I love to talk to the children about the natural world around us. There is so much that we can enjoy and learn right here on our doorstep. When I’m out gardening, Boo often likes to help me plant bulbs and seeds and she gets so excited when she sees shoots coming up and blooms flowering. We talk about the names of them, and take a closer look at the colours and shapes. She’s pretty good at identifying them now. Little Man loves being out there, too, though he is more about the digging and insects than the flowers, which is absolutely fine. We like to have mini beast hunts, turning over the dirt to see what might be crawling about in there. Both of them squeal with glee when they find worms, though neither are keen on spiders (the poor much-maligned arachnid – I like them!).
We have created our little wildlife garden, which was so easy to do and continues to thrive. You can read all about how we did that here, and you’ll find you only need a small space to do something similar. I’d definitely recommend it, as not only was it fun to create, it means we have an ongoing project area to talk about and mooch about in when we’re outside.
The next thing that I’d like to work on for Project Garden is enticing more birds into our garden, helping them by giving them a home and providing a new learning experience for the children. So here are my top 5 tips for getting your kids interested in garden birds…
1. Set up a bird feeding station
For my youngest, this was all about assembling it and then filling it up. He liked doing that! I do like the little build your own bird feeder in a tin idea as that did really engage him. That one then sticks to the glass of your home so that you can see the birds up close when they come to feed. The children are working on slowing down their sudden movements to avoid scaring them off! My 5 year old has been interested in helping me research what types of food we can put out for the birds to enjoy, and she’s since been checking regularly to see what’s been eaten and what needs replenishing.
We found this RSPB guide really useful to better understand what we should and shouldn’t be feeding them.
2. Add a nest-box to your garden
Encourage birds into your garden by giving them a safe home. Get the children involved in choosing one and then selecting a position for it in your garden. When ours arrived, Little Man did seem to think there might already be a bird nesting in there and kept peeping in! Now that it’s up, I’ll keep an eye on it to see if a family takes up residence.
3. Plant shrubs and sow seeds together that attract birds into your garden
My two do like to plant things! It involves digging and dirt, so what’s not to love? Chat about what you’re planting and why, and with older children, as with the food, involve them in the research.
Plants and shrubs such as Snapdragons, Sunflowers, Ivy, Knapweed, Cotoneaster, Honeysuckle are all great.Then hedging and trees are good for providing both food and shelter.
4. Go bird-spotting
I think this is the favourite one for my two, and it is probably the most exciting. If you can, invest in some binoculars as that takes the adventure to a whole new level for them. Both Little Man and Boo love binoculars, and will go out into the garden clutching them most days. Boo likes to lie on the grass and look up and around with hers, and she gets so excited when she spots one. We also have a bird identifier book, and she likes to sketch what she sees, too, in her little nature record book. As she’s getting into reading and writing, this provides another opportunity for her to practice her new skills. Little Man, at 2, is yet to get to this level, but he does get very excited to see the birds at the feeding station and he will look about for them with his trusty binoculars!
5. Be birds!
Yes, as with most things, if they can play at ‘being’ them, they become interested! We’ve had arms out as wings, ‘flying’ around the garden, and some fun with a tuff spot nest, too. This one’s fun for all ages, and as with any activity like this that I set up, their imaginations and creativity take it on to new levels that I just couldn’t have come up with. Mummy bird and baby bird had a lot of fun in our garden the other day! Follow it up with painting, crafting, anything that your little ones are into that depicts birds.
I love to see birds out in the garden. They’re interesting for the kids to see, too, and as an added bonus for me, they should help take away a few slugs from my plants!
What do you do to get your children interested in birds?
With thanks to Sykes Cottages and their Give a Bird a Home campaign, which inspired this post and gifted us with some of our bird-enticing supplies