See & do
7 ways for kids to connect with nature
Saraya Robinson | April 16, 2020
Keeping the kids entertained can be challenging at the best of times, switch screen time for some green time and keep them entertained with these seven activities:
Create your very own platypus bookmark
Did you know that some of our Gold Coast waterways are home to our iconic native Australian platypus? The platypus is an amazing semi-aquatic mammal that is endemic to Eastern Australia and Tasmania. It is primarily nocturnal, living in creeks and rivers from cold highlands areas to tropical rainforests.
If you live near freshwater sections of our waterways, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the critters. Our friends at Watergum often need extra help from the community to learn where platypus live on the Gold Coast. Simply report any sightings you may spot on your daily walk to the team at Watergum. Some know areas are Currumbin Creek, Mudgeeraba Creek, Nerang River, Coomera River and the Albert River.
You can also get started on your own Platypus Craft bookmark today. Watch this step by step video from Emily at Watergum to find out how.
Backyard bee hunt
Did you know the Gold Coast region is home to an estimated 200 native bee species? It’s hard to bee-lieve we have so many. They can sometimes go unnoticed in your garden but if you know what you’re looking for, you may be able to spot them. Ranging in all sorts of colours and sizes, native bees can be as large as 2.5cm long, with the smallest barely 2mm long. If you sit still long enough or are near flowering plants, you might be lucky to spot them buzzing around.
Discover native stingless bees in your backyard with the Native Bee Identification Guide.
Nature weaving craft
What’s in the backyard?
Become a citizen scientist
Get the kids to channel their inner David Attenborough and snap photos of plants and animals either in your backyard or your neighbourhood. Once you’re ready, upload your images to iNaturalist to help contribute data to science. These images go into a database to capture the biodiversity of an area and may be used to help researchers and land managers to help educate the local community.
Not sure what you’ve taken an image of? Don’t worry, you don’t need to know what it is when you photograph it as other iNaturalist users will identify and confirm your observations for you. It’s a great way to explore what’s in your area, learn more about our local plants and animals with fun facts and is the perfect activity when you’re out exercising in your local area. Just remember not to touch what you’re photographing; keep your distance, especially if you’re unsure what it is.
How to get involved:
- Download iNaturalist app on your smartphone or tablet
- Join your local suburb project Watergum Backyard Bioblitz
- Take pictures of the flora and fauna you spot and record them
- Learn how to make observations
You can also download the Seek INaturalist kids app and take their nature knowledge up a notch with Seek! Earn badges for seeing different types of birds, amphibians, plants, and fungi and participate in monthly observation challenges with Our Planet on Netflix.
What’s in your Backyard
You’ve got to be in it to win it, right? ‘What’s in Your Backyard?’ encourages kids across Australia to get involved and grab a camera, and snap photos of the flora and fauna in their backyard. With help from their parents and carers, kids can submit photos to Junior Landcare to be in with a chance to win one of ten $250 cameras. To enter, simply submit a photo, select from one of the four categories (biodiversity, food production, indigenous perspectives and waste management) and explain why it is important to you.
Competition closes 20 April, so get the kids snapping and submit your photos today.
Nature art and craft
Combine natural materials from your yard like leaves, sticks, flowers, gumnuts and seeds with craft essentials and settle in for an afternoon of getting crafty. From creating dragonflies, koalas to your very own creature or natural landscape, the kids can create anything they put their mind to.
Weaving with nature
Another one for those with arty children, all you’ll need for this activity is some wool or twine, sticks and any decorative items you can find in nature such as coloured leaves and flowers, shells or feathers.
Step 1: The first step to this activity is to find some sticks for your frame. The amount of sticks you need will be depending on the shape you’re after, although sticks will preferably be of a similar size. Try to collect sticks from your backyard or on your daily bout of exercise in your neighbourhood.
Step 2: Use some twine or wool to attach your sticks together to create your frame by winding around the joins of the sticks. Secure by tying a knot.
Step 3: Use your twine to create thatching across your frame from one stick to another by using a zig zag or looping pattern. Secure so you can then thread your nature materials through it.
Step 4: Weave the items you collected from your backyard one at a time over and under the twine and alternate to create a more interesting feature.
Your child’s mission, should they choose to accept it, is to spend time outdoors, be adventurous, try new things and have fun! Nature Play Queensland is an organisation geared at increasing the time kids spend in nature and in unstructured outdoor play. They offer plenty of resources and information for activities you do at home including fun for the backyard and nature play from a balcony.
They also offer a Nature Play QLD Passport, which is a small, hard copy booklet (similar to a real passport) that contains fun nature play missions, stickers and blank pages. Use it to document and celebrate nature play missions and outdoor learning activities your children achieve. It goes hand-in-hand with the online Passport Mission Control, where you can find hundreds more nature play missions.