With the Summer holidays looming, and lockdown restrictions easing, parents will be seeking out engaging ways to keep the whole family entertained. Yakult has teamed up with environmental education practitioners Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks, to create free outdoor ideas that are rooted in nature, supported by science – and most of all, fun!
Make Shadow Goblins
Have you ever noticed how your shadow changes during a long sunny day? The sun’s angle in the sky varies depending on the time of day and year, so get outside and explore the changes. Measure how long your shadow is at different times of the day; what time are you a short fat goblin, and what time are you a skinny giant?
Make a Butterfly Feeder
Attract butterflies and other pollinators to your garden or balcony by providing nectar rich flowers and home-made butterfly feeders. Mash a banana with a fork. Add to a pan with 100g/40z dark brown sugar and 200ml/7fl oz water. Gently bring to the boil, simmer until the mixture goes sticky. Leave to cool. Make a feeder to place in your garden or on a balcony near lowering plants. Watch and record which pollinators come to feed.
Ready Steady Bioblitz
A bioblitz is a great way to discover as many wild plants and animals as possible in a defined area over one day.Take a large sheet of paper, tape it down and then go hunting! Pick a leaf or a petal and stick on your paper to represent each different plant species. Draw the mini beasts, mammals and birds you see. Look at minibeasts up close with a magnifier, then put them back carefully. Look for evidence of species you can’t see; e.g. chewed nuts, worm casts, empty snail shells, feathers, bird droppings or nibbled food.
Clouds constantly change size and shape. Made up of tiny droplets of water vapour, their formation and shape are affected by weather conditions, air temperature, humidity, and wind speed. Take time to watch the clouds moving across the sky. Dream up crazy cloud monsters. Can you take a trick photo so a cloud becomes the ice cream in a cone? Or do a selfie of yourself with a funky cloud hairdo? ª How many different cloud types can you photograph over time? Cirrus, Cumulonimbus, Stratus etc.
You don’t have to stay indoors when it’s raining; just put on the right clothes and get outside for some rainy-day fun! Let a shower of rain transform pictures into multi-coloured masterpieces. Using white kitchen roll and water-soluble pens, draw pictures on the kitchen roll and hang them on a washing line to let a shower of rain mix the colours. Experiment with inks, food colouring and paints.
Make a Wormery
Mud, or soil, is vital for all life on Earth. It is a living thing, and just like us, it needs nutrients and water to stay alive. Go outside after the rain, gently collect a few earthworms in a bucket of damp soil. ª Put alternate layers of sand, moist soil, and dead leaves in the jar. Leave a 5 cm/2 inch space at the top. Add the earthworms and some dead leaves, grass and a few vegetable or fruit peelings on top. Carefully pierce a few small holes in the lid, then use it to close the jar. Worms only work in the dark so cover the wormery with an old towel and put it somewhere cool. Go back after a week or so; what have the earthworms done?
Make a Shadow Clock
On a sunny morning push one end of the long stick into the ground in an open space, maybe at the beach or in the middle of a lawn. ª Every hour on the hour, mark the tip of the long stick’s shadow with a short stick. You can also label each short stick with hour, number, time. You can return to it at any time on another day and determine the time of day by noting where the tip of your shadow lands! Measure the shadow’s length as each hour passes. It shows us that the earth moves relative to the sun – shadows are longest when the sun is lowest in the sky, both early and late in the day.
For more great outdoor activity ideas and to download the activities above, go to www.yakult.co.uk/familywellbeing
Images created for Yakult by Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks, environmental education practitioners and authors www.goingwild.net