Activity: Twilight Trails

A Twilight Trail is a fun road safety activity where children search for fluorescent, reflective ‘treasure’ as daylight is fading and night falls. It helps them understand how fluorescent materials show up in fading daylight and reflective materials work after dark.

How to Organise a Twilight Trail

  • Set the trail: In an enclosed area such as a park, fluorescent, reflective items are placed along a trail (out of reach but in sight).
  • Get equipped: Participants are given information including a route map with a tick sheet showing pictures of the images they are looking for. They’ll need a torch or phone with flash for after dark too.
  • Spot the bright bits: They go around the route and try to spot all the bright items, completing the tick sheet.
  • See the glow: During dusk they will see how fluorescent colours glow.
  • Photo fun: Once it is dark they can see how the reflective items show up by taking a photo with flash.
  • Stay bright: On completing the trail they can be given or have the chance to purchase a reflector to keep.

What is Great About Twilight Trails?

  • Family learning: As it is a family activity you will also be helping the parents understand how and why their children can be bright and seen.
  • Out at night: Holding a special event to take children out after dark is a great way for them to see how reflectors work – it’s too light during the school day.
  • Post your pics: This is a very social-media friendly activity; make sure they know a hashtag to use eg #TwilightTrail for any pics they post.
  • Measure: Impact of this activity is easy to monitor – number of families taking part, tick sheets completed etc.
  • Festival season: This activity would also work well for a brownie, cub or youth group activity. Or link it in with celebrations for Divali, the festival of light.
  • Any size: Can be done on a small or large scale – with large events you may want to enlist the help of scouts or cadets to help as marshals.
  • Sponsors: The event is a good opportunity for a community partnership – a local business can provide sponsorship by covering the cost of the free reflectors at the end,  with the option of having the sponsor’s logo printed on the back.

Challenges With Organising Twilight Trails

  • Be safe: If you are organising an event like this be thorough on your risk assessment especially if the route is near roads (an enclosed location is easier).
  • Always take care: Make sure children and parents are given good background info so they understand being bright can help drivers to see you but they still need to take care near traffic.
  • Missing treasure?: Avoid the treasure ‘disappearing’ by putting it out of reach, and have some spares handy in case in does.
  • Weather watching: Some high vis items are waterproof and some are not, so watch out for the weather. High vis ted won’t want to get wet!

Twilight Trails in Action

Road safety officers from Thurrock Council have been running Twilight Trails each autumn for several years after hearing about a similar scheme in Devon. They work with the borough’s primary schools and use it to make sure young children – and their parents – know the importance of being seen.

  • Year 3 pupils and their parents on the Trail wore fluorescent, reflective waistcoats to make them visible as they go around the trail. They searched for lots of hidden reflective items which were hidden in hedges, trees and the undergrowth.
  • The students had to count how many reflective items they could find using their torches.
  • Members of the team also explain how the torches cause the reflective material to shine in the same way a reflector would shine when caught in a vehicle’s headlight – helping drivers to see them on the road.
  • All the children who took part received a fluorescent road safety bag containing reflective stickers and key rings to help them reflect in the driver’s headlamps.

As the evening progressed and it got dark they could see the hidden reflectors really well by torchlight or phone light.

Thanks to Julie at Thurrock Council for sharing this inspiring idea. Header photo credit: Thurrock Council.

Resource Tip:

Be Bright at Night

rigid reflectors night

Reflective items show up at night when a light is shone on them, eg from car headlights. Keep yourself bright at night.

More Activity Inspiration:

Bright Pumpkin Hunt

wicksteed pumpkin hunt

See how this activity was adapted for Wicksteed Park’s annual Pumpkin Hunt competition for Halloween.

Resource Tip

Smiley Face Stick-on Reflectors

reflective smiles stick ons at night

These weather proof stick-on reflectors are ideal for setting up twilight trails. The orange ones are perfect for a Pumpkin Trail.

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