Decide where you’d like to walk as a group. How about woodlands, urban paths, or wetlands?
Check the area that you’re going to visit is suitable for the activity. Is it accessible for everyone?
Make sure that everyone arrives wearing clothes that are suitable for the terrain and the weather. This includes shoes: walking boots, wellies, or sturdy trainers are best.
- Duration: 20 minutes
- Location: Outdoors
- Cost: £
- Suitable for: Pairs or small groups
- You will need: Plant and animal ID cards (optional)
How to run this activity
Before you begin
- Decide whether you’ll use sheets to help you identify plants and animals.
You could download the below sheets to help you identify trees as well as the spotter sheets for insects, or you could make your own. Make sure you print enough (one between two is ideal) and take plenty of pencils too.
- Leaf ID sheet (PDF)
- Twig ID sheet (PDF)
- Autumn leaf ID sheet (PDF)
- Flying insects spotter sheet (PDF)
- Creepy crawly spotter sheet (PDF)
- Decide whether you’ll use an app like the Woodland Trust tree ID app.
- Think about any other equipment you’ll need. For example, if you’re meeting in the evening, torches might be useful.
Take a tour
- Everyone should get into pairs or small groups. Each group should choose a small area of natural habitat to explore.
You may want to support groups to choose interesting areas. Try to make sure that different groups explore different places.
The person leading the activity should make sure each group has access to any resources they’ll need to identify things (such as ID cards or apps).
- Everyone should find least three plants, three invertebrates, and three birds in their group’s area.
- When they spot a creature or plant, everyone should look for anything threatening their little patch of habitat. Could anything be done to improve it?
- Everyone should give the rest of their group a short, guided tour. They should show them what lives there, explain what’s threatening the plant or animal, and share some ideas of things that could be done to improve the habitat.
What sorts of things pose the biggest threat to natural habitats? Why is it important that people share knowledge and understanding with others?
Value the outdoors - enjoy being outside, feel comfortable in nature, and feel connected to the natural environment.
All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and include hazards such as roads, woodland, bodies of water (for example, rivers, ponds, lakes, and seas), plants, and animals. Take appropriate steps to reduce risk.
You must have permission to use the location. Always check the weather forecast and inform parents and carers of any change in venue.
You’ll probably need more adult helpers than usual. Your risk assessment should include how many adults you need. The young people to adult ratios are a minimum requirement; when you do your risk assessment, you might decide that you need more adults than the ratio specifies.
Think about extra equipment that you may need to take with you, for example, a first aid kit, water, and waterproofs.
Throughout the activity, watch out for changes in the weather and do regular headcounts.
Be aware of the risks before interacting with animals, including insects. Be aware of anyone with allergies, and make alternative arrangements for them.
Groups could focus on just plants, invertebrates or birds instead of all three to make things more simple.
Take it further
Why not create a piece of artwork or presentation showing what you’ve found?
You could create a project that your group can work on over a few weeks to help improve the area or share your knowledge with others.
Young people should feel able to take the lead in this activity. Encourage them to plan the areas they’ll focus on and the project they’re going look at, set themselves challenges, and run activities with younger peers.
When choosing a place to explore consider the terrain and environment – is it appropriate and accessible for everyone attending? If anyone’s likely to require one-to-one support or additional support, arrange for extra adults to attend.