Chiltern Open Air Museum is one of our favourite places for a day out. It’s familiar and feels like a safe place to visit with the restricted pre-booked tickets and plenty of outdoor space to allow for social distancing. Sophie quite enjoys looking out for the signs for the sensory trail and telling me what she can see, hear, smell or feel at various points. Having something to look out for helps make a day out more fun, so we decided to have a nature hunt on one of our recent visits.
I love how nature hunts help encourage Sophie to take a closer look at things and learn a little more about nature along the way. I printed out a couple of sheets from Twinkl – a nature walk scavenger hunt sheet and a tree identification sheet – and put it in her rucksack along with her little “explorer kit”. This is a little zip-up pouch containing some paper and pencils, a crayon, a magnifying glass and a pair of binoculars plus my old digital camera so that Sophie could take photos of her discoveries.
We ticked quite a few things on the list within a few moments of our arrival at the museum, looking around the Astleham Manor garden. It was lovely to see Sophie carefully looking at leaves and flowers, trying to see if she could spot a mini-beast or two hiding amongst them, or trying to identify which tree they came from. Thankfully Thomas was having a nap in the buggy so Sophie could take her time.
We had a very leisurely stroll down to the village green; Sophie stopping frequently along the way as she spotted various items on her sheet. By the time we reached the green, Thomas had woken up and we stopped for some ice-cream and a snack. Thomas might be looking longingly at Sophie’s ice-cream in the photo below, but he did get to have some too as I shared a tub with him!
The woods near the Arborfield Barn leading towards the Iron Age House are a favourite spot. They tend to be a quieter part of the museum. The children love exploring the woods together although we are limited with how far we can venture into the woods, as most of the paths through the woods are not buggy-friendly.
Sophie found quite a few of the different types of leaf on her tree identification sheet. She also enjoyed doing some bark rubbing.
Although the playground has been open on our previous visits, we’ve tended to avoid that part of the museum or try to pass it without Thomas noticing to save him getting disappointed if we can’t go in there due to it being busy. This time though, we’d booked our visit later in the afternoon and the playground was mostly empty.
It was lovely to see Thomas enjoying being on the rope swing for the first time with Sophie holding him on. I have so many memories of Jessica on this swing. She absolutely loved the swing, although we could never push it high enough to satisfy her!
Thomas had fun on the other playground equipment with Sophie helping him. Trying to get him across the wooden bridge to go down one of the slides was quite tricky though. The other slide has a set of steps which were much easier to navigate.
We just about had enough time to stop and say hello to the goats before it was time to go. Of course, Sophie had to stop at the talking well head, as we passed the village green, to drop a coin into the well and hear what the well spirits had to say.
She didn’t manage to find all the things on her list but she was happy to get most of them ticked off and had fun taking photos.
Visiting Chiltern Open Air Museum – what you need to know:
Chiltern Open Air Museum
Chalfont St Giles
The museum is currently open from 10am on Saturdays and Sundays until the end of November. Entry at the current time is by pre-booked timed ticket (tickets cost £5 for grounds admission) with last entry at 3pm.
Opening times and ticket prices are correct at the time of posting. For the latest opening times, ticket prices and to find more information or book tickets, please visit the museum website here.