Let's learn outdoors

Activities for the garden.

Family nature visit

Activity One

Why not start to build your very own nature reserve close to your house and build a wildlife pond. All you need is a small bowl, this could be an old washing up bowl or plant pot.

Place it in a light position but one that is not in full sun all day. If you can, you could bury it in the ground but you don’t need to.

Add some gravel, rocks and even a log, create different depths. Fill your pond with rainwater, don’t use tap water as it contains chemicals. If you can then add a couple of pond plants – miniature water lily, lesser spearwort.

Sit back and watch what wildlife comes to your pond. You may see birds come to drink from your mini pond, after a period of time look out for tiny insects called cyclops and daphnia, also midge larvae which wriggle like worms, may appear. Look up these creatures in a book or on the internet to find out more about them

Take photos and keep a journal of the wildlife that you see as your pond matures.

Mini nature reserve
Demonstrate surface tension

Some water creatures live on the surface of water such as pond skaters and whirligig beetles. They make use of something called surface tension; it acts like a film on the surface of water.

To demonstrate surface tension:

  • Take a glass or bowl of water.
  • Try to float a paperclip on the surface, it is very difficult to do!
  • Tear a small piece of towel and float that on the surface
  • Carefully balance another paperclip on the paper towel
  • Watch as the paper towel gets wet and falls to the bottom
  • The paperclip stays on the surface due to surface tension – Magic!
  • Challenge your family to try it out too but don’t tell them your trick of the paper towel!

Activity Two

From the smallest spiders to the fastest ants, all the minibeasts outside in your garden need somewhere to live so make them a mini bug hotel.

All you need is a plant pot, any size will do and some cardboard tubes. Place the tubes inside the plant pot and fill each one with different materials, maybe dried leaves, some grass, scrunched up pieces of newspaper, small twigs.

If you want to attract solitary bees then they like thin tubes to nest in.

To make tubes for solitary bees:

  • For these take a sheet of newspaper and fold it over a couple of times
  • Make the folds strong by pressing down on them
  • Get a pencil and tightly roll up the paper around the pencil
  • Use a bit of sellotape to keep the paper roll in place
  • Remove the pencil and you have a tube

Place your mini bug hotel outside in a sheltered spot away from the direct rain. You can place it sideways or upside down, up to you. Solitary bees do like the heat of the sun so make sure it is a light place for them. Slugs like it dark and damp so put it upside down for these slimy creatures.

Watch what wildlife takes up residence in your bug hotel. Take photos and using the internet or a book trying to find the names of the minibeasts.

Mini bug hotel

Mini bug hotel

Activity 3

Have a go at making a water butt for your garden - details are below, let's see how creative you can be!

Make a water butt