If you are looking for something to do outdoors that will also inspire a love of the natural world, why not embark upon a nature trail? You can find an official one near you or transform a usual route by paying special attention to natural features such as plants, wildlife and habitats.
The national curriculum for key stages 1 and 2 highlights nature within the purpose of study for science and states:
- “develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics
- develop understanding of the nature, processes and methods of science through different types of science enquiries that help them to answer scientific questions about the world around them
- are equipped with the scientific knowledge required to understand the uses and implications of science, today and for the future”
The UK is home to an extensive variety of wildlife including plants, birds, reptiles, mammals, marine animals, amphibians, mini beasts and fish. Wildlife Watch is a great website that will help you find out more about these species with suggested activities and interesting facts. For example, did you know:
- More than 550 species of bird have been recorded in the UK
- The UK’s biggest mammal is the red deer – easily spotted by its silky red coat and the massive antlers sported by the males
- Creepy-crawlies such insects, spiders and worms help us to survive by pollinating flowers and recycling waste and leaf litter
- The UK has three species of lizard and three snakes slithering around the countryside
To help you explore the outdoors we’ve put together five ideas that will feed children’s curiosity when out and about:
Keep your eyes open for things such as nuts, leaves and small insects that you can magnify and examine. Are there any details you couldn’t originally see?
Searching the Skies
Get a close-up view of things that are far away with a pair of child-friendly binoculars. Can you observe things that are high in the sky like birds, trees and nests? Primary Science™ Binoculars magnify objects to make them six times larger, meaning that details which aren’t usually visible to the naked eye become clear! There are 259 species of birds in the UK, how many can you find? The RSPB’s bird identifier, is a useful tool to identify your findings.
Keeping a journal
Keep a note of what you find along the way in a journal or notebook. Draw pictures of what you see through binoculars or a magnifying glass, record observations, identify animals and insects or label parts of a leaf. Keep the journal throughout different seasons so you can begin to identify how habitats and nature adapts to changes in the climate.
Transform your trail into an outdoor adventure by creating imaginative play scenarios such as searching woodlands like explorers, moving along paths like an insect or setting up camp in a pretend wilderness. Nature provides the perfect setting for imaginative play with different landscapes, objects, plants and creatures around to inspire young minds.
An understanding of the natural world and what’s in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfilment.
– David Attenborough