currently runs on Mondays and Tuesdays at 10-11:30am and 1-2:30pm at an introductory price of £5 per child for the month of May. Make sure you pop over to the Facebook page to keep up to date with all class times and dates, as there may be some Saturday sessions in the pipeline too! (You can also find Well Natured on Instagram.) Booking is essential -  you can find contact details on the Facebook page as well. Don't forget to dress appropriately as the sessions will run in all weather conditions, and bring your own cups so you can have a drink too!

So go on, why not get outdoors with your little explorers and get back to nature! If you don't live close enough to get to Rudyard Lake, look out for other woodland based sessions happening near you! And if you don't have any groups nearby, be inspired by some of the amazing activities we discovered in the woods today!

Have you ever been to a stay and play like this? Or maybe you have your own mud kitchen at home? I'd love to hear how you explore the great outdoors with your little ones! Pop me a comment below, it would be great to hear all about it! If you enjoyed our post, why not follow us on:

Finding joy in the little things: Regular visitors to our blog will know that I like to end my posts with something that made me smile, a little thing that brought me joy or happiness. Life is made up of lots of magical moments and sometimes in the chaos of the day, we need a reminder to be grateful for them.

Today,  my daughter was in her element. I don't think she stopped exploring for one second! She wanted to try everything and didn't really want to leave! I've never seen her so excited to collect water for her potions and make mud pies in the kitchen! Now she wants her own in the back garden so that looks like a project for the summer! When I asked what was her favourite activity, she replied, "All of it! I just can't choose!" So, thank you Nicola for such a lovely afternoon - you have found your true calling and we can't wait to come back!
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*** I was gifted a trial session in return for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own, unless otherwise stated. ***

I'm linking up this post with these fabulous blogs:

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday


  1. It is lovely to see little ones learning and playing outdoors. I do wonder about take up as many kids would be in preschool/nursery and how accessible is the place? Could people visit via bus? #mmbc

  2. I love this! What a fab idea for little ones

  3. What a lovely activity. I would love to do this

  4. I love the outdoor crafting. Fab experience for all #KCACOLS

  5. What a great way to encourage a love of nature and outdoors from a young age. It looks really fab. #KCACOLS

  6. I love, love, love this! Such a fun and wonderful outdoor activity! Gorgeous photos, BTW.


  7. This is my kind of adventure. Lovely to see kids playing in nature like this #KCACOLS

  8. How fantastic and you can't go wrong with learning through nature and being outdoors X #kcacols

  9. We love getting muddy in nature. My LO would love the water and making potions too. #KCACOLS

  10. This is such a neat idea! It's such a simple concept and one that many parents could make at home, but there is something about "going somewhere special that has it all" that makes this place so neat. I like that she's made it affordable and you get something to take home from your trip there.

    I agree that kids need time outdoors. My kids get time outside almost daily in some form or another. My kids are very tech savvy and have many electronics, but they also know how to be "in the real world" because I've installed a love of the outdoors in them from an early age.


  11. What a lovely activity experience. It's great to see organized activities for things kids can do outdoors. #KCACOLS

  12. A little far for my Girl Scout troop but this looks great. We have something similar planned for this weekend. Love getting them out into the woods and exploring nature #KCACOLS

  13. oh my goodness what a magical day! This sounds absolutely incredible. I'm not sure about the kiddies, I want to play! haha Nicola sounds really passionate about what she does and I think that is reflected in just how much the kids enjoyed it. #KCACOLS

  14. What a fabulous thing to do ... when ours werer smaller they loved being outdoors, but it's so hard to get our two teenies outside nowadays!!! Hopefully it will rerturn. #KCACOLS

  15. This is such a good idea, I haven't seen anything like this before #KCACOLS

  16. I love that it caters to the little kids. I always have a hard time finding activities that my little ones can do. It's been a pleasure co hosting #KCACOLS with you.

  17. What a lovely activity for little ones. We were at Rudyard lake just last week, it's such a lovely place for a picnic and a walk. :) #MMBC


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