Children are naturally curious and the garden provides a lot of opportunity for fun learning. I am often nagged into bug hunts, leaf rubbing and flower collecting but what if you want something more structured where you don’t have to think about what to do? I’ve looked at toys all centred around nature and biology and these are my favourite picks and things that I would get for my children if I could afford to buy everything that I liked.
- Insect Lore Butterfly Garden. You can’t get more biology than this! You get 5 caterpillars that turn into 5 butterflies. Lots of children in my son’s school have had this and brought it in. It looks fab. The caterpillars don’t come inside the box, you need to send off for them, and you can only do that between March and Mid-September so factor that into your decision to buy it.
- This stick insect kit follows a similar idea. No eggs are included you need to send off for those separately.
- My Living World produce a range of activities to create a suitable habitat for a variety of garden mini beasts. Ladybirds, snails, spiders, worms. You can then observe them and their natural behaviours. Only the worm world costs above £10.
- Flower pressing was a favourite pastime of mine when I was about 9 years old. My Living World makes a flower press more fancy by the use of a microwave. I remember my press being more like this one with layers of cardboard screwed together. Of course the old fashioned (and free) way is between the pages of a heavy book.
- The Wildlife World mini bug box is a great way of setting up a nature corner in your garden. It is a much more natural way of watching the world of mini beasts without containing them in a plastic tank. It also has the benefit of helping protect the natural environment by giving garden bugs a safe place to live.
- Gardening and growing plants is a great source of learning. Easy to grow salad leaves and tomatoes give good results for minimum effort. This wheelbarrow and gardening tool kit is bright and colourful and gives them their own tools to be in charge of.
You don’t have to have a big garden, a huge grassy lawn or fantastically green fingers to get your children enjoying outside. A small amount of space, their own planter or a wildlife corner and you’re all set.
Don’t want to spend anything? Ask around someone will have free planters going spare, avid gardeners often have a glut of plants too and they might donate them to your efforts. Want a wildlife area? Use old bricks or stones you find lying around, pine cones, twigs and leaves all provide shelter and encourage insect life. Pile them up and see what you attract. Gathering things like pine cones is another free and fun activity to do together.
More importantly have fun and get your hands dirty, summer weather and hay fever permitting!!