Nature Exploration: what you need to take with you (the best ideas from our Forest Playgroup)

We have started to attend a local Forest Playgroup one year ago and we are thrilled about it. We meet up once a week for 2 hours in the afternoons. Parents accompany their children. Each week we explore the same woods, share a snack, sing songs. If it's raining, snowing or cold outside we meet up anyway. In winter, the woods are getting dark before we leave so we light canddles to find our way back. It's magical.


When we started attending the Forest Playgroup I didn't know what to bring with us. The first session was chaos: my daughter jumped in a huge mud puddle and was completely covered with mud. Now I'm laughing about it but this showed me how unprepared I was for nature exploration with a little child. I have quickly learned from the other parents, what I needed to pack so that we can have fun and don't be afraid of getting dirty. 

I didn't mind my daughter getting dirty anyway but I wanted to keep her warm because two hours in the woods can be a long time when your shoes are wet and you are cold. Also because we need to take the tram to get back home we can't be covered with mud and make a mess on the clean seats :)


Around here people say that "There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes". So the first thing you need when you want to explore nature is good clothes and shoes. This means clothes that can survive this:


And shoes that can survive this:


Ok, so now you know what I mean. I was definitely for beautiful clothes made of organic wool but after our first meeting with our forest playgroup I understood that wool won't do the job. So now we have: 

  • waterproof overall and waterproof coat for spring and fall.

  • and we use the same waterproof overall for summertime, when it rains a lot (not so uncommon where we live)

  • a kind of ski suit for wintertime

  • and rubber boots for any kind of weather


With the right clothes and shoes we can focus on the exploration, the fun and the discoveries and don't worry about getting wet or cold.


In our bags we pack:

  • water or hot tea when it's cold outside (this beautiful glass bottle is not only safe but can also keep our drinks hot in wintertime and cold in summertime)

  • a snack that we share with the group

  • two little books about insects and flowers (other parents bring about mushrooms, animals, plants...)

  • a magnifying glass

  • a little container with a magnifying glass on top (we use it to observe worms and insects with our harming them before we set them free)

  • a little basket for nature treasures

I also take a backpack where I put the dirty clothes and boots and have clean shoes for me and my daughter for our trip back (with the super clean tram :) 

Our lovely group leader brings a waterproof blanket for the snack


It does't look like Pinterestable picture, I know!  

But the truth is that this is how our playdates in the forest look like. It's messy! Children sometimes eat with dirty hands, their faces are full with mud... But they are happy