Tag Archive for: nature activity

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:

 

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.

Outdoor Safety for Kids — Top Tips for Parents

Outdoors, the fresh air, unstructured exploration, sensory-rich experiences, and social interactions contribute significantly to their holistic growth.As parents and caregivers, we understand the incredible value of outdoor play in our children’s development. The fresh air, unstructured exploration, sensory-rich experiences, and social interactions contribute significantly to their holistic growth. However, while we encourage outdoor adventures, safety must remain our top priority. With that in mind, this article provides some essential tips and precautions that will help to safeguard children during outdoor play. The suggestions can be used as a checklist, but parents/caregivers should use it only as a starting point and do their own risk assessments.

Always Keep an Eye Out

Let’s start with the most obvious; while outdoor play is a wonderful way for children to learn and grow, constant supervision is crucial. Be sure to keep a watchful eye on your child, guiding them away from potential hazards and ensuring their safety at all times.

Set Boundaries and Rules

Ensure boundaries for outdoor play areas are understood by children under your care.Boundaries create a sense of security. Ensure boundaries are understood and that play areas have clear markers. Guide children to understand and respect these boundaries to reduce the risk of children wandering away — and potentially becoming lost.

Be Mindful of Traffic Risks

The bustling world outside may often involve traffic hazards that demand our utmost attention when children are under our care. To mitigate this risk, play areas are best located away from access to busy streets, ensuring that children are shielded from the dangers of passing vehicles. Drives where vehicles are parked are also best avoided.

Teach Stranger Safety

Outdoor play can bring encounters with unfamiliar faces. Teach your child about stranger danger and the importance of staying close only to trusted adults. Clear guidelines should be established in regard to possible interactions with strangers.

Stay Clear of Water Dangers

Ensure that play areas are far from water bodies, and when near any water source, always provide direct and continuous supervision.Children are naturally drawn to water, but it can pose significant risks. Ensure that play areas are far from water bodies, and when near any water source, always provide direct and continuous supervision. Even shallow water can be dangerous for little ones.

Mind the Terrain

Outdoor terrain can be uneven, and young children are prone to trips and falls. Before allowing your child to play, scan the area for potential trip hazards and clear them away. Teach your child to navigate uneven ground carefully.

Climbing Structures & Fall Prevention

It's important to teach children a safe approach to climbing.Although they’re young, children want to explore and will naturally want to climb as they get older. It’s therefore important to teach children a safe approach to climbing. This should include emphasising the importance of staying within safe heights to prevent falls, assisting with climbing technique and, of course, risk-assessing what they should and shouldn’t attempt to climb in the first place.

Sharp Objects & Tools

Children are naturally drawn to exploring their surroundings, which includes investigating potentially dangerous items. Therefore thoroughly inspect new play areas to remove sharp objects, tools, or equipment that could harm curious hands.

Beware Choking Hazards

Children’s natural curiosity when exploring may often lead them to want to put objects in their mouths. This can obviously be extremely dangerous, so ensure vigilance at all times. Inspect play areas to remove small items that could pose choking hazards, ensuring a safe space for our little ones to explore.

Flora & Fauna Hazards

Educate your child about the dangers of poisonous plants and fungi or insects that could harm them. Encourage them not to touch or eat anything unfamiliar.While exploring nature is exciting, it’s essential to be aware of potential dangers. Educate your child about the dangers of poisonous plants and fungi or insects that could harm them. Encourage them not to touch or eat anything unfamiliar.

Animal Encounters

Nature’s wonders may include encounters with wildlife. While we might cherish these experiences, we should take precautions to ensure outdoor spaces are free from potentially harmful creatures and educate children on respectful interactions with animals.

Hygiene and Sanitation

Promote hygiene by teaching children the importance of cleanliness during and after outdoor play.Outdoor exploration sometimes involves contact with dirt and mud. Promote hygiene by ensuring handwashing facilities are readily available and teaching children the importance of cleanliness after outdoor play.

Weather-Appropriate Clothing

Proper attire is crucial for outdoor play. Dress your child in weather-appropriate clothing, including hats and sunscreen for sun protection. When the weather becomes colder, layering of clothing will help to keep children warm in comfort.

Be Prepared for Changing Weather

Weather can be unpredictable, so check the forecast before outdoor playtime. Be prepared with a store of sunscreen when it’s sunny and raincoats or extra layers for when it turns cold and rainy. Suspend play during lightning storms or extreme weather conditions. Be mindful of slipping hazards when it’s wet.

Hydration and Breaks

Outdoor play can be physically demanding, so be sure your child stays hydrated. Provide breaks for rest and water to prevent exhaustion.

Allergen Awareness

Some children may have allergies triggered by outdoor elements. If your child is affected, be sure to maintain an allergen-free environment by regularly cleaning and inspecting play areas and educating friends and relatives about allergy management around your child.

Fire Safety Awareness

Children must be educated about the potential dangers of fire and be supervised during fire-related activities.Campfire stories can be delightful and intriguing for children, but we must always prioritise fire safety. If you decide to expose them to it, children must be educated about the potential dangers of fire and always supervised during any fire-related activities. Fostering a responsible understanding around fire safety is paramount.

Foster a Love for Nature

Encourage your child to appreciate and respect nature. Teach them to observe wildlife from a safe distance and not to disturb animals or their habitats. This helps to keep children and wildlife safe.

In Summary

As parents and caregivers, our priority is the safety and well-being of our children. By using these essential starting points, you can help ensure that your child’s outdoor play is not only fun and educational but also safe and secure. At Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham, we share your commitment to providing a safe environment for outdoor exploration. Our dedicated staff, thoughtfully designed play areas, and safety-conscious practices further enhance  the outdoor experiences of children under our care. Together, therefore, we can create enduring memories of outdoor adventures that are as secure as they are captivating, enriching and fun for our little ones.

Little Cedars Nursery: High-Quality Childcare in Streatham

A Childcare Nursery & Preschool in Streatham, near Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood

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 ProviderIf you are looking for the best nurseries or preschools in the Streatham area, do consider Little Cedars. We offer an outstanding weekday childcare service for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers under five. We’re also conveniently close to those living or working in Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

To apply for a childcare place, arrange a guided tour of the setting, or ask us any questions, please simply choose an option to contact us below:

Also: See Our Indoor Safety Guide

The above is a useful companion article to our earlier guide, 20 Ways to Childproof Your Home, which concentrates mostly on indoor safety. Click the bold blue link for more information.

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.

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 2024, it takes place between Friday the 12th of July and Sunday the 4th 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 and to take part here. Our guide 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.

Bird Feeders: a Creative ‘Nature’ Activity for Kids

A wonderful way to encourage young children to enjoy and learn from nature is to help them make bird feeders.A wonderful way to encourage young children to enjoy and learn from nature is for parents to help them make bird feeders. There are many ways to approach this creative, fun activity and it’s sure to result in lots of our feathered friends visiting. Birds are delightful creatures that are simply a joy to see and hear. They will also greatly appreciate the extra food, particularly at times of the year when it’s more scarce or when they have little mouths to feed. So, this is an activity that’s a win for everyone! Some birds may even become regulars if the food is topped up. In fact, we’ve given some of our own visiting birds names as they now come every day and even stare through the window at us when food needs topping up! With all this in mind, today, we take a look at some of the simple ways children can make home-made bird feeders to encourage birds to visit. Take a look and see how easy and creative the activity can be.

The Quickest & Most Simple Bird Feeder

The fastest and easiest bird feeder for children/families to make is an apple feeder.The fastest and easiest bird feeder for children/families to make is simply an apple. This can either be hung with string from a tree branch, bush, or similar, or the apple can be ‘spiked’ on the pointy end of a tree branch, a strong twig or something like a bamboo pole embedded in the ground (so long as it’s tall enough to keep birds safe* from predators). Easy! We suggest stripping some of the apple skin off to expose the flesh. Apples are a particular favourite of blackbirds and bluetits, amongst others.

Tip!

Don’t worry if birds do not come right away after you’ve put out your bird feeder. Birds and most wild animals are suspicious of any changes, so it may take a few days before they learn to trust the new feeder.

Monkey Nut Chains

Monkey nuts can be threaded into chains as a bird feeder suspended between branches of a tree.This is also a very easy bird feeder for children/families to make. All you need is some string and some monkey nuts* (peanuts still in their outer husk). A supervising adult will need to make some small holes in one end of each husk and then string can be threaded through to form a kind of chain (like a necklace). Monkey nuts can be threaded on to form the right length and then this can be tied between the branches of a tree, or similar. See our note about safely locating* them, though.

Home-made Seed Cakes

Home-made seed cakes are both easy and fun for children to make.Home-made seed cakes are another type of bird feeder that is both easy and fun for children to make. Basically, they consist of lots of seeds mixed into a ‘cake’ made from either suet* or lard*. The seeds are mixed in when the lard or suet is melted, so parents/adults will need to help with that part as it’s done by heating it in a saucepan. Once melted, the seeds can be added and mixed in. Once cool enough to be safe, the children can take over to make most of the feeders. First, a piece of string can be tied from the centre of the base of something like a flower pot or yoghurt pot (parents should make the hole, if needed). Then the child can mould the seed cake into the pots, or other similar plastic containers. Once cooled, the seed cakes will harden and can then be suspended from the branches of a tree, bush, fence post or under the eaves of a house or outbuilding. Bluetits, great tits, starlings and robins will usually be the first to try out the new cakes.

A Word About Seeds & Cheese

Your choice of seeds directly affects the success – or otherwise – of your bird feeders.Your choice of seeds directly affects the success – or otherwise – of your bird feeders. While many commercially-available seed mixtures contain several different types of seed, we have found that birds ignore some of them, so they go to waste. Our own bird feeders have been far more popular when they use more sunflower ‘hearts’ (the sunflowers without the other case) and less of the wheat and barley type seeds. Crushed peanuts* are also popular, but see our notes below about the safety of both baby birds and children when it comes to nuts.

TIP: birds like robins, starlings, wrens, dunnocks and blackbirds also adore grated (mild) Cheddar cheese, but ensure you only put out a little at a time. Don’t give them too much because, although they love it, it should only be given as an occasional treat, not a main meal. It’s also important never to let it go mouldy; mould can kill birds, which is also a reason never to give them blue or veined cheese.

Pine Cone Bird Feeders

Another type of bird feeder that is both fun and easy to make is a pine cone feeder.All you need is a big pine cone, ideally with the cone splines open, a birdseed mixture and either peanut butter*, suet* or lard*.Another type of bird feeder that is both fun and easy to make is a pine cone feeder. All you need is a big pine cone, ideally with the cone splines open, a birdseed mixture and either peanut butter*, suet* or lard*. All your child needs to do is paste the peanut butter (or suet or lard that’s been safely warmed to soften it) all over the pine cone, including into the open splines. Then the whole thing can be rolled over your seed mixture, so the seeds stick all over the pine cone. Once complete, the pine cone feeder can be hung with a piece of string in an appropriate place outside. Even better: hang several together so the birds can’t miss them. The birds will love pecking them when they’re hungry.

Carton Bird Feeders

Bird feeders made from recycled cartons can be great fun, fairly easy and can be quite creative.Bird feeders made from recycled cartons can be great fun, fairly easy and can be quite creative. All you need is an empty milk or juice carton, by which we mean the card ‘Tetra Pak’ type, plus some bird seed/food and some string. Parents will need to help younger children safely attach the string to the tops of the cartons and cut flaps/openings into the sides of the carton. These can be folded down, as shown in the photo, and suspended outside somewhere suitable for the birds. For extra creative fun, children can first paint patterns, designs or even faces on the cartons. This type of bird feeder is great because it not only holds the bird food but also potentially gives birds somewhere safe to land while feeding. As they were originally for holding liquid, they can alternatively be used to hold drinking water for birds — or perhaps children can make one for food and another for drinking water.

Plastic Bottle Bird Feeders

Clear plastic bottles can be used as bird feeders or for water.Children can get creative with how they use plastic bottles to feed birds.In a similar way, clear plastic bottles can be used as bird feeders or for water. The same approach can be used but flaps are not advised as they’re trickier for children to fold and also plastic bottles will have sharper edges than the carton approach above. So, this particular type of bird feeder needs extra supervision from a parent or adult. Take a look at the photos to see what’s possible, though. One photo (the first small image at the start of this article) even shows a plastic spoon that’s used as a landing platform and seed dispenser, all in one. Once finished, plastic bottle feeders tend to last a long time, so long as they’re regularly cleaned and refilled.

*Bird Safety & Well-being

Peanut butter, if used, should be free of salt, sugar and flavouring. During breeding season (Mar-Aug) it should be smooth, so it’s safe for baby birds.Peanuts and monkey nuts, if used, should be unroasted and clear of any fungus (break open the outer husk/check the nut surface). Do not touch or use if present.Suet, if used, should be beef suet i.e. from cows. It should be hard and crumbly, not soft and squeezable. Other suets may not be safe for birds.
Lard, if used, should be pure lard. It should remain hard even in warmer weather and should not be squeezable. It is unsafe for birds if it melts in the sun.Locating your bird feeder is important. To keep birds safe from predators, site at least 1.5m above ground and under the overhang of trees/bushes or eaves.Change bird drinking water and clean bird feeders regularly to avoid spreading disease or bacteria amongst the birds. See RSPB guidelines, available here.

**Child Hygiene & Safety

  • Supervise Children

    Children should be supervised by a responsible adult to keep them safe from harm e.g. from sharp tools like scissors and knives and choking hazards like nuts and string.

  • Encourage Good Hygiene

    Encourage children to maintain good hygiene. They should wash hands with soap and water after touching bird feeders, suet, lard, seeds etc. and/or wear rubber gloves.

  • Be Allergy Aware

    Ensure your child is not allergic to any of the bird food before coming into contact with it, e.g. peanuts, seeds, etc.

This article was brought to you by Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham. We hope that it was useful and that you and your little one(s) enjoy the suggested activities.

Little Cedars: a First Class Nursery & Preschool in Streatham

Little Cedars is a great choice for families looking for high-quality childcare in Streatham or near Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury or 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 ProviderAre you searching for the best nursery or preschool for your child in Streatham? Let us show you and your little one around and we’re sure you’ll soon see how well they would fit in. We offer children under five the very best start in life in a well-equipped, expertly staffed, home-from-home environment.

Apply for a nursery place, book a tour or get answers to any questions by selecting an option below:

Little Cedars may also be conveniently located if you are looking for nurseries/preschools near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood.