We need your help NOW! Vote for our Dragon in Tesco stores Oxford!


Following on from the huge success of our living Hazel Dragon in Magdalen Woods, Going Wild have teamed up with Jane Gallagher from OPA, Julian Cooper Oxford City council and Stuart Turner to make another huge dragon, this time woven from living willow in Spindleberry Nature reserve in Blackbird Leys, Oxford.

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Stuart Turner, the land artist who created the first Magdalen wood dragon will also bring this dragon alive so …….

She will be enormous, she will be playful and she will be awesome!  

To make this possible we applied for a grant and are thrilled to say our project has been shortlisted for a public vote in Tesco’s #BagsofHelp initiative!

To win the top prize we need you to vote for us in store!

You can vote in Tesco stores 31st October – 13th November on who should receive the £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 awards.

Bags of Help offers community groups and projects in each of Tesco’s 416 regions across the UK a share of revenue generated from the 5p charge levied on single-use carrier bags. 

Follow the link to see the Oxford Mail’s article all about it.   http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/14808097.Vast___39_living_dragon__39__coming_to_Blackbird_Leys_beauty_spot/

Reminder – This Sunday 25th September at Kew Gardens – mini den making and storytelling under one of Kew garden’s oldest trees

Location – Kew Gardens, London

Date – This Sunday, 25th September

Sessions: 12-1.00pm, 2.00pm-3.00pm and 4.00-5.00pm

Come and join Fiona and 1 for a fun-filled hour of miniature den making and storytelling under the branches of one of Kew garden’s oldest trees

More information and tickets http://writeon.kew.org/events/the-den-book-workshop-3

elf housejo schofield and Fiona danks_

Come and create your own story and make a mini den with us at Kew Gardens, Sunday 25th September

We will be at Write on Kew gardens literary festival on Sunday 25th September.  Come and join in on one of our workshops where we will be meeting some amazing tree characters and having a go at creating some mini dens for wild imaginary creatures.

Workshops at 12pm, 2pm and 4pm.  For tickets and more details see http://writeon.kew.org/events/the-den-book-workshop-3


Teachers Gone Wild! KS2 outdoor learning training day – London Zoo

Are you a KS2 teacher?  If so, come and join us for a fun training day at London Zoo.

Going Wild have partnered up with The Discovery & Learning team at ZSL London Zoo to create an exciting outdoor learning CPD opportunity for KS2 teachers. 

Cost: £55 per teacher

Capacity: 40 participants

Includes: Entry to Zoo, training, refreshments, lunch and a copy of a Going Wild book (choose from the Stick book, Wild Weather or Wild City book)

Date: PLEASE NOTE  that we have sadly had to postpone this event in September.  We will re-schedule it, so please keep an eye out on our website for news if a new date.

Location: Discovery & Learning department, ZSL London Zoo, Outer Circle, Regents Park, London NW1 4RYF

Going Wild

This event aims to:

  • Build confidence and empower teachers to use outdoor spaces with their classes
  • Give fantastic ides for a range of outdoor science activities linked to the working scientifically strand of the KS2 national curriculum
  • Inform teachers of the cognitive, social and emotional benefits of getting their students learning outside
  • Inform teachers of ZSL London Zoo’s learning programme and how teachers can enrich classroom learning with out of classroom visits (and use these spaces better with activities onsite!)

Learn all about a range of practical ways to engage your students in outdoor environments using specific practical tasks that link to science and cross-curricular subjects.

The training will take place in a range of indoor and outdoor spaces across ZSL London Zoo where you will undertake a range of activities covering a range of topics that include, but are not limited to, exploring biodiversity (an easy-to-do bioblitz!), food chains and interdependence (food chain totem poles!), comparative and fair testing (parachutes for stickmen!) and observing change over time (ice windows!).  We will also ensure you have some time to explore the Zoo at the end of your day.

As part of your ticket, take home one of the Going Wild books of your choice (from The Stick book, Wild Weather or Wild City book) to plan activities for your students back at school!

Going to the beach this summer? Don’t have a ball? No problem, take off your sock and make a Hacky Sock!

Over the next few weeks we will be featuring some fun ideas from The Beach Book to help make beach days full of fun.  If you haven’t got a copy get yours now!

  • Pour dry sand into the toe of a sock to make a ball about the size of a tennis ball.
  • Twist the sock round and then turn it over on itself and twist again.
  • Find some nice big feathers and push the quills into the loose end of the sock. Secure with an elastic band.
  • Throw it around and make up your own fun games!
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Are you a den builder?

If so, here is a den building challenge for you…

To coincide with the publication The Den Book we thought we would set all you den builders a challenge.  Have a go at building the most spectacular outdoor den in your local woodland,  park or garden.  Then post up a picture of it on Going Wild facebook page, or tweet it using the #thedenbook.  We will be giving away signed copies of The Den Book to the best entries over the summer.

Only conditions, it must be outside, it must be yours, you must respect nature and it must be wild!

It may be a temporary structure enjoyed in the moment, or it might be built on a site where it can be re-visited regularly and worked on over time.  We believe it is important for children to have freedom to design and build outdoor dens themselves with only a little help if absolutely necessary;  it needs to be their space and adults are only allowed to join in if invited!

Was there a single life-changing moment that opened your eyes to the wonders of nature?  Or were you drawn in over endless days of freedom playing in wild places?  Experiences such as crawling through long grass, playing hide-and-go-seek, perching in the swaying boughs of an ancient tree or playing with friends in your very own fort built of sticks and leaves draw children into nature and lead to an insatiable curiosity about the wild world.

Why are outdoor dens special?

Outdoor dens are universal play spaces; you can make them almost anywhere out of almost anything.  They are all about escaping and using your imagination.  They are places  to be creative, to make up the rules, to explore the natural world and to create magical play spaces.

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Most people have a story to tell about their special childhood dens.  Mine was an amazing hollowed out tree, which we named ‘The troll tree’.  The entrance was too small for adults to squeeze into and there was a narrow escape exit out back, just in case the troll came home to surprise us.  Likewise my children, given a bit of scrubby area at the back of our garden away from adult prying eyes, with permission to do pretty well what they liked in it, (within reason of course),  happily put down their screens and spent many hours, day after day, playing and perfecting their den.  


Hedgerow hideaway-7They built it themselves using old bits of pallet in and around a leylandii hedge. They climbed up inside to reach a lookout at the top and made an upper story on the roof of the garden shed.  They ate their supper in it,  dug and planted the garden round it, and were constantly remodeling and filling it with precious keepsakes.   It became a place to ‘chill’, or the venue for wild parties and sleepovers.  They loved it because it was theirs, but most importantly they had time to explore, judge risks for themselves and learn from their mistakes.  

More den ideas

An outdoor den might be a stick camp in the woods, a hideaway in a garden hedge, a leafy shelter for spying on wildlife, or a little house nestling among the branches of a favourite tree.  It may be a driftwood shelter at the beach, an old shed converted into a mud cafe, a green leafy hidey-hole in a living willow dome or a hobbit hole among ancient tree roots.  

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Throw a rug over a washing line, turn a garden trampoline into a space rocket, a football goal into a cowboys camp, or a cardboard box into a castle.  Take indoor furniture outside so you have an outdoor indoor den! Or perhaps a den will be on a miniature scale; a castle for a toy soldier or a mini tipi for a teddy. Be creative, encourage children to use their imaginations; perhaps they will disappear into other worlds or times through a portal into a parallel world where woodland warriors, forest fairies or dangerous dragons hide among the trees.  

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Responsible den building

Of course we don’t want to see our precious woodland, parks or gardens destroyed.  Always make sure that young den builders understand their responsibilities and become nature’s caretakers.  Encourage them to look after wild places wherever they are, to be careful not to damage living trees and plants and only collect loose building materials.  If making dens from non-natural materials, be sure to clear them up when you leave and take everything you took out with you back home.

We at “Going Wild” believe making space in our children’s lives for some “wild”time makes them happier and healthier.  It is vital this generation of children spend time outdoors, interacting with the natural world so they become as familiar with it as they are with technology.  Only then will they understand their connection with the fragile ecosystems on which all our futures depend.

If you need ideas more ideas have a look at The Den Book. Post pictures of your wonderful dens on facebook: going wild or tweet using #thedenbook.  Write a few words about why your den is so special; we will be giving away copies of The Den Book to the most inventive and imaginative entries.  

For further details about The Den Book and our many books encouraging fun outdoor adventures, visit our website Our Books on this site or go to our publisher’s wesbite www.franceslincoln.com