If you go down to the woods this month...

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Youngsters from Stonehaven will be going wild in the woods as part of an international festival in the latest of a series of classes encouraging children to explore nature.

2011 has been chosen as the International Year of the Forest by the UN in a bid to raise awareness on sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.

And children taking part in ‘Mud Pies’ sessions at Dunnottar Woods this term will be encouraged to have fun finding out about nature whilst going for a walk in the woods, through a series of weekly activity classes.

They will be collecting natural items such as cones and twigs to have fun finding out about winter wildlife.

The sessions help children aged between two and five find out and understand more about the natural world through hands-on, fun activities.

Mandy Tulloch, principal of the education business Mud Pies, who lives in Netherley, said: “January marks the beginning of the United Nation’s International Year of the Forest and what better way to celebrate than encouraging young children to get active by having some wild fun outside.

“I’ve put together a programme of fun activities, which encourage children to learn more about the outdoors. We’ll be finding out what grows and lives in the woods, and have fun using the natural environment to explore and play. We’ll also be making lots of mud pies!”

She added: “The activities take place within the Glasslaw area of the wood and I’d also like to allay any fears people may have when visiting on a Tuesday as the large green tent they see is simply a temporary shelter and not our makeshift home!”

Mud Pies has worked with over 150 families in woods within both Aberdeen city and shire and has won both the business category of the Aberdeen EcoCity Awards in June and a Green Butterfly Award from Aberdeenshire Environmental Forum in December 2010.

The current 5-week long sessions take place at Dunnottar Woods, Stonehaven on Tuesdays at 1 to 2.30pm between Tuesdays 11 January and 8 February and then again between Tuesdays 1 to 29 March.

Sessions are bookable in terms of five weeks. For more information and pricing, visit www.mudpieadventures.co.uk or call 07929 465680.

For more information on the International Year of the Forest visit www.un.org/en/events/iyof2011/.