RSPB Big Schools' Birdwatch Activities
Tree appreciation activities. Trees are the biggest plant on earth and play a very important part in our lives. See Video!! We can also learn important lessons from a tree:
'Forest Bathing'. It's very simple to do - just take a walk in woodland! The Japanese believe that Forest Bathing is very good for you and can actually make you healthier. There is some science behind this belief. Trees release oils into the air called phyoncides and when you walk among trees these phyoncides cause your body to produce more white blood cells and therefore boost your immune system which is what helps you fight illness and diseases. Sounds such as the wind in the trees or the birds singing are very soothing, the sights in a woodland can be very calming and walking in a woodland can clear your mind and make you feel happier.
Hug a tree. We've not been able to give so many hugs recently so why not give some to some trees. It may sound silly but actually it's a way of soothing your body! Hugging a tree increases levels of a hormone called oxytocin which calms your body and releases the hormones serotonin and dopamine which make you feel happier. Standing under a tree also gives you the freshest air that you can possibly breathe as the tree's leaves filter the air and take out any dust and dirt that might be in there.
Bark. The outer layer on a tree trunk is called bark. Did you know that just like different types of trees have different shaped leaves they also have different types of bark patterns? Use the guides below to help you identify different types of trees from their bark on your next woodland walk:
How Old? Find out the age of a tree. You can do this by counting the rings on a tree trunk when it is chopped down but a less extreme way is to measure the distance around the tree trunk at your head height. You can either use a tape measure or use string and then measure that. Trees grow approximately 2.5cm every year so if you divide the total distance around the tree trunk by 2.5 that will give you the tree's age. Can you find the oldest tree in a woodland?
Barefoot. Spend some time outdoors barefoot. This is known as 'grounding' or earthing'. It might sound a bit strange but going barefoot outdoors can be good for your health and it's what our ancestors used to do before shoes were invented!
Your feet are actually the most nerve rich parts of your body and 'grounding' or 'earthing' is believed to benefit our bodies when the earth's electrons pass to the body. It is said to improve sleep, reduce stress, reduce pain, calm the body and even speed up the wound healing process! Maybe we should all spend time outdoors barefoot a little bit more!
Natural Pictures. Make your own instant nature pictures. Cut out a picture frame or if you're feeling more artisitic a camera shape from some cardboard. In your garden or on a walk hold your picture frame or camera shape against different natural things to make instant pictures.
Twigs. Make a twig or stick tower. On a walk collect up some twigs, sticks or even fallen branches. Make them into a tower like the one in the video below:
29th June is International Mud Day.
11 years ago Gillian McAuliffe, a teacher from Bold Park Community School in Perth in Australia, and Bishnu Bhatta, who worked at Panchkhal Orphanage in Nepal, were at a conference together in Belfast. They were discussing with each other the challenges their children faced when playing in mud. Gillian had very little mud as Perth is on a sandy plain and children were reluctant to get dirty, whereas Bishnu had lots of mud but many of the children did not have enough clothes to be able to get them dirty or enough soap to wash them.
When Gillian returned to Australia she shared her discussion with a group of children she worked with. The children decided that they would send some clothes to the children in Nepal and raised just over £500.00 in 3 weeks. The money was sent to Bishnu. Both groups of children then had a special day playing together in mud, although in different countries.
What started as an exchange between the children in Australia and Nepal has inspired people around the world to appreciate nature, the outdoors and mess by celebrating International Mud Day for themselves!
There are some activities below that you could do to help you celebrate International Mud Day too! You WILL get messy so it's a good idea to wear some old clothes when you do these.
On the 21st June is the summer solstice which marks the beginning of summer. The word solstice comes from the Latin words sol, which means sun, and sistere, which means to stand still. The summer solstice is the longest day of the year when there are more daylight hours than on any other day of the year because the earth is tilting towards the sun.
For many people the solstice is an important event. In fact it has been celebrated in many cultures across the world for thousands of years with feasts and festivals. People use it as a time to re-connect with nature and be thankful for the natural world.
Stonehenge was built to line up with the movements of the sun and people still go there to celebrate the summer solstice. This year there was a live stream of the sunrise at Stonehenge and you can find more information about it here:
There are some activities below that you could do to help you celebrate the summer solstice too!
'Shadow Art'! Take some paper and pens outside and trace the shadows of natural objects or you could trace the shadows of some of your favourite toys. You could even trace the shadows of your family or your pet - if they stay still long enough! You could see how the shadows change as the day goes on. Do you know why this is?
Bubble wand & bubble mixture! You will need sticks and string to make the bubble wand. This tutorial is nice and simple: https://rhubarbandwren.co.uk/giant-bubble-wand-tutorial/
Collect natural objects from your garden or on a walk. Ask a grown up before picking any flowers in the garden. Remember not to pick any wild flowers as some are protected species and so that they are left for everyone else to enjoy too. On the ground or draw a butterfly shape on a piece of paper and decorate it with your natural objects. Butterflies are symmetrical so each side should be the same.
Celebrate our connection to the ocean. On this link: https://worldoceanday.school/
You can find free resources and some interesting videos to watch. You may even learn some fun facts! For example did you know that every second breath comes from the ocean? You don't have to just celebrate World Ocean Day on the 8th June, you could visit a beach any day and if you're feeling brave even go for a paddle in the sea!
'Worm Charming' in your garden or outdoors somewhere. Yes, this really is a thing and some people take it very seriously. Every year there is the World Worm charming Championship held in Cheshire or the International Festival of Worm Charming held in Devon! The record of finding 567 worms in 15 minutes might be a bit tricky to beat though!
Worms will come out the ground when they hear tapping on the ground because they think it is raindrops. There are lots of different techniques for Worm Charming. Some people think stamping on the ground works best; some prefer tapping on the ground with a stick; some think pouring water on the ground from a watering can is better, others think that digging a small fork in the ground and 'twanging' the handle is the only way and even a few think playing music helps! Maybe you can find your own technique. Do you find more worms in soft soil or hard mud? Worms are very good for the soil so remember to release any that you find.
Clouds. On a cloudy day lay on your back in your garden or in a safe open space or even just look out of your window. Watch the clouds. Can you see any shapes in them? Did you know that there are different types of clouds? How many different types can you see each week? There are some pictures to help you: Different Types of Clouds: Cloud identification cards.pdf
Grassy Hill. Get outside and go for a roll down a hill! When you find a gentle sloping grassy hill before you roll down it you need to check first that it doesn't have any hidden dangers such as rocks, sticks or holes. Rolling down hills is actually good for us! It isn't just fun, it also stimulates our brain.
Scavenger Hunt. Look in your garden or go for a walk and do a treasure or Scavenger Hunt. Can you find all the different colours of the rainbow on the ground? How many different shades of green can you find? Ask a grown up before picking any flowers in the garden. Remember not to pick any wild flowers as some are protected species and so that they are left for everyone else to enjoy too. There are some Scavenger Hunt sheets to help you too:
Sit Spot. In your garden or on a favourite walk choose a 'Sit Spot'. A 'Sit Spot' is a comfortable space where you can sit quietly to watch and listen to nature all around you. You might be able to hear the birds sing or the wind rustle the leaves in plants and trees. You might be able to smell flowers. If you visit your 'Sit Spot' over time you will see the changes as spring moves into summer into autumn and then winter. It can also be a very good place to just slow down and think.
Rainy Days. Even when it rains you can still have fun outdoors. Just put on a waterproof coat, pull on a pair of wellies and go for a walk and find some puddles to jump in! The bigger the puddle, the better the splash! Here are some other activities to do:
Even though the dates on some of these activities are for Easter and May there are still some good activities here: