15 Top Summer Holiday Wildlife Ideas for Kids

15 Wildlife Activities for kids this summer holiday
15 Wildlife Activities for kids this summer holiday
With the Summer holiday’s just around the corner (or already here for some lucky kids) for children all across the UK, I thought now would be an ideal time to put together a list of the top 15 wildlife related activities that are great for occupying your youngsters through this period oh and they will get you and the children out into the fresh air and away from the TV or computer games.


I will be doing as many as we can with Bo (and hopefully the boys if they are interested) throughout the six week period. Each item on the list that we tick off I’ll write up about on here as well, so the list should over time become a set of links to blog posts about these activities (so please do keep checking back here as I'd love for you to follow our progress through out the summer - I'll place a permanent link from under Encouraging People in the menu above).

As you can gather from a quick glance at the list some of these will be very short, and adhoc, on a day out walking, while others will require some planning and help! But hopefully they will all be fun for the kids. I have also tried to make sure that they are, for the most part, low cost or usually free (why waste money when free fun is all around us).

I've tried to include links to various websites where there are more details than I can fit in a single blog post or if there is more work involved that you might need advice on.

So onto the list (sorry this is quite a long post, but you can always bookmark it and come back to read the bits you want to do).

The List:


  1. Wildlife treasure hunt. [FREE]
  2. Wildlife scavenger hunt[FREE]
  3. Pond dipping.
  4. Geocaching. [FREE]
  5. Make a home for nature.
  6. Make a boat from leaves/twigs to float on the river. [FREE]
  7. Visit a nature reserve.
  8. Search for moths by torchlight. [FREE]
  9. Sugar/wine rope for moths.
  10. Mini beast hunt[FREE]
  11. Camp out.
  12. Make a found item mobile. [FREE]
  13. Create a daisy chain. [FREE]
  14. Visit the British Bird Fair
  15. Fruit Picking[FREE]

1. Wildlife Treasure Hunt


Searching for things is fun
Searching for things is fun
I'll be honest I might have the name wrong here, I'm sure there is another name for it, but the idea is to set a list of items that the kids have to spot on a walk out, from an Oak tree to a Mallard, the items on the list can be whatever you like, some should be easy others should be a bit harder, as long as they are a possibility then they will look good. Once seen you then tick them off (bit like the old eye spy books you used to be able to buy).

The other alternative is to create a list of clues for each item on the list, so the kids have to work out for themselves what it might be and then find it, testing bother their ability to identify things and work out puzzles (this may be better suited to older children).

2. Wildlife Scavenger Hunt


This is similar to above but rather than just spot the items they have to collect them. Now of course I don't mean you need to find wildlife, but add things like a specific type of leaf or a feather or plant etc. simple things that you are likely to find, but something to make a walk slightly more interesting than a simple walk may be to kids.

The great thing about these first two is that there is no cost what so ever, and you can do them over and over again.

3. Pond dipping


Pond dipping fun
Pond dipping fun
As you know if you've read this blog for a while, last summer we brought a pond dipping kit from the people at NHBS (we actually bought it at the bird fair - see item 14), and it is great fun heading to a nearby pond or stream and have a look at what you might find. It is important to remember that certain creatures may be protected species so DO NOT go pond dipping if you know Newts are found at the site (these require a license to handle) and if you do find any then put them straight back and find somewhere else to look.

There are plenty of books on what creatures you may find so it is worth buying (or borrowing from your local library) so you know what you are looking at, then all you need is a net of some kind (the tighter the weave the better it will hold the creatures) and something to place them in. A white tray works best (it's easier to see small creatures on the white background) but anything will do in reality. It doesn't have to be hugely costly, but anything you do buy you will be able to use over and over again.

4. Geocaching


Searching for a cache (illustrative photo only sorry)
Searching for a cache (illustrative photo only sorry)
For those who don't know what Geocaching is it is a treasure hunt using GPS co-ordinates (a handheld GPS isn't usually needed most mobile phones these days have the ability and there are plenty of apps out there for this fun hobby) where you search for a small canister or something similar that contains a little note book so you can add your name to signify you have found it. Some of these will be large enough to house small items that you can swap, others will be tiny and really, really hard to find.

This Wikipedia article will give you more details on geocaching in all its glory, and in far more detail than I could here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geocaching

Oh and again it can be done for FREE!

5. Make a home for nature


If you live in the UK you'll have seen the RSPB adverts Give Nature a Home, and it really is a great project to get involved in so why not do it in your garden? We have plans to create a small water feature but there are many more things you could do, such as creating a Hedgehog home or a ladybird house etc. There are loads of ideas on the RSPB website.

Some building skills and cost is likely to be involved in this idea, dependent on the project that you choose, but it has to be worth it.

6. Make a Boat from Leaves/Twigs to Float on the River


What more fun could you have while out near a river, lake or canal than to use twigs and leaves to create a boat to sale along. If you have no idea where to start (must admit I'm not sure but seems like a great idea) then take a look here: http://www.naturedetectives.org.uk/download/boats.htm

There can be little as enjoyable as watching something you have created (or something your kids have created) go on an adventure and sail down stream. Once you learn to make one you can make loads and have races, hours of free fun.

7. Visit a Nature Reserve


Bo at Dungeness nature reserve
Bo at Dungeness nature reserve
With so many nature reserves around the country (sorry I'm thinking UK here, I don't know what other countries are like) from national ones such as those run by the RSPB (Dungeness, Minsmere etc.) or WWT (Slimbridge, Arundel etc.) to more local ones run by the Wildlife Trusts (who are split into local groups such as the Bucks, Beds and Oxon Wildlife Trust etc.) or even you local nature reserves or country parks, then there is no excuse to not visit at least one over the summer holidays, many can be reached by public transport, so it is always worth checking the local reserves website for details.

Using the reserves hides will allow you to get much closer to nature than you would normally be able to do, and they are usually designed so that the local wildlife will come to you as well.

Members of wildlife organisations (such as the RSPB) will usually be able to visit their nature reserves for free, but the cost to the public usually isn't that high anyway and getting close to wildlife is priceless so worth the money normally.

8 & 9. Search for Moths by Torchlight and/or Sugar/Wine Rope for Moths


A Privet Hawkmoth on Bo's hand
A Privet Hawkmoth on Bo's hand
As you'll no doubt know I'm a big fan of moths and I have a light trap for this activity but there are other fun ways you could look for moths.  I've combined 8 & 9 here as they are so closely related, and are really two ways to do the same thing; see moths!

Firstly the very simple technique of using a torch and going out in your garden (or local area) and shining it on any flowers you find, there are some plants that are better than others (buddliea for one).

Option two is to use sugaring or wine ropes, for these techniques you either spread a sweet stick concoction onto posts, fences or trees (sugaring) or impregnate a rope with the mixture and drape these ropes over branches (an alternative is to use rotting fruit in a mesh bag), the moths are then attracted to come in and feed on these sweet substances.

Some good advice can be found here: http://www.angleps.com/Sugaring.pdf

You could easily combine this with No. 11.

10. Mini beast hunt


Lesser Stag Beetle a great find on a mini beast hunt
Lesser Stag Beetle a great find on a mini beast hunt
Bugs, Beetles, Flies and any other mini beast you can imagine can be found everywhere, so why not go on a hunt with your kids and see what you can find.

You don't need to go far (your garden or nearest spot of waste land or greenery will do, there is bound to be something. A magnifying glass and a book (visit you local library they will have something if you want to keep costs low) may well help to have a good look at and identify what you find.

It is also a great way to introduce new kinds of creatures to children, not everything has to be big and bold, there is an amazing array of wildlife that can be found crawling around almost everywhere. It is also good to teach kids that these creatures aren't a scary annoyance but are actually really interesting.

11. Camp Out


Kids love a night under the stars, but you don't have to go to a camp site, if you have a garden you can stick the tent up here, your kids still get to experience sleeping out but with the added benefit of your house being near by. I'd love to suggest wild camping but there are few places that allow you to do this (which is a shame), so I can't really.

If you don't have a tent it could be costly, but they can be a great investment (I hope to be buying a decent one soon then we can spend plenty of time heading off out at weekends), and if you already have one it becomes another free item on the list.

12. Make a Found Item Mobile


If you have kids who pick up all manner of detritus while out and about (pine cones, feathers, sticks or leaves) then why not make a mobile with them, cotton or fishing wire will help here, but attach them all together and you have an interesting mobile for your kids to hang in their room.

13. Create a Daisy Chain


Daisies ideal for creating a crown
Daisies ideal for creating a crown.
Sometimes the simplest activities are also the most special. I doubt there are many of us who have not created a daisy chain at one time or another (probably when you were kids yourselves in summer holidays or on school playing fields, I know I did) it is fun for all of us and summer is an ideal time to pass this activity on to your kids.

Get out in the sunshine (remembering to wear sun cream, and a hat), find a grassy field and you are bound to come across hundreds of Daisies, Buttercups and the likes. Why not take a picnic and spend some time relaxing and helping your kids create wonderful necklaces, crowns or bracelets.

A simple, easy and best of all FREE activity that is fun for all, and will get you out in the fresh air.

14. Visit the British Bird Fair


Bill Oddie with the Birding For All team last year
Bill Oddie with the Birding For All team last year
Ok I've thrown this one is as although I won't be taking the kids to the bird fair I will be working at the Birding For All stand selling raffle tickets so why not pop along and say hi (and buy a ticket, we have great prizes including a pair of Swarovski Binoculars and they only cost a pound a ticket).

This is the most costly item on the list (assuming you have a tent) but in the three days that it runs (Fri/Sat/Sun) you will also be able to see some wonderful talks, take part in interesting activities, look through hundreds of amazing stalls (everything from charities to artists) and maybe even meet a famous face or two (last year we had Bill Oddie and Nick Baker visit our stand - they are both patrons - and saw a number of others).

If you do visit be sure to pop by Marquee 4 Stands 12 & 13 (Birding For All) and say Hi.

15. Fruit Picking


Towards the end of the holidays you'll start to notice fruit baring trees and bushes start to become heavy with ripe fruits so why not get out there and see what FREE local food you can find. Kids love this (you could of course visit a pick your own fruit farm, but free is always better) and you'd be surprised what you can find, from the obvious Blackberries to even Figs in some places.

A great site to help with this is called Falling Fruit, they list locations all over the world where free growing fruit can be found (the UK needs help so add your findings!).

My only advice is to a) try and pick as far away from roads as possible and b) make sure you wash all that you collect, it's better to be safe than sorry here. Oh and make sure you are picking from plants in public areas, you don't want to be pinching from someones garden.

Just think about what wonderful dishes you can make with your found produce!

Thank You


Finally thank you for reading this list, and I hope there is something on here that you find useful. Be sure to let me know if you do - Just use the comments below. Also If you think of something else that I have missed then please feel free to let me know.

Oh and don't forget to share this with your friends as well they may well be looking for things to keep their kids occupied.

Please feel free to leave me a comment, I really appreciate the interaction and will reply as soon as I can. I apologise for any issues with posting comments, but sometimes Google's blogger platform plays up.

CONVERSATION

4 comments:

  1. Excellent list - with 8 weeks of summer holidays here in France I will no doubt be trying some of these to ward off the dreaded "Im bored!" cry of the young human! Can I be so bold as to add a link to the scavenger list I blogged about? http://eco-gites.blogspot.fr/2014/06/natures-treasure-hunt_2.html

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    Replies
    1. Thank you and thank you for adding the link, certainly seems a good, fun list, would you mind if I add it to the actual post so it becomes clickable?

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  2. Great article! I've shared in on the Crocky Trails twitter page (I manage their social media for them) :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you :) I know how tough the summer holidays can be on both parents and kids, so any tips on what to do to keep them occupied is always a help I find, and there aren't many nature orientated ones.

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