I am passionate about child led play in nature! I love it. I advocate for it. Oh and risk play too! Through nature play, children are often interacting with the local flora and fauna. AKA the wildlife!
As World Wildlife Day is coming up, I thought it would be great to share a few ideas of things you could do to acknowledge all the amazing wildlife that we have in New Zealand and help connect our children to their local spaces.
Our wildlife is incredibly unique and some, like our native pekapeka (bats), are critically endangered. We have beautiful birds and exciting insects and many exotic species too.
When we find animals or insects in nature there are many things we might wonder about or talk about. The shapes, the colours, the number of legs, the length of the beck, the texture of the skin/feathers/fur, the wings, how they eat, what they eat, where they live, what’s a habitat, how long they live, do their babies look the same or different, do they hatch or are they born…the list goes on!
‘Nature Play Every Day’
Often these questions or observations are happening in a child’s mind.
Have you even watched a child when they have found a new insect? You know, that wonderful look of concentration on their face!
By providing regular time in nature, we are giving opportunities for that sense of wonder and curiosity to grow and flourish.
While nature is a wonderful teacher all on its own, we can complement the learning when we offer provocations to enhance such a wonderful teaching space.
So here are some wildlife themed provocations or activities that you can have in your kete (bag) to help support your children’s interactions with wildlife in nature:
- Go on a bug hunt with an insect book or use INaturalist App to help with identification
- Build a mini ecosystem for nature
- Make a bug hotel
- Use a magnifying glass to get up close to your wildlife
- Look for wildlife poo and see if you can guess who it’s from
- Go on a night walk and see how many different spiders you can see
- Go on a pollination scavenger hunt
- Raise a tadpole and release the frog when fully grown
- Do a bird survey and see what bird enjoy your trees
- Do a bug survey and see if the same bugs are present in different seasons
- Make a birds nest from natural resources
- Create a pollination garden
- Make a worm farm
- Find signs in trees or plants of animals (nests, eaten leaves)
- Set up a tracking tunnel and try and identify what wildlife is present in your environment
- Listen for the sounds of different birds and try and mimic the sound
- Look for cicada shells and create a new badge
- listen for cicadas and try and find one
- Make a drinking station for bees
- Make an outdoor wildlife plan for your centre or school – what can you plant or create to attract different wildlife.
There are just a few ideas to get you started. Even though World Wildlife day is just one day of a year, nature is there every day so make the most and get outdoor with your tamariki as often as you can!
If you are reading this and thinking this is great but I need more help, then check out our online course called Play in the Outdoor Classroom.