Catching tadpoles, planting broad bean seeds, crafting birds’ nests—kids connected with nature at the Royal Parks Foundation and WLM’s fun and educational Family Discovery Day last Saturday. Held at the LookOut in Hyde Park, the staff of the Royal Parks Foundation gently guided the children in those activities plus finger-blossom painting, rolling over logs to hunt for mini-beasts, and spotting flowers and butterflies on the Discovery Trails. The Sunshine Pond was a favoured spot, where nets were provided along with bug-identification sheets, and the knowledgeable staff explained what wriggling life form each child managed to pull from the pond.

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If you haven’t been to the LookOut, you should go, and take the kids. Bang in the middle of Hyde Park, it can be tricky to find, in part because it is designed to blend in with its natural surroundings. The LookOut is home to the Isis Education Centre, a beautiful eco-building that enhances the environment of the park with its ‘living rubble roof’ and bat boxes. Enormous silhouettes of insects and birds adorn its yellow walls, and inside, lamps made of twisting oak branches hang from the ceiling. In the acre of land around it, the Discovery Trails, Mini-Beast Loggery, and Sunshine Pond provide further habitat for beetles and bees, dragonflies and birds. You can see it all for yourself on a virtual tour of the Isis Centre.

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Or better yet, just go to one of their upcoming events. If your kids are 8 or older, take them on the Bat Walk on Friday the 15th of May (8:30pm to 10pm; £5) or send your 8- to 11-year-old for a day of outdoor activities at Nature Explorers: Hedgerows and Hedgehogs on Tuesday the 26th (10am to 3pm, £15). Or turn up with kids of any age for the next Discovery Days—dubbed Hedgehog Heroes—on Wednesday the 27th and Thursday the 28th of May (11am to 3pm, free).

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The LookOut is located north of the end of the Serpentine in Hyde Park (on the maps in the park it says ‘The LookOut’; on Google Maps it says ‘Royal Parks Foundation’), W2 2UH.

 Photo credits: Kitty Phillips

Elisa Freeling
Author

Elisa moved to London a decade ago from San Francisco, where, in pre-children days, she was the managing editor at Sierra magazine. She lived in Brook Green, Notting Hill and Chiswick before settling in Northfields, where she lives with her book-loving daughter, architecture-loving son, and thickly moustachioed husband.

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