Learning in natureEthical Home & Garden News & Features
We’re all going to be spending a lot more time at home in the coming weeks and months – schools may have closed but spring brings its own education and entertainment.
The Woodland Trust has pulled together some simple, nature-based activities you can enjoy together at home or in your garden.
1. Go on a minibeast hunt
The warmer weather will bring lots of creepy crawlies out – so get the kids out in the fresh air to take a closer look at your garden. You’ll soon notice it’s teeming with wildlife! Things to look out for include:
- A worm after a spring shower
- A bumblebee looking for nectar
- A spotty ladybird exploring the grass
- A slimy snail in a dark damp spot
- A butterfly basking in the sunshine
2. Make a loo roll bird feeder
This is the type of messy task that kids love – and it will help them learn about the birds in your neighbourhood.
You can make this simple feeder with items you probably already have at home:
- Smother a cardboard tube in peanut butter (no added salt and sugar versions are suitable for birds)
- Roll it in bird seed and thread some string through the hole
- Tie it up in your garden where birds will feel safe eating
You could keep a running log of the birds you see visit your birdfeeder as an alternative bit of learning.
3. Go on a scavenger hunt
This is a fun idea for kids of all ages. You can keep it really simple for little ones – help them look out for different colours or textures in nature.
For older children, challenge them to hunt for seasonal signs such as spring blossom or new leaves – or ask them to see how many tiny natural objects they can find to fit inside a matchbox.
4. Make natural art
Art and crafts are great fun for adults and kids alike. To mix things up, put the pencils and crayons to one side and look for natural art materials instead. Collect fallen leaves, petals and sticks and use them to make a picture or sculpture.
You could even use the objects as ‘stampers’ or paintbrushes, dipping them in paint and rolling, brushing or stamping them on paper to create interesting patterns and effects.
5. Have a picnic in the garden
Kids will soon tire of sitting around the same table for every meal, so pack up your lunch and take it outdoors. It’s a lovely way to keep mealtimes varied and for everyone to get some fresh air.
If you don’t have a garden or it’s raining outside, have an indoor picnic on the living room floor instead. Kids will love the change from the norm and it will feel like an adventure.
6. Move like minibeasts
This is a great way to get young children active and help them burn off some excess energy. You can do it outdoors or inside. Challenge your kids to:
- Lie on the ground and wriggle like a worm
- Flap their arms like a butterfly flutters its wings
- Put their hands on the floor and scuttle about like a spider
- Do some giant leaps like a cricket
- Crawl on the floor then curl up into a ball like a woodlouse
7. Make an animal or forest out of Lego
Many families will have Lego, wooden blocks or other building toys at home – so challenge your kids to make something inspired by nature.
You could all work together to make one big scene, like a springtime woodland or a giant tree, or have a contest to see who can build the best minibeast, mammal or bird.
8. Butterfly symmetry art
Paint, paper and a guaranteed wow factor. Splodge paint on one half of your paper and fold it in half so the paint spreads on both sides. Carefully open it up to reveal a beautiful butterfly.
This is a great way to teach kids about butterflies and how their wings are symmetrical.
Once dry, you could even turn your artwork into a card and send it to a grandparent you might not see for a while.
9. Ladybird potato stamps
Who doesn’t love a ladybird? This fun activity is great for little ones. You just need a potato, paints and paper. Slice your potato in half, paint it, stamp it and decorate.
You can even experiment and make other creatures like bumblebees, woodlice or shield bugs.
10. Write a story about woods and trees
If your kids love writing, then get those creative juices flowing with a story challenge. Kick things off by giving them the first sentence and encouraging them to write the rest of the story.
You could also jot ideas on scraps of paper, then get kids to choose some at random that they have to incorporate into their story.
These could include:
- A tree has fallen in the woods
- A character has gone missing
- An animal is shouting an alarm call
- There are some mysterious footprints to follow
Gather together as a family and share the stories you’ve written. They’ll make great bedtime stories too when you’ve read all the books you have at home.