MORE than 300 families in Swindon have ventured outdoors this summer to practise their communication and literacy skills.

They are taking part in a new Lost Words Trail around the town which began on August 4 and runs throughout the school summer holiday.

As part of the Swindon Stories campaign, the trail will take families to eight leisure and arts venues around the town centre. There they will find a nature-themed word displayed on an outside window or floor, and can take part in a simple activity at each location.

These will encourage them to talk about the lost word they have found and the environment they are in.

Anish Harrison, manager of the Trust’s Swindon Hub, said:“We’re really lucky in Swindon to have both beautiful buildings and lovely outdoor spaces, and we’re delighted to be able to profile them both with this great new trail!“We hope the activities will encourage children and parents alike to form literacy habits that will increase their confidence, and inspire them to interact more with each other and the environment around them.”

Swindon Stories was launched by the National Literacy Trust and Swindon Borough Council in February this year, supported by WHSmith.

It encourages the whole town to make reading, writing and talking a priority, with a range of projects and initiatives to give young people the literacy skills they need to succeed in life.

Cabinet Member for Corporate and Customer Services, Councillor Keith Williams, said: “The Swindon Stories Lost Words Trail provides a fantastic opportunity for families to spend time together and enjoy the sights of Swindon town centre this summer.

“The activities on the trail map will help children to improve their communication skills over the holidays and learn lots of new words to describe the world around them.”

Once families have found and filled in three or more words, they can drop their Lost Word Trail map off at Swindon Central Library and will be entered into a prize draw to win books and shopping vouchers.

The event is inspired by the book The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane, which has proved exceptionally popular in re-connecting children with landscape and nature words that are falling out of common usage.

Campaign organisers, the National Literacy Trust, says research suggests children have a much deeper and broader understanding of the world around them if they experience the outdoors.

Spending time outside as a family gives children the chance to talk about their surroundings, learn new words and improve their communication skills.

As well as the library, the lost words can also be found at GWR Park, Faringdon Road; STEAM; Wyvern Theatre; the Museum of Computing; Swindon Museum and Art Gallery; Swindon Arts Centrem, and Swindon Town Gardens.

Free copies of the Lost Words Trail map are available at each of the participating venues and more information can be found at