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Active summer vacations at home

Tips for an eventful vacation season in the forest and nature


Summer vacations at home: with these tips you will not get bored!

Many families spend the summer vacations largely at home. This is no reason for boredom! You can also experience a lot of adventure at home. In this article you will find many suggestions for a beautiful and varied time in the forest and in nature, which do not cost much and can bring fun to all family members.


Forest Experiences

The forest is a valuable habitat. It offers a variety of employment opportunities for young and old. Children in particular love to explore and discover new things. For this purpose, sporting and creative activities can be combined with relaxed recreational breaks in the forest. There is something for everyone. Try it out!

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  • Picnic on the forest sofa
    In a clearing in the woods or on the edge of a larger path with the help of fallen sticks build a "sofa". There the picnic tastes twice as good. Check beforehand that no ant trail is built over.
  • "Nature Art"
    With leaves, sticks, moss and stones you can create beautiful pictures or mandalas on the floor.
  • Experimenting with the forest telephone
    On a felled tree trunk, one person scratches or knocks on one end - the other listens at the other end of the trunk. The sound is transmitted by the tree and can often be heard well.
  • Forest Bingo
    In an egg carton, pictures of natural materials are distributed into the compartments, and then people are allowed to search for "originals". The winner is the first person to fill the boxes. You can print out the illustrations, design them yourself, or just provide them labeled. Sample templates can be found under downloads.
  • Carve sticks
    It is a lot of fun to carve your own sticks or arrows. This requires some skill and caution: always carve away from yourself!
    It's great when a bow is added later. Willows are particularly suitable for this.
  • Treasure hunt
    You think about a route, make a "treasure map" and let the children follow a trail. At the junctions, there are riddles to solve that lead to a solution letter. Stringing the letters together gives the solution word, which leads to a treasure chest with a little surprise.
  • Geocaching
    With older children, you can turn the treasure hunt into a modern scavenger hunt and search for the treasure using GPS coordinates. Geocaching can now be done almost anywhere, one of the largest geocaching databases can be found on the platform Registration is free of charge. There you choose a suitable cache (treasure) in your area, enter the coordinates into the smartphone and the adventure can start. Most of the treasures are hidden in nature in places that your children would probably never visit otherwise. On the Internet, you can find many tips, instructions and experience reports on geocaching under the keyword "Geocaching with children".
  • Close your eyes and feel the ground
    Take off your shoes and socks is the name of the game when walking barefoot. Take turns walking blindfolded across the forest floor. How does the ground feel? Wet, dry, sharp or soft? What can it be: Meadow, sand, stones or moss?
  • Pine Cone Boule
    As a short but always nice activity in the forest, the boules or bocce variant with pine cones or stones is suitable. It is good if the objects are dry and the marker to be reached stands out visually.
  • Design little tree spirits
    Get clay from the craft store and press each about hand-sized amount to a tree trunk. And now you can get started. With the help of natural materials from the forest such as stones, cones, flowers and leaves can be formed animals, ghosts and faces. Don't worry, it won't harm the tree. The clay dries on the tree and is washed away by the rain over time.

Actions with water

On hot days, actions in and around the water are an absolute hit. It is important to pay attention to head and adequate sun protection. Here are some ideas for the water:

  • Swim with water fight in the lake: A soft ball that ditches well is quite enough to let the water splash properly.

  • Build small boats out of paper and let them float. You can find folding instructions under the downloads. If you want it more sophisticated, collect small sticks, tie them to a raft and maybe attach a flag.... and then Ahoy!

  • Planking at the stream and build a crossing with stones.
  • Stones ditschen: Who manages to let the stone bounce the most? Thin stones bounce as flat as possible over the water is always a new challenge for all ages.

Animals on the trail

Children love animals and are often very enthusiastic about learning more about them. Therefore, observing and exploring the animal inhabitants of the forest or a trip to a nearby zoo is worthwhile.

  • There are many free zoos in NRW.There animals can be observed, petted and often also fed. Excursion tips for museums, wildlife parks and game reserves can be found in the article "With Kids on Tour" here on the Familienportal.NRW.
  • Watching animals: You can go together on a journey of discovery and, for example, look out for squirrels and look for the "nest", the Kobel, in the trees.
  • Crawling animals observe: Follow the ants to their pile but once. But be careful, please do not destroy the anthill! In the process, you can find out who else is on the forest floor. With the help of an identification app, you can explore together how the different forest dwellers are called.
  • Create researcher booklet: It's a lot of fun to create your own "forest animal book" equipped with a blank booklet and crayons.

As a suitable preparation for trips to the forest or zoo, you can find a lot of interesting information about wildlife on the website of the German Wildlife Foundation. Often, the Naturschutzbund, for example, also offers excursions for families and children on site.

Moonlight adventure

Hiking in a different way: During the vacations it can be quietly later, all children like that. How about an evening or night hike? Pack the evening meal and eat in the forest or in the park. Then head out with a flashlight to observe stars and identify constellations. What does the forest sound like at night? Which animals can be heard?

Sleep outdoors: Whether in the garden, on the balcony or at the lake - grab sleeping bags, flashlight and a sleeping pad and spend a balmy summer night outdoors together with your children.

Tours by bike

For families who like it a little more sporty, a bike tour is ideal. There are endless possibilities for tours with a wide range of difficulty levels for all ages. With the help of Google Maps, you can easily have suitable routes suggested. Or you can get inspired on the Internet portal of NRW-Tourismus.

Under the keyword "Family-friendly cycling with children" you will find route suggestions. Be sure to choose a suitable length and age-appropriate elevation changes. You should also plan for sufficient breaks. How about a leisurely picnic along the way?

"There is no such thing as bad weather..."

...only inappropriate clothing. For children, this "island wisdom" from the north is usually true. And so it can go even in precipitation with waterproof clothing out into nature. Here are some ideas for rain actions:

  • Rain expedition in the forest or meadows: Which animals and how many are out in the rain? Only earthworms and snails?
  • Measure puddle depth: Who finds the deepest puddle? Either take a ruler or make your own measuring tape with a stone knotted to the string.
  • Construction project conduit system: From dandelion stalks or drinking straws make a water pipe, collect the water in a cup and pass on.

More informationLinks for further reading

Many interesting projects and Mitmachaktionen to the nature protection offers the youth organization of the nature protection federation for children at the age of 6 to 13 years on its youth Website NAJUVERSUM.


You can get more free tips for excursions with children on the website of the association Tourismus NRW e.V.

Whoever is looking specifically for animal parks can enter "animal park free near" on Google and will be shown corresponding parks.


Also on the Internet side culture in Stormarn gives it suggestions and a material list to the forest bingo.