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From looking for bugs to recreating D-Day landings
People in Staffordshire are being invited to embrace nature at the National Memorial Arboretum during the May half term break. The Arboretum, based at Alrewas, near Lichfield, has organised a range of activities for families to enjoy as they explore the 150 acre woodland site during the week beginning Monday 27 May. Intrepid young explorers can collect a Nature Detective Backpack, which they can hire for £4, to facilitate their expedition as they seek to discover the many minibeasts that call the Arboretum their home. Each backpack includes a trail map, binoculars, magnifying glass and bug pot to carry their creepy crawlies before releasing them back into the wild when they finish their mission.
Children encouraged to turn detective and find creepy crawlies
Those people looking to get messy and creative can explore the free purpose-built 'Mud Galleys' on the Naval Review memorial. These specially designed mud kitchens are designed to promote engagement with nature and help to develop creativity with natural materials. Visitors can also contribute to the Arboretum's ever-growing landscape by contributing to a wildflower meadow located on an ancient burial mound. Seed packs are available to buy at £1 each containing a mixture of seeds and sand. Once sown, the seeds will take approximately three weeks to germinate, so people can see them in bloom on their next visit. Popular children's book, The Stick Man, features in a free self-guided activity trail which offers an interactive learning experience for three to seven year olds, designed to help them go on their own adventure as they learn the story. Activity packs to support the trail are available for £2.50.
One of the more than 370 memorials at the Arboretum
A commemorative art project called D-Day: Vessels of Victory has been erected within The Merchant Navy Wood in memory of all those who served in Operation Neptune, which became known as the D-Day landings. Visitors are invited to decorate one of 6,939 wooden vessels, each one representing an allied craft involved in the operation. They will then be added to the 'sea' of ships in the wood between now and the end of the project on September 15 this year. In addition to these activities, the Arboretum will be home to two outdoor play areas. The Sensory Play Garden uses sensory exploration and discovery to introduce younger visitors to the concept of Remembrance. It features tunnels, a climbing globe, banister slides and time circle. The second children's play area in the Children's Wood offers wooden play equipment with picnic benches located nearby.
Sarah Oakden, Head of Marketing at the National Memorial Arboretum, said: "The Arboretum is home to a host of fantastic natural elements to explore and throughout half term we are offering some fantastic resources for families to help them embrace nature as they explore the site and discover the significance of the memorials and the fascinating personal stories behind them. During this 75th anniversary year, we are also pleased to be able to give our visitors the chance to join us in remembrance and contribute to our outdoor art installation, amongst other D-Day related activities."