Katrina Podlewska, from the Forestry Commission, and Dani Andres, from Spirit Public Relations, explore children’s forest adventures with the Gruffalo.

Ask primary children about the Gruffalo and the chances are most will be able to describe the character created by Julia Donaldson in the books The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child, illustrated by Axel Scheffler. So it was an exciting prospect that families were able to go on forest adventures with Mouse in 24 forests and woods across England to celebrate The Gruffalo’s 15th anniversary and The Gruffalo’s Child’s 10th anniversary.

Families learnt about nature, searched for animal tracks, built animal homes and looked for materials used by animals to keep warm in winter. These activity trails were devised to support Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 curriculums, with links to knowledge of the world, language development, sensory learning and numeracy.

Ian Gambles, Director of Forestry Commission England, commented:

“The Gruffalo activity trails were an outstanding success and we welcomed an unprecedented number of children and families to forests across the country – many for their first time.  The trails encouraged visitors to make the most of the autumn and winter seasons and learn about our beautiful forests alongside one of the all-time favourite book characters.”

Activity packs were available for visitors to purchase, which included a foraging bag for collecting woodland materials, a fun-packed Gruffalo’s Child activity leaflet linked to the activity trail, a special Gruffalo’s Child sticker and a colouring-in sheet. These packs encouraged children to learn even more about the behaviour of animals in autumn and winter.

In addition, Magic Light Pictures released a new Gruffalo app, Gruffalo:Photo, which encouraged children and their families to explore and take photographs whilst out on their forest adventure. They could even take a #gruffaloselfie!

Martin Pope, co-founder, Magic Light Pictures, said:

“Gruffalo:Photo perfectly taps into the ideas of discovery and adventure which Julia and Axel’s books inspire. With this app we want to encourage children and families to explore their surroundings and take an even greater interest in nature.”

Gruffalo:Photo comes hot on the heels of Gruffalo:Games, the No.1 Kids and Education app on iPad, which saw over 250,000 plays in the first three weeks.  For more information, visit the Forestry Commission for details of Gruffalo’s Child activity and trails, and click here to sign up to the Commission’s learning database.  Contact the authors here: Katrina Podlewska and Dani Andres

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This article was first published in NAEE’s journal, Environmental Education (Vol. 107).  To read more articles like this, you can join the Association and receive three journals a year.