Side Street Style: 20 Ways for kids to connect with nature during lockdown

Side Street Style

Family travel and lifestyle blog

19/04/2020

20 Ways for kids to connect with nature during lockdown

kids by river



We all know that getting outdoors, in the fresh air and connecting with nature can be beneficial for both our physical and mental wellbeing at all ages so striking the balance between being safe, following government guidelines and still keeping a connection with nature, especially for my two young boys has been a priority of late. While the world feels anything but normal having a sense of normality for a family unit is important as children will without a doubt also feel any stress or worry an adult is exhibiting.

Unlike some other European countries we are still able to go outside, for an hour, once a day for exercise and as long as it's safe for you to do so, especially if you don't have a garden, terrace or a balcony, I would encourage you to use this time, to help with perspective, mental health and physical wellbeing for not only the adults but also children.

The focus should remain on exploring your local environment, staying within walking distance of your home, going at quieter times, practising social distancing, not meeting up with anyone out of your household and of course not venturing out if you are suffering from any symptoms of Covid-19. With these restrictions in place, I thought I would share 20 ways to make sure your children still have a connection with nature and the outdoors during the lockdown.

1. Go on a Nature Scavenger hunt

A scavenger hunt is an easy way to make your daily walk a little more fun. We are lucky in the UK that even in urban areas there is usually a green space within walking distance of nearly all homes and you could also do this in your garden if you have one. Simply print out a free scavenger hunt sheet from websites such as Twinkl which are free to use at the moment and get your kids ticking off different plants, birds and bugs.


scavenger hunt



2. Bird Watching

You don't even necessarily need a garden for this one, just a window you can look out of as birds can often be spotted almost anywhere, even in the city. Birdwatching is great for kids, it gets them to start looking what's around them and what is flying in the skies above. There are lots of resources online and get your kids to record their findings.

3. Build a den

If you do have a garden then why not get creative with making a den, this can be made out of sticks, leaves, wood, tarp, in fact pretty much anything. You can usually also find a quiet spot at your local green area or local woodland that allows for den making, just make sure to stay away from the main path and use a quiet area to create small den propped up against a tree. Making a den is a great way to focus on something, work as a team and feel a sense of accomplishment with children and adults get involved too.


wood den


4. Collect & Identify flowers and leafs

This is something we have been doing a lot of lately on our local walk to the woods behind my house. I have found a great free app called Candide, although there are a few different ones out there, that allow you to take a photo of a leaf, flower or tree and then it identifies it for you. We have come across a variety of Ivy, bluebells,

5. Create Wild Art

This can be done in your garden, or at home with things you can collect while out an about - please use common sense and don't bring anything into your home you think has been touched by others or may carry the virus. You can use leaves and sticks to create some fun art at home, the Woodland Trust have some great ideas, also pebbles are perfect for painting rainbows on them to show support for the NHS.

6. Fly a kite

Firstly why not spend a morning making a kite, it's easy to do and I have fond memories of making my own as a child. Countryfile has a great step by step guide here. You don't have to have a large space but it does help, so if you have a quiet park or field nearby this is a great activity to do, it also gets children thinking about weather, wind and gravity.

7. Hunt for bugs

With the UK warming up with spring now is the time to start some bug spotting and believe me there are plenty around to discover as mini beast are all around us, even in the smallest of outdoor spaces. The trick is to get to their level and have a real good look in damp dark spots, under stones or fallen nursing logs. Just reminder to be gentle and put them back where you found them.


ladybird


8. Play i-spy

Again this can be done without a garden, a window will do, although this is also a great game when out on your daily walk. I-spy is one of those games that can be played with kids even from a very young age and it's easy to make it nature-inspired with your surroundings and get's kids really looking at what us around them

9. Get into cloud spotting

Children and adults alike can appreciate clouds and there is nothing like lying back on a warm spring day and watching the clouds pass and morph into different creatures - children have fantastic imaginations so the things they see will amaze. It's also a good time to start learning about cloud formations and the BBC have a great guide.

10. Start a nature journal

Nature journaling can be fun at any age and makes you stop and slow down for a moment and enjoy the small moments and observe the workings of the natural world. It's also helpful for improving art, writing and research skills. The Thimble and Twig blog has some great tips on starting a nature journal.


nature detectives


11. Make a rain catcher

You can make your own rain catcher at home using a plastic bottle and gives the opportunity for kids to learn about weather and rainfall as well some math skills such as measuring, capacity and number recognition. Twinkl have a great print out with instructions on how to make these.


12.  Learn to use a compass

Learning to use a compass and map is something I am teaching my boys at the moment as we get more into things like Trig bagging and Geocaching (although these are on hold during lockdown) but you can do some compass exercises in your garden or local area. Learning to use a map and compass is a really great life skill and one that slightly older children can grasp pretty quickly. The Ordnance Survey has a great step by step guide on how to get started.

13. Make a bug hotel

We love making bug hotels and encouraging as much wildlife into our small garden as possible. You can either buy a child-friendly kit or you can make one out of things you have lying around the house such as a plastic bottle and some dry leaves, twigs and pinecones. Red Ted Art has a great blog post about how to make your own simple bug hotel at home.


bee hotel



14. Watch the Sunrise

You could do this one while your backyard camping or if you don't have a garden get up really early one morning and watch the sunrise from your window or any outdoor space. Every sunrise is different and it's always a lovely experience and a great way to connect with the natural world and costs nothing.

15. Make a pinecone bird feeder

We love attracting birds to our garden and an easy way to do that is by making a pinecone bird feeder. All you need is a pinecone, peanut butter, bird seeds and some string. Spoon the peanut butter onto the pinecone then roll the pinecone in the bird seeds, attached the string to the pinecone and hang up anywhere in your garden - a nice easy craft for kids and is sure to attract some birds for a spot of bird watching.

16. Grow your own

Spring is the perfect time to start growing your own and kids really love getting stuck into gardening and you don't even need a garden to grow some herbs, which can be done on a sunny windowsill. Easy things to grow are Cress, basil and sunflowers and things like courgettes and pumpkins are always fun for kids if you have space.


grow your own


17. Have a garden picnic

There is nothing like the simple pleasure of eating outdoors in nature, while we are not encouraged to stop and eat on our one-hour exercises allowance, if you do have a garden then now is a good time to enjoy some picnics outside,  away from screens and distractions and makes for some nice quality family time. I have a lovely recipe for sweet coconut bread which is always a hit at picnics.

18. Go backyard camping

Just because it looks like summer is going to be a bit of a right off in terms of camping trips and festivals it doesn't mean you can't go back to basics and stay under canvas if you have enough space in your garden. So why not set up camp for the night, get out your camping stove, sleeping bags and fairy lights and spend a night in the garden listening to nature and doing a spot of star-gazing.


garden den


19. Go star-gazing

On a clear night, you will be surprised how many stars you can see, as well as some bats perhaps and you don't need a big outside space, in fact you can do some star-gazing from a window. It's best done before the moon is full so have a quick look at dates beforehand and opt for an evening that doesn't have a full moon. We forget how the world comes to life at night and makes for a fun hour sitting up watching the stars.

20. Try a Mud and Bloom box

I recently stumbled across Mud and Bloom on Instagram and even though I haven't tried it personally it something that I want to try with my kids as it's a nature-inspired subscription box which includes seeds for growing your own, nature crafts and combines outdoor fun with educational activities.



20 ways to connect with nature


12 comments:

  1. Such wonderful ideas and all things we love to do! Pinning this!

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  2. This is so great and so important for kids! Awesome ideas.

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  3. These are some great ideas! Especially to get out and enjoy the wilderness and explore. You have sucvh a beautiful family.

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  4. Great idea, the tips are very useful to connect our kids with nature even in lockdown.....

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  5. Thanks for sharing these ideas. It is finally starting to get nice out in my corner of the world so my kids and I are looking for things to do outdoors.

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  6. It's so good for kids and adults to get outside. Personally, I'm always up for a camping trip, in the backyard or anywhere!

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  7. I will be sending this to my Daughter In Law as my grandkids are the perfect age for this. Your pictures too make these events more enjoyable.

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  8. I'm going to have to use some of these suggestions with my boys. We've been doing scavenger hunts and looking for bugs, but I think stargazing would be a lot of fun, especially since it is still dark fairly early here (they have a pretty early bedtime because they really need their sleep)! I think we're going to set up their little tent outside one of these nights. They've been camping indoors on the weekend just as a trial so I think they may be ready for the next step....

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  9. These are sure ways to keep our kids engaged and productive! Thank you for sharing. Stay safe.

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  10. Such great tips! I have been letting my 4 year old outside in our side yard to play and he is loving it!

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  11. I don't have kids yet, but if I ever have one I will definitely follow some of the tips here. Going outside and exploring more outside with some guidance is a must instead of being stuck at home all day with their PC, tablets or mobile phone.

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  12. Great tips.one day I'll try to start gase with my son.

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Lovely comments

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