Yesterday we went Gruffalo spotting at our local Forestry Commission forest. This is an exciting new activity that has been introduced along one of the popular family trials. Before we left I downloaded the special app which is free, and made sure my phone was charged. The idea is simple you go for a nice walk and along the way there are signs, peep holes and clues to which animal is coming up. When you find the footprints you point your phone, with the app open, at the sign and the animal appears. You then have an opportunity to take a photo of the children with them. When we arrival the children were so excited to get out and run around; we visit this site a lot so they know where they are going.
We headed off to the beginning of the route and saw a big sign letting us know we were going the right way. The boys loved running ahead and Roran had the chance to practice his reading skills. Persephonie had decided that she was also going to walk the route today, which made us a little slower than normal. Each animal had a set of signs to encourage the children to guess who was coming up. These included an interactive turning circle with images of the animals eyes, tail, feet, etc. Then a peep hole for them to look through, which was facing another sign with part of the animal on it, giving them a good idea. When it was then obvious who we had found there was a congratulations sign just before the ‘footprints’.
The final sign would be the ‘footprints’, where we aimed our phone to bring up the video. The videos themselves were great. The animals would appear and move around so that they looked real to the children. When they were in position the camera button would come up and you could take a picture. This idea is great but not as easy as it sounds unfortunately. Getting the children in the right position was hard. They couldn’t see the animals from the other side of the camera and would either stand in front of them, blocking the signal and making the video to vanish, or standing behind it where they would then get blocked out by the image. Also, mine were unsure where to look as they were distracted which meant that they often weren’t looking at the camera or video
that they couldn’t see. Maybe some sort of markers on the ground would have helped.
Overall the children enjoyed themselves, which was the main point. They also got some fresh air and a good run around. So did Rufus who remembered it’s that lovely time of year for fox poo! The route is only a short one so, as always, we popped to see the statue of the gruffalo who lives at our local forest, before heading home. There is an opportunity to buy activity bags from the site centre which I am sure would make the trip longer but, as we arrived early, the centre isn’t open at that point. However, it is something we will probably do during the school holidays. We are pleased to have another one of this trails at our local forest as have enjoyed all the others. It is a great way to get the children out and about and enjoying the local area, even if it’s only for a few hours.
For more information about your local Forestry Commission site and Gruffalo Spotter trial please visit their website