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 15 Great Wildlife Activities For Kids this Summer Holiday. Great for entertaining the kids. And as a bonus they will get you and the children out into the fresh air. And away from the TV or computer games.
Although this is an old post, I have updated it recently (2022). At least one of the wildlife activities for kids is sadly no longer an option Sorry.
15 Top Summer Holiday Wildlife Ideas for Kids
I will be doing as many of the 15 Great Wildlife Activities For Kids this Summer Holiday as we can with Bubs (and hopefully the boys if they are interested). Update – We have done all of these wildlife activities for kids through the years. But now the kids are no longer kids! Yes my little kids are now adults (well 2 are and the 3rd is a teenager). But that does not mean YOUR fun has to end!
Each item on the list that we tick off I’ll write up about on here as well. Update – I did! The list should, over time, become a set of links to blog posts about these activities. Please do keep checking back here as I’d love for you to follow our progress through out the summer.
As you can gather from a quick glance at the list some of these will be very short; Adhoc, items 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. In fact usually free (why waste money when free fun is all around us).
I’ve tried to include links to various websites where applicable. There are more details than I can fit in a single blog post. And some there is more work involved that you might need advice on.
So onto the 15 Great Wildlife Activities For Kids this Summer Holiday.
15 Great Wildlife Activities For Kids this Summer Holiday The List:
- Wildlife treasure hunt. [FREE]
- Wildlife scavenger hunt. [FREE]
- Pond dipping.
- Geocaching. [FREE]
- Make a home for nature.
- Make a boat from leaves/twigs to float on the river. [FREE]
- Visit a nature reserve.
- Search for moths by torchlight. [FREE]
- Sugar/wine rope for moths.
- Mini beast hunt. [FREE]
- Camp out.
- Make a found item mobile. [FREE]
- Create a daisy chain. [FREE]
- Visit the British Bird Fair
- Fruit Picking. [FREE]
1. Wildlife Treasure Hunt
The idea is to set a list of items that the kids have to spot on a walk. 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. It’s a bit like the old eye spy books you used to be able to buy. Do they still exist?
The other alternative is to create a list of clues for each item on the list. That way the kids have to work out for themselves what it might be and then find it. Testing both 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 and collect wildlife. Add things like a specific type of leaf, a feather, or plant etc. Simple things that you are likely to find, but something to make a walk slightly more interesting than a usual 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
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). 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 – keep it free) 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. Anything you do buy you will be able to use over and over again.
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.
For a much more detailed description of Geocaching, please read my guide: What is Geocaching
Oh and again it can be done for FREE!
5. Make a home for nature
If you live in the UK you may 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; Build a ladybird house; create a bug hotel 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. UPDATE – sadly this resource is no longer available. If you know somewhere to get plans for a leaf boat please comment.
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
With so many nature reserves around the country (sorry I’m thinking UK here, I don’t know what other countries are like) then there is no excuse to not visit at least one over the summer holidays. 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. 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. 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
As you’ll no doubt know I’m a big fan of moths. 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. Basically they are two ways to do the same thing; see moths! Firstly the very simple technique of using a torch, going out in your garden (or local area) and shining it on any flowers you find. There are some plants that are better attracters 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
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 in the UK (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 have a decent tent that did cost a bit, but is well worth it). And if you already have one it becomes another free item on the list. Or you could risk the elements with just a sleeping bag (check the weather first though).
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
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
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).
UPDATE – Sadly the British Birdwatching Fair is no more! Cancelled on us after a couple of years not happening due to the pandemic.
UPDATE 2 – A new Birdfair now exists – the Global Birdfair. It does however fall outside of the summer holidays. The inaugural event taking place the weekend of 15-17th July 2022.
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 someone’s garden.
Just think about what wonderful dishes you can make with your found produce!
Thank You for reading 15 Great Wildlife Activities For Kids this Summer Holiday
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.
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