Teaching children about wildlife can be bit of a challenge nowadays and when you live in a busy town or don’t have any local parks, it is even harder. As advocates for everything wildlife we believe in the importance of children getting involved and hands on with the wildlife where they live as early as possible, with the hopes of developing an interest . With that in mind, here are two of our favourite activities which can help you to teach your children more about the wildlife in your local area and even help you to attract some to your own garden!
One great activity for getting children involved with local wildlife is to build their very own bug hotel! These are super easy to make, don’t require many tools and can be lots of fun for little ones as it involves all of the creativity and exploration of mud that they can muster! Once the hotel is built you’ll be able to check what wildlife you’ve attracted and keep track with the kids. This is great for children as it will inspire them to ask questions about the local wildlife, sowing a new found respect for the animals and insects around them.
To start you’ll need to find a suitable area for the hotel. This can be anywhere but needs to be on a level, dry ground. Here you’ll place the basic framework of the hotel which needs to be sturdy, strong and no higher than a meter.
The best way to start is by using wooden pallets as they already have a good structure and suitable gaps in between ready for filling with the messy stuff. Place these on bricks to start with to add a little height and maybe even attract some small mammals such as mice and voles.
Once the structure is built, the next step is to fill it with warm and cosy materials for wildlife to live! These materials can include moss, dry wood, dry leaves, hollow sticks & branches, pine-cones and small stones. At the bottom of the hotel, you can additionally add hedgehog houses to attract them to the complex, we do love our hedgehogs!
When you’ve finished building the hotel, it will need a roof to keep it relatively dry. This can be made by placing old roof tiles or wooden planks along the top of the structure.
Another one of our favourite ways of getting children involved with wildlife is building a compost bin. These are great for attracting slow worms, worms, toads and woodlice as these are small animals which will be digesting and breaking down the food and plant life you fill the bin up with! Not only does this expose children to an interesting range of wildlife which we have here in the UK, they’ll also learn a great way to help the environment whilst recycling your kitchen and garden waste.
For this you’ll need some ready-made compost and a compost bin.
Once you have these, you can set up the compost by filling the bottom of the bin with the ready-made compost and filling the other half with vegetable peelings, fruit, garden trimmings and sticks. Remember not to include meat or dairy products as this may attract rats to your garden.
After you’ve started the compost, it needs to be covered to keep the heat and moisture in. In the winter this will keep it from getting too wet and if need be in the summer you can lightly water it to keep it moist. The compost should be damp, not sodden. The compost created by the new inhabitants can then be used as a natural soil fertiliser around your garden!
These are only two of the ways you can get children involved with wildlife in your area and we hope they lead to some great learning opportunities! We’d love to see how you get on with these fun activities so feel free to contact us here or let us know on our Facebook page.