Have fun with the family in the great outdoors
Spending time in nature has many benefits for our health and wellbeing. As well as boosting our mood and fitness levels, there’s something magical about spotting a bird or butterfly while you’re out and about.
It’s also great for our financial wellbeing. Most of these activities are free or very low cost and, as you’re outside, they’re perfect for a money-saving picnic too.
Spotting wildlife and signs of nature
Whether you live in the middle of the countryside or your nearest green space is the local park, anyone can go on safari. You’re unlikely to see elephants and giraffes, but you’ll be amazed how much wildlife you do see. Look (and listen) out for birds, insects and any new flowers or berries. You can also keep records of what you see, which can show how nature changes from month to month.
Recommended by the RSPB, tree-beating is another outdoor activity that will fascinate kids. You’ll need a light-coloured sheet or large piece of paper, a tree or bush with some low-hanging branches, and a stick. Pop your sheet on the ground, gently shake the branches or tap them once with the stick, then check out any insects that come down onto your sheet. The RSPB has a handy tree minibeast identification sheet to help tell your ladybirds from your weevils.
Games to play in nature
A quick game of I spy can encourage everyone to explore nature a little bit more. Or you could play the A- Z game, getting everyone to think of or find nature-related items for each letter of the alphabet.
Pooh sticks is another favourite with kids of all ages. You’ll need a bridge over some running water and some sticks. Throw them off one side of the bridge and the winner is the first stick to appear on the other side. Before long, there’ll be discussions on what makes a winning stick and the best place to launch it.
Nature activities at home
You don’t even need to leave home to get your kids interested in nature. Growing something from seed will teach them all about plants. Cress is perfect for quick results; a favourite fruit or vegetable can be fascinating and rewarding; and competitions to grow the tallest sunflower are always great fun.
You can also do things to attract wildlife to your home. Putting out food for the birds will attract more as well as help to keep them healthy.
Your garden can also become more insect- and hedgehog-friendly. Insect hotels can be built from any materials you might have in your garden including bricks, bits of wood, leaves and old terracotta pots. They’ll love those nooks and crannies.
To attract hedgehogs, the RSPB recommends building a hedgehog cafe. These are made from lidded boxes, with a hole that’s large enough for hedgehogs but too small for cats (roughly 13cm square) cut at the base of one side. Put some hedgehog food (or cat/dog food that’s not fish- or beef-based) inside and watch what happens.
As well as inspiring your kids to love nature, make sure they’re protected if you’re not around. Co-op Insurance’s life cover is an easy way to have the reassurance that, if you passed away prematurely, there would be a pot of money to look after them.
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