Forestry Commission England has teamed up with popular children's character Stick Man to create a special adventure trail at Westonbirt Arboretum this winter to encourage children and families to get out into the arboretum.
The trail, inspired by the Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler character, is designed to help children find out more the importance of wood and trees to their daily lives and will run at Westonbirt from 1 December 2013 to 31 January 2014.
There are a total of thirteen trails across the country where children will be able to hunt for clues, write poems, build dens, draw pictures and create their own Stick Man character.
It is the first time that the Forestry Commission has partnered with a major children's character for a national campaign. The trails are part of a wider Forest Fairy Tales theme which aims to engage a whole generation of youngsters in imaginative outdoor play and reverse perceptions many parents have about their child's interest in the world of make-believe.
A recent Forestry Commission survey* found that 90% of parents think children are losing their imaginations by the age of ten. The survey of 2,000 parents of school-age children also found that nearly three quarters think that today's children play outdoors less than they did as children and half (51%) believe this directly influences how much imagination they have.
Ben Oliver, the Forestry Commission's Learning and Participation Manager at Westonbirt, said:
"There is increasing evidence that children are not playing outdoors as much as they did ten or twenty years ago and this is a real concern for parents, who fear their children are losing their imaginations at an early age.
"We are launching the Stick Man trails to encourage children into the natural world by taking a favourite character that they might read indoors back out into the forest where he belongs.
"We hope our Stick Man Trails will inspire them to use the forest as their playground and create their own stories, all while learning vital skills that will aid them in their development.
"Trials of similar trails have proved extremely popular and we're very excited to roll out the Stick Man trails nationally."
To find out more and download free online activity sheets visit www.forestry.gov.uk/stickman.
*The results have been generated in a survey commissioned by the Forestry Commission of 2,000 parents of school-aged children.
Click here to view the full survey.
Stick Man events will take place from October 2013 until the end of January 2014 at:
Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest, Kent
Wendover Woods, Buckinghamshire
High Lodge, Thetford Forest, Suffolk
Haldon Forest Park, Devon
The National Arboretum at Westonbirt, Gloucestershire
Wyre Forest, Worcestershire
Delamere Forest Park, Cheshire
Sherwood Pines Forest Park, Nottinghamshire
Birches Valley, Cannock, Staffordshire
Dalby Forest, North Yorkshire
Whinlatter Forest, Cumbria
Grizedale Forest, Lake District
Moors Valley Country Park and Forest, Dorset
Stick Man Activities
When taking part in the Stick Man trails, children will walk through the forest looking for clues to help them find a variety of forest activities. At each trail location, a panel will tell the children what their next activity will be. These include:
Building a den
Exploring tree patterns
Spotting beautiful budding trees
Listening to the sounds of the forest
Building a stick tower
Creating a Stick Man
Trying to name everyday objects that are made from trees
Drawing a picture of the forest
Thinking of other uses for sticks
Writing a story about a family day out
Stick Man Copyright Information
Text copyright © Julia Donaldson, 2008
Illustration copyright © Axel Scheffler, 2008
Reproduced with the permission of Alison Green Books
An imprint of Scholastic Ltd.
All rights reserved
Source: Westonbirt: The National Arboretum