If your little ones are in their early years of primary school, then they may have been bringing all sorts of slimy, creepy crawly stories home. But don’t be alarmed; the National Curriculum covers ‘mini-beasts’ in Key Stage 1, so children are able to learn about living creatures in the environment around them. This involves investigating and exploring insects and animals in their natural habitat and kids are able to study through activities, worksheets and interactive tasks. With the summer holidays looming, why not get them into nature and build on their knowledge at home? Here are some fun activities and ideas to get you started.
Build Your Own Rainforest
A rainforest in a shoebox? I know, it sounds absurd but your kids will love it. Actually called a terrarium, scientists create mini versions of natural forest ecosystems to observe changes and monitor the evolution of the environment. You can either use a glass fish tank or a large plastic bottle cut in half will do. Fill it with gravel, charcoal and rich potting soil and a few tropical plants. Just spray the plants with water, cover the container and place it in a warm, well-lit spot. Soon your little rainforest will start to grow and change and there are plenty of activities you can do to study the environment with your little ones.
Set Up a Home Aquarium
If you’re into more long-term animal care then it’s worth investing in a pet to keep at home. One of the easiest and most interesting pets that young children can keep is a pet turtle. Although the first creature that crops up when people think of an aquarium is a trusty old goldfish, turtles are more interactive and can crawl around outside the tank too. But keeping a tank isn’t often as easy as people think, so for proper care make sure that you set up the right environment with clean water and the appropriate food at regular intervals to keep your turtle happy.
Start a Compost Heap
Encourage your kids to reduce waste and care for nature by creating their own compost heap. Most kinds of biodegradable home and kitchen waste can be used to build the heap. It’s important to keep an even balance of greens (nitrogens) and browns (carbon) so gather garden leaves, plants and weeds as well as card, paper and sawdust too. Add a healthy amount of water (you can even use your aquarium tanks old water!) and regularly turn the compost to encourage decomposition. Soon you’ll find that all the creepy-crawlies that they’ve been learning about at school will come to life in the heap and they can observe them in their own garden. Just be sure they don’t bring them inside!
There are plenty of ways to keep the kids off the iPad this summer and encouraging them to get outside and interact with nature is another step on the path to a healthy lifestyle.