Unless a child has developed a passion for wildlife for themselves no amount of cajoling them into the garden for ‘educational purposes’ will work unless you can devise some activities that are fun for them to participate in. In making it ‘fun’, not only will they learn subconsciously, they’ll also take more educational information on board and will ask questions as well as having fun at the same time. Here are some activities you might wish to consider.
Sounds easy? It’s not quite as simple as it appears and younger children will have lots of fun in their pursuit of creepy-crawlies. There are also some home-made insect ‘traps’ which kids will find fascinating to make and to set up. In catching insects, kids can find out about their habitats, life spans and how insects help with biodiversity.
Making a Hide
Kids, by nature enjoy a game of ‘Hide and Seek’ so why not indulge them by creating a simple hideout in order to get a close up view of bird behaviour? As well as the enjoyment of watching the birds at close quarters without being seen by the birds, the kids will love all of the “Sssh, be quiet, they’ll hear us!” banter.
To a child, identifying and following a set of animal tracks will seem very similar to a treasure hunt. If they’re artistic, you can also make a plaster cast of tracks for your kids to paint. Not only fun but in being able to identify animal tracks, your child will learn to know what animals have been ‘just passing through’ without even seeing them.
Kids have always loved being taken down to the local pond and throwing pieces of bread into the water for the ducks. You can extend that to feeding the birds in your garden. By placing different foods that different species prefer and placing them on the ground, on a bird table and in a feeder, kids will get to know which birds prefer what foods and where they like to feed best.
Growing peas in a container using dried peas, some water and some blotting paper or kitchen paper is a fun way for kids to learn how vegetables grow. And, as the container can be kept indoors on a window sill, your child can observe the progress daily as the pea sprouts start to grow until after about 10 days to 2 weeks, the peas will emerge from the top of the paper and can be eaten. Not only will your child find it fun to see a vegetable grow, it may also encourage them to eat more vegetables too.
There are plenty of fun activities you can do with children of a wildlife gardening nature. Alongside these, there’s leaf and flower pressing for those with an artistic bent, building artificial nests and shelters, collecting feathers or making a wormery or an ant farm. The good thing is that, by using your imagination and creativity, you should be able to come up with loads of interesting activities that will entertain your children as well as educate them about wildlife gardening and, who knows, this early introduction to the world around them might instil a passion in your child that lasts a lifetime and that would be a fantastic legacy.