When you introduce children to nature, great things happen. It can be a springboard to a lifelong love for wildlife, boosts their mental well-being and creativity, plus establishes a new generation of custodians for the future.
Don’t just wait for the school holidays to be out and about, kids can connect with nature everyday just on their doorstep. There are lots of ways nature can help keep them occupied in the garden which are healthy, fun and educational. The experiences children gain now will develop an ongoing enthusiasm for caring for wildlife which benefits everyone.
Spring and summer are the perfect times to utilise those small hands. Kids are very useful in sowing tiny seeds and love digging in the soil - so get them involved with your wildflowers or veg patch. Give them their own tools and an area to look after; it’s a super option for their ‘reward charts’ if you use them and bonus points during National Children’s Gardening Week!
Forest schools are very popular so why not continue this as homework. Take learning outdoors with your own insect hotels and wildlife shelters, simple log piles or a shallow water feature. Not only will the birds provide seasonal antics but minibeasts in the mud, wriggly worms in the borders, vibrant fluttering butterflies and pollen-laden bumblebees will be a fascination. The more adventurous can get closer with bug viewers, but everyone benefits from the joy of a child’s reaction to tadpoles with legs! And for those that prefer to watch from afar, a pair of inexpensive binoculars make a great gift.
When you provide bird food and nest boxes in the garden, it helps resident birds and gives fleeting visitors a reason to stay around. Seeing them flutter around the garden with their various attractive plumage is a joy to any age. I-spy becomes much more fun, especially as it’s a way of learning who is who. Just as is the need with a domestic pet, make bird feeding a fun part of your child’s daily routine to check and fill the feeder.
If you have more time, set them a challenge to make their own bird treats using our Bird Cake Mix or Peanut Butter Modelling Clay. This can also be a lovely way to create presents for and share joy with other family members. Vivara has a variety of garden and window feeders suitable for enthusiastic naturalists to get started. Plus a selection of ‘build your own’ kits so kids can build and decorate their own creations and start a personal connection with the birds that use them.
Come rain or shine, connecting with wildlife is something every child should have fun with and learn to love.
And if the weather isn’t at its best (not that splashing around in puddles or getting stuck into mud isn’t worth staying out for) then indoor nature is at hand. With fun, educational books and guides to capture their imagination and games to play which identify birds, butterflies and bugs, the options are endless.