One of the best things about woodlands are the old tree stumps. These make super pots and places for mixing potions. Soups of all descriptions are made in stumps by children across the world.
It’s also often an ideal introduction to the processes of woodland decomposition. Because moss, lichen and other plants and fungi grow on stumps, children often use this time during their play to discover and learn about these organisms.
I’m not sure whether it’s a blanket rule, but in Sweden I was told that conifer stumps with holes are spruce trees that decay from the inside out. Pointed stumps are pine trees and these decay from the outside in! Clarification about this is welcomed!
Flat tree stumps are also very useful features so there is no need to request that stumps should be removed from the ground when a tree is cut down in your playspace.
It’s an obvious opportunity to count the tree rings and look at the growth rates in different years. It also possible to see whether the tree lived in an exposed position with a prevailing wind and determine other environmental factors which affect the shape and size of the rings.
Children, young and old, enjoy sitting on stumps, or standing on them, or jumping off them, or stepping from stump-to-stump in a ring. They can be used as a writing table too.
Finally I like stumps for the challenge of finding out how many children or young people can fit on a stump… great fun for a group game.