The temperature is dropping and the nights are drawing in, which spells trouble and strife for the wildlife living in your garden or local park. Help the kids look after creatures great and small (even the creepy-crawly kind) this winter with one of these wildlife-friendly kits…
Igloo Hedgehog Home
Despite their ‘I’m so hard’ spikes, hedgehogs face a tough time come November when there are terrors like strimmers and bonfires in the places they most like to snuggle up in for the cold winter months. Give these prickly critters and their hoglets a helping (thick-gloved) hand with this Igloo Hedgehog Home. Behind the small entrance there’s plenty of room for a hedgie family to move in and settle down to domestic bliss. All you need to do is pick a good spot (preferably not within the stomping ground of pets), cover the igloo-shaped den with some outdoor insulation (twigs, dry leaves and the like), and spread some grass inside for that cosy touch. Then sit back and listen for the snores…
Igloo Hedgehog Home (ages 3+): £23.99. Findmeagift.co.uk
Mini Butterfly House
Ever wondered where British butterflies go in winter? They stay right here in cold ol’ Blighty and try to weather the storm. Many survive as eggs, larvae or chrysalis, but adult butterflies need to find a sheltered, dry place to hole up in until spring time – and they don’t come more des res than this dinky Butterfly House. Doubling up as a feeder, kids can use the yellow sponge and cups to feed their colourful chums a sugary water solution in the run-up to winter, and during the hibernation months, the central cassette can be put in its place to give the butterflies a warm, safe place to live. The kit also comes with a project book and magnifying glass, so your nippers can take a closer look at the butterflies once they wake up again full of the joys of spring.
Mini Butterfly House (ages 3+): £14.50. edenproject.com
Melissa & Doug Build-your-own Wooden Birdhouse
Of course, British birds also need help come winter, when the trees lose their protective leaves, flying bugs have found themselves bird-safe homes (see Butterfly Home) and even the worms refuse to pop their heads (or is it bottoms?) above the frozen earth. So help our feathered mates find a safe and snug place to nest over the winter with this DIY birdhouse. With four colour paint pots and a paint brush, this easy-to-assemble bird house is a fun way to introduce little ’uns to caring for local birds, and they’ll be proud as punch to see their artistic prowess displayed in the garden for everyone to see – including all those chirpy chaps that’ll be checking out their colourful new home. Just make sure you place the birdhouse in a quiet part of your garden and is tucked away enough to prevent the local moggies from pouncing on the inhabitants on their way home.
Melissa & Doug Build-your-own Wooden Birdhouse (ages 5+): £9.99. amazon.co.uk
Creepy Crawly Catcher
As the weather gets colder, you may start to notice a number of uninvited guests checking into your home as a place to crash for the winter – the usual suspects being mice (health hazard), ladybirds (still cute) and whopping big spiders (aaargh!). But creepy crawlies need care, too, so before you swish them down the plughole or squish them with your shoe, think about the shock and horror on your little ’uns faces as they see Dad murder a poor defenceless creature in cold blood. Much better to get his brilliant Creepy Crawly Catcher, which gently picks up all kinds of bugs without harming any of their eight hairy legs. The kit also comes with everything your budding David Bellamy’s need to study local bug life before returning it to nature unharmed – the Spider Catcher (with soft spider-friendly bristles), bug jar (with air holes), two practice bugs (spider and a ladybird), a magnifier (to get an even closer look at those hairy legs) and a booklet to record all their fascinating findings. And the best bit? Your kids never need to know just how terrified you are of those dastardly daddy long-legs!
Brainstorm’s Creepy Crawly Catcher (age 6+): £14.14. amazon.co.uk
Rant & Rave, My Wild Life
Kids love looking after little animals – it’s what makes children so bloomin’ lovely. But protecting the local wildlife is just the start of the fun they can have in the great outdoors. As part of the Wildlife Trusts’ #MyWildLife campaign at mywildlife.org.uk and the Every Child Wild initiative, Rant & Rave, My Wild Life is an action-packed book that’s been designed to get tweens and teens raving about nature and the environment, whatever that means to them – riding their bike, walking the dog, camping under the stars or preparing exquisite mud pies. The activity journal also comes with a cool twist: two covers mean nature lovers can write, draw and doodle about their wild life on one side, then twist the journal over to rant about how to protect the world and everything living in. And as no one can pick up on injustice quite like kids do, you should prepare yourself for some pretty wild ranting!
Rant & Rave, My Wild Life (age 7+): £9.99. journalsofalifetime.com
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