The Big Butterfly Count — Little Citizen Scientists Get Ready!

The arrival of July brings with it an annual request for young citizen scientists to help in the world’s largest butterfly survey. Adults, teens, younger children and even little ones under five can all play their part. Butterflies are beautiful creatures for children to see and taking part in the survey takes as little as just 15 minutes. This important nature-based activity is also fun, free, and educational, and will help in the conservation of butterflies and the UK’s natural world. With all that in mind, today’s guide tells you everything you need to know about taking part in the Big Butterfly Count for 2024.

What Is the Big Butterfly Count?

Since 2010, the Big Butterfly Count has taken place during the ‘peak butterfly’ period each year in the UK. During the count, thousands of people across the nation spend as little as 15 minutes surveying how many butterflies and day-flying moths they can spot, and of which species. Their findings are then submitted to the Butterfly Conservation scheme so that a detailed picture can be pieced together about butterfly populations across Britain.

“Counting butterflies can be described as taking the pulse of nature and we depend on you, our citizen scientists, to help us assess how much help nature needs.” (Butterfly Conservation)

Why Butterflies?

Butterflies are important to the UK’s ecosystem because they pollinate food crops and themselves form part of nature’s food chain. However, populations of butterflies have declined significantly in recent decades.

“80% of butterflies have declined since the 1970s and we have lost up to 44% of moths in the UK. ” (Butterfly Conservation)

This may be due to factors like habitat loss, climate change, and the use of harmful and indiscriminate pesticides. The decline is alarming from the perspective of butterfly conservation – some species are in real danger of extinction – as well as being a warning barometer for the state of nature overall. By monitoring butterfly and daytime-flying moth populations, experts can get a better idea of the health of biodiversity and the natural environment across Britain and, by doing so each year, identify trends over time. Only through such a widespread and comprehensive approach can measures be put in place to try to fix any problems identified. The Big Butterfly Count is therefore an important and hugely worthwhile activity for children and families to get involved in during July and early August.

When is 2024’s Big Butterfly Count Taking Place?

The Big Butterfly Count itself starts on Friday 12th July 2024 and will run to Sunday 4th August. However, the overall scheme and Big Butterfly Count smartphone app open on the 1st of July so that people can prepare, plan where to spot the butterflies, and so on.

How Can Children & Families Get Involved?

It’s simple for children, families and individuals to take part. It can take as little as just 15 minutes and is totally free.

What to Do

  1. Preparation is the first step. This is made easy for families because all the necessary resources are supplied by Butterfly Conservation, the initiative’s organisers. Download a free butterfly identification chart for your area here. This can be printed out for your child. Alternatively, for those with smartphones, simply download the Big Butterfly Count app (available free on IOS and Android) which incorporates everything you need, all in one place, including additional tools that are both helpful and highly informative.
  2. When you/your children are ready for the count, find a suitable butterfly-spotting location* and count the targeted butterflies and daytime-flying moths that you can see over the course of 15 minutes. This must occur during the period from Friday the 12th of July to Sunday the 4th of August 2024 inclusive. The smartphone app and/or identification chart from Step 1 above will help you identify the species of each butterfly you spot. More details about counting butterflies can be found here.
  3. Submit your findings via the scheme’s website or directly through the smartphone app (please note that, in each case, you will not be able to submit your results until the count is officially open). You can submit your butterfly sightings right up until the end of August and may submit more than one entry.

Butterflies are more likely to be around when it’s sunny and sheltered, and there are lots of flowers and blossoms in bloom. Another option is to simply attract butterflies to your own garden; explained for children and families here.

 

How to See Results of the Count

Once the event is over (from 5th August inclusive), you can visit the event’s official map, which is interactive. Zoom in on your area to see which butterflies you and others spotted. You’ll be able to filter by species and date and see total butterfly counts and even the number of citizen scientists who have taken part.

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderAt Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham, our childcare practitioners fully understand the enormous benefits of nature to children. It’s simply transformational, which is why we have outdoor spaces where children are able to sow seeds, tend to plants, and even grow vegetables. Nature teaches them so much and we therefore wholeheartedly recommend children’s involvement in the Big Butterfly Count each year.

First-class Childcare for Families in Streatham, Tooting, Furzedown, & Balham

Little Cedars is a high-quality nursery and preschool in Streatham, also close to Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. If you’d like to consider sending your child under five to this wonderful nursery, please get in touch today. The setting has the backing of Government-funded childcare schemes for eligible families and a ‘Good Provider’ rating by Ofsted. Please choose an option to get started:

How to Make a Wildlife-Friendly Garden With Your Child

There are many simple ways that children and families can attract wildlife to their garden or nearby outdoor space.As promised in our last post we now extend our gardening for children theme and take a look at some of the ways that children can attract wildlife to their gardens or other outdoor spaces nearby. Young children, particularly under-fives, will love seeing a variety of delightful little creatures arriving, especially if it results from their actions. The wildlife-attracting activities we suggest today will help their young minds learn more about nature and how to help it, as well as teach them new skills. Spending time in nature is also incredibly good for children and, what’s more, the activities include acts of kindness that will also benefit plants, flowers, and the wildlife itself. It’s a real win-win! So, perhaps take a few minutes out of your day to learn how you can help your child attract wildlife — and make the world a better place!

What Kind of Wildlife Can Children Attract?

We’re talking here about how to attract adorable pollinators like bees, butterflies, moths, and hoverflies, as well as larger creatures like birds and, if children are lucky, hedgehogs. Some of the activities are also designed to attract interesting creatures like minibeasts, which are always a huge hit with children. So, by following today’s suggestions, children may get to see a wide variety of delightful wildlife!

Children should be aware that wildlife may not visit right away. Wildlife is naturally afraid of humans and often distrusts ‘new’ things in their neighbourhoods. So allow time for the wild creatures to become accustomed to changes in children’s gardens and encourage children to be patient — it’s a great lesson to learn.

How Can Children Attract Wildlife to Gardens?

How children attract wildlife depends primarily on what kind of wildlife they want to attract and, to a degree, what kind of natural space they have available. Supplying a source of food or somewhere to live is the key to success in most cases. Let’s take a closer look.

How to Attract Bees, Butterflies, & Other Pollinators

Bees, butterflies, hoverflies and pollinators in general are some of the easiest types of wildlife for children to attract. What’s more, it’s a fun, easy, and educational activity for children to take part in. Here’s how:

Pollinators Need a Drink!

Creatures like bees and birds will all appreciate being given a supply of drinking water.One of the key things that pollinators like bees need is something to drink, particularly when the weather is hot. They expend a lot of energy buzzing about and can easily become exhausted without a source of water. So, a simple thing that children and families can do is to put out some small, shallow dishes of water among any flowers (whether in flowerbeds or flowerpots). The little drip trays that you put under flowerpots are perfect but any small, shallow dish will do. A critically important detail is that a ‘landing stone’ should be placed into the water so that the bees have somewhere safe to land above the level of the water’s surface. They can then crawl to the water’s edge to have a refreshing sip of water without getting themselves into danger. What’s more, you may also find that other types of pollinators visit — perhaps even dragonflies and damselflies if they’re in the neighbourhood.

Pollinators Need Food (think Nectar!)

Children can sow pollinator-attracting flowers from things like poppy seeds and wildflower seed mixes. Bees and other pollinators will love these!Bees, hoverflies, butterflies and all pollinators also need nectar as a food source. For our children, that means that flowers — and their pollen — are the key to attracting them. So, with adult supervision, children can sow pollinator-attracting flowers from things like poppy seeds and wildflower seed mixes. These are readily available commercially, are usually marked on the packets as pollinator-friendly, and are usually very inexpensive. They’re also easy to grow (see our wildflower-growing guide for children for more details). These will not only look beautiful once they’ve flowered but will attract bees, butterflies and many other types of pollinators to the child’s garden or nature area. They are delightful little creatures and are also incredibly important, of course, for crop production for our own food. So, once again, if children feed such creatures, they are helping both the pollinators and humans. They can learn a great deal from this activity, therefore.

Attracting Butterflies

Bees, butterflies and even dragonflies absolutely love flowering Buddleia.As we mentioned above, butterflies will be attracted to flowers like poppies and wildflowers. However, they absolutely love flowering Buddleia (right) and Hylotelephium (a.k.a. ‘Ice Plant’ – see main image at top), especially if they’re located in a sunny position. On a good day, children may find such plants absolutely covered with visiting butterflies and other pollinators — and these creatures are a delight for little ones and adults alike. Note, though, that parents will need to hard prune most Buddleia varieties in early Spring, otherwise, they can grow quite large. If space is limited, therefore, stick with poppies, wildflowers, and ice plants rather than buddleia.

Butterflies can be attracted to children's gardens using overripe fruit drizzled with sugar solution.As well as enjoying the nectar from the flowers that children have planted (see above), butterflies can also be lured to children’s gardens through a kind of drink that’s also food for them. For butterflies, children simply mix up to four parts of warmed water with one part of sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Children can then drizzle the sweet solution over small slices of ripe fruit or even small cut-up pieces of a clean sponge. As with the water for the bees, these can then be placed in shallow dishes and left among flowerbeds or alongside flowerpots on a balcony or windowsill. Once they’ve discovered them, butterflies will soon begin to land to sip at this sweet food supply. Children will then be able to see their incredible beauty up close. Download our free butterfly identification poster for children here.

Another food type that butterflies love is — rather strangely — overripe fruit like oranges, bananas, melons, pears, plums and pineapples. Even when these are well and truly overripe — indeed way more ripe than humans would eat — butterflies enjoy them immensely. So, these too can be put out for butterflies to nourish themselves. Children can even make a paste mix of squashed, overripe banana and water and, when butterflies find this or any of our butterfly food suggestions, children can watch as the butterflies sip through the equivalent of their tongue, the proboscis.

Avoid putting these food and water sources near open windows otherwise pollinators and possibly other insects and bugs may get trapped inside your house.

How to Attract Birds

There are a number of activities that children can take part in to attract birds to gardens and outdoor areas.

Food to Attract Birds

Putting out food suitable for birds is the most simple way to attract birds to a child's garden or outdoor space.Putting out food suitable for birds is the most simple way to attract birds to a child’s garden or outdoor space. Once the birds recognise and trust it, the new food source will provide a regular stream of pretty, feathered visitors. Children will love knowing they helped to attract these wonderful creatures and have been responsible for giving them a much-needed meal. They can also use our free bird identification poster to learn which bird species are which. So, it’s both worthwhile and educational as an activity for children.

With regard to the food to put out for the birds, children/families can buy or make ‘seed cakes’ or ‘fat balls’. Children will love making these and can follow our guide to making home-made bird feeders here. Once complete, these can simply hang from string from branches of trees and bushes, from overhangs on buildings and sheds, or even from brackets used for hanging baskets. All of these are good places as they provide some protection from attack by birds of prey who, if present, usually watch and attack from above.

For a close-up view, a type of bird feeder that attaches to the outside of windows is commercially available.Commercially available ‘Robin peanut cakes’ and ‘sunflower hearts’ are also a big hit with many birds, and can usually be found in supermarkets or online. Whole bird-friendly peanuts are also popular with birds like bluetits and great tits, however, can be a choking hazard for baby birds during the breeding season if not crushed into tiny pieces. More information about suitable food types for birds can be found using the link in the paragraph above.

Another feeding option is a semi-permanent bird-feeding ‘station’ or bird table. As with the bird feeders, these can either be purchased commercially or home-made and need to be sighted somewhere ideally with cover from above — unless, of course, they have their own integral roof. There are even some that stick to windows, so those can be great options for children who live in an upstairs flat or apartment. All bird feeders should be cleaned regularly, by the way, in order to stop the spread of diseases and protect birds’ health. Obviously, too, the use of all such items will require the parent or caregiver’s supervision and help as appropriate.

Put Out Bird Baths Too

Birds need to drink and bathe themselves, so putting out water in shallow vessels like flowerpot saucers or complete bird baths will be welcomed by them.Birds need to drink and bathe themselves, so putting out water in shallow vessels like flowerpot saucers will be welcomed by them. These are best located somewhere a little secluded, e.g. in amongst flowers in a flowerbed or below overhanging shrubs or trees, rather than right out in the open. Otherwise, birds may avoid them as they’ll feel unsafe from birds of prey that sometimes view from high up in the air. If bird baths supplied are on the larger side, birds may bathe in them as well as drink from them. That’s a delight for children to see, so encourage your little one to make one or more bird baths available but also make sure of several things:

  1. Ensure the water is shallow as birds will prefer this;
  2. Put a rock or smaller upturned flowerpot saucer in the middle of larger bird baths as somewhere for the birds to safely land;
  3. Ensure the water is changed regularly and the bird bath is kept clean;
  4. Ensure children wash their hands after touching these or anything else in the garden.

Note that birds often distrust anything ‘new’ in the garden, so it may be a few days or even a couple of weeks before the first bird takes a bath. That said, sometimes a particularly brave bird may come almost right away and, in any case, patience is a virtue, as they say. That’s another important lesson that children also need to learn.

Add Nesting Boxes

Children will also love seeing birds moving into birdhouses, which families can either make or buy.Children will also love seeing birds moving into birdhouses, which families can either make or buy, often inexpensively, and put up around gardens or properties. There are lots of different kinds, for example, blue tit boxes have a hole as an entrance whereas robins require a larger opening. Some research online may be wise and families can decide which type to go for based on what species of birds they wish to attract.

Bird boxes should be positioned carefully, though, bearing in mind the following guidelines:

  • Boxes should face anywhere between north and east otherwise babies can die from the heat during the summer months;
  • Position at least 2 metres above ground level, somewhere cats, foxes, squirrels and birds of prey cannot easily access them (so, not near the tops of fences, for example);
  • For the same kind of reasons, it’s best if bird boxes are located under some kind of overhead protection e.g. under the eaves or an overhang on your house, or on a tall post underneath a tree canopy (this reduces the chance of attack from above by birds of prey). Hiding them within an area covered in climbing plants is another option;
  • Locate them away from permanent bird feeders as they need to be away from other areas that are busy with activity from birds, animals, and humans;
  • Tilt the box forward a little so that rain runs off more easily.

More information about bird boxes and how families can even make them is available on the RSPB website.

How to Attract Minibeasts

Children can make a compost heap to attract minibeasts and give them a home.By far the best way to attract minibeasts, apart from ensuring harmful weedkillers and other nasty chemicals aren’t used around the garden, is to give them a compost heap to live in. Such places will attract minibeasts like centipedes, woodlice, millipedes, worms and many other types — perhaps even slow worms. Building a compost heap is a wonderfully worthwhile, fun, and educational activity for children to take part in and our guide explaining how to make and maintain a compost heap can be found here.

Once the compost heap has been established, minibeasts will move in as it will represent both a home and a food source for many of them. Children can also download our free Minibeasts identification poster here.

Teach Children Empathy & Responsibility

Children should be shown how to take care of and be gentle when looking for wild creatures, as each is an individual who wants to live in peace, is scared of humans and is both delicate and easily harmed. Taking such care will teach children lessons like empathy and responsibility as well as help the garden wildlife to stay safe and well.

Create a Wilderness Area

Lizards, frogs, toads, and newts may also be attracted to wild areas that are damp.Aside from that, minibeasts and many other types of garden visitors love a wild area of the garden or outdoor space to live in, ideally with ramshackle things like flower pots, rocks, piles of rotting leaves, and rotting logs/branches for bugs, slow worms and other minibeasts to live under. Lizards, frogs, and toads may also be attracted to such areas, particularly if the area is kept damp.

In the right circumstances, children may even get to see birds like robins nesting if there is somewhere safe, peaceful, hidden and suitably high off the ground.

Keep grass in wilderness areas long, sow wildflowers there, and disturb the area as little as possible.

Bug hotels are also a great way to attract bugs and minibeasts to the garden.Make or buy a ‘bug hotel’ and place this in the wilderness area too, as it’ll provide a home for all sorts of bugs and insects, including some pollinators like solitary bees, bumblebees, and other minibeasts like ladybirds, woodlice, snails, spiders — even some types of butterfly potentially. Indeed, bug hotels are excellent in autumn as they will provide somewhere safe for the creatures to over-winter and hibernate. The RSPB has an excellent guide to making your own ‘minibeast hotel’ which is another name for a bug hotel. This particular one is fairly large, so will need input from parents or caregivers, however, the same principle can be used by children on a smaller scale if they would like to build their own. We may produce our own guide for them separately in due course.

How to Encourage Hedgehogs

If children are really lucky, they may even find that adorable little hedgehogs pay a visit.With the right preparation and if children are really lucky, they may even find that adorable little hedgehogs pay a visit. Better still, they may even move in under and raise families of adorable baby hedgehogs if the circumstances are right. Piles of leaves in wild areas, compost heaps in garden corners, unlit bonfire wood stacks, beneath sheds and where there are leaves collecting under undergrowth are all great areas for hedgehogs to stay, particularly if they’re secluded and peaceful areas away from noise, activity, and garden pets like dogs and cats. Ensuring there is a suitable gap under garden fences will also allow hedgehogs to come and go as they please, to forage for food. Ensure they’re not too big, though, if you have a pet.

If encouraging hedgehogs to the family garden, ensure children know not to feed them bread or milk as these are harmful to them.

Avoid using pesticides and harmful chemicals in the garden. Examples to avoid include weedkiller, snail or slug killers, and patio cleaning chemicals. These are usually potent poisons and are likely to kill garden creatures — even birds and their young, whether ingested directly or via eating of poisoned slugs, snails, or bugs.

Little Cedars Nursery: the Natural Choice for Childcare in Streatham

We offer the very best start for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers in Streatham

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high-quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rates Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a wonderful nursery and preschool in Streatham that understands exactly how to bring out the very best in every child. During their time with us, we’ll ensure we do everything possible to ensure they’re ‘school ready’ and primed for success by the time they begin formal education at school. We’re located in Streatham but are also conveniently close for families in Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. Many free, Government-funded places are also supported for eligible families and Ofsted rates Little Cedars as a ‘Good Provider’. So — your child is in the very best hands at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham.

Contact Little Cedars Nursery today to register your child for a place, arrange a visit, or ask any questions:

 

It’s the Perfect Time for Some Children's Gardening Activities!

At the time of publishing this article, many UK children are enjoying National Children’s Gardening Week. At this time of year, the weather is sunnier more often, so it’s the perfect time to involve children in gardening activities. Whether taking part in the event or not, gardening is a fun, educational activity for children — and will also help to make the world a better place! So, if you would like to introduce your child to gardening and all that it has to offer little ones, read on as we tell you about some gardening activity ideas that little ones can take part in now and at any time during the warmer months of the year.

National Children’s Gardening Week

National Children's Gardening Week takes place each year during the 'warm week' beginning right at the end of May.National Children’s Gardening Week takes place each year in the UK during what’s known as the ‘warm week’ beginning right at the end of May. This year (2024) it spans from 25 May to 2 June. However, children can get involved in gardening well outside of those dates*, of course.

The annual gardening event for children started in the north of England but now takes place across the whole Nation and, like the plants and flowers in the gardens, its popularity is growing. Indeed, children are taking part at home, in schools, and at childcare settings like nurseries and preschools. In turn, the initiative itself supports the Greenfingers charity, which provides wonderful gardens and outdoor spaces for children in hospices.

* Children Can Garden Any Time in the Warmer Months

Late spring and the summer months in particular make things much easier for children to learn about gardening as there’s negligible chance of frost occurring. Warmer weather makes gardening easier and less complicated for them because, when it’s warm, there is no need to protect plants and seedlings from adverse weather conditions. What’s more, gardening results are much faster during the warmer months of the year, so even less patient children can remain engaged. That said, patience is something every child will have to learn, so a little waiting for results is a good lesson to learn.

Gardening Activities for Children

There are many fun gardening-related activities for children to do during the warmer months. Here are a few ideas to get children and families started.

Grow with Peter Rabbit Activities

Free "Grow With Peter Rabbit!" activity booklets are available to download.This year (2024), National Children’s Gardening Week has teamed up with The World of Peter Rabbit and is encouraging children and their families to Grow With Peter Rabbit! Free activity booklets for the initiative can be downloaded here.  The dozen or so pages in this year’s activity booklet include 9 gardening-related activity ideas for children to take part in. Activities include anything from growing a windowsill herb garden and creating leaf-print cards to more simple tasks like solving garden-related pictorial puzzles. Download the activity booklet using the bold link above.

Wildflower Growing Activity

The most simple way to sow and locate seeds is to create a wildflower meadow.A quick and easy outdoor activity for children is to sow and grow wildflowers (follow the bold link for much more information about this simple but worthwhile activity). Once growing and flowering, wildflowers will brighten up the garden and also attract important pollinators like bees and butterflies. What’s more, this activity is possible using just flower pots or grow bags on a patio or balcony if you don’t have access to a garden. You can also download our free butterfly reference poster for children here.

Make Simple Bird Feeders

A wonderful way to encourage young children to enjoy and learn from nature is for parents to help them make bird feeders.Did you know, there are some incredibly easy ways for children to make home-made bird feeders?  Follow our guide and you’ll soon see how children can make bird feeders from something as simple as a pine cone or even a recycled milk carton. Take a look via the link and get ready to welcome some lovely birds to your patch. Indeed, bird spotting is all part of the fun (download our free bird-spotting poster here).

Composting Activity

As the compost pile transforms, involve children in observing the changes.Composting is another hugely worthwhile activity for children to take part in, even right up into the Autumn. It’s easy and a great way to ecologically dispose of waste like egg shells, vegetable peelings, and garden waste like grass cuttings. What’s more, once complete, the household will have a ready supply of nutrient-rich compost that will enrich and feed flowers and plants in the garden or flower pots on the windowsill.

Minibeast Spotting

The Great Outdoors serves as a natural classroom, with true hands-on learning experiences that provide numerous opportunities for children to acquire new skills and knowledge.Compost heaps are also wonderful homes for minibeasts, which are also fun and educational for children to spot. Use our previously published free Minibeast Reference Poster to learn how to recognise some of the common minibeasts that might be hiding in gardens, under pots, and in compost heaps around Britain.

Wildlife-Friendly Gardening

Try to teach your children how to make gardens wildlife-friendly (whether in back gardens or smaller spaces like patios and balconies). Ensure children understand that wildlife like bees and other flora and fauna are under threat from nasty chemicals and habitat loss. Try to teach your children how to make gardens wildlife-friendly.So, making a wildlife-friendly garden or area is a very worthwhile activity for children to take part in — and is educational on so many levels. See our separate guide to wildlife-friendly gardening for kids, try some of the ideas above, or download this free wildlife-friendly activity pack.

Indoor ‘Gardening’ Activities for Kids

The seeds will eventually grow into green cress 'hair', giving the egg people real character!Children can do ‘gardening’ activities indoors too! Get them to try making egg cress heads, for example. It’s an easy, fun activity and children will love the results!

Did you know that children can also grow food from scratch indoors? They’ll love growing microgreens indoors and it can also be done on a windowsill. Not only will it be fun and educational for the children, but they’ll also be able to eat the results! Learn more about growing microgreens indoors here and learn more about the benefits of teaching children to grow food here.

More Gardening Ideas for Kids

More gardening-related activities for children can be found here. At the bottom of that page, you can also use the ‘older entries’ link to discover even more ideas.

Gardening is also a great way to introduce children to the concept of sustainability, ecological matters, and the need to protect both the environment and the planet as a whole. After all, we only have one planet and our children and grandchildren will eventually be in charge of its stewardship. Find out about some additional sustainable gardening activities that children can take part in here.

Why Gardening is Such a Worthwhile Activity for Children

Gardening will teach children many new skills and new knowledge.The benefits of gardening for children are many and varied and that’s why it’s such a wonderful activity to get them involved in. It will teach children many new skills and new knowledge. It’ll teach them about the circle of life, how to care and be responsible for other living things, and about the importance of looking after the planet. It will also give them an insight into where some food types come from. It is also great fun, will give children a huge sense of achievement, and may even open their eyes to the possibility of careers in horticulture, land management, food production, farming, and the like. And, of course, gardening makes the world a better place in so many ways. Let’s also not forget that being around nature is hugely beneficial to children, but do remember to follow good safety precautions when children are outdoors.

Little Cedars Nursery: First-Class Childcare in Streatham

Looking for the best childcare in Streatham or near Tooting, Furzedown, or Balham?

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars Nursery also appreciates the importance of nature and outdoor play, so often engages children in such activities in our wonderful outdoor spaces. These include our own planting area where children can grow vegetables! The setting is a first-class nursery and preschool in Streatham and may also suit families nearby in Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. A full early years education is available here for babies and under-fives, who are given all the tools and guidance they need to thrive once they leave us to begin at school. Government-funded childcare schemes are supported and the nursery is rated by Ofsted as a ‘Good Provider’.

So, if you’d like to give your baby, toddler, or preschooler the best start in life in the Streatham region, please get in touch today:

 

 

Exploring Spring with Children Under 5

Paying attention when spring arrives can teach children a great deal about the world around them, nature, and the impact of the seasons.At Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham, one of the activities we do with children around this time of year is to explore the season of spring. Spring is a wonderful antidote to the cold, winter months as new shoots begin to sprout from the soil, flowers start to reappear, birds begin to return from warmer climes and there are early indications of warmer weather ahead. Paying attention to such things when spring arrives can teach children a great deal about the world around them, nature, and the impact of the various seasons. It’s also a free, fascinating, and educational activity that parents/guardians can do with children. Families can, for example, explore the signs of spring in the garden, out on walks, in local parks, and in the countryside. With that in mind, today’s article looks at the type of things children and families can look out for during the season of spring.

When is Spring?

According to the meteorological calendar, spring arrives on the 1st of March and ends on the 31st of May every year. As such, it keeps things very simple, synchronising spring with a standard calendar’s full months of March, April and May.

According to the astronomical calendar, however, spring for 2024 arrives on the 20th of March and will end on the 20th of June, although exact dates can vary a little from year to year. To explain, the astronomical calendar is based on the position of our planet’s elliptical orbit around the sun and involves the tilt of the Earth. Using that alternative timeline, spring begins on the ‘vernal’ (spring) equinox, which is a day of equal length to the ‘autumnal’ equinox later in the year.

Things Children Can Look Out For in Spring

Spring is such a vibrant and exciting season that there are lots of things children and families can look out for. Here are a few suggestions to start things off:

Baby Farm Animals

Meeting spring lambs or calves is always a huge hit with children.As every child knows, young lambs are an absolute delight. They’re incredibly cute and the way they play, group together with fellow lambs, and happily jump into the air is simply adorable! Although timing varies from farm to farm, most newborn lambs arrive during early spring — typically in March — with others arriving in April, particularly if they’re in UK areas further north where it can be colder. At Little Cedars Nursery, we try to ensure children get to meet some spring lambs or calves each year and it’s always a huge hit with the children.

Frogspawn

Another huge hit with children in spring is the appearance of frogspawn in ponds.Another huge hit with children in spring is the appearance of frogspawn in ponds. Children will love watching the little eggs change over time, their contents growing from tiny black dots into creatures that have obvious legs, tails and heads. And, once they emerge from the eggs, the tadpoles continue to delight little ones as they gradually develop into tiny frogs. It’s a wonderfully magical thing for children to witness in spring and is also hugely educational.

Sprouting Snowdrops

Snowdrops are one of the very first plants to reappear when spring arrives.Snowdrops are one of the very first plants to reappear when spring arrives. They’re pretty little plants with slender green leaves and flowers that, as their name suggests, resemble delicate drops of snow. Young children will love that! Look out for them in gardens, parks, forests and hedgerows. Each plant generally forms a ‘bunch’ of around ten stems and they reappear every year. Warn children to look but not touch, though, as they are poisonous if eaten.

Shooting Daffodils

Daffodil shoots begin to appear in February and, once spring arrives in March, their flowers will brighten up any garden.Another of the earliest plants to appear in the year is daffodils. Their shoots begin to appear through the soil in February and, once spring arrives in March, their flowers will brighten up any garden, lawn, forest or flower bed right into May. Once daffodils are in bloom, you also know other plants will soon follow. So, they’re a great sign of the changing season for children to look out for, and a signal that gloomy winter is now over and summer is not far away.

Daffodil flowers come in many different forms, with different coloured ‘trumpet’ style blooms including yellow, white, orange and indeed mixtures of those colours. Perhaps encourage children to see how many different types they can spot when out and about — many residential gardens will have daffodils growing, so this activity can be done in towns and cities as well as in more rural areas. As with snowdrops, though, daffodils are poisonous if consumed, so children should again look and admire them rather than pick them.

Bumblebees

Once they know they're peaceful creatures, children will generally love bumblebees.Bumblebees are amongst the cutest of garden visitors and many children will naturally love them, particularly once they’ve realised how adorable they are with their velvety bodies, sweet faces and attractive markings. They’re also peaceful little creatures, many of whom don’t even have a sting, who simply want to go about their business of collecting nectar from flowers. Bumblebees start to reappear in the spring — because flowers are also reappearing after being dormant over the winter months. They then become more and more populous as the months become warmer and can be seen right into autumn.

There are many types of bees in the UK and all types are incredibly important to both nature and humans; it’s mainly bees that pollinate flowers so more flowers, plants, trees and indeed crops can grow. Because of this — and their cuteness — bees are a wonderful thing to encourage little ones to look out for and learn from. If there were no bees, the human race would be in big trouble and they also therefore represent a great way to introduce children to the concept of looking after nature, conservation, and green matters.

It’s important, too, to ensure children respect them by admiring but not interfering with them. Like children, they have their own lives and have feelings too. Bees can teach children so much!

Songbirds

Robins are beautiful to listen to.The return of many of the UK’s favourite birds is another wonderful sign that spring has arrived and winter is over. While some birds, including robins, may stay during winter, others will have migrated to warmer places, perhaps thousands of miles away. Once they return to the UK, children will be able to watch out for them and listen out for more birdsong. Early mornings and sunsets are great times to hear them, particularly when the weather is calm, meaning their sounds travel more clearly. For example, tiny wrens have an incredible and very melodic set of sounds. Robins are also beautiful to listen to. Thrushes sometimes sing at the tops of trees at dusk too, and that’s also wonderful to hear. Encourage children to watch and listen out for other birds too, for example, blackbirds, starlings, doves, blue tits, great tits and occasionally more rarely-seen birds like goldcrests.

Birds are fascinating creatures for children to learn about and spring is a fabulous time to start to see them as they return to gardens, parks, and the countryside. Download our free bird identification poster to get your child started.

Pussy Willow Buds

The soft, fur-like buds of the pussy willow are an instant hit with children.Buds on trees and bushes can also be an interesting natural phenomenon for children to look out for in spring. Many are quite beautiful if you take the time to have a close look. Young children are indeed fascinated by several types of tree buds in early spring and perhaps the most attractive one to them is pussy willow. For them, the soft, fur-like buds of the pussy willow are an instant hit and something that really draws their attention. They really do feel furry and it’s almost as if they’re little creatures or kittens paws — quite a magical thing for any child to look out for in spring!

Catkins

Catkins are also fascinating for children, especially the youngest.Catkins are also fascinating. Their little dangling fronds almost look like yellow caterpillars, so this is another type of spring occurrence to draw children’s attention to. From such attention, they can be taught lessons about pollen, seeds, nectar and the circle of life.

We hope this starter guide to exploring spring with children and under-fives has given families food for thought. There is so much to see, hear, touch (when safe) and smell in spring and it’s a great time to encourage children to start spending more time outdoors, weather permitting. Getting children interested in nature and spending time in the natural environment is incredibly important to them and has a huge number of benefits — some quite astounding in fact. Learn more about the benefits of nature in childhood here.

Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham

High-quality childcare in Streatham, close to Tooting, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a nursery and preschool located in Streatham in Southwest London (SW16). We offer a complete early years education for babies, toddlers and preschoolers aged under five. We support many Government-funded schemes for free childcare too and are rated by Ofsted as a ‘Good Provider’.

If you’d like the best weekday childcare for babies and children under five, contact Little Cedars Nursery today:

Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham is also suitably located for families in Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Common, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

Free Wild Mammals Poster for Under-5s — & World Wildlife Day

With World Wildlife Day falling on the 3rd of March and Spring virtually upon us, we thought it was a great time to produce another free wildlife poster for children and families to download. This one features 20 wild British* land mammals that children will love! Using the poster, they can learn to identify the animals shown and perhaps look out for them when out and about over the coming months and years. It’s a handy reference tool that can be used to get to know their furry neighbours, whether in local parks, on trips to the countryside, or whilst on holiday. While some creatures like grey squirrels are common to see, some of the others shown are more shy — but that just makes it more exciting when they are finally spotted!

Many of Britain's wild mammals are stunningly beautiful and children often have a natural interest in them.Getting children interested in nature, and spending time around it, is extremely good for them as we’ve reported before — the benefits of nature to children are simply huge. Today’s focus on British mammals will not only be a good way to encourage an interest in some of Britain’s wonderful creatures but may also help them understand more about the need to support conservation efforts and protect wildlife. It’s a great way to foster empathy in little ones too. We’ll tell you more about World Wildlife Day shortly but first, grab yourself and your children the free mammals poster — the creatures shown are stunningly beautiful and kids are bound to love displaying the poster.

Download, print out and feel free to share this British Wild Mammals poster. Click the bold blue link or the preview image below and save to your hard drive. Once opened in Acrobat Reader and printed out, children can see if they can learn the different animal names and even spot some of the beautiful creatures over coming years while outside, in the countryside, or on holiday.

Free Wild Mammals Poster for Under-5s — & World Wildlife Day

United Nations World Wildlife Day

World Wildlife Day - 3 MarchWorld Wildlife Day celebrates the world’s flora and fauna. It happens on the 3rd of March each year and is a way to raise awareness of the need to protect nature. That can be achieved by reducing harmful emissions, pollution, habitat loss, and the loss of biodiversity. By introducing children to the beautiful wildlife around them, children will naturally be more empathetic towards other creatures and even progress to learning about conservation matters and the impact of humans on the planet. In this way, little ones can grow into young stewards of the planet and have an active interest in protecting it going forward. Get them started today by downloading our free Wild Mammals poster — who knows where it could lead!

Parents, teachers and early years practitioners can learn more about the United Nations World Wildlife Day here.

Other Free Wildlife Posters Children Can Download

Don’t forget that this is just one in a series of several wildlife/nature-related posters. All of them are free, shareable, and will be both fun and educational for children. Choose from today’s British Mammals poster above, our British Birds poster, Minibeasts poster, or Butterflies poster. Follow the links for more details and the free downloads.

Exceptional Childcare in Streatham

Little Cedars: a high-quality childcare nursery in Streatham, London, SW16

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderWe love nature and all the benefits it brings to children, so we’re lucky to be located close to Tooting Common at Little Cedars Day Nursery (Streatham, SW16). We also encourage children to get involved in planting and growing in our own garden at the setting as nature teaches them so much. It’s all part of the early years learning and development programme at the setting.

Contact Little Cedars Nursery today and explore the possibility of a nursery/preschool place for your child in Streatham:

Based in Streatham, Little Cedars Nursery may also suit your little one if you are looking for a high-quality nursery or preschool near Tooting Common, Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood.

* By ‘British’ we mean mammals that can be found and seen in Britain. We are keeping things simple for little ones but appreciate, of course, that some of the animals featured were not originally indigenous to Britain. Examples include the Muntjac Deer (originally from China) and the grey squirrel (originally from North America). Even some red squirrels that we see in parts of Britain may be descendants of some that were imported to boost our own declining populations. We also appreciate that there are several sub-species not shown, e.g. several types of mouse, shrew, vole and others. That, again, is to keep things simple for little ones.

A Guide to January's Big Garden Birdwatch – Children Get Ready!

The Big Garden Birdwatch takes one hour, is free, and is an extremely worthwhile activity for children and families to take part in.Parents and children, don’t miss this year’s incredibly important birdwatching activity for the RSPB — and the planet — which occurs from Friday 26th to Sunday 28th January. The Big Garden Birdwatch only takes one hour, is free, and is an extremely worthwhile activity for children and families to take part in. It’s a great way to introduce children to the concept of conservation as well as getting them interested in spending time in and around nature. And, as we’ve reported before, nature is extremely good for children! In today’s post, we explain how easy it is to get your little ones involved and why taking part is a win-win-win for families, birds and nature.

What is the Big Garden Birdwatch?

The Big Garden Birdwatch began in 1979 and happens annually. It is the biggest garden wildlife survey in the world, each year attracting hundreds of thousands of participants up and down the length of the UK. 9.1 million birds were reported in last year’s count.

In essence, people get involved simply by choosing an outdoor patch, and then counting birds that land there during the course of an hour. They then report their findings to the RSPB. We’ll cover a bit more detail on how to go about that later in this article.

Why Does the Big Garden Birdwatch Matter?

The Big Garden Birdwatch is a great way to introduce children to the concept of conservation as well as getting them interested in spending time closer to nature.Monitoring populations of bird species every year allows the RSPB and other conservation organisations to see how the various types of garden birds are faring. Whether or not they’re doing well will be a barometer of the state of nature itself as well as that of the individual bird populations. If the RSPB and other conservation organisations can see a problem, they can then mobilise to try to do something about it. Likewise, if they see a particular bird species doing well, they can learn from that and better understand what measures are helping that particular bird population to thrive.

Nature is also incredibly good for children, helping them cognitively, academically, spiritually, mentally, socially, creatively and physically. Spending time in nature has also been shown to improve test results, lower stress levels and even improve earning potential. Learn more about the amazing benefits of nature to children here or, better still, get them involved in the Big Garden Birdwatch this January!

What Sort of Discoveries Has the Annual Big Garden Birdwatch Uncovered?

Each year, the Big Garden Birdwatch uncovers intriguing and useful data about how bird species in the UK are faring. For example:

  • Song Thrush populations are 80% lower than they were when the survey began in 1979.In 2023, the bird species spotted the most was the House Sparrow, followed by the Blue Tit in second place, Starling in third, Wood Pigeon in fourth and Blackbird in fifth.
  • Despite that, historical data from the count shows that even House Sparrow numbers have significantly declined — by 57% — since the count began in 1979.
  • Song Thrush populations are 80% lower than they were when the survey began.
  • Indeed, during the last 6 decades, data suggests that bird populations in the UK have dropped by over 38 million, a huge and worrying number.

How Families & Children Can Take Part in the Big Garden Birdwatch

There are 4 simple steps required to take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch this January:

  1. Register free, via the RSPB website. By registering you'll get a free guide to taking part and visual reference for identifying different birds.By registering you’ll also get a free guide to taking part in the event, which includes visual reference to the birds to look out for, as well as other perks like a discount on bird food and other bird feeding supplies available from the RSPB’s online shop.
  2. Choose a suitable outdoor patch to monitor during the survey event. It could be your garden, patio, local park, or even a view from a balcony will do.
  3. Between Friday 26 and Sunday 28 January 2024, count how many birds of each species, actually land in your patch during the hour’s monitoring.
  4. Once complete, confirm the biggest number of each bird species that has landed at any one time to the RSPB, along with the location of your patch. Please still confirm your findings even if you saw no birds land at all. Make your submissions online here between 26 January and 18 February 2024.

Children can take part individually or as part of a group. They can also undertake more than one birdwatching hour, and submit more than one set of results, so long as they do so from a different location (‘patch’) in each case. The RSPB guide gives more details about each step, so do ensure you visit the RSPB’s Big Garden Watch web area to get familiar with what’s required and to access your free guide.

Keen to Attract More Birds for Your Count?

A great spotted woodpecker visiting a garden bird feeder.If you’re keen to attract as many birds as possible to your Garden Birdwatch count, the RSPB has you covered. As well as providing useful tips on how to attract birds on their website, they also offer those taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch a 15% discount on bird food and easy-to-clean bird feeders from their online shop. Delivery is also free to participants. Follow the bold links for more information.*

* (Details are given in good faith and are understood to be correct at the time of going to press. However, 3rd party offers are beyond our control and, as such, may be subject to change without notice).

Little Cedars Day Nursery in Streatham

High-Quality Childcare in Streatham, London, SW16

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderWe hope your little ones have fun getting involved in this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch — they’re sure to enjoy the nature-based activity as they take their first step towards becoming little citizen scientists. It’s hugely worthwhile for the birds and ecology and, as we know at Little Cedars Day Nursery, nature is hugely beneficial to children too.

If you are looking for high-quality childcare services in or near Streatham, do consider Little Cedars Day Nursery. Ofsted rates us as a good provider of early years education and childcare and we represent a wonderful start to children’s early years. We bring out the very best in every child and prepare them well to ensure readiness for school when they leave us around the age of five. We support various childcare funding schemes too, making our childcare service even more affordable for eligible families.

To request a place for your child at Little Cedars Day Nursery in Streatham, or to find out more, please get in touch using one of the following options:

Our Streatham nursery and preschool is close to Tooting Common, Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood, so may also suit families in those nearby locations.

Autumn Composting Activity for Kids — Leaves, Learning & Fun!

This composting activity teaches kids about the importance of recycling and sustainability and also provides an exciting outdoor activity connecting them with nature.Autumn is a magical time filled with vibrant colours, falling leaves, and a wonderful quality to the air. With rustling leaves covering the ground in a myriad of hues, it’s the perfect season to engage children with the wonders of a composting activity. Composting is fun, worthwhile, and educational. It not only teaches kids about the importance of recycling and sustainability but also provides an exciting outdoor activity that connects them with nature. In today’s article, we’ll explore the joy of composting with an autumn twist, where children can harness the abundance of fallen leaves to create a rich and fertile compost for the garden. Children of all ages will love this nature-based outdoor activity and it’s a win-win in every sense — for children, nature’s flora and fauna, and the garden itself.

Leaves, Learning & Fun!

The Magic of Autumn Leaves

Autumn leaves are rather like nature's confetti.Autumn leaves are rather like nature’s confetti and they play a crucial role in composting. Perhaps explain to children how leaves provide essential carbon and nutrients that are key ingredients for a successful compost pile. Encourage them to collect a variety of leaves in different colours and shapes, so this activity becomes a stimulating treasure hunt too.

No garden? No worries; composting needs as little as a corner somewhere and the final product is just as good for indoor plants.

Creating a Compost Bin

Guide children in setting up a compost bin — or it could take the form of a simple pile in the garden.Guide children in setting up a compost bin or, in its most basic form, it could take the form of a simple pile in the garden if you have one. If not, an undisturbed corner somewhere outside will suffice. Emphasise the importance of a balanced mix of green (nitrogen-rich) and brown (carbon-rich) materials. Leaves are a fantastic source of carbon, balancing out the kitchen scraps and other green materials that you and your child may soon start to add.

Layering the Good Stuff

Help your little one understand the layering process of composting. Start with a layer of autumn leaves, add kitchen scraps like fruit leftovers, vegetable peels, and crushed eggshells, and then sprinkle a bit of soil if you have access to some. Repeat this process, creating a compost ‘lasagna’ that will eventually turn into nutrient-rich soil.

Turning the Pile

Composting is not just a one-time activity; it’s an ongoing process. Show children how turning the compost pile every few weeks helps speed up decomposition. This is a great opportunity for them to get their hands dirty (under supervision) while learning about the science behind composting.

Observing the Changes

As the compost pile transforms, involve children in observing the changes.As the compost pile transforms, involve children in observing the changes. Discuss how the compost becomes darker and richer over time. Point out the minibeasts that’ll no doubt move in and, of course, teach them to be gentle around them, to nurture their sense of responsibility and empathy. You can also use composting as an opportunity to talk about the importance of recycling and reducing waste.

Using Compost in the Garden

Once the compost is ready, involve children in spreading it in the garden. Or, if you have no garden or outdoor plant areas, the compost is just as beneficial to indoor potted plants. Explain how the nutrient-rich soil that they have generated will help plants grow strong and healthy. This hands-on experience connects them with the entire cycle of composting, from collecting leaves to seeing the positive impact on plants.

Autumn Composting Activities

While waiting for the compost to develop, children could decorate the compost container through painting, or even do some leaf art!To make composting even more enjoyable, you and the children could incorporate other autumn-themed activities. For example, they could create leaf art while waiting for the compost to develop, they could decorate the compost container through painting, or they could take part in an autumn treasure hunt for different types of leaves and seasonal seeds. This all adds an extra layer of fun to the composting process.

Composting is Fun, Worthwhile & Educational

Composting in autumn is not only a practical way to manage organic waste but also a delightful and educational activity that gets children outdoors and brings them closer to nature — and that is good for them! The vibrant colours of fallen leaves, the earthy smell of compost, and the satisfaction of creating something valuable from nature’s bounty make this experience both educational and enjoyable. So, encourage them to gather those leaves and embark on an autumn composting adventure together!

Your Streatham Nursery & Preschool

High-quality Weekday Childcare in Streatham

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good Provider Little Cedars is a wonderful nursery and preschool in Streatham. As well as providing weekday childcare for children under five, we also provide them with a high-quality early years education. This is all done by childcare professionals in a lovely home-from-home setting away from the busiest part of Streatham, close to Tooting Common, in Aldrington Road. At Little Cedars, we nurture every child so they achieve personal bests in all areas of their learning and development, ensuring they are school-ready by the time they leave us at the age of five. All the main Government-funded childcare schemes are also supported for eligible families.

Get in touch to ask any questions, to arrange a guided visit, or to enrol your child for a childcare place. We can’t wait to meet you and your child!

Little Cedars Day Nursery is based in Streatham, close to Tooting Common, Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

Safeguarding Note

Children, particularly the very young, will require adult supervision and oversight when playing or exploring outdoors. Please do your own risk assessments as well as teaching children to be mindful of hazards, stranger danger, health and safety. Our safety tips for outdoor play should help to get you started.

Autumn Treasure Hunt — a Fun Nature-Based Activity for Children

Preview of the Autumn Treasure Hunt reference sheet.Autumn is a time of the year when magical colour changes occur across gardens, parks and landscapes. Leaves can be seen in a multitude of different colours before falling along with seeds, ripening fruits and berries. In autumn, nature shows us a wonderful metamorphosis and it’s a time of beautifully crisp air and clear distant views. It’s all incredible to behold and also offers children some unique seasonal activity opportunities.

One such activity is an autumn treasure hunt. Here, children get to explore the outdoors and see if they can spot some natural delights that are only available at this time of year. For example, can they spot a red leaf? How about a purple one… or a multicoloured one? Can they spot an acorn that’s fallen from an oak tree or spot ‘winged’ seeds falling like helicopters from a sycamore tree? Can they find some conkers or sweet chestnuts? And so on. With that in mind, we’ve put together a free reference sheet featuring 20 such items for children to look out for. Children or accompanying adults can print it out, take it along and tick off each item that’s successfully found. The activity could even be the basis of a competition between multiple children, perhaps with a treat or extra sticker for the child that checks off the most.

So, take a look and save the reference sheet by clicking the preview image below — the file is in Acrobat Reader format, so should work on most devices.

Autumn Treasure Hunt Reference Sheet (Click to Download):

Large view of the Autumn Treasure Hunt reference sheet. Click to download and view the Acrobat PDF, then print out.

This activity is great for children because it gets them outdoors, close to nature. And, as we’ve mentioned before, study after study concludes that outdoor play is incredibly important to children and being close to nature has huge benefits for them. However, remember to pay close attention to the safety and well-being of children under your care at all times, especially when playing outdoors — see some examples of things to look out for in the ‘child safety precautions’ box at the end of this article.

We hope you and your child enjoy this wholesome nature-based activity this autumn. It’s a simple but effective way to encourage children to appreciate nature and The Great Outdoors. It’s also a fun way to open their eyes and educate them about the sheer magic of nature and the natural world around them.

A Childcare Nursery for Your Child in Streatham

Are you looking for a high-quality childcare service in Streatham?

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderThis nature-based activity comes courtesy of the team at Little Cedars Day Nursery in Streatham, London SW16. We provide an outstanding early years education and high-quality childcare service for babies and under-fives. We also support free, Government-funded childcare places subject to eligibility and availability.

If you’d like to explore the possibility of your child having a nursery or preschool place at Little Cedars, please get in touch:

Little Cedars may also suit families living or working nearby in Tooting Common, Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

Child Safety Precautions

As with all outdoor play, it’s important to ensure children are safe and kept out of harm’s way. For example, children, particularly the young, should be accompanied by an adult and supervised at all times. Also, ensure they understand that they should avoid touching anything potentially poisonous like fungi and berries. Even things like conkers are poisonous if eaten. Acorns contain toxic tannins as well as being a potential choking hazard. Parents/adults should therefore ensure that children know not to put anything anywhere near their mouths when foraging or playing outdoors. And, of course, avoid touching the spiky cases of sweet chestnuts because they’re needle-sharp! These are just examples and supervising adults will need to do their own risk assessments before and during any outdoor activity involving children. More safety tips for outdoor play are available here.

The Power of Outdoor Play in Early Childhood

Outdoor play is one of the cornerstones of childhood learning and development and has an immense number of benefits.In today’s guide, we take a close look at the incredible importance of outdoor play for children, including those under five. Outdoor play isn’t just about fun; it’s one of the cornerstones of childhood learning and development and has an immense number of benefits for little ones. So, in this comprehensive article, we’ll explore why outdoor play is so essential for our youngsters and how its effects can be transformative. Let’s take a look…

Safety First!

Before we set off on our outdoor adventure, though, let’s put safety first. Outdoor play should always be supervised, especially for young children. Ensuring a safe environment is paramount. With that in mind, we invite you to explore our top tips for outdoor safety for children, which are designed to help supervising adults keep children secure while they explore and learn in The Great Outdoors.

Adventure Awaits Outdoors!

For children, the outdoors represents a magical place where fun, exploration and real adventure can take place.For children, the outdoors represents a magical place where fun, exploration and real adventure can take place. Picture a world where a simple stick can become a wizard’s wand, or a puddle can transform into a treasure-filled lagoon, and you’ll soon understand how exciting the outdoors can be for children. Indeed, outdoor play is the realm of limitless imagination. It offers children a vast canvas in which to immerse themselves into adventures, fostering creativity and igniting their instinctive curiosity.

Learning Through Exploration

The outdoors serves as a natural classroom where hands-on learning experiences provide numerous opportunities for children to acquire new skills and knowledge.The Great Outdoors serves as a natural classroom, with true hands-on learning experiences that provide numerous opportunities for children to acquire new skills and knowledge. Whether it’s identifying birds, navigating outdoor climbing equipment at the nursery, or discovering minibeasts, the world outside really is a superb teacher.

Physical Benefits of Outdoor Play

Outdoor play is a powerful catalyst for physical development. Activities like climbing, running, and jumping help children build stronger bodies. It enhances fitness, fine-tunes motor skills, and improves balance and coordination. These physical skills are real foundations for a healthy, active life.

Mental Well-being

A wealth of studies has illuminated the positive impact of outdoor play on children’s mental health. It reduces stress, anxiety, and depression and thereby goes a long way in promoting overall well-being. The calming, positive influence of nature and the opportunity to disconnect from screens and social media all contribute to a happier, healthier mindset in children of all ages.

Outdoor Play & the EYFS

Outdoor play also seamlessly aligns with the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework, another key cornerstone of early learning and development. It can potentially support all prime and key areas of the EYFS, especially aiding children in communication and language, physical development, personal, social, and emotional development, and understanding the world.

A Feast for the Senses

Outdoor play engages all the senses and sensory stimulation is particularly important during children's early years.Outdoor play engages all the senses and sensory stimulation is particularly important during children’s early years. That’s a time when millions of new pathways form in the brain with every interaction. From the vibrant colours of flowers to the feel of grass underfoot, children’s senses come alive in the outdoors, especially close to nature. Beyond the five main senses, proprioception (awareness of body position) and vestibular senses (balance and spatial orientation) also play a crucial role during outdoor play.

Screen-Free Zone

In today’s digital age, outdoor play offers a refreshing break from screens like TVs, smartphones, tablets and game consoles. It encourages children to be more active and explore the real world. Outdoor play also fosters an interest in a healthier lifestyle that has less screen time and more physical activity. Such a balance is essential for overall well-being, health and fitness and may even contribute to a reduction in rates of obesity in children.

Natural Learning

When they’re playing outside, children will effortlessly learn about nature, the seasons, different types of flora and fauna, and how the environment functions.The outdoors serves as an exceptional classroom. When they’re playing outside, children effortlessly absorb knowledge about the world around them. In the open air, they will naturally learn about nature, seasons, different types of flora and fauna, and how the environment functions. It is true learning through discovery.

Social Bonds

Outdoor play is a catalyst for social interaction too. During outdoor play, children make new friends, strengthen existing friendships, and learn valuable social skills like sharing, cooperation, teamwork and conflict resolution. Such skills are the very building blocks of positive relationships and will stand children in good stead as they grow older.

Communication Skills

Communication skills absolutely flourish outdoors. Whether it’s narrating their imaginative adventures or engaging in conversations with peers, children will refine their communication skills in totally natural ways. Building on communication skills enhances their ability to express themselves effectively, builds confidence and is a key tool for their very survival when you think about it.

Cultivating Creativity

The outdoors gives children a myriad of opportunities for creative play.The open spaces of the outdoors also serve as a wonderful canvas for creativity. Children’s imaginations run wild outdoors as they invent games, stories, and art inspired by the natural world. Outdoor play encourages them to think in new, innovative, ways and to truly embrace their creative potential.

Risk Assessment

Outdoor play also empowers children to assess risks independently. While playing outdoors, they will learn to make decisions, evaluate situations, and take calculated risks, all of which will help prepare them for life’s challenges.

Building Confidence

As children master outdoor activities, their self-esteem, self-confidence, and independence will soon begin to flourish. Such qualities are vital for their overall growth, happiness and indeed future success.

Preparing for School…

All the benefits of outdoor play combine to help prepare children for the transition to school. The skills and lessons that outdoor play has taught them will help them enter formal education equipped with the social, cognitive, and physical skills they need to absolutely thrive.

…& Into Adulthood

Outdoor play is so much more than a childhood pastime; it represents a series of natural stepping stones in a child’s journey towards adulthood. The skills, knowledge, and well-being children gain from outdoor play will serve as the very foundations that will help them throughout their lives.

Outdoor Play at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Our childcare practitioners ensure that children are given every opportunity to immerse themselves in a wide range of outdoor activities that nurture learning, growth, curiosity, and resilience.At Little Cedars Nursery, we really understand the profound impact that outdoor play has on early childhood development. With that in mind, our childcare practitioners ensure that children are given every opportunity to immerse themselves in a wide range of outdoor activities that help to nurture every child’s learning, growth, curiosity, and resilience. And let’s not forget one more important factor about outdoor play — it’s simply immense fun for children! As such, it is a perfect way to facilitate learning in the most natural way of all — through play.

Childcare Places at Little Cedars Nursery & Preschool, Streatham

Little Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderAs a parent or guardian of a baby or child under five, you’ll naturally want to find the best nursery or preschool in your area, and Little Cedars certainly ticks all the boxes for childcare in the Streatham area. We are rated officially as a ‘Good Provider’ of childcare and early years education by Ofsted, so you know your child will be in good hands. We’re also convenient to families living/working in the following areas nearby: Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

To request a childcare place for your child, a guided tour, or answers to any questions you might have, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help:

 

Free Minibeast-Spotting Activity & Poster for Children

Today's minibeast-spotting activity is part of a series of nature-based children's activities that come with a free poster!Today’s minibeast-spotting activity is the third in a series of nature-based children’s activities and, like the others, comes with a free poster. As with the bird-spotting activity and butterfly-spotting poster, children can display this new minibeasts poster on their bedroom/nursery wall, or print it out for reference when they’re spotting minibeasts outdoors. This is another fun and educational nature-based activity and, as we know, spending time in nature is hugely beneficial to children, including the very young.

The minibeasts poster will help children identify 30 critters that are commonly seen in gardens, country walks, city parks and anywhere there are flowers, plants, trees or soil. Children can explore, under supervision*, to see how many of the creatures they can discover. To help record this, there are tick boxes that children can use to mark which ones they’ve so far spotted. Why not see how many they can identify over the summer and autumn? The poster is sized at A3 but can also be printed out smaller, e.g. at A4. It can also be viewed large, on screen, for glorious colour and detail.

Free Minibeasts Poster

Download our free minibeasts poster for children to find and identify.

Download Instructions

Left- or right-click the large image above to view the high-resolution poster or download it to your hard drive. Once downloaded, you can view it on a screen (Acrobat Reader required) and zoom in for the best detail. If printing out, print using high-quality printing paper for the best results. Print at A3 (full size) or reduce to fit if you are printing smaller, e.g. at A4. Smaller print-outs may be useful for children to take outdoors as visual reference.

Minibeasts

Minibeasts are essentially small creatures and insects that are commonly found in gardens or around plants, flowers, trees, compost heaps and soil. Some, like bumble bees, hoverflies and ladybirds, can be seen in flight or visiting flowers and plants. Others, like twig caterpillars, are harder to spot because they really do look like twigs. Minibeasts like woodlice and beetles may be found around rotting leaves, compost heaps, rotting wood and perhaps living under flowerpots. Earthworms and grubs may also be lurking in places like compost heaps.

Be Kind

With all these creatures, children should be taught to be careful not to unduly disturb or harm them. They’re very delicate indeed, and children should avoid manhandling them, accidentally treading on them and suchlike. Respect and empathy towards other creatures are wonderful things to teach children, so supervising adults are encouraged to explain how the minibeasts are living beings, with their own feelings, desires and the right to live in peace. Indeed, instilling such beliefs into children will help them be more aware of the need to protect the environment and Planet Earth as a whole. This activity may also be a great way to introduce children to the joys of outdoor play and being close to nature.

A Fun & Educational Nature-Based Activity for Children

So, have fun and stay safe*. Many great lessons can be learned by seeing and learning from the natural world, so get out today with your little one(s) and see how many types of minibeast you can each spot. Perhaps take some photos on a smartphone too!

Little Cedars: a High-Quality Nursery & Preschool in Streatham SW16

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderOfsted rates Little Cedars as a good provider of early years education and childcare, so you know your baby, toddler or preschooler will be in safe hands. We’re a childcare nursery/preschool in Streatham, London SW16, and give under-fives the very best start in life in a kind, caring home-from-home environment. If you’d like us to bring out the very best in your child and give them a flying start before they reach school age, please get in touch:

Our nursery is based in Streatham, close to Tooting Common and the A214. Our location means we may also be suited to families who require high-quality childcare in and around Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

*Child Safety

Please be mindful of the possible dangers associated with playing outdoors. Children, especially the very young, should be accompanied and supervised by a responsible adult at all times. Vigilance should be shown around all dangers. These include, but are not limited to, things like stranger danger, bodies of water, trip hazards, possible drops in ground levels, things that can sting, possible toxins, poisonous plants and fungi, choking hazards, sharp objects, traffic, wildlife protecting their young, and so on. Risk assessments should be made on continually and it’s wise to educate children about all such risks. Learn more safety tips for outdoor play here.