How often do you find yourself saying 'no'? Or telling your children 'how' to play? Nature Play in Sydenham Woods is a messy, unstructured group session where the kids rule the roost in the great outdoors.
We love it because... it's not like anything else we've done before! It's about as far away as you can get from a standard soft-play and nursery rhymes class. The group meets in Sydenham Hill woods (there are also groups in Greenwich, Richmond, North London, and across the UK) before taking a short walk to a 'base', where everyone shares a healthy snack before sitting back to watch the children play.
The concept is simple - let them play! It's hard to stop yourself intervening, but the idea behind Nature Play is that the children learn how to reach that branch, fall off logs or trip over leaves... so they know for next time. It gets messy, but that's the point! We couldn't help thinking it was a breath of fresh air (literally and mentally) compared so much of the structured groups and routines our children go through. And it's great if you don't have much outdoor space, or your kids go to a nursery without a garden.
When to go... Nature Play is on in ALL WEATHERS! If you're ready to wash off the mud, the kids are always ready to play. Their attitude is, there's no such thing as 'bad' weather! The group leaders invite children of all ages, and while the fresh air is good for everyone, the children are probably more likely to enjoy it if they can crawl or walk. If you want to head straight to the play 'base' and avoid the walk (this can take a while with ten toddlers in the woods!) just arrive a bit later on - there are two camps and you're likely to hear them from the main walking paths.
Top tip... Get ready to abandon your routine and obviously, prepare to get messy! Take wellies, waterproofs, blankets, etc.