The forest crew from the daycare hits the trails in the nearby woods every morning!

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Lunch is eaten sitting on a rock

The daycare's forest group goes hiking in the nearby forest in the mornings

For the second year running, the Leinelä kindergarten now has a forest group, Naavanuppuset, according to the City of Vantaa. The group of children aged around 3 to 5 years old spend their mornings hiking in the nearby forest. Sometimes the forest group also eats lunch outside and returns inside at naptime. In the afternoon, the group spends the afternoon at the day care centre.

In the forest, the children sit on a sleeping mat on a patch of ground and listen to the teacher read a letter sent by Tiuku the rabbit. The letter explains how sometimes your mind can wander so much that you forget what you were doing. This fits the situation well now. In the middle of reading, one of the children notices that a spider has walked onto the sleeping mat. The children wonder curiously about the spider for a moment before the spider continues on its way.

"We may have been on a spider's path," explains Marion Ulmer-Pesonen, the group's early childhood teacher.

After a reading session, the children try to move like different animals. They excitedly run up and down the hill, sometimes imitating a spider, sometimes a horse.

The Naavanuppuset´s educational activities take place mainly in the forest.

"Our activities are broadly the same as those of internal groups. We just have a slightly different style. The learning environments are varied, and there is plenty of space to do different things in the forest. The teaching is a bit more functional than indoors. The children also concentrate more easily when the teaching is functional," says Milla Silvonen, another early childhood teacher in the group.

"When you have your own space, you don't get into the same kind of conflict situations as in a kindergarten," adds Marion.

The daycare's forest group goes hiking in the nearby forest in the mornings

Marion and Milla are both used to being out in nature. Marion has studied to become an environmental educator with a focus on outdoor learning, and Milla has a background in scouting.

The forest provides a framework for creative play

Children spread out in the forest to play their own games. In the forest group, it is agreed that the children are at such a distance that they can always see the adult. Some of them use a fallen tree trunk to climb a large rock.

Noel and Leevi say that in the forest they usually climb near a fallen tree.

"Children are not exactly stationary in the forest. All the best climbing frames are here. Motor-wise, the forest is really good for the kids," says Marion.

The forest environment also has an impact in the afternoon, when the Naavanuppuset children play outside in the day care centre's courtyard.

"Children are less likely to start looking for toys in the kindergarten yard, because they don't have any here in the forest either," Milla explains.

Arnika and Estella play shop and café on a small rock. I'm served coffee, buns and juice. Estella guesses that a snow cone frozen on a stick is a marshmallow. For the most part, the children in the group head off into the woods excited.

"The children want to go outside, especially now that it's snowing," says Milla.

Emily would like to fish with a stick from a puddle of water, but Milla intervenes to stop Emily's clothes getting wet. Sometimes they take spare clothes into the forest, but now they are at the day care centre.

The daycare's forest group goes hiking in the nearby forest in the mornings

The changing seasons have some influence on the activities of the forest group.

"In cooler weather, there should be a more active programme to avoid getting cold. In winter you can't do the same kind of things as in summer, but you can do winter activities," says Marion.

Alina and Venla say that they usually play house or a horse on their forest trips. In winter, Alina is looking forward to skiing and Venla would like to skate. Now Alina and Venla's imagination runs wild and suddenly they say they sometimes turn into a cat, a cat-dog or a pegasus.

Children are interested in the forest and nature

"Forestry fosters a lot of curiosity, and the desire to learn about the environment grows. Parents have also told us that it is no longer enough to tell a child "it's a tree". Now you have to know the species of the tree," smiles Milla.

Together with the children, they practise respect for nature.

"Parents have given positive feedback about the nature education their children receive at the nursery. The children are already very well informed about everyone's rights, for example," says Marion.

Lunch sitting on a rock

The triangle rings, and children's sensitive ears can hear it immediately. The sound of the triangle is a signal for children to gather with an adult. A food trolley has been brought from the day care centre and the children sit down on the rock, on the camp mats, to wait for their food. It is difficult to eat with thick gloves, so the nursery has provided mittens to change into during the meal. The children sit quietly eating hot dogs and potatoes.

The food tastes great in the forest, and Emily will proudly announce that she ate 4 portions of food.

It is now a bit chilly in the forest, but eating is possible even in the pouring rain. In the rain, they put up canopies between the trees, so you can eat in peace and quiet.

After the meal, the children lie down on a rock for a while to relax, and then we head for the kindergarten. Milla encourages the children to take a different route from the short distance from the picnic area to the path. The children each find their own route to the path, run to a jointly agreed place and then walk along the footpath.

At nursery, the children retire inside for a nap. In warmer weather, the Naavanuppuset sometimes also nap in the woods.

"The forest environment is tiring, so it's also easy to relax in the forest," says Marion.

Find out about early childhood education in Vantaa.


  1. EmmaSmith23 says

    As a parent, I am thrilled to hear about the forest group at the daycare. It’s wonderful to see children connecting with nature and learning in such a unique environment. Kudos to the educators for providing such enriching experiences for the little ones!

  2. JuliaSmith87 says

    Wow, it’s amazing to see young children exploring nature and learning in such a hands-on way! It’s great that they have the opportunity to learn and play in the forest group. Nature has so much to offer in terms of education and inspiration for young minds.

  3. Emily Waters says

    It’s great to see young children being able to explore nature and learn in such a hands-on way. Outdoor education like this is so important for their development and well-being.

  4. MaggieGreen says

    It’s wonderful to see young children being actively engaged in nature at such a tender age. Forest groups like Naavanuppuset provide a unique and enriching learning experience that traditional indoor settings cannot match. Kudos to the initiative of the Leinelä kindergarten and the dedication of the forest crew!

  5. Rebecca Smith says

    It’s wonderful to see young children engaging with nature and learning in such a hands-on way. Outdoor activities like hiking in the forest can have a positive impact on their development and creativity.

  6. EmilyDawn says

    It’s wonderful to see young children being immersed in nature like this. The forest setting provides a rich environment for learning and exploring. I hope more daycare centers incorporate outdoor activities into their curriculum.

  7. SophiaJohnson_89 says

    Are the children always supervised during their morning hikes in the forest group? How do they ensure safety and prevent any accidents?

    1. EmilySmith_92 says

      Yes, the children in the forest group are always supervised during their morning hikes. Safety is a top priority, and the teachers closely monitor the children to prevent any accidents. They teach the children important rules for hiking in the forest, such as staying on the trail, not wandering off alone, and being aware of their surroundings. Additionally, the teachers are trained in first aid in case of any emergencies. Rest assured, the children’s safety is well taken care of in the Naavanuppuset forest group!

  8. AshleySmith73 says

    Were the children scared when they saw the spider on the sleeping mat? How did they react to it?

    1. MeganJones82 says

      Hi AshleySmith73! The children were not scared when they saw the spider on the sleeping mat. They reacted with curiosity and wonder at the little visitor. After observing the spider for a moment, they continued with their activities, showing a respectful and inquisitive attitude towards nature’s creatures.

  9. LauraSmith88 says

    Does the forest group in the daycare also have any specific activities planned for the children in the afternoon at the day care center?

    1. MarkJohnson72 says

      Yes, the forest group in the daycare also organizes activities for the children in the afternoon at the day care center. The group spends the morning hiking in the nearby forest, eating lunch outside, and then returning inside for nap time. In the afternoon, they engage in various educational activities that focus on learning and playing in nature. The children have a unique experience of exploring the forest in the morning and continue their learning journey at the day care center in the afternoon.

  10. Megan Smith says

    It’s wonderful to see young children being exposed to nature and outdoor activities at such a young age. The forest group initiative sounds like a great way to incorporate learning and exploration in a natural setting. Kudos to the educators for providing such enriching experiences for the kids!

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