As soon as it became evident the schools were going to close, I started to think about what children might be able to do at home, even if and when unable to go out. I love nature and birds particularly, but am aware not all children grow up knowing the names of native birds or even the plants in their garden – as illustrated beautifully in the superb book The Lost Words.
A nature hunt which involved children finding, studying and beginning to learn about the nature in their own back garden seemed like a good use of unexpected time at home. I wanted to be able to signpost good sources of information for children to use to be able to identify and read information about what they find. I also thought it would be a good way of collating the local wildlife, in a similar style to The Big Garden Bird Watch.
I tweeted Robert Macfarlane who very kindly shared my tweet with his followers and was overwhelmed with the responses. There were so many wonderful resources I thought I would put together a blog post so other teachers or parents might be able to dip in and make use of them as they wish. I’ll do my best to organise them and provide a brief description so you can hopefully find what is relevant to you more easily. I have provided websites/Twitter handles where possible.
Please note, this list is by no means an endorsement or affiliation; I’m simply passing on ideas that have been shared with me.
Please feel free to leave a comment with any further suggestions, or tweet me @ccmercer
General Wildlife Resources
WWT @WWTworldwide – Save and celebrate wetlands. Range of free downloadable visual resources and activities for kids available on learningzone.wwt.org.uk
nationaltrust.org.uk – Get noticing nature/your weekly guide to noticing nature
WWF @WWF-uk Things to do at home – lots of resources on one page and more coming soon including quizzes and teaching resources
@woodlandtrust – UK’s largest woodland conservation charity. Includes a page on the website to help identify UK animals and plants.
hiwwt.org.uk – Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust – some resources available and more coming soon
Zooniverse.org A website for crowd-sourced citizen science projects. Listen to baby noises, transcribe arctic plant collections, help locate black holes and much more.
@iNaturalist A web and app-based global community where anyone can share their observations of wild organisms. They don’t provide ID help on Twitter but if you post a photo to iNaturalist their community can help you.
National Geographic – Lots of resources and apparently recently all have become free of charge for children
ecoliteracy.org – education for sustainable living. US site. Activities relating to food, climate change, soil etc
Minstead Study Centre– starting a daily nature journal challenge via Twitter @minsteadCC
Stories in Stone @sisydmt – community and heritage projects. Activities and funny facts coming soon.
Green Futures YDMT @GreenYDMT – a youth environment project launching virtual walks and activities that can be done in a back yard or garden.
My Learning @mylearning_org Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations across the UK. Great mini-beast resource.
@naturebygreen – nature photographer running Wildlife Wonder sessions from next week. Nature observation sessions aimed at children/families wherever they live
@nailemoreira – Author running a nature journalling workshop for kids 8-12 on Thursday 26th March 4pm EST. Also checkout the Stimola Live website for other author workshops.
dogwooddays.net – garden schooling blog
@hedgehogfriend13 including some hedgehog friendly activities
rewildmystreet.org Activities for you and your family to help urban wildlife
indiethinking.co.uk – lots of teaching resources covering many subjects
theschoolrun.com including 11 DIY forest school activities
#geographymole – Twitter hashtag could be a writing or discussion prompt for variety of ages. Could inspire similar projects.
NWF Ranger Rick rangerrick.org – website free until the end of June
wildscreen.org has activities coming soon. Photos of wildlife
rootsnshoots.org.uk free lesson plans and downloadable activities
nps.gov National Park Service (US) Lots of educator resources including birds colouring pages with brief species notes
#30dayswild – collection of blogs including some children/teens
insider.com 22 ways to leave home without actually leaving the couch, from virtual zoo exhibits to museum gallery tours.
scouts.org.uk The Great Indoors – inspired indoor activity ideas
livinglevels.org.uk resources to support primary and secondary pupils in learning about the area of Gwent
@womblesofficial – rethink reuse recycleIdeas on how to improve your local environment
inaturalist app – helps identify the plants and animals around you
@united4wildlife – free online courses for conservation
ltl.org.uk Learning Through Landscapes has a free outdoor learning online support group – free virtual forum to guide families and educators on outdoor learning
biodiversitylibrary.org – BHL free colouring books all nature based.
@openculture – download free colouring books from 150 museums
RSPB @natures_voice – Loads of online resources including small projects
Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab – app to help identify birds with 5 questions or a photo. Includes US and Europe amongst others.
ebird.org Online resources to enjoy birds from your home
allaboutbirds.org lots of bird-based ideas for adults/teachers/children
ORCA @ORCA_web – Protects whales, dolphins and porpoises in and around UK. From Monday providing interactive lessons, activities and Q+A sessions.
montereybayaquarium.org – tune in to a web cam to watch anything from sea otters to jellyfish
@thenfb – National Film Board of Canada. 4000 free online films including 100+ about nature.
Netflix – Night on Earth series following the nocturnal activities of animals. Also Planet Earth.
scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk watch the osprey webcam
Decorah eagle livecam c/o youtube
education.minecraft.net– We Are The Rangers; a series of lessons and worlds about wildlife conservation developed in partnership with United for Wildlife.
General Teaching Resources
Twinkl is offering a month’s free membership for parents and teachers. Resources include forest school type activities.
BBC Bitesize. Loads of resources