6 Lockdown Eco-Activities for Kids

Here we are again, Lockdown. For some reason, this time round it seems harder to me. Perhaps because we know what to expect. Perhaps because of the terribly sad headlines we are reading each day. And I don’t think it helps that it’s January, one of the longest, darkest months of the year at the best of times.

But, as I keep telling myself, it’s not as if we are sending our loved ones off to war or living in fear of being bombed. We just have to stay at home (and home school our children whilst holding down jobs, in many cases!). Thank goodness for Netflix and Zoom and online deliveries; Lockdown could be so much harder!

So in an attempt to find some positivity and give you some ideas for how to entertain your little darlings (who you now get to spend all your time with), here are some eco-activities for kids to do this Lockdown.

1. Feed The Birds

This could be as simple as getting some birdseed and a feeder. Hang it where you can see it from your house, but out of reach of cats, and wait. If you feed them, they will come! You could take it a step further and make your own feeders. Here is a great activity from the RSPB to make bird feeders out of loo rolls.

If you’re looking for eco-friendly birdseed, we recommend Vine House Farm, a conservation award-winning farm which donates to The Wildlife Trusts with every sale.

January is also the month when the RSPB runs the Big Garden Birdwatch. The Big Garden Birdwatch is the world’s largest garden wildlife survey. To take part you need to count and record the birds you see in your garden for an hour on the weekend of 29-31 January.

2. Grow Your Own

Surprisingly, you can start to sow some seeds, both vegetables and flowers, in January. Chillies, tomatoes and aubergines are great to start with as they are easy to germinate. They do need a bit of heat to get going, so start them off in an airing cupboard or near a radiator. You will need to keep them indoors until late spring and the chance of frost has passed. Basil can also be sown now indoors. Sweet peas are easy flowers to grow and can be sewn in pots or loo rolls in a sheltered spot outside. For flowers or vegetables, it’s best to use new peat-free compost, but if you can’t get hold of any, you may still succeed using garden soil. If you don’t have any pots or seed trays, raid the recycling bin! Empty yoghurt pots, plastic trays, even loo rolls can all be used for planting. Just remember to punch a few holes in the bottom for drainage.

3. Litter Picking

I regularly use litter picking as an excuse to get my kids out for a walk, without them realising we’re having a walk! You can litter pick with just a glove (I recommend waterproof gardening gloves or rubber gloves) and a bin bag, but it’s easier and more fun with a litter picker. We’ve recently got one from Waterhaul, which is made from recycled ocean plastic. You can also buy litter pickers from 2 Minute Beach Clean. If you have some high viz jackets, why not wear them? It’ll make the kids feel like they are on official business! Planet Patrol has even put together a free eco lockdown resource pack for kids based around litter picking which is available here.

4. Junk Modelling

Why not raid the recycling box and get creative with some junk modelling? My daughter (six) will still happily entertain herself with an empty cardboard box, cutting, sticking and colouring it to create something new. This is a great activity for teaching the idea that what we think of as rubbish is in fact a material or resource which can be used to create something new.

5. Get Crafty

There are loads of eco-friendly nature craft activities available. Have a look on Pinterest. Maybe you have some old socks with holes in them which could be made into sock puppets? Here are some fun crafts to do with old socks. Or how about printing with fruit and vegetables? The base of a bunch of celery makes a lovely rose-shaped print! If you want to get out for some fresh air, you could collect items and make a nature collage when you get home. At this time of year you might find evergreen leaves, berries or interesting seed heads. This is an activity you could repeat every season.

6. Watch TV!

By this, I mean watch TV programmes or films dealing with environmental issues. For younger children, CBeebies has several suitable shows. The Octonauts, with its motto Explore, Rescue, Protect, is great for learning about sea creatures and the problems they face. Mini Beast Adventure with Jess teaches children about insects, bugs and creepy crawlies and is a good introduction to learning about nature. Junk Rescue shows how to turn the things we throw away into something useful, teaching about repurposing and sustainability. Films such as Finding Dory, Happy Feet and Over the Hedge also touch on issues such as pollution, ocean plastic and habitat destruction. Whilst not strictly an environmental programme, Steve Backshall’s Deadly 60 on CBBC is an exciting nature programme which features interesting and unusual creatures from around the world.

For older children, David Attenborough’s Planet Earth, Blue Planet and Blue Planet II, and his new programme A Perfect Planet could all be of interest. A word of warning though; some of Attenborough’s documentaries are incredibly hard-hitting (I regularly find myself in tears) so watch them first and consider if they’re suitable for your child.

Another programme which my children both enjoy is The Repair Shop. That’s not an environmental programme, I hear you cry, but it offers a great lesson in looking after the things you love and restoring things which seem beyond repair.

I hope this gives you some ideas to keep your little (or not so little) ones entertained this Lockdown, whilst keeping the environment and sustainable living in mind. These activities can all be done at no, or very little, expense and you can probably count them as “home learning”, if you want to impress your teachers! Good luck to everyone home schooling or looking after smaller children at home. Stay safe and stay sane!

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