Get your Kids into Nature these School Holidays
by Helen Cordery
It’s that time of year again – school holidays are here! If you dream of turning off the screens and avoiding the constant screeches of boredom, this blog is for you. But getting your child out into nature is not just about your sanity, it’s actually really good for them. We’ve compiled our favourite holiday activities you can get involved with at home, right in your own backyard. Here are the best ways to get your kids in nature these school holidays.
Nau mai ki te ao tūroa
Children, like all people, are multisensory. Nature gives all five senses – smell, sight, touch, sound, taste – a workout, while the importance of other factors are coming to light. Different benefits have been noted, such as stress reduction, attention recovery and more (to read more on this topic have a look here).
Make a hut
There is something special kids love about tents and playhouses, so why not have a go creating your very own hut in the yard? All you need are the branches and leaves you find naturally outside or – if you’re feeling extra creative – you could plant around tunnels using native species like coprosma.
Build a wētā home
Sometimes even wētā need somewhere dry and safe to rest. You can have a go building your own (read here for a how-to by the Department of Conservation) or buy a wētā hotel from the Pūkaha gift shop.
Look for bugs
A bug hunt is always a winner with kids – look under the rocks and crannies of your garden to see what you find! You may like to write down or draw what you find; have a look at this identification guide by Land Care Research for help.
Plant a seed
Getting to know Aotearoa’s native plants is not only fun but it’s important too. Our native fauna have evolved with these plants and there is a very delicate balance between them. You can do your bit to help restore the balance in nature by planting natives in your garden. Teaching your kids how to sow and transplant seedlings is a fun, hands-on activity to try that kids always enjoy.
Draw in the birds
Encourage birds to visit your garden by making a bird feeder. Birdseed pine cones are a super easy treat you can make without too much effort and all you need is a pine cone, some string, peanut butter and birdseed.
First cut a long piece of string and tie it around the stalk of the pine cone.. Then spread peanut butter (you can mix it with lard too) all around the pine cone, and then sprinkle bird seed over the top. Then just pop it outside to hang from a tree (out of the reach of cats). Who knows – maybe you’ll have a kākā visit you next?
The cardinal rules
- Try not to touch what you do not need to! If you want to pick up something living, always remember to be careful and to return them to where you found them
- Please do not touch nests or disturb nesting birds
- Use ony dead materials instead of cutting living plants
- Always pick up your rubbish and dispose of it properly
- Never play in the waterways without adult supervision
Become a Junior Ranger
The Junior Rangers school holiday programme was revamped earlier in the 2019 to give children even more ways to immerse themselves in nature while having fun and learning lots. The programme runs from 11:00am-3:00pm (including lunch) and seasonal activities include prepping the kākā lunch, bug hunting, searching for koura in the river and feeding the tuna (eels). Sign up here: [email protected]