Tag Archive for: bees

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. We’ll write a separate post about wildlife-friendly gardening for kids in due courses but, in the mean time, 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.

Sowing & Growing Wildflowers - A Nature-Based Activity for Kids

This nature-based activity benefits the children taking part, the natural environment, pollinators like bees and butterflies and even humanity as a whole.In today’s guide, we outline a simple but powerful nature-based activity that will be both fun and educational for children and under-fives. This one is all about how to sow wildflower seeds. Once growing, these will bring beauty and wonder to any setting. The activity will also complement our recent Butterfly-Spotting Activity for Kids as it should result in exactly that kind of little visitor to the child’s world — along with bees, insects, hoverflies, damselflies, and possibly even dragonflies and birds. Sowing and growing wildflowers really is very simple and the results will be beneficial in a multitude of ways. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how to approach this excellent children’s activity and learn why it’s so worthwhile.

The Benefits of This Nature-Based Activity

This type of nature-based activity benefits everyone and everything, including the children taking part, the natural environment, little pollinators like bees and butterflies and even humanity as a whole. Let’s take a quick look at some of those benefits:

  • Growing wildflowers is a fun and educational activity for children, including under-fives.Children benefit very much from spending time in nature, as we outlined in our article entitled “Nature & Its Incredible Importance to Children” last year. There is an incredible array of benefits associated with spending time in nature, so click the bold blue link above to learn more if you haven’t already read that enlightening article.
  • The activity will not only be fun for children, but it will also be educational. It’ll teach them about the circle of life, reproduction, care of the environment, care of and empathy for living things and also they will learn new skills and interests. It could even lead to a life-long hobby or career!
  • The wildflowers themselves will, of course, benefit as it gives them a home and somewhere to propagate/reproduce.
  • Pollinators like bees, butterflies and other insects will enjoy feeding on the pollen found in the wildflowers once they bloom. Pollen is absolutely essential to their survival.
  • The pollinators are thus called because they pollinate both the wildflowers and other plants and crops. By pollinating them, it allows them to reproduce new generations. That’s essential to the natural world and all the creatures in it. Crop reproduction is also, of course, essential to our own survival.

Choosing Seeds With Your Child

Children can help with the wildflower selection process and may enjoy doing so. There are several factors that may help children decide which to grow and parents can help steer children if needed. Factors may include:

  • You can choose which wildflowers your child will grow using various factors like colour, style and whether the wildflowers will attract pollinators.Colour(s) — Children can help decide whether to grow wildflowers of just one colour, a limited 2- or 3-colour palette or perhaps multiple colours. If parents have an existing colour theme in their garden or plant area, they may wish to point children in a particular direction, so as to keep that colour theme going.
  • Type and style — Children may also take a shine to a particular type of wildflower. A good example might be poppies, which mostly have the same style of flower but are available in different sizes and colours.
  • Compatibility with wildlife — Choosing wildflowers is a great opportunity to teach children that their choices have real-world effects on nature and the environment. For example, nudging children towards wildflowers that are pollinator-friendly, i.e. attracting creatures like bees and butterflies, is a great lesson to give them. It also adds an extra facet to the entire activity as they will later benefit from being able to see such adorable visitors coming to their wildflowers.
  • Cost and availability — Cost and availability are additional factors as some wildflower seeds may be harder or more expensive to obtain than others. Again, parents/caregivers can explain such factors to children and it will teach them further valuable lessons.

Where to Get Seeds for Your Child

There are several places to obtain wildflower seeds and they need not cost much, if any, money:

  • There are several places to obtain wildflower seeds and they need not cost much, if any, money.Free wildflower seeds can be harvested from existing wildflowers — either from your own wildflowers if you have them, or from those found in the wild along hedgerows and similar (N.B. only do so in moderation and for personal use). Timing will, of course, be critical because seeds will only be available at certain times of the year, i.e. when the wildflowers have “gone to seed” at the end of their flowering period.
  • Seed swap schemes may also be available in your neighbourhood or, if not, perhaps a scheme could be started amongst friends or with other parents at your child’s nursery or school.
  • Free or almost free seeds can sometimes be available from charities, organisations and even commercially if you get the timing right. Try a Google search for “free wildflower seeds UK” and you may be pleasantly surprised by the number of sources that will happily send you free wildflower seeds for your child to grow. Others, like Just Bee Honey, will send you free wildflower seeds if you cover the cost of postage (some simple terms apply).
  • Commercially-sold wildflower seeds are also, of course, readily available to buy from local outlets, supermarkets and online. If searching online, perhaps try a search query like “wildflower seeds for children” or “bee-friendly wildflower seeds for kids” or similar. You will be met with lots of options to choose from, so filtering down to pollinator-friendly wildflower seeds and those that are suitable for children to grow will help to narrow down the huge range of choices.

Safety First

This type of activity should be supervised by a responsible adult, paying particular care regarding hazards (e.g. ponds), potentially poisonous plants/seeds, and hygiene (e.g. contaminated soil, germs, etc.). Adults can also consider teaching children about the identification and mitigation of such dangers during the activity. They will thereby also learn about self-care, personal hygiene, risk assessment and suchlike. Children and adults should wash hands etc. with soap and water following completion of this activity. Learn more safety tips for children here.

The Activity — Instructions

Once you have obtained seeds, the rest is very easy and children will enjoy and learn from taking part in the various activities involved.

Teach the Importance of Timing

Timing is an important factor because you/your child will need to plan and know when the wildflower plants and flowers will actually appear. Apart from over winter, wildflower seeds will typically take between 60 and 80 days to grow and begin blooming. Start sowing no earlier in the year than March. Mid-to-late March is good as spring will arrive around the third week of that month here in the UK and it will therefore be nicer for children outdoors. Your child can sow seeds as late in the year as mid-October or even early November if there is no snow or frost, but they should be aware that planting the seeds that late in the year mean that they will not grow until spring of the following year.

If they want to attract the most butterflies to their flowers, then a good time to sow seeds is mid-May as peak butterfly time is 60 to 80 days later.

Choosing a Location to Sow the Seeds

Wildflower seeds can be sown in flower beds, pots, containers, window boxes or indeed on lawns if a ‘wildflower meadow’ type scene is preferred. The following guidelines for sowing should help but also read any specific instructions on seed packets if these have been purchased.

Simple Option:

Sowing a Wildflower ‘Meadow’

The most simple way to sow and locate seeds is to create a wildflower meadow.Sowing seeds on existing lawns that you/your child want as a wildflower meadow is simply a case of scattering seeds on the lawn, ideally spaced out in such a way that they don’t have to compete with each other once they start growing. Then ensure that the area of lawn is kept moist by either rain or, if there is no rain, regular sprinkling from a watering can fitted with a sprinkling head (a.k.a. ‘rose head’). Children may need to remind adults not to cut the lawn thereafter, of course!

Advanced Option:

Sowing in Soil – Just 6 Easy Steps

For sowing in locations where there is soil rather than grass, a little preparation will be required.

  1. Identify your intended spot, whether that’s an area in an existing garden flower bed, flower pots or containers, window boxes or grow bags on a patio or balcony. A fairly sunny spot is recommended.
  2. Ensure the soil is free of weeds. Children can help with weeding, if necessary, so long as they have guidance from an adult and are mindful of safety and hygiene considerations.
  3. The top inch or two of soil should be loosened, for example, using a rake if it’s a flower bed.
  4. Help your child to sprinkle seeds evenly so they’re not spaced too close to one another, otherwise, they’ll have to compete once they start growing. Sprinkling carefully from a height will help, e.g. by raising an arm, and/or simply sprinkling one pinch at a time with care.
  5. Once scattered, it’s best to ensure the seeds are embedded in the soil otherwise they could be blown away or even eaten by wildlife. Therefore the soil can be patted down so it’s no longer loose. This will help keep seeds in place.
  6. Lastly, your child will need to be reminded to keep the area moist through regular watering, while taking care not to over-water.

Then wait for nature’s magic to happen!

Wait and Watch Out for the Wildflowers

Children will love seeing bees, butterflies, and other insects visiting their home-grown wildflowers.Children will love it once the wildflowers begin to grow and later bloom. They’ll also love seeing bees, butterflies, and other insects visiting and the results of the activity may indeed give them a great sense of accomplishment. The whole process and the results are quite magical when you think about it.

Don’t Forget — the Final Step for Children

Once the wildflowers are past the prime of their flowering stage, remind children to look out for the appearance of seeds and seed pods. You can either teach your child to leave these to self-seed for next year or help them to safely harvest the seeds. These can be stored somewhere safe and dry, ready to repeat the entire process next time.

All in all, this nature-based activity is a perfect way to demonstrate the circle of life to children.

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

A High-Quality Childcare Service in Streatham, Southwest London

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 you have found this nature-based activity useful and of interest to your little one. Little Cedars Nursery represents an outstanding choice for weekday childcare, offering a high-quality early years education for babies and children under five. We are a nursery, as well as a preschool, in Streatham, in Southwest London, so may suit families with babies, toddlers and preschoolers. We nurture all children under our care so that, by the time they leave us, they have become the very best versions of themselves and are as ‘school-ready’ as they can possibly be. We also support all Government-funded free childcare schemes.

Why not arrange a guided visit with your child, so you can see the setting in action? Ask us questions, see how your little one fits in and, if you like the nursery/preschool, we’d love you to apply for a place for your child. Please select a button to get started:

While Little Cedars Nursery is based in Streatham, it’s also conveniently close for families in and around Tooting Common, Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.