Summer family survival guide

Family exploring Warburg by Ric Mellis

Outdoors or indoors, at home or even on holiday, we’ve got loads of new ideas to keep the family busy all summer!

The summer holidays are a great time to get outside and look at the nature all around you. Even if you’re staying at home this year, there are so many exciting things to do and discover right on your doorstep!

We’ve got plenty of inspiration for activities to keep you busy, rain or shine, complete with how-to guides and activity sheets. If you’re looking for a short activity, start at the top of the list. Bigger projects to get stuck into are towards the bottom. Have fun!

Make a mask

Mask making

We’ve got loads of amazing wildlife masks to choose from, including emperor butterfly, crab, ladybird, frog, fox, owl and many more.

Download and print one out, then colour in with pens or pencils. Cut your mask out (get an adult to help you) and attach some string or elastic to hold it in place. Or you could tape a stick to the bottom and hold it up to your face.

Can you do animal movements or sounds to go with your mask, or find out more about the animal you chose?

Download a mask

Jump about with our Be Wild activity challenge

Scurry like a wood mouse, jump like a frog, weave like a weasel - learn about some of our amazing local animals, get active and have fun with our ten wild challenges! Can you complete them all?

Watch the videos

Be wild activity challenge 1 - Scurry like a wood mouse

Play poohsticks

Playing poohsticks by M Gifford CC B-NC-SA 2.0

Playing poohsticks by M Gifford CC B-NC-SA 2.0

If you can find a bridge over a stream or river, you can play poohsticks!

How to play

Each player chooses a stick to race. On the count of three, everybody drops their stick into the water at the same time on the upstream side of the bridge. Then rush over to the other side of the bridge to see whose stick arrives first.

What kind of stick or twig travels fastest?

Make a butterfly painting

Peacock butterfly by Rachel Scopes

Peacock butterfly by Rachel Scopes

Butterflies’ wings are symmetrical, which means that they are the same on both sides – the patterns on the right mirror the ones on the left.

To make a butterfly painting that’s symmetrical, start by folding a large piece of paper in half. Paint a butterfly wing with all its patterns on one half of the paper. Then fold the other half of the paper over your painting and press down firmly. Open it out and you’ll have a complete butterfly!

Butterfly painting activity sheet

Butterfly painting activity sheet

Make wildlife watching binoculars

Wildlife watching binoculars

Make your own wildlife watching binoculars to help you spot even more wildlife, wherever you are! All you need is two loo rolls (or a kitchen roll tube cut in half) and whatever craft supplies you have. There are full instructions with pictures on our blog.

Read the blog

Once you’ve made your binoculars, you can use them to spot all sorts of things! We’ve got lots of downloadable spotter sheets to help you identify what you’ve seen.

Download spotter sheets

Hold a snail race

Snail racing

Why not hold the world’s slowest race? Slugs and snails can usually be found in dark, damp places. Handle them gently and keep them in the shade. Only keep them for 15 minutes before putting them back where you found them!

You will need

  • A smooth surface, something like a plastic box is good
  • Dry wipe markers to draw the race track
  • Small damp pieces of paper to mark the snails without harming them
  • Some leaves to tempt the snails to the finishing line!
  • Which are faster, snails or slugs? Set up a race and find out!

Tamara shows us how to set up a snail race track and shares all sorts of fascinating facts about molluscs while the race slowly unfolds in her video below.

Make a bird feeder

Bluetits by Gillian Day

Bluetits by Gillian Day

It’s a good idea to feed the birds in every season – including the summer. Making a bird feeder will give your local birds a helping hand, and also attract them into your garden so you can look at them!

You can use all sorts of things to make a bird feeder, including a yoghurt pot, a coconut shell or a pine cone. Kate shows us how to make a pine cone bird feeder in her step by step blog.

Read the blog

In hot weather, it’s also important to leave water out for the birds to drink and bathe. It could be in a bird bath, or even just a saucer.

Make seed bombs

Seed bombs are easy to make and fun to throw! If you use seeds for pollinator-friendly flowers you’ll also be making your garden an even better place for all sorts of insects next year. There are plenty of pollinator-friendly seed mixes available, or you could use seeds that you’ve collected from your own garden.

Apart from that, all you’ll need is some peat-free compost and some powdered clay, or clay soil to stick your seed bombs together.

Seed bombs activity sheet

Set a trail

Trail arrow

Why not get exploring your garden or local park by setting a trail? Simply mark the way with arrows using materials that won’t harm the environment like sticks or flour. Maybe you could hide some treasure at the end!

Go blackberry picking

Blackerries by Alan Price

Blackerries by Alan Price

It’s blackberry season! Have you spotted any blackberry patches ripening in your local area? When they’re ready, it’s time to go foraging – don’t forget to bring a container to collect them in!

Make sure to leave lots for the wildlife that will also happily consume them. A good way to do this is to pick from the lower hanging fruit, leaving the higher fruit for the deer and birds that can reach it.

Once you’ve picked your blackberries, give them a good wash and you could make a blackberry and apple crumble – if you don’t eat them all straight away!

Blackberry crumble activity sheet

Go moth watching

Did you know there are around 2,500 species of moth in the UK? How many are there in your garden? Now is a good time to take advantage of warm evenings and go moth watching.

You can make a really easy light trap at home using a white sheet, some pegs and a bright torch or lamp. Then all you need to do is wait for the moths to arrive.

Moth watching activity sheet

You can try identifying your moth visitors using the spotter sheet below. Night-flying moths love night scented plants, so why not plant some jasmine, honeysuckle, verbena or evening primrose to give them a feast?

Moth spotter sheet
Night-scented plants spotter sheet

Go rockpooling

Rockpooling activity sheet

If you’re going to the seaside this summer, rockpooling is a must! If you look closely and carefully you'll find a hidden world of life and colour in rockpools. There are many different kinds of anemone, fish, crab and shell to spot. This spotting sheet shows just some of the things you might see!

Make sure you handle any creatures carefully and return them to the pool where you found them.

Rockpool detective spotter sheet

Or if you’re staying at home, why not try pond dipping?

Plant flowers for pollinators

There are lots of ways you can make your garden even more wildlife friendly, and one of them is to make sure you have the right flowers for bees, butterflies and other pollinators. It’s important to have a range of shapes of flowers for different insects, and to have flowers in different seasons, from spring through to autumn. Our wildlife gardening expert Ben tells us all about it in this video.

Create a buzz - flowers for bees and butterflies

You can grow pollinator-friendly plants in whatever type of space you have, big or small, or in windowsill or patio containers. Here are some ideas for species you might like to try.

Bee and butterfly flowers

Make a wormery

Worms do a fantastic job underground decomposing organic matter like leaves that has fallen to the ground. Would you like to see how they do it? You can make your own wormery using a clear plastic bottle and things you will find in the garden.

Rachel and Zach show us how to make one in their video blog!

Family activity - How to make a wormery

Wormery activity sheet

Have a scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunt egg box

Make a list of six or twelve things you might find in your chosen spot – it could be your garden, a park or a wood for example. The spotter guides in the link below can tell you what to look out for, or you can use themes you make up yourself. Themes could include:

  • colours of the rainbow
  • matching colours (all white things, all yellow things)
  • the same kind of object (types of flower, leaf, seed etc)
  • spikey things, round things, shiny things, long things, the list goes on!

Stick the list inside the lid of an egg box and use the egg box to collect your finds. You could even make it a competition with prizes! Don’t forget to return all of the finds back where they came from afterwards.

Download spotter sheets

Make salt dough leaf art

Leaf art

Leaf art

There are all sorts of shapes and sizes of leaves around in the summer. Go out and see what you can find, and when you’ve got a collection you can make all sorts of decorations using the imprints of your leaves.

In this video, Martha and Reuben show us how to make tiles, hanging decorations and even a bowl using leaves, salt dough and paints.

Family activity: how to make salt dough leaf art

Make a hedgehog home

Hedgehog by Tom Marshall

Hedgehog by Tom Marshall

You might be lucky enough to spot a hedgehog out looking for food on a summer night. But from around October or November they will be looking for a cosy spot to hibernate for the winter, all the way through to March. Who knows, if you make them a cosy den, maybe a hedgehog will pick your garden this winter! Here’s how to make a simple hedgehog house using a plastic box.

Hedgehog house activity sheet

Other animals hibernate too! If you’re feeling more ambitious and have a spot in a garden where you can dig, you could build a hibernaculum for reptiles, amphibians and mini beasts to shelter in over winter.

Hibernaculum activity sheet

Make a bug hotel

Bug hotel by Tania Malrechauffe

Bug hotel by Tania Malrechauffe

There are probably about 2000 different types of mini beasts living in your garden! You can make it more comfortable for them and maybe even attract more species by building a hotel. Bug hotels can be big or small, and use the materials you've got to hand. The main things you'll need are some dead wood or logs, and some bamboo canes. Ben explains how to get started in this video!

Check in time: Make a bug hotel

You can find written instructions for making a bug mansion using pallets as well as other wildlife-friendly projects for the garden on our Actions page.

Take action for wildlife

What kinds of mini beasts will you spot?

Minibeast detective spotter sheet

Build a den

Den by Helena Dolby

Den by Helena Dolby

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not head out and build a little den? You’ll need to find a spot where you can collect some big sticks for structure, plus smaller branches to fill in the walls. Remember, always take an adult with you or let someone know where you’re going. This activity sheet has some tips on how to construct a sturdy shelter.

Survival shelter activity sheet

What will you do in your den – have a picnic, or play a game?

Of course, if we’re having some British summer weather and it is raining, you can bring the wild inside and make a den from sheets, furniture and whatever else you can find in your house!

Make a wildlife pond

Making a pond by Penny Dixie

Making a pond by Penny Dixie

A pond is one of the best things you can add to your garden to help wildlife! Our supporters report that if you make a pond, the wildlife will probably move in very quickly and who knows, you might be seeing pond snails, damselflies, frogs and newts, or even birds and hedgehogs coming for a drink!

There are lots of ways to make a pond. Here’s how to make a mini pond using a bucket sunk into the ground.

Mini wildlife pond activity sheet

You could also make a bigger pond using a pond liner, or you could simply use a container standing on the ground! Our top tips for making a wildlife-friendly pond:

  • Use rocks and bricks to create a range of depths and a way for creatures to get in and out
  • Get some oxygenating pondweed
  • Fill your pond with rainwater if possible

What kinds of creatures might move into your pond?

Pond spotter sheet

We'd love to hear about what you get up to over the summer, why not let everybody know what you've been doing?

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