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
For more information on bumblebees and some great activities check out the following link:
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.
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.
Coppiced hazel rods
We were there to help talk about the wonderful diverse wildlife from birds, insects to woodland flora.
Lords and Ladies
Devils’ coach horse beetle
The kids enjoyed running about, climbing, building shelters, making charcoal pencils, and leaf rubbings.
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.
Do you like colouring?
Here are some wonderful bee pictures from a very talent blogger at standingoutinmyfield you can colour in.
For more lovey drawings check out the standingoutinmyfield website
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.
Crab in water
anenomes and periwinkles
Periwinkles in rockpool
Jellyfish – caution some can sting
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”.
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.
Bucket full of weeds
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.
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)
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 water 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 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
Frog life cycle sheet
Irish Peatland Conservation Council have a detailed page on frogs if you want to learn more
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!
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:
Why not let me know what you find in the comment box below. Have fun!
Coming up to Christmas I have been thinking of all the animals associated with this festive season. Robins, with their red breasts, feature on many of our Christmas cards. Here in Ireland, we often say that robins are Santa Claus’s little messengers, keeping an eye out for good and bad behaviour from the children at this time of year!
Then of course there are the all important reindeer. Where would Santa Claus be without his faithful sleigh pullers?
Often when we see the birth of Jesus depicted, the stable where he is born, is always full of animals; sheep, donkey and cows in particular.
Here are some Christmas activities to keep you busy.
Search Google or Pinterst for Reindeer crafts and you will see endless possibilities. But I like this simple Reindeer chocolate bar craft. Great for gift idea.
Or how about a reindeer coloring page.
For a simple donkey craft, great for younger kids, checked out this D is for Donkey activity.
And of course don’t forget the Christmas tree. Here is a link to a simple Christmas tree craft using a paper plate and colourful pompoms though you could use buttons, stickers or other items too.