Your backyard isn’t just somewhere to relax, entertain, have fun and hang laundry out it’s also a thriving ecosystem that supports all sorts of wildlife. Conservation, being environmentally aware and looking after our planet has never been more important, so it’s vital that we teach young children about the furry, feathery and creepy crawly insects that share our gardens!
One of the best things is to learn by doing! Practical activities will interest kids far more than leafing through a thick, heavy textbook. Why not arm them with a mini magnifying glass? Give each kid a clear glass or plastic jar with a screw top and pen and notebook. Then it’s time to head out into the garden to find butterflies, bees, ants, worms, birds and so much more!
Remember, children can be slightly forgetful so always make sure you accompany them on these trips. Make sure they free any insect they catch after a few minutes and that they don’t bite off more than they can chew i.e. poking a wasp nest with a stick to see what’ll happen!
Let your children find things at their own pace, it’s not a race so if they want to spend time on the lawn watching bumble bees for hours, that’s fine.
DIY Animal Habitats
Not every creature likes to buzz around the flowerbeds or looks as pretty as butterflies do in mid-flight. It’s crucial you don’t just show your kids the ‘nice’ creatures and let them discover spiders, beetles and worms too. Why not give each child a small garden trowel or spade? That way not only will they feel super important but they’ll be able to move the soil, or rock and find the worms, ants, woodlice and beetles underneath.
A practical way of showing kids how worms live is by creating a mini wormery! Grab a plastic bottle, snip the top off for them and create drainage holes then fill with soil and leaves, add a few worms and secure. Let the kids watch what the worms get up to for around a week before letting their new friends go again. If you know anyone who has a pond why not ask them if you can bring the kids over? They can study and feed different species of fish. Look up which plants are in the pond itself and collect a small sample of the water. You could also pop a small amount of frogspawn found near the pond filters into glass jars for a few minutes to help your kids learn about a frog’s life cycle.
Not every animal’s active during the day so as a Saturday night treat you could let them stay up late to see if any visitors come into the garden at night. Remind them they’ll have to be super quiet all evening as moles, foxes, mice and rabbits have extremely sensitive hearing and the slightest rustle will spook them. Why not sit out in the back garden at dusk? Hopefully, you’ll see a few bats here and there too and the children can make a note of the flapping sounds their wings make.