I know in this weather I’d much rather be snuggled up under a sofa reading a book than stomping around cold and damp countryside with a baby and toddler in tow – or more realistically, chasing down a toddler while the baby and I try to keep up. Unfortunately, however, my children aren’t game for endless hours indoors, and I realise that I am better at getting outdoors when I’m motivated to do so.
And that motivation comes easily in the form of a host of free online resources to get little ones out and about, often helping the environment or nature conservation agencies in the process, so don some rainboots, grab an umbrella, pack a lunch and meet some friends in your local patch of green, and use these free resources to get yourself and your little ones outdoors.
** Click here for Free Resources in the United States from Charise from I Thought I Knew Mama
Here are just some to get you started:
This is a fantastic website, and probably my favourite of the five, so I’m listing it here first while I still have you excited. On this website, parents set up a profile and are given 50 ‘tasks’ for their children to do before they are 11 and three quarter years old. As they tick off the activities on the child’s own profile, they collect badges and when you’ve accomplished all 50 activities, there’s a ‘secret surprise’ waiting for you. We’re still working our way towards 50, so I can’t tell you what it is yet! It’s such a lovely, interactive website, with great ideas that can be sorted by weather too, so they give you plenty of ideas, no matter the weather. You can also upload photos of your child completing their activity, but these remain private.
This list is not area specific, so you can do it no matter where you live or go on holiday.
- RSPB Action Awards – £3
The RSPB Awards scheme is all about helping out the RSPB, but doing it in a fun and educational way. There are three levels to the awards and the 33 prescribed activities give you points, which add up to a bronze, silver or gold award. These can be tackled as part of a group, a family, a homeschool or you can join
Citizen Surveys are exactly what they sound like – surveys performed by the public, and submitted on the Natural History Museum website.
Whether you are interested in insects, birds, reptiles or amphibians, here you can help the UK’s experts to map the biodiversity of the UK.
As well as the surveys that the Museum runs, there are many other national wildlife surveys happening all over the UK. This list is updated as and when new ones are launched, but there’s enough already on the go to keep you busy till Springtime!
- Woodlands Trust Nature’s Calender
The Woodlands Trust Nature’s Calendar project is all about climate change. Every sighting that’s listed on the calendar is valuable to scientist who are carefully tracking changes in the earth’s patterns. You can update your information by smartphone or online and there are loads of FREE wildlife packs to download. These include guides such as foraging and activity packs.
If that’s all a bit high brow or not really age appropriate, there’s also Nature Detectives
The Woodlands Trust gives parents a long list of resources to use in different seasons. Right now you can download the First Signs of Spring worksheets among loads of others.
- Pond Conservation
If you’re interested in Pond Conservation, this website has all the information you’ll ever need from how to make one to how to identify what’s in your pond. A great resource for all things pond. You can also complete surveys on what you can find in your pond and when you find them to help scientists map the biodiversity of our pond life
- Wildlife Watch £18 Annual Membership
The Wildlife Watch is an annual membership programme, through which you will receive loads of goodies. There’s a starter pack and four issues of Wildlife Watch magazine a year to start with. They’re full of pictures, puzzles, competitions and you get a free pull-out wildlife poster with each issue. Many Wildlife Trusts also send members a local publication containing details on local events and nature activities
There’s still a lot of free activities on the website that you can access without being a member, with great ideas for convening with nature – like build a bat box, grow your own tree, or a guide to feeding birds.
It’s slightly different from the rest, but the blog Nurture Store has some amazing resources and fun ideas for getting children outdoors.
Are there more resources that you use for getting outdoors? Leave a link in the comment section and I’ll update this list!