The Gruffalo is one of our favourite fictional characters here at Beebies, as I am sure he is in your homes too! The story itself promotes courage, quick thinking and adventure.
We love a good Gruffalo Adventure!
One of our favourite things to do is to go on a Gruffalo Bug Hunt in the garden with our fabulous Gruffalo themed explorers kit. Jennie from www.edspire.co.uk shared her Bug Hunt experience with you, with an invitation to join in with her new linky, 'Minibeast Mondays'.
Living next to a forest with small children as we do, it's fairly inevitable that once they had discovered Julia Donaldson's 'the Gruffalo' we'd be hearing about him a lot.
'Is there a Gruffalo in these deep dark woods?' the Wee Man would ask, as we travelled through the trees.
'Let's look and see!' I'd reply - and stacks of sticks would become woodpile houses, holes in trees homes for the fox, and shady places in high up branches suddenly contained an owl or two.
You don't even need a Gruffalo to create a Gruffalo adventure - just a bit of imagination and a local wood will do.
BUT then I heard about the Gruffalo trail in Thorndon Country Park. And of course we had to give that a try! For 50p you can get a map which shows where all the animals are hiding, and at the end, the Gruffalo stands tall in the trees. He's a sculpture made out of wood but it's amazingly detailed and also a lot, lot bigger than I imagined!
I suspect the people who designed the trail realised this, because unlike in the story, on this trail you first come face to face with the Gruffalo's Child - a much smaller and less scary statue which kind of helps get little ones ready for the much larger Gruffalo ahead. The Wee Man and his friends had a lot of fun seeking out the animals (the fox was actually pretty well hidden and it took us a while to find him) and at the end of the trail there is a lovely picnic and play area, which was the perfect end to the day.
The Gruffalo is 15 this year, and to celebrate his birthday Gruffalo trails have been installed in 28 woods across England. They don't all have sculpted animals like our local trail - but 16 of them DO have individual Gruffalo sculptures, each one different, and each as big as the one in Thorndon Country Park. We were asked by Countryfile if we'd like to be filmed looking for the Gruffalo again - but this time in Wendover Woods.
Would we? Of course we would!
So the hunt began again. This time there was no map, but instead lots of signs along the way giving ideas for different things to try as you walk through the woods. We were encouraged to walk and talk like the animals, hunt for bugs, and build dens (the den building area is absolutely fantastic, with lots of dens already partly built for inspiration and plenty of sticks and foliage scattered around too). And at the end...well...actually there wasn't a Gruffalo statue. They aren't being put in place until the 10th of June, so we weren't able to see it.
BUT we did see a REAL LIVE GRUFFALO! The kids were absolutely astounded, and once he'd assured them he was a 'friendly one' they were happily high-fiving him too, until they decided it would be more fun to scare him away with a 'terrible mouse' (that's what Bubby D calls her mouse stuffed toy). Eventually, someone said 'gruffalo crumble' and he beat a hasty retreat!
So we've had plenty of Gruffalo adventures, and all of them different. Later this month we'll be back to Wendover to track him down again - and perhaps we'll try and find him in a couple of other places too.
So when you see a wood, let your imagination run wild - you never know what you might find!
There is so much you can do to explore the story of the Gruffalo! We'll be sharing some of our favourite ideas over the next few months right here.
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You can join in on twitter too using #welovegruffaloadventures, #welovebeebies & #lbpawards2014.