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How can we help wildlife this winter?

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With winter quickly approaching, we have been thinking about how we can help our furry friends get ready for hibernation and how to help them find food throughout the harsh months. There are some very simple ways we can help i.e., leaving food & water out for birds, creating shelter for hedgehogs and building bug hotels for beasties.

Feeding the Birds

You may not know that different species of birds like different foods so its important to keep an eye on which birds visit your garden.  Greenfinches love sunflower seeds and peanuts, whilst small seeds are favoured by House Sparrows and Dunnocks. The most important thing to remember when feeding birds is make sure they can find and easily access your offerings; provide lots of resting posts for them to land on (out of reach of predators of course!).

Mini Beasts

Below is our Mini Beast Planter, designed to give a home to a wide variety of mini beasts, bugs & creepy crawlies. Once filled with the correct materials and planted with flowers it will attract and shelter hundreds of little creatures, giving children the perfect chance to watch them flourish. Filling the planter with flowers high in pollen and nectar such as Dandelions, Lavender and Crocus will attract Bees and provide sustenance for all living things within the bug hotel.

Place large items like bricks and logs at the bottom of the bug hotel, making sure every gap is filled with dry leaves, dead wood and small sticks. As you move further up, use smaller items and remember to use small tubes (not plastic) like bamboo for solitary bees. You could even incorporate a hedgehog house into the bottom layer using dry leaves to create a cosy nest.

Top Tips:

  • Keep water sources ice free (children love this job!)
  • Different species of bird like different foods, watch to see who visits your garden
  • Small leaf piles can be a great home for a small creature, leave it undisturbed until warmer weather returns
  • Children are great at caring for animals, let them get involved!

Badgers & Squirrels

Larger animals like Badgers, don’t hibernate and may benefit from a helping hand to find food. When the ground is frozen they really struggle to find earthworms, so we can help a little by providing lightly cooked meats, cheese, peanuts and fruits. Squirrels are well known for storing their food when its easy to find, but when its really cold we can help them out by providing nibbles such as hazelnuts, walnuts, chopped apple or carrots.

If you ever find animals hibernating be sure to leave them be.

Some Useful Links

Homemade Fat Ball Recipe

https://www.rspb.org.uk/fun-and-learning/for-kids/games-and-activities/activities/make-a-speedy-bird-cake/

DIY Hedgehog Home

https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/nature-on-your-doorstep/garden-activities/giveahogahome/

Wildlife Watch Activities (free downloads)

https://www.wildlifewatch.org.uk/activities

Outdoor Play Equipment

Battling Childhood Obesity: Outdoor Play & Outdoor Fitness

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The Health survey for England was published in December and I wanted to share some of the statistics with you.

                     

 

*the survey covers 10,000 people living in England.

These statistics are quite shocking.  So, what can we do to change?

Be a good role model

“Children with overweight parents are more likely to be overweight themselves”.  Without even thinking children mimic their parents from birth, its how they learn the basic skills they need to survive.  As they become more independent, they repeat what they have learned until they can make their own decisions, which are formed by the values they have learned.  For example, a baby deer will follow its mother everywhere until its old enough to live independently, at which point it will use the skills it has learned from its mother to survive in the wild.

If our children witness us vegging on the sofa everyday surviving on a diet of pizza and crisps, they will grow up thinking this is okay.  We need to make the right choices to be able to be a good role model.

Make good choices

We need to teach our children to make good choices.  Teach them to choose fruit and vegetables as part of a balanced diet, to choose exercise over inactivity and to get more, good quality sleep.  This will mean we need to break our own bad habits.  For example, I know I am guilty or driving a lot more than I should, I can make the choice to walk a lot more often.

Encourage a balanced diet

Try not to label foods as “good” or “bad”.  It’s important that children learn to choose the healthier options and understand the long-term health benefits.  Keep to child size portions, teach children we do not need to overeat.

Less Screen Time

Screen time appears to be the biggest enemy of activity.  For whatever the reason our children are spending more and more time attached to a screen.  Whilst there are many benefits, there are damaging affects on social, physical and emotional development.  We could teach children better ways to use their screen time, e.g.: find a recipe for a healthy home made snack to make with Grandma, research the world record for hopping and try to beat it or watch a video on YouTube of street dancing and give it a go.

Get Active!

We should encourage children to be active for a t least 60 minutes each day.  It may sound like a lot, but it could be easy to do.  Here are some suggestions:

If you can, walk to school instead of driving.  If you already walk, you could speed it up: have a speed walking race or ride bicycles.

Visit the local park at least twice a week.  With equipment designed to not only encourage children to get active but also build their core strength, the local park is a great place for some free exercise and fun!

Find your local woods and go for a nature adventure.

Whatever you choose to do, get involved too and follow it through.

When we design our projects for our clients we try to incorporate as much physical challenge as we can.  We call this “play value”, but it essentially means what will children get out of this equipment.  We try to engage the children in good fun, so they won’t even notice they’ve had a workout!