School holidays can be expensive and with lots of time to fill, activities that help take away the ‘telly tedium’ are always welcome. Here are our top five ideas for the summer – easy, accessible, low-cost ways to connect with nature.
DIY seed bombs
What could be more fun than a messy, squishy, ‘making’ activity? Kids can create these on a rainy day, then go out and distribute them when weather is better. Little ones can potter and place them in the garden, older ones can do ‘guerrilla gardening’, flinging them onto patches of land that need some wildflower biodiversity.
Mixing the seeds with clay stops seed from being blown away or eaten by animals. As the seed germinates the ball soaks up moisture, then breaks apart to anchor the tiny seedling to the ground while its roots establish.
You will need:
1 cup wildflower seed mix, or seeds collected from the garden or park.
5 cups peat-free compost or soil.
2-3 cups powdered clay (found in craft shops).
- In a bowl, mix the seeds, compost and 2-3 cups of powdered clay.
- Slowly add in water and mix with your hands until free of lumps and everything sticks together.
- Roll the mixture into firm balls about 1 inch in diameter. If they are still crumbly, add more water and clay.
- Leave them to dry in a sunny spot for 24-48 hours.
- Store in a cardboard box (not plastic).
- Now for the fun bit; sowing them! Don’t bury or water them – nature will do the rest.
Garden dens help kids stay cool in the shade and encourage imaginative play. No need to buy a kit – just put out a washing line with pegs and sheets, clothes drier, chairs, camping table, garden canes or anything they can use to build the basic structure. Rugs, cushions, fairy lights toys and books make it into a cosy play space, and it is the perfect spot to eat lunch outdoors in too.
The Woodland Trust has over 1,000 woods that are free to visit, so if there isn’t room for a den at home check out their website for the closest one to you; they also have some easy ideas for outdoor den building using natural materials.
Nature walk and ‘garden on a plate’
Also known as a ‘Fairy Garden’, these are a very satisfying way for children to get creative, especially if you live in a city or have no garden. Kids can use some of their toy figures as inspiration too.
- Head outdoors to a green space near you and collect soil, leaves, feathers, sticks, moss, and flowers.
- Using a plate as the base (tin ones are good), add a layer of soil or sand.
- Build the mini landscape with foil ponds, rock boulders, gravel paths, figurines and all the gathered goodies to make hedges, trees, and borders.
Fire up their imagination
If there is a story book they love featuring dinosaurs or castles, take them to see a real one; many museums and galleries are free. It’s a great way learn about the natural world and avoid blazing summer heat too. To find a free day out near to you click here.
Head for water
Cool off in the coast or countryside; for free how-to guides covering everything from rock pooling to pond dipping, and nature detective sheets to help identify the different plants and animals, there are fantastic info sheets to download from The Wildlife Trust.