Hi Kids - we need your help to make Dublin a great place to live for all of life’s creatures! And what better place to start our project than in YOUR OWN GARDEN?
By following some of the tips here you can make your own MINI-SAFARI and go on an adventure into a magical world where bees buzz from flower to flower and where hedgehogs lumber along without a care in the world. You can also find out what creepy-crawlies are lurking in the dark corners of your garden, under rocks, behind log piles and in the soil in your Mum’s best flower bed! You will also find out that some of the weeds in your garden are actually important native plants that are beautiful and should be looked after. Yes, even the occasional dandelion and thistle, two of the gardeners most detested weeds in the garden can be of great benefit to wildlife!
Try taking some pictures of the different plants and animals you can see in your garden and then try to identify them using the information on our website CLICK HERE. You can even send your best pictures into the Notice Nature photo competition at www.noticenature.ie/kids_area.html
ACTIVITIES TO HELP YOU DISCOVER THE WILDLIFE IN YOUR GARDEN
Make Your Own Biodiversity Log Book
Create your own wildlife log book. You can use a nice jotter or scrap book. Record all your results in this. Make drawings and collect pictures of the various plants and animals you find. Try to name them and record where in your garden you found them. Compare your results with your friends.
Discover Your Wild Plants
Use a light object with a fixed area like a Hula-hoop (Hoopla) and throw it, at random, over your lawn. Count the number and different types of plants and bugs that are in this area. Do this at least three times on different parts of your lawn and make a list of your results. You can also try this on your flower beds but be careful not to damage any plants and make sure you tell your parents first! The greater variety you find - the more wildlife friendly your garden is!
Why not try making your own area measure with your parents, using four sticks of the same length and tie them together to make a square.
How old is my Tree?
Use a measuring tape and measure around the trunk of the tree (in centimetres), about 1 metre from the ground. Then divide this number by 2.5 and you will have a rough answer. Some trees, like Yew, are not suitable for this experiment, as it is grows ever so slowly!
It’s A Bugs Life
Put on your Indiana Jones hat and your khaki trousers and go exploring on a mini-safari to see what is happening in your own back garden. Discover what kind of creepy crawlies are living in your garden by doing some of the following activities:
- Become an Explorer: Quietly and carefully check under rocks and old logs to see what is hiding there. Put your results in your log book.
- Bug Trap: Dig a hole and place a container in it. Place some food (like bread crumbs) in it to attract the little creatures. Next cover the container by putting a sheet of wood on four pebbles over the opening so no rain will get in and to keep them safe. Count the number of different bugs you find the next morning and note them in your log book. Scroll down to a picture of how to make one.
- Pooter Time: Impress your friends by sucking up bugs in front of their eyes! Make your own pooter and collect some of the different bugs in your garden by holding the long tube above your bug and then give a short suck on the other tube. Then observe your bugs and record them into your log book. Please release gently back to the place you found them once you have finished your examination!
- Materials required: Glass jar, 2 pieces of tubing (one 50cm long and the other 25cm long), Piece of muslin cloth, Modelling clay.
How to make a pooter: Put muslin over one end of the shorter tube. Put both tubes in to the jar, one with the muslin half way into jar and the other near the base of the jar but allowing enough room for a bug to fall out. Hold both tubes in place using the modelling clay, which can also be used to seal the jar. Scroll down to a picture of how to make one.
Observe Your New Friends
Did you ever wonder how far a snail can travel? Well here’s a trick to help you find out. Get a thin paint brush and some bright paint. Paint a number on the back of a snail’s shell and see how far it moves in a day. Do this for a number of snails and see who the slow coaches are. REMEMBER TO ALWAYS WASH YOUR HANDS AFTER TOUCHING THE SNAILS AND DON’T GET ANY PAINT ON THE SNAIL ITSELF. Use washable paint so that it comes off the snail in the next shower of rain.
Find out what those slippery earthworms get up to underground! Do this by getting a large clear glass bowl and fill it with layers of soil and fine sand. Keep the bowl in a cool dark place so the worms feel at home. It is best to fill it with layers as follows: soil first then sand then more soil then more sand and then even more soil again! Finally you should give them their dinner of fallen leaves. Yummy! Can you think of any more ways of exploring the wonderful world of your new mini-safari?
On The Wing
Have you ever wanted to learn about our feathered friends? It’s easy and fun and you can help make your garden the perfect home for the different birds of Dublin by following some of the following tips:
- Put up a bird table in your garden or hang a bird box or bird feeder from a tree branch with the help of your parents. Then observe the different birds that come to feed from a distance and try to draw coloured pictures into your log book.
- Put up a bird bath in your garden so that the birds can wash themselves. You can have lots of fun watching the different birds sticking their chests into the water and then shaking themselves dry. See which bird is the cleanest and which ones never take a bath! Yuck!
The Big Visitors
Some of the biggest visitors to your garden are actually the shyest! So, to find out which ones come into your garden you have to be very quiet and patient. You can observe them from your window or if you have some old sheets you can make a special hide like some of the nature photographers do on the BBC. Do this using 3 bamboo canes and an old sheet. Cut out holes so you can see through the sheet and hang it from the cane using some ties. If you have a pair of binoculars then you might be able to see far off birds in the sky or take a close up views of animals from a distance. If you do see a fox or hedgehog crossing your garden, it is absolutely brilliant! One way of finding out what big creatures have come through your garden is by laying a smooth bed of sand near a shrub bed. Then check to see if there are any footprints there the next day. See if you can identify the different tracks and note these in your log book.
If you have a pond or stream in your garden try finding out what lives there BUT REMEMBER TO BE CAREFUL AND WATCH OUT FOR SLIPPERY STONES. Take a clear glass jar and scoop up some of the water from your pond. See if you can spot any water creatures. Can you identify the creatures and note them in your log book? If you are really lucky you might happen to have a frog living there. If so, then look out for the frogspawn that will turn into tadpoles in the spring.
Do you know what happens in the dark outside at night? It’s a totally different and exciting world. Try painting some blackcurrant on a tree. Shine a light onto it and watch to see what moths and night creatures it attracts. Early in the morning look out for the glistening spider webs after the night dew has settled on their webs. Listen out for owls, frogs and crickets as they put on a night time musical!
As you will find out, by doing some of these activities there are millions of different treasures to be discovered where you may have least expected them. You will find that the little creatures in your garden have a wide variety of homes including the soil, the pond, the grass, the plants and trees and even some who enjoy living in the cracks and crevices in the walls and paving. It is important that we protect these homes and create as much variety as possible in our gardens. Have a look at the tips for encouraging more wildlife in to your garden. Enjoy your wild plants and creatures and help create a great world for every living thing!