Be it your garden, the outdoor area of your nursery or preschool or your school playground, these 5 great activities will bring nature to you and your children. An easy to organise, low cost and great learning experiences that your children will want to return to over and over.
Collect a pile of logs (partially rotten are best) and in a sheltered, shady spot, closely stack the logs together to make a pile.
Leave for a few days to allow a whole variety of mini-beasts to discover their new oasis.
With your child, lift a log and see the insects that have made your deadwood pile their home.
Carefully collect the bugs and put into a pot. Look at them closely with a magnifying glass or through a bug pot to see the unique features each has.
To learn more, buy a mini-beast identification book or find a website with identification cards.
How many different insects can you find?
Make sure you return all the insects back to the place you found them and carefully replace the log.
Natural bird feeders
Throughout the year (not just in winter) garden birds will thrive in your outdoor space if they have a regular food source. Here are 2 easy ways to make bird feeders using natural materials.
Go for a walk in woodland and collet a range of pine cones. The bigger the better! Then collect some thin logs (about 20-30cm long and slightly bigger than the grip of your hand).
When back at home, mix lard with birds seed from your local garden centre.
The logs then need small holes drilled into sides and one hole all the way through through which you tie a string loop. Tie string round the top of your pine cones too.
Now the fun bit! With a spoon or a stick, cover the pine cones with your lard and seed mixture and fill the holes of the log. Hang the finished feeders around your garden or outside space and watch to see which birds visit.
Bird nesting net
In early spring, love is in the air and the birds in your outdoor space begin to build their nests. They are on the look out for the best materials they can find to make their new homes as comfy as possible. You and your child can help them do this!
Using net such as the one around the oranges you buy, fill it with a range of light, long materials. Grass, twigs, string, lace and straw are all excellent nest building materials so a mix of these will be a treasure trove for birds.
Hang your net in a tree or bush and wait for the treasure hunting to begin!
Blue tits, great tits and robins will happily make your garden or outdoor space their home if you provide the nesting box for them. Most good garden centres or country park shops will stock bird boxes. Buy the ones that need putting together to engage your child in a construction project with purpose. You will probably need a hammer and nails, and together the bird boxes can be constructed in about 15 minutes.
Fix the boxes on a tree trunk or fence post. Depending on the size of the hole or opening will depend on the family of birds you attract. In the spring they will be used for nesting and in the winter a safe place for birds to sleep at night.
Hedgehogs have been in decline since the 1950s and are now at their lowest recorded levels (we are losing approximately 5% of hedgehog number each year).
There are many ways we can make our outdoor spaces hedgehog friendly, such as making leaf piles, deadwood piles and nature areas. They are a gardeners friend as their main food source is slugs. Definitely to be encourages to keep your vegetable garden snail and slug free.
Building a hedgehog house is a great way to encourage them to stay and hibernate safely through the winter months.
For inspiration for ways to build your hedgehog house visit this wonderful site: