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Activities for the garden

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.

Wildlife pond

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!

demonstrate surface tension

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.

Bug hotel

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

The Water Cycle

Without the water cycle there would be no life on earth. Water is an amazing chemical that can change from one state to another and back again an infinite number of times!

To learn about the water cycle, let’s listen to our education adviser, Adele, telling you about what happens.

Let's learn about the water cycle 

Have a go at some of our activities to find out where your drinking water comes from, and how we make it safe to drink. All of our activities use items that can be found around the home.

Activity 1 - The water cycle

Water drawing

Using an old paintbrush, a sponge or even a water pistol, make some patterns with water on a wall or path in your garden. Check on your pictures after a little while – are they smaller? They might have disappeared completely! The water has evaporated and turned into a gas called water vapour. Try this in different weather and see what you observe.

Jumping water

Pop a plate into the fridge for a few minutes to cool it down. When it is ready, fill up a mug with warm water from the tap. Put the plate on top of the mug and leave it or a few minutes. Now check the underneath of the plate – how did the water ‘jump’ from the mug to the plate?

Just like in this experiment, the warm water vapour in the air rises up, then cools down high up in the atmosphere and turns back into liquid water; a process called condensation. You can also see this on the mirror in your bathroom when you have a bath or shower.

Perfect Precipitation

For this experiment, you will need a clean jar with a lid. The bigger the better! Put some water into the jar and leave it in a warm spot. After a while, you should see droplets forming on the sides of the jar and running down, just like rain. The warm water vapour has condensed at the top of the jar and is falling down as precipitation. To make this experiment really exciting, put some cotton wool or soil into the jar too, and sprinkle seeds on top. Cress seeds work really well, but if you don’t have any you can try finding seeds in your fruity snacks! What grows best?

Activity 2 - Making water safe to drink

In our water treatment works, we collect water from rivers and reservoirs and make it safe to drink. We use three main processes: Flocculation, Flotation and Filtration, with the addition of chlorine as a disinfectant.

To learn about how we treat water, let’s listen to our education adviser, Charlotte, telling you about what happens.

How we treat water

You can read about how we treat water and return it safely back to the environment on our Water Cycle page.

Let’s do some experiments......


You can have ago at removing objects from water using flotation with our raisin races activity. Fill a glass with fizzy water or lemonade, and then drop in a few raisins. Watch what happens – can you pick the winning raisin in the race to the top?


Have a look on page four of our Water Environment Project Book for a filtration experiment you can do at home. What different materials can you find to make your filter with?

Here, Emma shows you how to make your own.

How to make your own water filtration system at home

Activity 3 - Distribution

Yorkshire Water maintain hundreds of kilometres of pipes, running under the roads to carry clean water to your homes, schools, hospitals and factories, as well as carrying wastewater away when you have used it. Collect some cardboard tubes and see how far you can carry a small ball by linking them together. Remember to use gravity to help you out by starting your pipe on a table or chair!

*top tips*

  • Cut a slit in one end of your tubes to make it easier to fit them together.
  • Make the perfect sized ball out of tinfoil or scrunched up paper if you can’t find one to fit through your tubes.

Let’s learn about how wastewater is treated once it leaves your home.

Here’s a short film for you to watch:

Source to Sea - Wasterwater Treatment

Once you've had a look at the treatment process, why not watch our education team talking to you about how we can all work together to keep our sewers clear. This prevents blockages and stops homes being damaged from sewer flooding. Let's see what happens when you put a wet wipe down the toilet...

Wastewater demonstration 


Activity 1 - Flushing wipes blocks pipes

Why not have a go at the wet wipe experiment and see the results for yourself.

  • Get 2 water bottles
  • Fill them with water
  • Add 1 sheet of toilet paper to one bottle and 1 wipe to the other
  • Tighten the lids and give them both a good shake for 30 seconds
  • Let them stand for a moment…what do you notice?
  • Take off the lid, pour them into a bowl, what’s the toilet paper like? How about the wipe?
  • Can you now see why we shouldn’t flush our wipes?
  • Remember - put the wipe in the bin at the end of your experiment. The toilet paper can be safely flushed away

Activity 2 - Feed birds not fatbergs!

Tipping fat down the drain causes blockages. Even if it is nice and runny when it comes out of the oven, it soon hardens or turns to a jelly-like consistency in the sewers. This coats the inside of the pipes and soon causes a big problem. These lumps of fat and grease in the sewers are called fatbergs! Instead of tipping fat down the drain, pour it carefully into a jar or tin, and then dispose of it in the rubbish.

Alternatively, you can make unsalted fat into a tasty treat for your neighbourhood birds:

  • Get some old yoghurt pots, paper cake cases, or other small containers (you could even cut a small drink bottle in half).
  • Poke a small hole in the bottom of the pot and thread a piece of string through for hanging. You can also pop these out and put them straight onto a bird table or into a bird feeder.
  • Gather some food that your birds might like to eat. Birdseed is best, but they also like grated cheese, cooked rice, oats, chopped nuts and small pieces of fruit like apples. Check on the internet if you aren’t sure.
  • Put all your food into a bowl and add your melted fat. You can keep the fat in the fridge until you have enough.
  • Give the mixture a good stir, then spoon into your containers.
  • Press down hard and pop in the fridge to set.
  • Put them somewhere your birds can find them and watch from your window. See how many different birds you can spot.

Activity 3

Numptee is Yorkshire Water’s animated character who doesn’t know what to do with all his unwanted items.


Watch our clips below and follow our new character Numptee as we try to educate him in disposing of his waste correctly.

Numptee Trailer

Numptee Episode 1

Numptee Episode 2

The 5 days of Numptee

Now why don’t you see if you can draw up a storyboard for our next episode of Numptee? Maybe it could be clearing up after a birthday party or a family barbeque.

Or how about designing a poster telling others where waste should go.

Make a list of the things you can recycle at home, does everyone ‘do their bit’?

There is also our activity booklet and an activity you could do on pages 10-11 Do’s and Don’ts, Bin, Recycle or Tip

The Education Team here at Yorkshire Water would love to share with you some of our water resources which would be brilliant to add to your Home-Learning packs.

Water Cycle

  • Choose the water cycle tab to read about how we collect and treat water, or find out about poo power, or water and your health. Lots of useful information.

We have two booklets, so here is a link to each and a summary of excellent activities that students can do at home from those booklets.

There is a mixture of Maths, Science and social responsibility.

The Water Environment Project Booklet

  • Pages 4-5 Make your own water filter – Using resources that students could find at home
  • Pages 6-7 Can you find the solution to this problem? – A simple experiment for students to do in the kitchen investigating solutions and suspensions
  • Pages 10-11 Do’s and Don’ts, Bin, Recycle or Tip – What is the right thing to do with your rubbish?

The Green Classroom Booklet

  • Page 4 A reversible change – Fill in the gaps to complete the changes
  • Page 5 The water cycle – Can you find out where the key words go?
  • Page 11-13 My water diary and cost – A chance to calculate how much water you use, how much it costs and show your data on a graph.
  • Page 14-15 The cost of water – Some tricky problems for you mathematicians out there to get you thinking.

Waste Disposal – Protecting our sewers

Numptee is Yorkshire Water’s animated character who doesn’t know what to do with all his unwanted items.


Watch our clips below and follow our new character Numptee as we try to educate him in disposing of his waste correctly.

Numptee Trailer

Numptee Episode 1

Numptee Episode 2

The 5 days of Numptee

Students could be challenged to design a poster to educate their household about the correct disposal of waste material. These could be shared on social media by the school to get the messages out to your school community. We hope you enjoy the tasks, the Yorkshire Water Education Team

Fun activity - Make a Rainbow

Looking for a fun activity for your students to do - why not send them the link to our 'Make a Rainbow' lesson and let's see what creations they can come up with.

Make a rainbow