Mud Scaping

Creating the Deep Dark Woods

Have you ever read the story about the Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson?
If you don’t have it in your collection of books at home and can read it with your grown-up you can listen to it here:

I have given you all the parts you need to make the characters from the Gruffalo except an owl. Do you still have your pinecone owl? Do you think you could make another one if not?

With your animals we are going to head into your backyard to create some deep dark woods of our own.

You Will Need:

  • A paper or plastic cup (foxes house)
  • A big-ish rock
  • A short stick as wide as three fingers
  • A pile of small sticks (snake’s house)
  • A stick with some branches (owl’s house)
  • Your seascape

You will also need your Gruffalo characters: mouse, fox, owl, snake and the Gruffalo.

To the Grown-ups

Small world play is a play skill I’m going to really start focusing on at our outdoor programs. It is such a rich creative process both internally and externally. The ability to visualize and create small worlds gives a child such a wide and deep opportunity to work through their experiences and make sense of their world. It is also a play skill that will occupy your child for many hours and so is a valuable one for parents and caregivers too!


What is a minibeast?

Quite literally, a ‘minibeast is simply a small animal. Spiders, snails, slugs, beetles, centipedes, worms, earwigs, caterpillars……these are just a few well-known examples of the thousands and thousands of types of ‘creepy-crawlies’ that exist all over the world.

They are animals which do not have an internal skeleton technically they are called invertebrates aka…..bugs. There are more invertebrates on earth than any other type of animal.

Fact sheet

Minibeasts live all around us in a many different habitats, including our backyards and in our homes. As you explore and search for the minibeasts in your yard think about what makes a good habitat for them.

Is it wet or dry?

What is nearby?

Let’s go on a hunt to find some. Grab your magnifying glass and this beautiful scavenger hunt printout we can use by Kelly Rowe on her website Live Laugh Rowe.

To the grownups

If you child is interested in minibeasts one of the most classic and engaging projects to begin is to create a habitat for them.

A bug hotel, a bee house, a mud pit or pile, a box with grass and leaves. Simple.

These are all classic children’s activities that you probably did your fair share of as a child. You don’t need a terrarium or anything fancy. The materials you have in your home are more than enough.

The purpose is the play.

To be creative.

To explore and experiment.

To pay attention to the details.

To show care and attention to a living creature.

A fun starting place is discovering which live where. Some live on the ground some under it. Some live in the air and some in the water.

What kind of habitat might your child be interested in building?

Rabbit Small World

Can you make a home for this rabbit and their family in your backyard or a box?
Where might they like to live?

rabbit small world

The rabbit in Peterson Creek lives in the hillside just below the musical bridge. If you look over the edges you can often see his trail. He hops through the grassy field when everyone is at home for the day. He hops far from his house, always mindful of the owl who also watches the field.

What do you know about rabbits?
What do they like to eat?
Where do they live?
Do they have lots of babies or just one?

You will need:

  • Rabbit
  • Items from your nature treasure hunt – rocks, pine cones, flowers
  • Magic Door

To the Grown Up

Small world play is a big developmental step for young children and they may need some support to get there. The purpose of this prompt is to begin building their imaginative skills and engage your child in a playful world of their own creation.

Questions to deepen play:

Can you dig them a burrow? (if digging is permitted)

What kinds of things might you add to their home?

Who lives next door to the rabbit?