5 easy ways to look after the wildlife this winter

5 easy ways to look after the wildlife this winter

Now the festive period is over and we have all filled ourselves up on chocolate, cake and Christmas turkey we think it is time to spare a thought for some of the wildlife we share our lives with. We might not see these creatures very often, or we might just not pay them much attention but getting involved in helping them through the tougher times of winter can be great for kids. Kids reap the benefits by learning all about the secret world in their garden, learning how to care for others and building some practical skills too.

Probably the easiest place to start is to make some bird feeders. If you type DIY bird feeders into your search engine there will be reams and reams of ideas. If you want to be more creative then try out Pinterest for ideas. At this time of year natural food is becoming scarce so garden feeders are vital fuel stations for our small song birds to top up. Once you have made your feeders then hang them somewhere you can easily see them. If you sit and wait the birds will arrive and entertain for hours, you might even get to know a few individuals. We used to have Jack Sparrow visit us regularly. He was a little peg leg sparrow who used to stop in whatever the weather and was always popular with the gang he hung around with. The boys loved spotting him and they would often shout ‘Jack’s back!’ from the front room.

If your little one loves to transfer water, as many do, then filling up the bird bath will be easy peasy. A bird bath doesn’t have to be anything fancy either, it can be as simple as an upturned dustbin lid. Not only will it be somewhere for the birdies to have a bath it will also be an important drinking source. If it is close to the ground it won’t just serve birds either, mice, badgers and squirrels might even use it too.

If you are feeling practical then have a go at building a nest box. You can find plans on the internet and this could be a great project if your kids enjoy building things. Believe it or not but birds will already be scoping out places to start a family so putting up a nest box now means the birdies should have plenty of time to find it. If you want to get really technical get yourself a nestbox camera kit and come spring you won’t need CBeebies or Frozen for entertainment, the nest box will provide plenty while you wait for the little eggs to hatch, watch Mum and Dad busy feeding the little chicks and then wait on the edge of your seat for each one to finally fledge the nest.

Improve your garden for wildlife by planting some berry laden plants and spring bulbs for early nectar. If you have the room plant a fruit tree such as an apple tree and the blackbirds will cover your garden during the autumn, mopping up all the excess fruit. The lovely thing about planting with kids is that they get to see something grow over time and then get to enjoy it once it is fully grown. Growing a tree needs some commitment so it could be a good one to get the kids thinking about how they will remember to water it, mulch it and prune it.

If you are lucky enough to have badgers in the garden (or maybe unlucky if they dig up all your plants!) then take advantage of it and put out some peanuts for them. Come dark turn out the lights and sit at the window watching to see if they hoover them all up. Badgers love peanuts but if you don’t have badgers then the squirrels will provide plenty of entertainment too. Watch as they scurry back and forth picking up the nuts and burying them around the garden.

Winter is a brilliant time to start watching wildlife and spending some time looking after it will provide added satisfaction to the experience.

My featured post for this week is Wild Family Fun’s Adventures when the winter weather sets in. We loved this post so much we featured it on our December Outdoor Play Roundup. We think learning to rock climb is a fantastic skill to learn with so many benefits and you don’t even need to brave the cold to give it a go.

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5 easy nature Christmas decorations

5 easy Christmas decorations

I know, I know, it is only November and I have already mentioned Christmas. I feel ashamed but I can’t help being excited. Getting the decorations out and making everything all shiny and twinkly is probably one of my favourite parts of Christmas. When the boys were smaller it was much more fun but they do still love it. Part of the Christmas tradition has always been to make a decoration each year and here are a few that are really easy and will give you just the excuse you need to go out for a lovely winter scavenger walk.

Make your own Christmas Star. Collect some twigs of equal length, you will need 5 in total. Place them in a star formation and secure the corners with glue or use string to lash the ends together (use both for extra strength). Then decorate your twigs with spray paint and glitter. Use some ribbon to create a loop at one of the points and your twinkling star is ready to hang.

Pine cone decorations are super easy and can become anything you want. Use lots of glitter and spray paint to create your own alternative to baubles. To create the loop use cotton thread in a matching colour. The cotton should be plenty strong enough and will create a delicate effect. If you want to get more creative you can let your imagination go wild and create all sorts of delights such as a pine cone Father Christmas or reindeers.

Create beautiful rosehip garlands by using a needle and thread to connect the rosehips together. This activity is brilliant for older children’s fine motor skills and the results are lovely. Perfect for adding colour to your Christmas decs.

Make a twig Christmas tree. Find a coloured piece of card and cut it to Christmas tag size. Use a hole-punch to create a hole in the centre top and thread it with ribbon to create your loop. Collect different size twigs going from large to small. Place these on the card with the largest at the bottom and the smallest at the top. If you need to trim off the ends to help create a uniform triangle shape. Use three similar length twigs placed upright underneath your tree to create a pot and then using some more coloured card and glitter add a twinkling star to the top. Once you have your lay out secure it all with a touch of glue.

Create lovely twin acorn decorations by tying each end of a piece of string around the bottom of the acorn hats to join the two acorns together. Decorate the tops with glittery nail varnish to get a neat finish and write your first initial on one and your last initial on the other. Once dry then hang them from the middle of the string and you have a lovely personalised Christmas decoration.

The best part about all of these decoration ideas is that you need to spend time outdoors collecting materials for them and while the weather is damp it is worth bringing them in and letting them dry out a bit before you use them. Do you make any of your own Christmas decorations? We would love to hear all about them on our facebook page or tweet us @adventuretogs with the hashtag #adventurebugs. We love to hear your ideas and share them with our readers!

International Mud Day 2013

Last Saturday was International Mud Day!

We celebrated by making a mud face for our tree.

This is Boy 2 mixing up our garden earth with water to make a mud pie ….

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Whilst I squashed our mud pie onto the tree, Boy 2 made the nose and collected flowers and greenery to decorate him…

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With daisies for eyes and a big buttercup smile, he was a friendly addition to our garden!

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 Our tree leans to one side so it helped to hold him in place for longer…..

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He still looked good the following day, and we will miss him when he gets washed away!

Making Outdoor Chores Fun for Kids

When you have jobs to do outdoors and the kids have other plans, it can result in family arguments and frustration. What you need is a plan of action before you venture outside and some idea of how the children will entertain themselves outdoors. Outdoor chores can be exciting in the Summer when children are able to splash in the paddling pool or have water fights whilst you are weeding the garden, but what about when you need to wash the car in the middle of Winter?

Let them help

Dress them up in a warm waterproof suit and let them help. Get them a bucket and sponge of their own and let them help wash the car, wash their toy car, bike or scooter. Kids like nothing more than copying their parents.

Music can help

Turn on the radio and get them moving…just like us, music will get them motivated and increase their activity level.

Play ball

Whatever the Season, kids can play ball! Football, catch, swing ball, cricket or get them to play tennis against a wall whilst you get on with other jobs.

Collecting and playing in the leaves

Leaf collecting is always a family event in our garden. Getting everyone involved is essential as it can take several hours to clear a large garden and you need to know that the kids are safe whilst you are raking. Put down a plastic sheet for the children and get them some toy rakes so they can collect small piles which you can then add to your larger pile.

Outdoor jobs involving kids may take longer, but it’s great family fun, increases their time in the outdoors and instils an active way of life from a young age.