Garden Wildlife Week – Activities for Key Stages 1 & 2
  • Supports home learning

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The idea behind these tried and tested garden-based activities, is first and foremost, learning while having fun. All the activities here can be used to help build a foundation for further learning and exploration of garden wildlife, their habitats, life-cycles and requirements to thrive in a natural environment.

Girl pointing to a caterpillar on a cabbage leaf

These activities and further garden exploration can be used to encourage a child’s natural curiosity about the animal kingdom while incorporating multiple areas of learning through the basis of scientific exploration – what is occurring, making predictions about how living things will behave, and analysing findings.

Activities in this article:

  1. Planting a butterfly garden
  2. Birdseed play dough
  3. Creating a mini pond
  4. Planting a sunflower garden
  5. Making ants

Activity 1. Planting a butterfly garden

You will need:

  • Child-size gardening tools such as trowels, sieves, rakes, and watering cans.
  • Compost, if growing in containers.
  • A variety of ‘butterfly-friendly’ plants, seedlings and seeds such nasturtium, lavender, wild marjoram, verbena.
  • A good spotters’ guide, such as ‘British Butterflies and Moths (Collins complete guides)’ by Paul Sterry.

What to do

Before starting the gardening, bring children together to talk about butterflies, moths and caterpillars, and how butterflies and moths like to feed on nectar from flowers while caterpillars prefer leaves, buds and flowers.

Explain that most butterflies are active during the day, while most moths are nocturnal, plus, all moth’s and butterflies’ life cycles progress from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis (butterfly) or cocoon (moth).

When planning what to grow, it’s a good idea to include host plants for caterpillars, and nectar plants for butterflies and moths. One of the best flowering plants to grow here is nasturtiums, as not only do they attract butterflies and moths, they’re also very attractive to the cabbage white butterfly in particular, which loves to lay its bright yellow eggs on the underside of nasturtium leaves. The seeds of the flowers are nice and large, making them easy for young children to handle. Plus, they are very easy to grow, are not fussy about poor soil quality, and are perfectly safe for children – they look lovely too.

Girl putting plants into a raised flowerbed
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