Exploring nature at home

During the winter lockdown, face to face events were not possible, but we still wanted a way to connect with children and families. So we created a new and exciting online nature club, called Explorers at Home!

My name is Lizzie and I am an education tutor at Nower Wood.

During the winter lockdown, face to face events were not possible, but we still wanted a way to connect with children and families. So along with my colleague Josie we created a new and exciting online nature club, called Explorers at Home!The sessions are designed for everyone, whether you live in a busy city or the countryside. We even have international viewers! Some home-schooled children in Florida tuned in to share their local wildlife stories and learn about what we have here in the UK. With over 100 viewers each week, not to mention those that watch the recordings, Explorers at Home has exceeded our expectations.

“Both [the children] really enjoyed it and we were all inspired to do some hedgehog art.”

Each week has a different theme; from Beautiful Birds to Nocturnal Life, there was something for everyone! Every session has an interactive game, craft demonstration (this can get a bit messy!), a ‘sound of the week’ and a challenge to complete for the next session. We know the people that sign up have an interest in wildlife, but this gave us a chance to show them how they can act to help wildlife wherever they are. 

“[The children] made a bird nesting material pot for the birds this weekend. They loved collecting the material, especially my daughter.”

Our favourite part has been reading the children’s nature stories, answering their brilliant questions, hearing how they help wildlife and how they have connected with nature more. Some children joined the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch after our first session, and many provided nesting material as the weather has warmed. One family even joined their local Toad Patrol after the Amazing Amphibians session, helping local amphibians safely cross the roads on the way back to ponds!

“My daughter and I really enjoyed [the session] and we learned a lot! … As a result of the zoom we went out to man a toad crossing last night and had a fantastic time! … We saw not only frogs and toads but all three types of newt!”

Some of the most popular crafts include the ice sculpture craft during the cold snap in February and looking for footprints while on walks. Children even made footprint traps to see what creatures are in their garden! Check out the video at the bottom that shows a compilation of artwork and projects sent in.

It was a real delight to have Katy Fielding as a guest host for the Powerful Plants session. Katy is the Trust’s Hedgerow Heritage lead (AKA the Queen of Hedges) and helped share some amazing facts about the importance of hedgerows for wildlife during the game, and even joined in with the seed planting craft! Special thanks to Kirsty for helping host the Spring Senses session too, you can definitely tell Kirsty would make a great Blue Peter presenter!

“Please consider running these past March … We home educate and [our child] is very resistant to formal education so it’s wonderful to see her learning and engaging so happily. Also, you guys are fantastic!”

We have all loved doing these sessions, and the positive comments and feedback has allowed us to connect with people online for longer than originally thought. In fact, the Explorers at Home will become a monthly session until the summer holidays.

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© Tom Marshall