childrens activities

Irish Hares

Irish hares are one my favourite animals. So I was delighted with this young hare visited our garden recently.

Young Irish Hare

Young Irish Hare

The Irish Hare is native to Ireland and is a unique subspecies of a group of hares known as Mountain hares (Lepus timidus).

Like all hares, the Irish hares do not use burrows like their rabbit cousins. Instead they rely on cover of tall vegetation such as rushes, tall grass and heather. Often they will make a form in this tall vegetation. A form is like a nest on the ground, and it provides protection from wind and rain, as well as a place to hide.

Hares are most active early in the morning, or late in the evening and at night. They feed on a wide range of plants, such as grasses, sedges and heather. They will also browse on trees and shrubs like birch and swallow particularly in the winter months.

The young are called leveret. The mother hare will leave the young leverets in thick cover and only visit them once a night to feed them.

 

Hare

A week of so later and already he looks a bit bigger.

 

 


Resources

Books

Guess How Much I Love You – one of my favourite children’s books by Sam McBratney.

There are lots of lovely activities here.

 

Colouring Sheets

Guess How Much I love You

Hare and the Tortoise

 

Craft

No Sew Sock Bunny

 

For more information

Irish Hare

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Monday Fun Fact

Did you know –

A bumblebee can travel up to 6km daily to visit flowers – this is the equivalent of a person walking around the globe 10 times to get to the shops!

So why not consider growing some bee friendly flowers in your garden this year, to help these exquisite bees find enough energy to complete these amazing journeys!

Bumblebee on dandelion

Bumblebee on dandelion

For more information on bumblebees and some great activities check out the following link:

http://bumblebeeconservation.org/get-involved/bumble-kids/

School garden – harvesting

The success of the school garden is something I feel proud off. The garden is not big and our achievements are as yet small, but I feel the value the children get from learning how to grow food, or just learning that from a small seed a pumpkin grows, is huge.

Last week we harvested some of our crop and I made a big saucepan of soup, which some (though admittedly not all) the children enjoyed!

In total, we have seven pumpkins; some lovely fresh kale (though the caterpillars from the adjoining broccoli plant are just moving across), leeks, onions, beans, carrots, parsnip (they never got thinned so many are very thin!) and parsley.

 

For me the greatest value is seeing how much the children enjoy being in the garden; whether it is just the small ones relishing in digging holes, or some of the older ones remembering that “I planted those pumpkins and those beans” and now they are harvesting the rewards.

 

Learning in the woods

We had a wonderful day of learning at our local nature school today. Woods are wonderful places to visit with children. This wood is a native woodland, being managed by traditional means such as coppicing. Bernard and Zane run many courses here including forest schools, wild foraging, school visits and woodland management courses.  Today’s “Wonder of the Woods” day was a family day.


We were there to help talk about the wonderful diverse wildlife from birds, insects to woodland flora.

The kids enjoyed running about, climbing,  building shelters, making charcoal pencils, and leaf rubbings.

Charcoal pencil

Charcoal pencil

Afterwards we enjoyed sausages cooked on an open fire, and for dessert toasted marshmallows! A perfect end to a great day. And a big thank you to Bernard and Zane and all their family.

 

Summer time – Beach fun!

Going to the beach in the summer is one of our favourite family activities. This year we have really got into our sandcastle building. It’s a great way to get creative! Use whatever is lying around – sand, stones, feathers, seashells, even seaweed.

Think of the sand as a giant canvas ready for drawing pictures and making patterns. If there is no sand use rocks, shells and stones.

 

There is lots to see.  Rock pools can be great places to explore. Look out for little fish, shellfish, hermit crabs and anemones. If you find a crab look out for those sharp pincers because even though they are small they are not afraid to use them. Jellyfish sometimes get washed up, but be careful some can sting.

HAVE FUN!!

School Gardening Club Update

Now that the school holidays are here we are having a break from the School Garden Club but I just wanted to update you on our progress. Before we finished we harvested our first crops of lettuce, radish and mange tout peas.

The children also made some insect boxes to compliment the bird boxes that had already been made and put up. The fruit trees that had been planted were flowering and had also some developing fruit.

 

The children planted out runner beans and pumpkin plants and also some more seeds. The flower garden is beginning to look more colourful, but everything is still a “work in progress”.

School’s Garden Club

As part of our work at our local school on the biodiversity green flag we have set up an “After-Schools Garden Club”.

I was delighted when we got a huge response from the children and over forty children have signed up for the club, which meets two Fridays of each month. We also had great support from parents with many offering to help and others offering supplies of compost, gloves and garden tools.

Our first week was very busy. We divided into class groups of up to eight kids and divided the tasks between classes. We weeded the existing flower beds, put up the bird boxes the children had made already, planted some bulbs, and some fruit trees.

 

Each child also got the opportunity to plant some seeds and bring them home. Some of these will be brought back to school to plant in the raised beds and into pots. We will keep you posted on our progress.

 

Happy pots

Happy pots

 

A huge thank you to all the kids and parents for being so enthusiastic and our sponsors of seeds, plants and compost (including Woodies in Castlebar, Homeland in Ballina and Shaws Garden Centre, Castlebar, Co Mayo)

Frogs

Here in Ireland it’s the time of year to talk about frogs. Two weeks ago I noticed the first frog spawn in a local drain and today I counted 38 frogs in our garden pond!

Frogs are amphibians. In Ireland, we only have three amphibians; one species of frog (the Common Frog) and one species of toad (The Natterjack toad, only found in Kerry) and one species of newt (Smooth newt).

Amphibians need watCommon froger to breed but spend most of their time on land. They eat slugs as well as other insects so are a great addition to any garden.

Each clump of spawn you see is from one female – so if you count the clumps you can estimate how many females have been visiting your pond. Frogs will travel up to half a mile to get to a water source to spawn.

How long the spawn takes to hatch into tadpoles depends on the temperature of the water. The warmer the water the quicker the tadpoles hatch.

Check out any ponds or drains near you and see if you can see any spawn. Remember frogs (and their spawn) are protected under Irish law. If you are a school teacher follow this link to the National Parks and Widlife Service and see how you can get a license to collect spawn for classroom learning.

Common frog

Common frog

 

 

Activities:

Common frog colouring sheet from Froglife UK

Craft – Make a pebble frog from Froglife UK

For lots of fun easy activities for young kids check out www.activityvillage.co.uk/frog-worksheets

 

Resources:

Frog life cycle sheet

Irish Peatland Conservation Council have a detailed page on frogs if you want to learn more

 

Wildlife in your Garden

Happy New year! Here we are in the brand new 2016 and there is much to do and much to learn, and most important of all lots of fun to have.

One of the things I want to do this year is to get an even better idea about all the wild things that live in my garden and I’d like you to join me.

In May every year the world celebrates International Biodiversity Day. Last year in Ireland we were asked to record all the plants and animals in our gardens. I concentrated on wild flowers, trees, butterflies, bees, birds and mammals and got 64 species!

So now it is over to you. Why not go into your garden, or if you don’t have a garden go to your nearest park or green space and find ten different wild things? They could be birds, plants, trees, insects, animals – what ever you want. But they must be wild, so your dog or cat won’t count!

GardenBio_table

 

You can use this form to help you. If you want to print out, right click on your mouse and select “copy image”, then paste into a programme you use such as “word” or paint”.

You may think January is a strange time of year to look for wildlife things but you may be surprised at what you find. Here is my table:

GardenBio_table2

Why not let me know what you find in the comment box below. Have fun!