“No, you shouldn’t eat a toadstool! It’s poisonous – everyone knows that!” calls out five-year-old Noah as he eagerly answers quiz questions on the edge of the path. He’s on his way up Georgenberg in Bad Rodach with his siblings and parents. At the foot of the Henneberger observation point are a row of decorated pavilions. Enthusiastic children’s voices can be heard everywhere, as can laughter.
To greet spring, the HABA Family of Companies has invited all employees with their families and friends to a Nature Discoverer Day on Georgenberg. What secrets does the forest hide? Where does honey come from? How is sheep’s wool turned into a thread? Nature discoverers of all ages learn the answers to these and other questions. Awaiting them are interesting learning stations, exciting tasks, games and riddles.
It all starts at the welcome tent, where the children pick up their personal detective ID card, with fingerprint and wooden button, identifying them as an “on-duty nature detective”. “Today it’s time to get off the couch and head out into nature!” explains co-organizer Katharina Krappmann. “Families should spend time together in the outdoors. Just having fun and learning things.” Colorful signs with characters from well-known HABA games, such as Hanna Honeybee, Claudia Cloudsheep and Felix Finderfox, show little nature discoverers the way. From honey tasting at the beekeepers to animal carving in the craft tent: there’s a lot to discover!
Members of the Bad Rodach Beekeeper Association explain to children that they don’t need to be afraid of bees. They show how to handle the insects correctly. Numerous puzzles also help children learn more about harvesting honey and the role that bees play in nature. And at the end there’s a delicious piece of honey crispbread for everyone.
“Anyone who wants to go on a forest tour with me can come now!” calls forester Anke Schäfer to the families. The forester distributes small and large beaker magnifiers, as well as a number of binoculars. Then it’s time to go into the forest together. The enthusiastic children keep a look out for red ribbons. They all stop at each of these markings, and Anke Schäfer explains interesting facts about trees, flowers and the inhabitants of the forest.
Children are also fascinated by the “wool” station. There they can see how wool is turned into a thread – even just by hand. The Heldburg spinning women wear traditional clothing, and teach children how to comb the wool before they’re also allowed to have a seat at the spinning wheel.
“Thank you for the fun day. It was a great experience for the whole family.”
“Wood carving is cool!” says Ella, nine years old. She just finished carving a fish, which she proudly shows her parents. At the “Nature Workshop” station you can do more than just carve various animals. The children can also build and paint a herb caterpillar, decorate stones, or make masks with leaves and other natural materials.
There’s also crafting at the “Charlotte Chicken” station, with the Landesbund für Vogelschutz (Regional Association for bird protection). Egg cartons are turned into chicks, and the children can make “seed bombs” shaped like eggs. “It’s fun kneading together soil, cat litter and wild flower seeds”, announces nine-year-old Vicki. She made two chicks. One for herself and one for her friend. “She’s sick today, and couldn’t come. That’s why I made a chick with seed bomb to give to her. I hope it helps her feel better.”
A call rings out: “I want to be queen of the forest!” Four-year-old Liese is concentrating hard, trying to hit a slice of tree trunk with a spruce cone. The person who has the most hits becomes king or queen of the forest. There are other games set up for the children on the field too.
This much activity naturally also makes everybody hungry. Just as well the ladies from the multi-generational house in Bad Rodach have been busy baking. They have everything that children love, from cheesecake to muffins with colorful sprinkles. And drinks are provided too: The “FruchtSuchtBar” serves freshly squeezed apple juice and sells hot non-alcoholic punch, because even though the sun is shining there’s still a chill in the air.
In spite of the cool temperatures, the children enthusiastically collect stamp after stamp on their nature detective ID cards, and at the end proudly pick up their reward: a magnifying glass just like real detectives need for their work!
The Nature Discoverer Day is over far too quickly. “Thank you for the fun day. It was a great experience for the whole family, and everyone had a great time” says Anders Fuchs, who works for the HABA Education Alliance and is also a father of three. Co-organizer Louisa Wolf is also satisfied: “I’m happy that so many families came today. It’s nice to see how easily inspired children are, and how curious! It made all the organizational work worthwhile!”
And it really was: for the children, who discovered and experienced a lot as nature detectives. But also for the parents, who had at least as much fun as their children, and even learned a thing or two themselves.