Tag Archive for: butterflies

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:

 

 

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.

Free Butterfly-Spotting Activity Poster for Children.

See high resolution detail when you zoom in on the butterfly images in the poster. Following on from our bird-spotting article and poster published in March, we now bring you a matching butterfly-spotting activity. Butterflies are both beautiful and adorable. As such, children will love them and will enjoy spending time around them during this activity. Like before, it comes with another free poster for children to print out, display, learn from and enjoy. Butterfly spotting is another wonderful way to get children outdoors to enjoy the fresh air and benefit from everything that nature has to offer.

This time around, we showcase 36 beautiful butterflies that can be seen in many parts of Britain. Indeed, that was one of the main criteria we used when deciding which butterflies to include. Having said that, some of the butterflies will be more common than others and we really don’t expect every child to spot all 36 butterflies that are featured — although it’s possible if they’re patient and adventurous! It’s a lovely challenge for children, though, and spotting such beautiful creatures may begin to instil in them an appreciation of nature and all the amazing creatures within it. That would be a good thing because nature is more under threat than ever and children of today will eventually become custodians of Britain’s phenomenal natural environment. Nature will also benefit children in many profound ways, including spiritually and even academically.

Free Butterfly Poster

Identify 36 different British Butterflies using our free A3 reference poster — it's educational and fun for children.

Download Instructions

View the poster in the greatest detail onscreen by clicking the big image above or, with some web browsers, you may need to first download it by right-clicking and then saving. Then view it in Acrobat Reader, which is available free. From Acrobat, print out the poster at full size (A3) or choose ‘reduce to fit’ if your printer is only A4. We recommend using high-quality printing paper and the highest settings for the best results, glorious colour, and the finest detail.

Attract butterflies by putting out fruit wedges — they love the sugary taste of ripe oranges, grapefruits, nectarines, bananas, strawberries and apples!

Shown on the poster are some of the more commonly-known butterflies like Large Whites, Peacocks, Red Admirals and Small Tortoiseshells. However, children may also spot some lesser-known butterflies like Purple Emperors, Orange Tips, Green Hairstreaks and Adonis Blues. Butterflies have wonderful names, don’t they? Parents can help younger children with names, as we don’t expect them to be able to read them all if they’re very young. The young will also need supervising outdoors, of course, for their safety.

Look but Don’t Touch the Butterflies

For the poster, we’ve chosen the butterflies most likely to be found widely in the UK. This is a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly.We must also add that children should be encouraged to ‘look but don’t touch’ as butterflies are very delicate creatures. Children should not try to touch or catch them — they are best left in peace as every one of them is a little individual that simply wants to go about his or her day. They’re wonderful to watch, though, and our free poster should help children and adults identify many of the different types. Perhaps see how many different species can be spotted over the course of a year. Take photos too, and compare them with friends! Some butterflies visit gardens, floral window boxes and parks while others may only be found in wilder locations in the countryside. This activity is therefore a great excuse for families to get out and explore The Great Outdoors! Recording the date and location of each butterfly spotted will also help families work out where the best butterfly-spotting locations are for next time.

Fun fact: Butterflies have taste buds on their feet!

Butterflies are In Decline

Sadly, many butterflies are in decline, with studies reporting a 40% drop in populations in recent decades. That’s really sad, so it’s imperative that they and their precious habitats are not unduly disturbed. Therefore, please do take care. If anything, habitats need to be restored and greater protections put in place. Raising awareness of the plight of butterflies and other creatures in decline, like bees and birds, is therefore something that’s also important for children to be aware of. After all, as they grow older, they will eventually take over stewardship of the natural world and can help to steer decision-makers to improve things if they’ve developed a deep-seated interest in nature by the time they become adults.

The Big Butterfly Count

The Big Butterfly CountWith that in mind, why not take this activity a step further and get involved in the UK’s annual Big Butterfly Count? For 2023, it takes place between Friday the 14th of July and Sunday the 6th of August, which is when most butterflies are at their adult stage. All it takes is 15 minutes and children will love being little ‘citizen scientists’! The activity can be done in gardens, parks, school grounds or out in the countryside. Taking part will give children a real opportunity to help with butterfly conservation.

Learn more about the Big Butterfly Count here. The page includes links to a free smartphone app that will help you/your children during the butterfly counting activity.

A Fun, Educational & Worthwhile Activity for Children

We hope families and children enjoy their butterfly-spotting activities and use our free poster to learn the names. In this way, they can get to recognise some of the different types of butterflies when they spot them when out and about. It’s a fascinating activity and butterflies are both amazingly beautiful and incredibly endearing. As pollinators, they’re extremely important too and represent a barometer for the health of the natural world. Learning more about butterflies and nature is therefore incredibly important and beneficial for children — and ultimately for the planet. So, we encourage children to dive into this activity at the earliest opportunity. Have fun, be gentle and stay safe.

Little Cedars Nursery & Preschool, 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 ProviderLittle Cedars is a high-quality nursery/preschool in Streatham SW16, providing childcare excellence for babies, toddlers and preschoolers under 5 years of age. If you’re looking for a good nursery or preschool for your child, arrange a free tour with us and we’ll show you and your little one around. You’ll be able to get answers to any questions you have and also you’ll see how well your child fits in. Ours is a lovely, welcoming, home-from-home environment where the very best is brought out of every child under our care, so your child will be in good hands. As well as looking after them while parents work or recharge, every child receives an excellent early years education and is prepared for a great start once they leave us to start school. Please choose a button to contact us today, arrange a guided tour or to apply for a place for your child; we’ll be happy to help.

Little Cedars Nursery: high-quality childcare services in Streatham, near Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood

Little Cedars is located in Streatham, just a stone’s throw from Tooting Common and the A214. As well as suiting those families in Streatham and Tooting, we may also be conveniently located for those looking for a nursery or preschool near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood.