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Posts Tagged ‘childrens holiday activity’

garden-blueberries

Blueberries are dark, sweet, delicious and often quite expensive; they are a cousin to our native Winberry, (also known as the blaeberrie, bilberrie, whortleberrie or huckleberrie) which can be found growing on moors amongst the heather and are ready to pick July-September. I think Winberries have a better flavour and are sweeter but not everyone is fortunate to have them growing nearby, if this is the case why not try growing your own Blueberries, which are now regarded as a ‘super fruit’ as they are extremely high in antioxidants and vitamins (especially Vitamin C) so have many health benefits.

Blueberry pants can be bought from Garden Centres, Nurseries or by Mail Order either to grow in pots or to plant in the garden.

Blueberries prefer an acid soil with a pH level of 5.5 or below this can be measured with a pH meter or a Soil pH testing kit, if your soil conditions are suitable add plenty of acidic organic matter such as pine needles, composted conifer clippings or ericaceous compost when planting. They prefer a sunny sheltered position and are best watered with rainwater whenever possible. If your garden soil is not acidic Blueberries will happily grow in pots in ericaceous compost, for young plants choose one that is at least 30cm (12in) in diameter, then move into a 45-50cm (18-20in) container when it is outgrows the first one, place some crocks/pieces of polystyrene in the bottom of the containers to help retain moisture.

Plant two different varieties of Blueberries to ensure cross-pollination, a single plant will produce fruit but yields will be higher and fruits bigger if more than one plant is grown. Use netting to protect ripening fruit from birds, not all the fruit ripens at the same time the berries are ready to pick when they are deep blue and can easily be pulled off.

Blueberries produce fruit on previous years branches, young plants will not need pruning for the first two or three years, after this prune between November and March take out any dead, dying and diseased branches first then one or two of the oldest branches at the base especially any low branches to create an upright bush.

My three container grown Blueberry plants are now in their third year and I am hopeful that I will have a good crop this year.

Why not make this a half term holiday project with each child having their own Blueberry plant, they could even give it a name!

Have a fun half term

Gill

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Here are 3 activities to get the kids outdoors and away from the television, games console or their phone:

DIY Build Your Own Bird Nest Box Kit

Build a nest box for your garden

This week is National Nest Box Week (14-21 February) and it’s the perfect time to put up nest boxes in your garden as many birds are now paired up and looking for a nest site. There are lots of different types of nest boxes available which are suitable for different species of birds, if you want to attract a good variety of birds why not put up a few different boxes, some species of birds like to build their nests near to each or in a colony these include House Sparrows, Tree Sparrows, House Martins and Swifts so put up 3 boxes together. If you want to get hands why not make your own Nest Box with a Build Your Own Nest Box Kit, it contains everything you need to make a nest box that is suitable for House Sparrows, Great Tits or Nuthatches, who will be first to make their home in your Nest Box?

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Make a Den

Go for a walk in the woods, there should be lots of dead twigs and branches on the ground that have been blown off in the recent windy weather, first collect the larger branches, place them upright with the tops together to form a wig warm shape this can be freestanding or around the trunk of a tree, if you have some rope tie these together, next find medium sized branches and place onto your structure to fill in the gaps, then collect smaller twigs and them leaves to camouflage it. Use your den as a hide to watch birds and wildlife. If the weather is cold and wet why not make an indoor den with clothes maidens, tables, sheets and pegs – behind the sofa is always a favourite spot.

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Skim Stones

Skimming stones can be tricky at first but with a bit of practice it can be easily achieved, for best results you need a calm sea, still river or pond/lake then you have to find the ‘right’ stone it should be smooth, round and flat, the flatter the stone the better, throw your stone hard, low and horizontally and it should bounce across the surface of the water, large bounces at first getting smaller until finally it disappears into the water. Have a competition with family or friends to see who can get the most bounces.

Lets hope that the weather is kind to all of us this week

Have a great holiday

Gill

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Dinosaur garden

Children have a great imagination and love being outdoors so… this half term holiday why not take the toys outside and make a miniature garden, there are lots of themes that you could choose, here are a few suggestions:

A Farm complete with tractors and farm animals

A Railway with trains, tracks, bridges, people and stations

Wild West with Cowboys, Indians, horses with Sand, Cacti and Succulents

Construction Site with Diggers, Trucks, sand and gravel, why not use your sand pit

An Enchanted garden with Fairies, wooden toadstools, small animals

Prehistoric Garden with dinosaurs, volcanos

Jungle with lions, tigers, monkeys,

Creepy Crawly World with bugs, spiders and minibeasts

A traditional mini garden complete with paths, flower and vegetable beds and a scarecrow

Choosing your container

You can make your garden any size you like why not use an ice cream container, seed tray, large pot, window box, old sink, plastic storage box, or make it on the lawn, in the sandpit or in a corner of your garden.

Materials

As well as your toys have a look around your garden/kitchen/play room for props and accessories.

Lollipop sticks and twigs can be made into fences, gravel and pebbles into paths, shallow containers, lids, tin foil or mirrors can be used to make a pond, use sand to create a desert or beach, Small rocks, old branches and pieces of bark to create a jungle/woodland feel. Girls may wish to use Coloured aquarium gravel, glass pebbles or sand with shells and beads why not sprinkle glitter for frost or as fairy dust, you can also use modelling clay to make any extras.

Plants

You can use freshly picked flowers from your garden these need to be put in water and sadly will not last very long, it is better to use plants that are growing that way the children will see their garden mature and develop and be encouraged to look after it, if you are using plants in a container check that there are adequate drainage holes at the base. Ferns and grasses are good structural plants, moss can be used as a lawn, low, small and slow growing plants such as Alpines and Thymes are ideal, Cress can be used to fill any gaps, dried Seed heads, tree seeds and cases (an acorn shell makes a nice cup) can be used, plant ivy at the edges to trail over the sides and hide your container.

There are so many variations let your imagination go wild.

Have lots fun and enjoy your holiday

Gill

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Nyjer Seed Feeder

Winter is all about looking after our wonderful wildlife especially the birds, as their natural food resources decline they increasingly rely on us for food and water, putting out a regular supply can make a huge difference. The RSPB monitor British Bird populations using the results from their Big Garden Birdwatch Weekend, if you took part don’t forget to submit your results before 16th February, Schools have another week left to do their Big Schools’ Birdwatch it’s a great classroom activity and a great introduction to birds.

 Blackbird Nest Box

As the days lengthen the birds sense that Spring is on the way, they become noisier this is often to attract a partner or to defend their territory, the next step is to build a nest you may notice birds carrying twigs, feathers or moss in their beaks, now is the perfect time to give birds a hand and put up some nest boxes in your garden/school garden/local community they come in all different sizes and shapes to suit different species of birds, it may take a while for the birds to show an interest in your box, be patient, they will start by ‘checking it out’ to make sure it is suitable and safe, once chosen they will quickly build their nest inside.

Build Your Own Nest Box

Organised by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) to encourage individuals, families, Schools, Groups and Clubs to put up Nest Boxes in their area, National Nest Box Week (14th-21st February) coincides with the half term holidays so get the children involved, choose and put up some nest boxes in your garden, put up different types to encourage more species, if you really want to get ‘hands-on’ my favourite is the Build Your Own Nest Box Kit it contains everything you need (pre-cut, pre-drilled wood pieces, screws, nails, washers and a hanger) to make your own Nest Box it has a 32mm entrance hole making it suitable for a wide variety of birds including House Sparrows, Tree Sparrows, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal, Tit, Marsh Tit, Nuthatches.

 Nest box showing removable sections

If you want to go ‘high tech’ in the garden why not put up a Bird Box with a Camera, you will be able to watch the day to day life of your birds and witness that special moment when the eggs hatch.

So give a bird a new home, there is nothing more satisfying than a bird nesting in your Bird Box especially if it is one that you have made.

Love your environment

Gill

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Beach

You can’t beat a day at the seaside there are lots of activities to keep you busy:

Paddling or Swimming in the sea

Building Sandcastles

Burying dad in the sand!

Rock pooling

Playing ball games/flying kites

or Beach Combing

There is so much you can find on a beach that has been washed up by the sea, unfortunately most of it is man-made litter, there are millions of tonnes of rubbish in our seas not just around Britain but worldwide only small amounts get washed up on the shore, this is a big problem which is getting worse, harming birds, animals, fish and sea creatures.

I love beachcombing you never know what you will find:

Colourful pebbles – worn smooth by the sea

Seaweed – I didn’t realise there were so many different types

Driftwood – Bleached and smooth to the touch

Shells – Cockle, Mussel, Periwinkle, Whelk, Razor, Scallop, Limpet

Crab Shells and Claws, Cuttlefish bones

Whelk Egg Cases and Dogfish Egg Cases also called Mermaids Purses

Sea monster 2

Why not make a Sea Creature with your beach treasure?

What you will need

Collect as many shells, pebbles, sticks, strands of seaweed, etc. as you can find

What you need to do

You can either make your creature on the beach or when you get home, we made ours at home.

Start off by making a body from damp sand or if you are at home you could use modelling clay, and firm your shells into place on the body, then add arms, legs, a mouth, eyes, hair, claws, tails and wings. This is your Sea Creature be creative you can make it how you want, it can have 2, 4 or 6 legs, 2 or 3 heads or tails, you can give it wings or claws and as many eyes as you want.

Sea Monster 1

How we made our Sea Creature

  1. Firstly we got a storage box lid and covered it with a blue plastic bag to represent the sea; you could also use a tray or cover it with kitchen foil.
  2. We then got a piece of white modelling clay, made it into an egg shape and pressed it onto the lid.
  3. We covered the modelling clay with Mussel shells to make the body, and used broken Razor shells for the legs, the curly tail was a large Whelk shell.
  4. For the head we used a Cuttlefish bone for the lower jaw and the top was a Spider Crab shell, two eyes were made out of small Whelk shells which were stuck on with the modelling clay, I drew on two eyes with black marker pen.
  5. The crowning glory was the three Dogfish Egg cases that we placed along his back.
  6. To finish it off we sprinkled sand on the lid and placed some shells and Whelks egg cases around him to make him feel at home!

It is a good idea to buy a guide to the seashore so that you can identify and learn all about what you find on your day out.

Have fun on the beach this summer, enjoy all that the seaside has to offer and help to preserve it for future generations by taking you litter home with you – the British Coastline is stunning and home to many amazing and unique plants, animals, fish, sea creatures and birds.

Love your environment

Gill

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Twigs are useful, fun, free, and help wildlife too.

This Half Term why not put on your warm coat and wellies and go for a walk in the woods or the park and find some sticks, after all this windy weather there should be plenty lying on the ground, collect different lengths and thicknesses, you may also find some on the beach which have been washed up by the sea often in interesting shapes and colours.

Here are a few suggestions for your bounty of sticks:

Pooh Sticks

This game was played and made famous by Winnie the Pooh, you can play it on any bridge over running water, each person drops a stick (at the same time) from the bridge on the upstream side then peers (carefully) over the downside of the bridge to see whose stick appears first, this is the winning stick.

Did you know that there is a World Pooh Sticks Championship, this year it is on Sunday 30th March at Day’s Lock, Little Wittenham, Oxfordshire it is a charity event organised by the Rotary Club of Oxford Spires and Friends.

Tracking Sticks

Tracking with Sticks

Tracking with sticks is a popular Scouting activity; you can play it in the park (split your participants into two groups), in the back garden or even in the house. Use your sticks to leave a trail of arrows to give clues to your seekers of your whereabouts they can be in the open or can be slightly hidden to make it harder.

Spider Catcher 2

Make a Spiders Web Catcher

Spiders are opportunists and will make their web wherever there is the chance of catching some insects. Choose three straightish sticks about 30cm long, place them on the floor in a triangle and tie each corner tightly with string, next pick a strong thickish stick about 80cm in length and tie your stick triangle to it at one end. Push your stick into the ground near some bushes and wait patiently, it may take a while before a spider makes its web there.

Build an Insect/Bug home

When you have finished with your sticks return them to nature and make a home for Insects, Bugs and Beetles. Find a nice quiet corner of your garden, break your sticks so that they are roughly all the same size and then lay them all the same way on top of each other, you can put some leaves, soil and grass in between this will make a damp environment for your creatures, finish off by putting some more leaves and foliage on top.

Have a great holiday and have fun!

Gill

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If you find some slightly soft fruit and vegetables in your cupboard that are past their best why not dig out your paints and make some fun pictures with them.

Fruit and Vegetable Prints

What you will need

Equipment

  • Poster paints in various colours
  • Plastic plates
  • Paint brushes
  • Knife
  • Paper or card
  • Aprons
  • Plastic Table Cloth

Fruit and Vegetables

  • Mushrooms – Cut in half lengthways or cut the stalk off to reveal the gills
  • Broccoli Heads – Keep whole, paint the heads and roll onto the paper or cut lengthways this will resemble a tree
  • Broccoli/Cabbage Leaves – paint or dip the leaves
  • Sweet corn – keep whole, paint the kernels and roll onto the paper
  • Carrots – Cut into chunks for a round print
  • Potatoes – Cut in half for a large round print or cut in half then with the flat side down cut off 3 sides to make a triangle or four sides to make a square or a rectangle
  • French/Runner Beans – Cut at an angle across the pod to make a leaf shape
  • Celery – Cut into chunks, paint the bottoms for crescents or the sides for stripes
  • Apples – Cut in half horizontally to reveal the inner star shape
  • Starfruit – Cut across to make a perfect star
  • Pomegranate – Cut in half horizontally, knock out the seeds to reveal the sections

What you need to do

  1. Cover your working surface with the plastic table cloth and put on your aprons (it can be very messy).
  2. Ask an adult to cut and prepare your vegetables as above.
  3. Put the paints onto separate plates, you may need to add a little water if they are very thick, then spread them out across the base of the plate with a paint brush.
  4. Dip you fruit/vegetables into the paints or paint them with the brush.
  5. Stamp, roll or dab your fruit/vegetables onto the paper to create your masterpiece.
  6. Leave your pictures to dry.
  7. Give your hands a really good wash!

As well as making pictures why not see if your children can identify the fruit and vegetables and where and how they grow.

When you have finished with your fruit and vegetables give them a rinse and recycle them in the Compost Bin.

Have fun

Gill

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