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Calling all Young Naturalists...

Here are some ideas for keeping KS1 and 2 children happily occupied during the long summer holiday. They all involve getting outdoors and helping nature.   A few suggestions will need a bit of adult supervision (pond dipping for instance), but most can be carried out by children in the garden. Others could be on a trip out to a wood or common, fields or hedgerows. Some will involve collecting materials and one, the purchase of 2 or 3 pond plants. Long sleeves and trousers are a good idea.

The list below can be added to in lots of ways; some are self explanatory, some are followed by details where they might be needed.

Make a simple bee home: You will need: a terracotta pot 9 to 15 cms., modelling clay, bamboo canes, or paper straws and string.   Cut the straws or canes to length to fit the pot. Tie the bundle together. Put modelling clay in the bottom of the pot and stick the bundle of straws or canes into it. Place pot horizontally in a quiet place in your garden.

Make a wildlife hotel: (Habitat full of nooks, tunnels and crannies). Build a ground floor with 2 or 3 bricks. Put dry leaves, straw, pine cones, corks and twigs densely in between. Hedgehogs might like these spaces. Rest a piece of wooden pallet on top (short bits of plank or wood will do - parents or uncles?) Stuff more sticks and leaves, in the gaps and then cover the wood with cardboard tubes, corrugated cardboard, larger stones, bits of tile (nice and damp for frogs and toads), reeds and logs with holes in them if you have them. You could build your structure a floor higher if you have the materials.   Put a roof on - old carpet or roofing felt would be very good but planks would also be fine. Lastly, give your hotel a name.

Go pond dipping: You will need a long handled net, a flour sieve to examine mud, an empty margarine tub, a magnifying glass, a towel and wellies. You can download some simple illustrations of the creatures you will find by searching online. Identifying them from a guide or book will widen your knowledge. There is lots of help online and you can get ideas here too.

Dipping pond Broadhurst Clough sm

 Pond Dipping. Photo Thanks to Sophiriel, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Simple weaving: Materials: Sticks (could be balsa wood and glue), string/twine. Lengths of interesting grass, plants, flowers, moss, wheat, or whatever you choose that is in the natural environment. Find 4 straight strong sticks around a foot to 15 inches long. Use string or twine to tie them to make a square frame. Cut around 8 pieces of string (more if you wish), to the same length. Now tie them securely one beneath another across your frame. You will need good knots. Now the fun part. Use your imagination and weave your materials in and out of the string.

Make a pond: Find a small watertight container such as washing-up bowl. Find your spot. Good light is necessary, but not in sunshine all day. Dig a hole and fit the container in. Add a layer of gravel or stones. Add larger rocks or logs which emerge from the water (stepping stones). Fill with rainwater. Plant 3 small aquatic pot plants, one tall enough to stand above water. Wait for wildlife.

Adopt and look after a 'Wild Patch’: Firstly, you will need adult permission. Your patch can be tiny, just a corner. It will still benefit wildlife. You could start with a pile of logs or sticks and leaves on the ground or in a bucket on its side to give beetles a home and somewhere to over-winter. Beetles are struggling and you could help to bring them back.   A wildlife hotel would be great in the corner. You could dig a little and sow some wildflower seeds or just let whatever is in the soil grow. If you have some nettles, remember these are GREAT for butterflies (some species lay eggs on them), but beware of being stung. Again, wait for wildlife to come.

Wildlife Photography: If you have a camera or smart phone, why not try capturing a beetle, or moth, butterfly or bird, hedgehog or frog, wildflower or insect. As well as the camera, you will need patience. We would love to see your photographs. You can email them to us.

Build a Den: If you can find a tree with a fork, you are off to a head start as you can collect long branches, rest them at the top in the fork then splay them out. Cover with leafy branches (being careful not to damage shrubs or trees), or tarpaulin. If you have a length of rope and two trees with branches the right distance from each other you could tie both ends onto them, hang a sheet over and pull the sides out, pinning them down with stones. Otherwise any objects with a bit of height will help - a chair or barrel and before you borrow the blanket or sheet, check with mum.

Go on a beach clean. Norfolk Wildlife Trust, 20th August 10.30am - 12. Meet Salthouse Beach Road. Free.

Join Norfolk Wildlife activities     'Children's Wildlife Watch' Norfolk Wildlife Trust June - September

Identify wildflowers (Guide book or fact sheet needed)

Butterfly and beetle spotting identifying (Guide book) Why not try to record by drawing some different species?

Identify trees by bark and leaf   (Guide book or fact sheet needed) Bark rubbing is fun and you can press leaves in a heavy book to help you to memorise their shape.

Parents, we would love to have any photographs of summer visits, projects or drawings either of or by your children for future articles. Our email address is

So turn off the television, shut the i-pad and head outside, whatever the weather.

July 2021

 

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