Last year we had a great time partnering with RSPB on family-friendly activities that would help to give nature a home in our garden. You might remember that we planted wildflower seeds, grew flowers for butterflies, made a frog and toad abode, grew plants for moths, and made a bird bath. It was a busy year!
We’re thrilled to be working with RSPB again this year on some fun new projects. Over the next few months we’ll be bringing you more exciting ideas to help you get outside and enjoy nature, as we get involved with the RSPB Wild Challenge.
Wild Challenge is all about helping wildlife and connecting with the natural world. Children can work towards awards by taking part in a whole host of fun family activities, and it’s a brilliant way to get kids – and grown-ups! – inspired to get outdoors and get wild. It’s free to register and take part; find out more here.
This month, we’ve been having fun with two different Wild Challenge activities: Spotting signs of spring, and Sunflower planting.
After a long winter of bare trees and brown earth, we’re starting to see signs of spring every time we head outside. There are buds on the trees and plants, the birds are gathering twigs for their nests, the daffodils are flowering, and we’re starting to see more minibeasts flitting about. The kids absolutely love spotting all these exciting signs of life when we’re out and about in nature, and the RSPB Signs of Spring activity is perfect for helping them keep track of their discoveries.
For the Signs of spring activity, you need to download and print a fun Springo Bingo sheet before you head out. We spent some time chatting about all the things on the list and where we might find them; this is also a great opportunity to talk about the seasons in general and other ways we can see evidence of spring (lighter nights, warmer temperatures etc.).
Once we’d explored our sheets, we took them outside to see what we could find. Remember to take a couple of pencils with you!
Spring is still very much in it’s early stages where we live, so we haven’t found everything on our lists yet. I think it’s a great idea to keep your Springo Bingo sheet in your bag so that you can tick things off when the kids spot them on another day.
The other Wild Challenge nature activity we’ve been doing this month is planting sunflowers.
Sunflowers are brilliant seeds to grow with kids: they’re big enough for them to handle easily, they’re easy to grow, and the flowers are seriously impressive! Sunflowers are also fantastic for wildlife; the flowers are great for bees and other pollinating insects, and birds love to eat the seeds.
You can check out the RSPB guide on how to plant sunflowers here. We started by filling some little plant pots with compost, then poking a hole in the middle of each one.
Next, we popped a seed into the hole and covered it over.
Remember to label your pots – particularly important if you’re growing more than one type of seed! My kids always want to know which seed they planted too, so we put their names on the back of the markers as well.
The last job was to water the pots and pop them onto a sunny windowsill where they can germinate (it’s too cold for them outside right now). We’ll keep the compost moist and transfer the plants to bigger pots as they grow. When the weather warms up they can go outside in their pots, or you can plant them in the garden.
The kids are really looking forward to seeing which insects pay a visit to the flowers later this year. When the flower heads start to turn brown we’ll cut them off and let them dry out, then put them out for the birds to feast on. Of course, the kids are also eagerly anticipating a competition to see whose plant grows the biggest!
These two spring activities are great for encouraging children to venture outdoors and explore nature. Neither of them need much in the way of equipment or preparation, and they’re both quick enough to fit around unpredictable spring weather too. Will you be giving them a try this spring?
You can find more details on the RSPB ‘Wild Challenge’ campaign here. And look out for more ideas for exploring and supporting nature with your family on the blog soon!