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From buzzing bees to flowers and birds, seeing kids immersed in the world around them is a beautiful sight to behold. Unfortunately, thanks to a lack of green spaces and plenty of digital distractions, three quarters of UK children reportedly spend less time outdoors than prison inmates do! That’s quite a depressing figure. If you’d like to encourage your little ones’ love of nature, there are lots ways you can do to get them interested and keep them learning in the classroom that’s all around them. Here are just a few ways you can nurture a love of nature over the coming months.
Stay in the wild
Don’t have a summer holiday booked yet? Why not forgo the luxury of a hotel room, B&B or apartment this year and choose to stay under canvas instead? Camping is a fantastic way to introduce kids to nature and provides plenty of opportunities to introduce the concepts of respecting and protecting wildlife.
With a host of campsites in the UK boasting excellent facilities, there’s no need to slum it either. In fact, some family-friendly campsites have onsite indoor soft play areas, farm shops and cafes, alongside other modern conveniences like hot shower blocks and play parks. If you’ve not been camping before, you’ll be surprised how far your staycation budget will stretch if you sleeping in a family-sized tent rather than renting a room. And of course, all that money saved means you’ll have more to spend on day trips, ice creams and activities, so there’s no risk of getting bored, whatever the weather. Take a peek at the Camping and Caravan Club campsite finder to locate a site with all your personal must-haves.
You can read about the first time we went camping with a toddler in this post – A weekend camping in Llandudno.
Learn with forest schools
Do you have a forest school, playgroup or classes near you? Designed to encourage learning through interaction with our surroundings, Scandinavian-style forest schools have become much more popular in the UK in recent years with lots of new openings around the country. Many forest based playgroups and nurseries run sessions from toddlers upwards with activities designed to inspire and build confidence. There are plenty of opportunities to jump in muddy puddles or learn about different species of plant and animals. If you’re exploring your childcare options for the spring and summer months, many forest schools aimed at younger children can be paid for using your free government funded childcare entitlement. Last spring/summer I took my preschooler to a forest school based playgroup and we had so much fun.
Plan days outdoors
Where did you go on your last family day out? If a trip to the zoo or the beach is your usual choice, why not explore options to surround yourselves with wildlife instead? Green spaces may be in decline in the UK but there are still lots of forests, fields and woodlands where you can visit and take part in activities for free or at very low prices. A walk and picnic in the woods can make for a really simple and inexpensive day out and if it’s good enough for Peppa Pig, you can be sure you can get any of her young fans on board with it too. Keep an eye on the Woodland Trust’s event page for special activities at locations close to you. The National Trust also has garden and countryside sites across the UK where you can plan days out. Don’t forget to take a camera so you can practice your nature photography along with recording happy memories of your adventures. You can find lots of inspiration for days out in my days out and travel section.
Be a friend to nature
The addition of a bird table, box or feeder to your garden could let you and the little ones watch birds nesting and feeding while you enjoy your breakfast outdoors. With natural finish bifold doors like these oak styles from Vufold installed you could even watch the action from the warmth of indoors on bad weather days or roam in and out on nature hunts on sunnier days. A small un-mowed area of lawn can become a haven for butterflies or why not build your own log pile to encourage bugs to set up home. This guide from Ulster Wildlife provides an easy how to for building your own hedgehog home along with general advice on how being less tidy in the garden could help you to be a better friend to nature. And with all kinds of creatures on your doorstep, you and the family can spend the warmer months soaking up the sun and getting to know the locals too. I shared lots of ideas for encouraging wildlife to your garden with kids in this post.
Do your kids love to learn about birds, bees and trees? Does your toddler attend a forest school or have their own mud kitchen to play with in the garden?
Disclosure – This is a sponsored post. Find out more about how I work with brands in my disclosure page.