It's Time for an Autumn Scavenger Hunt! (With Free Reference Sheet)

Autumn is a wonderful time for children to discover some of the magic of nature. It’s one of nature’s most beautiful stages in the year when trees are sprouting seeds in a myriad of fascinating forms, and leaves can be seen in an array of astoundingly beautiful colours. They gradually fall to the ground, rustling underfoot as children walk, helping to give the outdoors a truly distinct feel that’s unlike any other time of year. The air is also cool and crisp, often resulting in crystal-clear views over long distances. It’s a photographer’s dream and, for children, a truly magical time. In autumn they can find an absolute treasure trove of natural wonders if they take some time to get outdoors.

With that in mind, we present today our Autumn Scavenger Hunt reference sheet for families to download, right here, for free. Why not print it out and get outdoors with the kids? Challenge them to find a red leaf, a yellow one, a purple one, or maybe even a multicoloured one. Can they find some acorns, the ‘winged’ seed from a sycamore, maple or acer tree, or a wild hazelnut? Have they ever seen a sweet chestnut? Have they ever found a fir cone? And have they ever noticed how beautiful conkers are? Our Autumn Scavenger Hunt activity gives them the opportunity to do all of these things. Take a look at the reference sheet below and click it to download your own copy.

Autumn Scavenger Hunt reference sheet (preview — click to view or download)

As well as being nothing short of miraculous, nature holds many benefits for children, helping them cognitively, academically, physically, emotionally and spiritually. This autumn scavenger hunt is therefore a hugely worthwhile activity. Click the bold link to learn more as it’s incredible just how many benefits there are for little ones that spend time in nature. Nature-based activities like this are also huge fun and allow ample opportunities to learn through exploration and discovery. And, as we’ve explained before, outdoor play is also incredibly important for children.

A Good Nursery With Forest School Sessions in Edgbaston, near Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood & Harborne B16Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.At Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, we understand the importance of nature in the early years and this is why our under-fives benefit from  Forest School sessions. If you are looking for a good nursery, for your baby, toddler or preschooler near Birmingham, then look no further than Leaps & Bounds. We provide the highest quality childcare service in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick.

If you would like a nursery or preschool place for your child, contact us using an option below and we’ll be happy to show you and your little one around and explain the next steps. We look forward to hearing from you.

Outdoor Safety for Little Ones

We should mention that young children should, of course, be supervised and accompanied by a responsible and vigilant adult when venturing outdoors. There are many hazards and dangers out there, so take a look at our top tips for outdoor safety article to give you some ideas on keeping children safe outside. Also, ensure children watch out for those prickly chestnut cases and keep everything well away from their little mouths! And teach them about safety — they too will need to learn how to risk assess.

 

Child Safety Outdoors: a 20-Point Checklist for Parents & Caregivers

Playing outdoors and in nature is extremely beneficial for children but there are many potential dangers to be mindful of.Whether in a garden, playground, park or the countryside, playing outdoors is extremely beneficial for children. However, it also comes with its own inherent dangers. So, as parents and caregivers, we have to strike a careful balance between allowing children the freedom to explore and discover while at the same time ensuring they stay out of harm’s way. There are, after all, hazards everywhere outdoors. With that in mind, today’s post outlines 20 key things to be mindful of to help keep children safe when they’re playing outside.

1. Vigilance

Vigilance at all times is the real key to child safety when they’re playing outdoors. Parents, caregivers and anyone supervising children should proactively keep eyes and ears open continuously, ready to spot the signs of danger — in whatever form it may potentially take.

2. Stranger Danger

Stranger danger is, of course, also one of the major concerns for anyone in charge of looking after children, particularly when they’re playing outdoors. So, ensure children are all in eyeshot and accounted for at all times and that nobody is around them that shouldn’t be. Those who may want to do children harm can also be rather cunning, so watch out for distraction techniques, people handing out sweets or gaining trust from children in other devious ways too. Ensure children are also educated about this topic and know what to do and what not to do if approached by a stranger.

3. Traffic Dangers

Playing outdoors can sometimes also bring children closer to areas where there may be traffic and this too is terribly dangerous. Supervising adults will therefore need to keep children well away from vehicles, for example by locating play somewhere safer, as well as teaching children to know how to avoid traffic dangers themselves.

4. Water Hazards

Water features, streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, swimming pools, hot tubs and even puddles are potentially very dangerous for children.Water hazards are responsible for several child deaths each year, so things like ponds, streams, rivers, lakes, swimming pools and hot tubs are not places children, particularly the very young, should play anywhere near. An infant or child can drown in just a few inches of water, so even puddles are potentially dangerous if children are left unattended. Adult supervision and vigilance around the dangers of water are therefore of paramount importance.

5. Trip Hazards

Adults and children alike must be mindful of potential trip hazards outdoors, particularly when running.Children, especially the youngest, are often so engrossed in playing that they don’t take enough notice of their surroundings (especially children who are dyspraxic). This is even more the case when playing outdoors with all the different types of terrain around them. Trip hazards like tree roots, steps, and raised flowerbeds may therefore be something both they and you need to look out for. Teaching them to watch their step, quite literally, and to watch where they are going could save them from many a painful bruise.

6. Unlevel Terrain

Similarly, slopes and drops in the height of terrain can be hazardous, especially when children are not concentrating on anything but their game or activity outdoors. Encourage them to be aware of their surroundings at all times and this can help them to stay safe and avoid some nasty accidents.

7. Climbing – Danger of Falls

Falls after climbing can be potentially serious, so it's essential to instruct children to be careful and mindful of the risks.Climbing frames and climbing into trees, tree houses and raised dens are all firm favourites among children. However, whenever children climb higher, there’s an inherent danger that they could fall back down again if they or their supervising adult are not vigilant. Falls after climbing can be potentially serious, so it’s essential to instruct them suitably and to encourage them to be careful and mindful of the risks.

8. Sharp Things

The world around us also has sharp things everywhere! Whether it’s thorns on a rose bush, brambles, jagged sticks, sharp rocks, or garden tools lying around the garden, they are simply everywhere when you think about it. Supervising adults therefore need to do whatever they can to ensure tools are locked safely away and to keep children away from all other sharp objects associated with the outdoors if children are playing. Children also need to be educated about them, so they can eventually self-manage and assess risks themselves.

9. Dangerous Plants

As we all know, some plants are poisonous and some can even burn and give people nasty blisters if they come into contact with the skin. Which plants are planted in gardens and which children play near are therefore things for parents and caregivers to consider carefully. And, of course, it’s crucial for children to understand that they should not try to eat leaves, berries, or anything not sanctioned by a more knowledgeable parent.

10. Poisonous Fungi

Adults must ensure children understand that they can look but not touch fungi, however beautiful and interesting some may appear.Fungi are potentially even more toxic, many potentially leading to death if eaten. Adults must ensure children therefore understand that they can look but not touch fungi, however beautiful and interesting some may appear.

11. Choking Hazards

The outdoors is also filled with a myriad of different things that are the type of size that could, in theory, fit into a child’s mouth. Children therefore need to learn quickly that they must never put objects in their mouths, for example, acorns, conkers (which are poisonous), stones, twigs and even toys. Any of these could lead to the child choking.

12. Dangerous Animals

Wild animals and even some domesticated ones can sometimes be dangerous to a child. Whether it’s an out-of-control dog, an adder in the bracken, or a wild animal protecting its young, each animal can be a danger to a child in the right (or rather wrong) circumstances. So, children need to learn to respect other creatures and not assume they’ll always be friendly. Even farm animals can potentially harm a child, perhaps unintentionally, simply due to their larger size and weight. So again, an awareness of one’s surroundings, vigilance, respect and some common sense need to come into play when children are playing near animals.

13. Insect Stings & Bites

Bee, wasp and hornet stings can be very painful for children.Playing outdoors can also bring children closer to insects that may have a nasty bite or sting. Midge bites can be annoying but bee, wasp and hornet stings can really hurt! Even some kinds of ants have a nasty nip, so a good practice is for parents or supervising adults to do a visual ‘sweep’ of the play area to ensure no such critters are living there. Even better — get children to learn by your example.

14. Germs

Children and supervising adults need to be mindful of the harm germs can potentially do, so teaching good hygiene is of paramount importance.Germs are, of course, everywhere, but some are worse than others, particularly outdoors. Children and supervising adults need to be mindful of the harm they could potentially do. It’s therefore always wise for adults to teach children good hygiene practices including washing hands regularly, watching out for anything mouldy or grubby, avoiding doggy doos, not touching faces or eyes with dirty hands, and so on.

15. Breaking Rules

Setting some ground rules when children are playing outdoors is always wise. Ensure they know what they are and are not allowed to do, with their safety and well-being in mind. Then, of course, watch to ensure they stick to these rules and, if not, stop them in their tracks and explain why they must not do what they were going to do!

16. Straying Children

Setting physical boundaries for outdoor play is essential for children’s safety. Indeed, it can help to avoid the chance of children getting lost or straying too close to hazards. Before beginning play, they should therefore be made aware of the precise area they are allowed to play in. Pointing out some physical boundary markers is sensible, particularly if they’re playing in a park, in the countryside, or somewhere unfamiliar. Trees, bushes, plants or any physical landmarks can be used to denote boundaries, for example.

17. Changing Elements

Don’t forget to prepare children for whatever weather may come when they’re playing outside. Sun cream and sun hats will be needed on sunny days and it’s always good practice to pack a raincoat in case the weather turns. A spare jumper and perhaps even other spare clothes can also be packed in a backpack just in case they’re needed — or in case children suddenly become cold. Layers are good, if so.

18. Keeping Hydrated

When children are having fun and adventures outside, it’s all too easy for them to overlook the need to keep hydrated. Supervising adults can step in there, though, to offer drink breaks at appropriate intervals.

19. Fire Hazards

Children must be educated about the dangers of fire, appropriate safety protocols and the rules that apply to them if they go anywhere near a bonfire, campfire or barbecue.We’re all familiar with photographs of children enjoying marshmallows toasted over a campfire and indeed such moments can be quite magical. However, children must be educated about the dangers of fire, appropriate safety protocols and the rules that apply to them if they go anywhere near a bonfire, campfire or barbecue. A responsible adult must also always be present and constantly vigilant while overseeing outdoor play anywhere near a source of heat.

20. Preparation

We’ve only scratched the surface above, but it’s clear that there are many potential dangers to children when they’re playing outdoors. It’s therefore crucial for supervising adults to stay close and keep eyes and ears firmly open whenever children play outside.

One of the best ways to protect children outdoors, though, is to prepare well. For example, scour the outdoor location for hazards before play commences, ensure you’ve packed a ready supply of sun cream, rain macs and spare clothes for children, and brief children about potential dangers before they even venture outdoors. Such preparation will stand you and your little one in good stead.

An Edgbaston Nursery & Forest School for Your Child

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood & Harborne B16Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.At Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, we know the incredible importance of outdoor play and the many benefits that nature brings to children. That’s why we run our own Forest School, where children under five can spend time in The Great Outdoors, where they will learn and benefit in so many ways.

Learn more about Forest School here or enquire about a possible nursery place for your child at Leaps & Bounds. We’re a high-quality nursery and preschool located in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, also close to Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick.

To register for a place, pay a visit with your child, or get answers to any questions, get in touch today:

Please note: the above list is not exhaustive and therefore parents/caregivers/supervising adults should always do their own risk assessments.

A Fun Guide to Composting for Kids - Let’s Get Composting!

Young environmental enthusiasts and parents — welcome to the exciting eco-adventure that is composting! Composting is a fantastic way to turn food scraps and garden waste into nutrient-rich soil that helps plants grow big and strong. In this guide, we’ll explore the wonderful world of composting, explain how to set up your compost area and highlight the amazing benefits it brings to your family, garden, wildlife and the environment.

The Magic & Science of Composting

Composting is like a fantastic magic show happening right in your garden! But instead of a magician, tiny creatures called decomposers work their magic. Tiny bacteria feast on the kitchen scraps and leaves, breaking them down into smaller pieces with the help of enzymes that are released. Fungi also have special powers to break down tough materials like wood and turn them into compost. As the decomposers work their magic, they will eventually create something called humus, which is like gold for the soil!Wiggly worms and other minibeasts also love to munch on the decomposed scraps, breaking them down into smaller and smaller pieces.

As these decomposers work their magic, they will eventually create something called humus. Fully-formed humus is dark, crumbly, and filled with nutrients that plants love. It is also the Latin word for soil. When you spread the humus around your garden, it’s like giving your plants a fantastic, nutritious meal. They grow big, strong, and healthy, thanks to the compost magic!

Getting Started

To begin composting, you’ll need a composting area. You have a few options:

A wire composter is an easy option, so long as adults can ensure there are no sharp edges that could hurt people and wildlife.Palettes or Spare Wood: Families can build a simple compost bin using palettes or spare wood. This creates a cosy space for your compost to break down. Ensure there are gaps between wood slats, so that minibeasts can come and go as they please.

Wire Composter: A wire composter is an easy option, so long as adults can ensure there are no sharp edges that might hurt children, themselves and wildlife. This option is like a big basket that keeps your compost in one place.

Commercial Composters: You can also buy special composting bins from stores. These are convenient and keep everything tidy. However, they’re not as much fun as you’ll miss out on the composter creation part of the activity!

What Goes In?

Now that you have your composting area ready, it’s time to start composting! You can add things like:

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps, crushed egg shells, smaller pieces of garden waste and tea/coffee grounds are perfect for composting.Fruit and vegetable scraps — those banana peels, apple cores and carrot tops are perfect for composting.
  • Eggshells — after you enjoy your breakfast or lunch eggs, crush the shells to help them break down faster and add them to the compost.
  • Coffee grounds and tea bags — if your household makes real coffee, save the used coffee grounds for the compost bin. Similarly, tea bags can go in, but be sure to remove staples, which some tea bags have to attach their ‘tag’ to a string.
  • Garden waste — leaves, grass clippings, and small plant trimmings can also join the compost party.
  • Shredded paper and cardboard — if they have no glossy or coloured ink and do not have plastic lamination (they should tear easily if not), these can go in too.

What Stays Out?

Composting is magical, but some things just don’t belong in the compost bin. Never add:

  • In dry weather, it helps to water the compost heap to keep it moist.Meat, seafood and dairy — keep these out as they can attract pests and make your compost smell unpleasant.
  • Oily or greasy food items — don’t include these as they don’t compost well.
  • Pet waste — never add this as it might contain harmful bacteria.
  • Plastic, glass or metal — only natural stuff can become compost, so no plastic wrappers, glass or metal cans should go into the composter.
  • Diseased plant material — keep this out of the composter otherwise it could spread diseases to healthy plants.

3 Composting Tips for Kids:

  1. Decorating the outside of the composter with colourful drawings or paintings will add another creative facet to this children's activity.Become a compost hero by helping collect kitchen scraps. Ask parents for a special container to store things like fruit peels, vegetable scraps, and eggshells. Once it’s full, take it to the compost bin with a big smile, knowing you’re making a difference!
  2. Get parents to help turn over the rotting compost occasionally with a spade or fork, or to supervise children doing it if they’re old and strong enough. Mixing everything up helps the compost break down faster. It’s like giving compost a good stir to make it even yummier for the plants!
  3. Why not decorate the composter? Children could turn it into an art project! Ask parents’ permission to decorate the outside of the composter with colourful drawings or paintings. Make it look like a happy home for all those minibeasts and decomposers living inside.

The Big Reveal

Composting takes time, just like growing your favourite plants. You have to be patient and wait for the magic to happen. After a few weeks or months, it’s time to unveil the finished compost! Your compost will look dark and crumbly, and it will smell earthy – like the scent of fresh soil after the rain. This is the moment when you realise you’ve been nurturing something incredible!

The Superpowers of Compost

Composting has amazing benefits for everyone:

Various minibeasts, such as insects, worms, and grubs, will eventually call the compost heap home.For Your Family — Composting not only teaches children about nature, recycling, and caring for the environment but is also a wonderful opportunity to observe and learn about the various minibeasts, such as insects, worms, and grubs, that call the compost home. It’s like having a little ecosystem in your garden!

For Your Garden — The finished compost becomes a valuable resource for your garden! When you spread that nutrient-rich compost around your plants, it’s like giving them a delicious and nutritious meal. Plants love compost because it helps them grow big, strong, and healthy. So, by composting, you’re not just reducing waste; you’re also creating a superfood for your garden!

For the Environment — When we compost, we help reduce the amount of rubbish that goes to landfills. Less waste means a happier, healthier planet for plants, animals, and all of us. Additionally, composting conserves water and reduces the need for harmful chemical fertilisers, making it beneficial for the entire ecosystem. It’s a win-win situation for everyone!

Congratulations on embarking on the composting journey, young environmentalists and parents alike! With this newfound knowledge, you can work together as a family to make our planet greener and cleaner. Happy composting!

A Nursery & Forest School in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood & Harborne B16Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.Leaps & Bounds is officially a ‘Good’ nursery & preschool, offering high-quality childcare in Edgbaston, near Birmingham. With an interest in nature, we have our own Forest School too, giving little ones access to outdoor play, exploration and learning. We provide children with a wonderful early years education in all areas of the EYFS and much more, so they’re set up well for success once they leave us to begin school around the age of five.

To register your child for a place, book in for a guided tour with your child, or ask a question, please simply get in touch:

Leaps & Bounds is a nursery and preschool, with its own Forest School, in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick.

30 Minibeasts for Children to Look Out For (With Free Poster!)

Today’s post is all about this wonderful new minibeasts poster for children to download. It’s free and features 30 small creatures that children, including under-fives, can try to spot when they’re out and about. It’s a great introduction to just some of the thousands of minibeast species found throughout Britain. In a typical year, children should indeed be able to spot many of the minibeasts we show, as they’re mostly quite common. Printing the poster out for them, either as A3 for display or reduced to A4 for them to take on outings, is a great way to encourage them to take an interest in nature and The Great Outdoors. As we’ve said before, spending time around nature is extremely beneficial to children, as is outdoor play, so this is a very worthwhile and beneficial children’s activity. It is fun, interesting, educational, supports the EYFS curriculum, and a whole lot more. Read on to learn how to quickly and easily download the free poster for your child.

Download the Free Minibeasts Poster

Right-click the preview image below or this link and you can then save a high-resolution version of the poster. Once the file is saved, open it in Acrobat Reader to view it on screen and, from there, you will be able to print it out for your child. Some browsers also allow you to view the PDF on screen by left-clicking, however, availability of this option will depend on your device set-up and browser settings.

Preview of the Minibeasts Poster for children. To download it, see instructions above.

About Minibeasts

Although there are differing definitions of minibeasts, think of them simply as small creatures for the purposes of this activity and poster. We’ve featured 30 fairly common minibeasts that we think are most likely to be spotted by children and families. Indeed, many will be present from time to time in people’s gardens if you know where and when to look (that’s perhaps a topic for another separate guide in due course). Examples include beetles, worms, bees, moths, woodlice, ants, millipedes, larvae and many more. Note that we’ve only included one image for each, so be aware that those you or your child spot may not look exactly the same as shown. After all, there are as many as 25,000 species of minibeast in the UK and we couldn’t feature them all! So, take a look at the poster and encourage children to get minibeast-spotting, under suitable supervision of course, when they’re next playing outdoors. It’s a fun, free, and educational activity!

Look, Don’t Touch!

Teach Respect & Empathy for Wildlife

Remember to supervise children, especially the very young, for the sake of their safety and that of the minibeasts too. Each minibeast is an individual, with its own feelings, needs and the right to get on with its life peacefully. With that in mind, remember to teach children to respect all other creatures and to “look but don’t touch”. They’re busy little beings, going about their business, and no doubt do not want to be disturbed or manhandled — they’re very delicate too. Kindness, respect, care and empathy are wonderful lessons to teach children.

A tip is to perhaps get children to give each minibeast they spot a name. For example, Brian for a bee, Sally for a spider, or Wally for a worm. This reinforces the message that each one is an individual in their own right.

Our Forest School Programme at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston

Children at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston also get to benefit from our Forest School programme. With a focus on nature, this gives children under five the chance to learn and benefit from spending time in the natural environment locally. As well as learning about the world around them, it teaches them about other creatures, plants, trees, the seasons, life cycles, food chains and, most importantly, about their own place in the world. Forest School is fun, educational, transformational and incredibly beneficial to children and, for this reason, we also include Forest School resources on-site at the nursery itself. This includes things like seed and plant-growing areas, where children cultivate plants and vegetables.

Your High-Quality Nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood & Harborne B16Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.Why not consider Leaps & Bounds for your child’s weekday childcare? Rated as a ‘Good Provider’ by Ofsted, we are a nursery and preschool in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, with our own Forest School. Subject, of course, to available spaces, we also accept eligible families that use Government childcare funding schemes. Register for a place, arrange a tour or ask a question and we’ll be happy to help.

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery and Preschool is located in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick.

The Big Butterfly Count - a Nature-Based Activity for Kids

The Big Butterfly Count is an exciting and worthwhile nature-themed activity to engage children this July and August.The Big Butterfly Count is an annual event that takes place each summer across the UK. Anyone can join in and it’s not just for adults — it’s perfect for children too. What’s more, it can take as little as 15 minutes. It’s an exciting and very worthwhile nature-themed activity that’s guaranteed to engage little ones. As well as getting closer to nature and to these enchanting little creatures, children can become little ‘citizen scientists’. That’s because the Big Butterfly Count gives them the opportunity to actively contribute to butterfly and nature conservation while taking part in this fun outdoor activity. In today’s article, we’ll explain how even the youngest nature enthusiasts can get involved in this inspiring event.

“Take part in the world’s largest butterfly survey — and become a citizen scientist!”

About the Big Butterfly Count

The Big Butterfly Count takes place this year from Friday 14th July to Sunday 6th August 2023, the period when the most adult butterflies can be seen. It goes beyond a simple butterfly sighting activity, though, by providing an opportunity for people of all ages, including children, to contribute to scientific research. It’s a fantastic but simple opportunity through which young minds can explore the wonders of the natural world and also make a meaningful impact. By participating, children will be helping to monitor and protect butterflies while fostering a deeper connection with nature. And, as we know, spending time in nature is incredibly beneficial to children. Engaging with nature enhances cognitive, physical, and emotional skills, allowing children to grow and learn in a holistic way. With all that in mind, let’s delve into the enchanting world of butterflies and learn how children can actively participate.

How Children Can Get Involved

“Spend 15 minutes in a sunny spot counting the butterflies you see from the list of target species, then log them in the app.”

Engaging children in the Big Butterfly Count is easier than you might think. Here’s how your little one can actively participate:

Download the App

Download the free "Big Butterfly Count" smartphone app.The phone app includes a useful butterfly identification guide along with information about each species.The organisers of the Big Butterfly Count have developed a free, user-friendly smartphone app that makes participation accessible and fun. It includes information, a butterfly identification guide, interactive features for recording sightings, and helpful resources for learning more about butterflies. The free smartphone app is available on Android and Apple IOS. Here are the download links (below):

Download the Big Butterfly Count app on Adroid.   Download the Big Butterfly Count app on Apple IOS.

Reference Material

Visit the official Big Butterfly Count website to learn more about the Big Butterfly Count and to download reference sheets. These can be printed out for children to take on butterfly-spotting sessions. They might also be useful if you/your children do not have access to a smartphone.

Visit the official Big Butterfly Count website to learn more about the Big Butterfly Count and to download the latest reference sheets for your area.
(Click for a larger view).

Butterfly Spotting

Take your child on nature walks or visits to parks, public gardens, or even your own garden or patio. A sunny spot with lots of flowers or blossom around is best. Encourage children to observe butterflies in their natural habitats (under adult supervision) and help them identify the species they encounter. However, teach them not to touch as butterflies are incredibly delicate. Depending on their age and abilities, show the children how to use the app and/or reference materials as tools for identification.

A sunny spot is best but teach children not to touch — butterflies are incredibly delicate!

Record Sightings

With the help of the app, you or your child can record their butterfly sightings and contribute to the National Butterfly Database. This data is vital for scientists and conservationists to monitor butterfly populations and understand changes in their distribution. That’s incredibly important as the UK and the wider globe have seen significant reductions in butterfly populations over recent decades.

“You can do as many Big Butterfly Counts as you like, and even if you don’t see any, that still counts too!”

Share Experiences

Encourage your child to share their butterfly encounters and counting experiences with their friends, family, and nursery peers. This sharing of knowledge and enthusiasm creates a ripple effect. Feel free to share links to this article too!

Emphasise Conservation

Discuss the importance of protecting butterflies and their habitats. Teach your child about the threats butterflies face, such as habitat loss and climate change. Encourage them to think of ways they can help, such as planting butterfly-friendly flowers or creating a mini butterfly garden.

“Once you have submitted your first Big Butterfly Count, you are officially a citizen scientist! Your sightings will help vital conservation work.”

The Magic of Butterflies

Butterflies are beautiful and incredible creatures that spark joy and wonder in people of all ages. They undergo a remarkable transformation from tiny eggs to caterpillars, then pupae, and finally emerge as magnificent butterflies. Introduce your child to the magical world of butterflies with these fascinating facts:

  • The Painted Lady butterfly migrates thousands of miles from Africa to the UK every summer.The UK is home to around 60 species of butterflies of which around 22 can be found in gardens. Each species has unique characteristics, colours, and wing patterns.
  • Butterflies play a crucial role as pollinators, transferring pollen from flower to flower as they feed on nectar. They contribute to the reproduction of plants, ensuring a healthy and balanced ecosystem.
  • Some butterfly species in the UK undertake incredible migrations, travelling hundreds or even thousands of miles. The Painted Lady butterfly, for example, migrates from Africa to the UK every summer, embarking on an extraordinary journey.

The Big Butterfly Count offers an exciting and educational opportunity for children to become involved in nature-based activities at the same time as contributing to butterfly conservation. So let’s nurture the love for butterflies and nature in our little ones, empowering them to become “little citizen scientists” and guardians of our beautiful natural world. Together, we can make a difference and inspire a lifelong connection with the wonders of the outdoors. Happy counting!

Nursery & Preschool Places in Edgbaston, near Birmingham

(& We are Also a Forest School!)

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood & Harborne B16Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.If you are searching for the best nursery or preschool place in Edgbaston, or near Birmingham, especially one that offers all the benefits of Forest School sessions in the natural environment, Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery may be just what you’re looking for. At Leaps & Bounds, children get a fabulous start in life and we prepare them well before they start school once they reach the age of five. Ofsted has awarded us ‘Good Provider’ status for our childcare and standards of early years education. We also support all Government-funded free childcare schemes. So, if you’d like to explore the possibility of your child attending Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, get in touch. Please use the appropriate button below to register your child for a place, arrange a guided tour with your child or simply ask a question. We’ll be happy to help.

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is located in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, near Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick.

40 British Birds for Children to Look Out For — Free A3 Poster Download Included

There’s no better time for little ones to take an active interest in nature than spring, summer and autumn. Not only is nature good for children, but it also teaches them an incredible variety of things about the natural world, the flora and fauna within it, and even about their own place in the world. Nature is healthy, healing, exciting and a huge adventure, especially for the young. With all this in mind, today we publish an A3 poster showing 40 birds that children in Britain can look out for and learn to identify. It’s an activity that will cost them nothing, open their eyes to nature and help them get to know some of the wonderful creatures within it. If they print out and display the poster, they’ll soon get to know the names of birds that they may see out the window, in the garden, in the park/countryside, or even on their way to nursery or school. The poster can also be viewed on electronic devices like tablets, smartphones and computers, all in beautiful detail (try zooming in for a closer view). We suggest children tick off each type of bird as it’s seen and set themselves a challenge to see how many they can spot over the course of the year.

Download the Free British Birds Poster

Right-click the preview image below — or this link — to save the poster to your device before printing it out for your child. Alternatively, left-click either option to view the poster on screen (N.B. availability of this function may depend on your device and browser settings).

40 British Birds for Children to Look Out For — Free Poster Download

The poster shows 40 different birds that are mostly fairly common in Britain from spring onwards. For instance, birds like robins, dunnocks, bluetits, pigeons and blackbirds will probably be spotted in no time at all, even in built-up areas. However, the poster also includes several species that children and adults alike may want to look out for simply because they are more rarely seen. Examples include colourful bullfinches, shy goldcrests and firecrests (the latter is featured in the main picture) as well as birds of prey like sparrowhawks and red kites. The latter can often be seen in the sky on car trips through countryside or even above motorways. It will take an eagle eye, if you excuse the pun, for children to spot some of those more shy birds, but they’re out there in more wild locations like parks and open countryside if children are patient and keenly observant. Some will require patience, in other words, and that’s also another good skill for children to learn. Children generally love the idea of nighttime birds like owls too (we also think they’re fascinating), so we’ve included 3 types of owls even though they may only be seen rarely, perhaps at dusk or in the headlights of the car at night. Children can certainly listen out for owls, though, particularly if they live in areas with countryside, outbuildings and trees in the vicinity.

We may produce additional posters for children in future if this one proves to be popular. For example, we may create a separate waterfowl poster, perhaps one for butterflies and moths, and maybe even one for British snakes and reptiles. So, watch this space!

Other Ways to Identify British Birds

The RSPB also has online tools to help children and adults identify specific types of bird.Our poster only includes 40 popular birds out of potentially hundreds that can be found in the UK. With that in mind, here are several other ways for children to identify wild birds, perhaps with the help of a supervising adult:

Forest School at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston

We run our own Forest School in Edgbaston, Birmingham.As well as being a fun place to be, the outdoors will give children a sense of adventure.Nature is one of our focuses at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston. Children get to enjoy and learn about nature through our Forest School. There, children enjoy time spent in a natural environment where they can explore and learn about the natural world under supervision. We also have our own seed and plant-growing area at the childcare setting, allowing children to grow herbs, plants and vegetables and learn cultivation and nurturing skills.

Nursery & Pre-school Places in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood & Harborne B16Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.Are you looking for a good nursery or preschool place in Edgbaston, or near Birmingham? Consider Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery if so. We accept all recognised Government -funded childcare places and would love to show you and your little one around. Please get in touch to register your baby or child for a place, ask questions or arrange a guided visit. Many thanks — we look forward to meeting you!

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is located in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, close to Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick.

Signs of Spring for Little Ones to Discover.

There’s no better time to start spotting the signs of the changing seasons with your children than whilst on the journey to nursery. Spring arrives on the 20th of March* each year in the UK and is a wonderful antidote to the cold winter months and short, dark evenings. It’s a time when you know warmer weather will soon be on its way. Evenings are getting slowly longer too. Best of all, a myriad of little miracles are starting to happen around you, as flowers and shrubs reawaken and plants can be seen shooting up from the ground. Many birds will also return to the UK from their foreign travels around springtime, often having travelled thousands of miles to get back to the UK. So, why not make your child’s journey to and from nursery a bit more exciting — and educational — by encouraging them to spot and identify some of these natural delights. Below are a few plants and creatures for children to keep an eye out for around the end of winter, signalling the welcome start of springtime …

Snowdrops in spring

Snowdrops

Snowdrops flower early in the year and quite literally look like little drops of snow. Like the crocus, which is shown in the main image at the top, snowdrops are one of the very first flowers to bloom in the first part of the year. When you see them first start to shoot and bloom, you and your children can be sure that spring is just around the corner. Soon there will be flowers, buds and shoots everywhere, as spring finally arrives and everything starts to reappear after the cold winter months. Children will be able to spot snowdrops often in small bunches of about 10 or so stems, in gardens, parks and wooded areas. They’re delightful little flowers, perfectly formed to visually appeal to little ones. Teach your child to admire them, but not pick them, as they are poisonous if consumed. In any case, they’ll be there for all to admire when left alone, so that they can grow and flourish. Learn more about snowdrops here.

Springtime daffodils in bloom

Spring Daffodils

There are many different types of daffodil for children to look out for.Daffodils are a classic sign of spring in the UK with their bright, blooming buds breaking through the gloominess of winter. Daffodils begin to grow and flower during the month of February and should be in full bloom throughout March and all the way into May.
On your walk to nursery with your children, perhaps ask them how many different types of daffodils they can see. Many people will be growing them in their gardens and in flower pots on balconies and windowsills. And, of course, many flourish in open countryside along hedgerows and often in shaded woodlands. See if your child can spot yellow, trumpet-like flowers, yellow petals with an orange inner, daffodils with white petals or the tiny daffodils called tête-à-tête. As with snowdrops, be aware that daffodils are poisonous if consumed, so it’s best to teach children not to pick them, which will also allow others to enjoy them as they pass. Where else to see daffodils.

A robin singing in early spring

Birdsong

Winter can be cold, dark and desolate. However, a sure sign that spring is on the way is birdsong. As the mornings get lighter, birdsong starts earlier. This can be made up of robins, blackbirds, wrens and other birds native to the United Kingdom. The beauty of such sounds is often overlooked, so when you first step out of your door on the way to nursery, get your children to stand still for fifteen or twenty seconds to listen to the birds, counting how many they can hear if they are able to. Even better; see if they can gradually work out what type of bird is making each of the sounds. Visiting the RSPB’s interactive birdsong identifier is a fabulous place for children to start learning about this wonder of nature.

A bumblebee on pussy willow

Bees

Bees are incredibly important for pollinating plants across the world. They’re also incredibly cute — especially bumblebees! As spring begins and flowers start to blossom again, the UK sees an increase in the number of bees in gardens and the countryside. This increase continues throughout the summer and autumn. On your walk to nursery throughout spring, you and your little ones may see Tree Bumblebees, which can be easily spotted by their distinct colouring. Whilst a regular garden bumblebee has bright yellow areas, a Tree Bumblebee has a tawny head and upper body, a black lower body, and a white tip/tail.

It’s important to teach little ones that bees are friendly when left in peace (many do not even have stings) and must be protected in order to keep ecosystems functioning and growing. And, of course, they should be protected and nurtured because they’re simply adorable little creatures. Learn more about bees here.

Tadpoles

Frog Spawn & Tadpoles

Frog spawn.If you live near a park with a pond or happen to have one in the back garden, a definite sign of spring arriving is the presence of frog spawn. Initially, this can look like hundreds of little black dots sitting on the surface of the water. If your little one keeps an eye on these over the course of March (under supervision, for safety, of course), they will see these dots gradually turn into tadpoles, which will get bigger and bigger. A fun activity for your children is to get them to look at the frogspawn twice a week, under supervision, and to draw it on a piece of paper. Then, once the tadpoles have turned into frogs, they can look back at their own artwork to see the journey of spawn to fully-fledged frog! Alternatively, if your children aren’t at drawing age, you can take a photo on your phone each week and then compare them together once the tadpoles have grown. It’s a great way for them to learn about nature and life itself.

Pussy willow buds

Budding Trees

A very easy-to-spot sign of spring is buds on trees. Buds are often growing flowers or leaves which will come into bloom across spring and summer. Whilst on your walk to nursery, get your children to look up at any trees that you pass to see if there are any buds on the branches. If there are, a fun challenge could be to check that same tree every week and count how many weeks it takes to bloom. There are some very interesting buds and blooms for children to look out for, for example catkins, which have dangling yellow fronds and pussy willow, which has beautifully soft ‘fur’ on its buds. Indeed, the soft hairs are there to protect and insulate the buds from cold, since they bloom so early in the year. Many people liken the soft pussy willow buds to tiny cats’ paws. Both varieties are sure to delight and fascinate young children!

Yellow catkins

The above signs of spring are just a few that you can spot whilst on your journey to nursery or pre-school. Learning about and appreciating nature are excellent ways of enriching the lives of your children and may spark an interest in wildlife and plants as they grow up. Nature will teach them so much and benefit them in so many ways — educationally, cognitively and spiritually.

Nature & Forest School at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston

We run our own Forest School in Edgbaston, Birmingham.As well as being a fun place to be, the outdoors will give children a sense of adventure.Children learn about and enjoy nature at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. As well as having our own seed, herb, plant and vegetable area for the children to enjoy and learn from, we have our own Forest School in Edgbaston near Birmingham. There, children are able to spend time in natural open spaces like woodlands, where they will learn and benefit from nature in so many ways. As well as being educational, spending time in a natural environment is very good for children, as many studies have shown.

Nursery & Pre-School Places in Edgbaston, near Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood & Harborne B16Are you looking for a good nursery or pre-school place for your baby, toddler or child under five in Edgbaston or near Birmingham? Get in touch with us, if so, and we’ll be happy to show you and your little one around, so you can see how well they will fit in. We support all Government-funded places, including their ‘free hours’ schemes for eligible children aged 2 to 4. We’re also located near Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick, so may be conveniently located if you live or work in any of those places nearby. Please choose a button below to get started:

* Spring starts on 20th March according to the astronomical calendar. There are other definitions of the start of spring, but the astronomical calendar is the most commonly recognised by the general public. In contrast, the meteorological calendar, for example, has the seasons starting on the first of the month in March, June, September and December, rather than 20 or more days in.

20 Benefits of Outdoor Play for Little Ones

It's important that young children are given ample opportunity to play, learn and explore the many activities that only the outdoors allowsOutdoor play offers an enormous range of benefits to children, particularly during their early years. It’s therefore important that little ones, in particular, are given ample opportunity to play, learn and explore the many activities that only the outdoors allows — under adult supervision, of course. Outside, they’ll learn new skills and knowledge and will benefit both physically and mentally in ways that perhaps the indoors could never fully allow. So, if you are the parent or guardian of a child in their earliest years, take a look at 20 of the key benefits of outdoor play for little ones.

1. Outdoor Play is Great Fun!

Playing outdoors is generally great fun!We should not overlook the complete obvious — playing outdoors is generally great fun! That’s not a trivial thing and indeed it’s important for children’s wellbeing. After all, fun and games are all an essential part of any happy childhood. There is also no better way for little ones to learn than through play, so giving them the opportunity to play outdoors represents a much wider opportunity than anything they can do inside.

2. A Completely Different Set of Activities & Challenges

Outdoor play offers a largely different set of games, activities, challenges and exploration opportunities compared to those available indoors.Outdoor play offers a largely different set of games, activities, challenges and exploration opportunities compared to those available indoors. After all, it literally opens up a bigger world for children to experience. With the myriad of different environments available outdoors, whether man-made or natural, there’s simply more to do. So, the potential for a near infinite range of different activities and games is possible outdoors — each of which can teach children something new.

3. A Greater Sense of Adventure

As well as being a fun place to be, the outdoors will give children a sense of adventure.As well as being a fun place to be, the outdoors will give children a sense of adventure that is harder to replicate indoors. And adventure is all a healthy part of childhood, when you think about it.

4. An Escape from Electronic Screens

Outdoor play is also a very healthy release from spending time in front of electronic screens like TVs, tablets, games and maybe even mobiles if children have them. Studies and a good dose of common sense show that too much screen time is not good for children and getting them outdoors is a great way to go back to basics and enjoy more natural, active play.

5. New Knowledge

Children get to learn so many new things when taking part in the myriad of possible activities outdoors.Along with this bigger world comes greater knowledge, pure and simple. Children will get to learn so many new things, about both themselves and the world, when taking part in the myriad of possible activities outdoors. Whether it’s new knowledge about nature, the elements, materials, places or something else, there is so much knowledge out there to feed their young minds.

6. Outdoor Play Supports the EYFS Curriculum

The varied nature of outdoor play supports the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum in many different ways. This includes support for ‘prime’ and key’ areas including Physical Development, Communication & Language Development, Understanding the World, Personal, Social & Emotional Development and even Mathematics.

7. Outdoor Play Helps Mental Health

Spending time outdoors and fresh air, particularly when surrounded by nature, is known to help the mental health and wellbeing of both children and adults.Spending time outdoors and fresh air, particularly when surrounded by nature, is known to help the mental health and wellbeing of both children and adults. Study after study show this to be the case.

8. Feeding the Senses

The outside world is a rich stimulant of all the senses.All the senses are stimulated enormously when children take part in outdoor activities, play and exploration. The outside world is a rich stimulant of all the senses including sight, hearing, smell, touch and, with supervision and care, even taste. Proprioception (balance/movement) and vestibular sensing via body position are also particularly stimulated by outdoor play. Learn more about the importance of sensory perception here.

9. Deeper Friendships

Play-based outdoor activities are so different from those undertaken indoors and they also allow for different dynamics amongst children. Many are group-based or at the very least pair-based activities that are quite immersive. The combination of factors around outdoor play can lead to a wider circle of friends and deeper friendships. That can only be a good thing.

10. New Skills

Outdoor play and activities introduce children to completely new skills like teamwork, cooperation, leadership and more.The wider range of immersive activities available outdoors also introduces children to completely new skills. Just a few examples include teamwork, role-play, strategy and leadership.

11. Improved Communication Skills

Communication skills are also nurtured during outdoor play. Children playing outdoors, together, will need to learn to communicate clearly with each other as they go about joint activities and games. They’ll soon learn what communication strategies work, and which don’t.

12. Improved Strength, Fitness & Physical Development

Children playing outdoors are far more likely to be active and physical, expending energy, moving, running, jumping, climbing and more. All of that physical activity will help build strength, stamina and improve general fitness levels. In turn, this active play can lead to a more healthy BMI and help to reduce the likelihood of childhood obesity.

13. Improved Motor Skills, Balance & Coordination

Motor skills (both gross and fine), balance and coordination are also naturally going to improve with outdoor play.Motor skills (both gross and fine), balance and coordination skills are also naturally going to improve with all this more physical, outdoor activity. That’s incredibly important in their early years as they learn to control their bodies and movement so they’re able to stay safe from harm as they become more physically able.

14. Better Spacial Awareness

Spacial awareness is another sense that benefits through regular outdoor activity. With the greater freedom that the outdoors affords, young children will soon hone this essential skill that will help to keep both themselves and their peers out of harm’s way.

15. Expanded Risk Assessment Abilities

Risk assessment is something that children will have to do more outdoors than inside. The good news, though, is that it’ll be quite natural and largely instinctive for them to assess risk, perhaps without even being conscious that they are doing so. This is yet another skill that’ll help to keep children more safe.

16. Creative Inspiration

Whether it's building, inventing, making or simply observing, the outdoor world really stimulates children's minds to create.With all the opportunities that the outdoor environment offers children, it’s no wonder that it greatly stimulates their creativity. Whether it’s building, inventing, making or simply observing, the outdoor world really stimulates children’s minds to create.

17. Improved Self-Esteem

With new skills and abilities, children and their peers may begin to each other in a new, improved light. New abilities and deeper friendships will, in turn, boost children’s self-esteem, in a healthy, natural way.

18. Improved Self-Confidence

Better self-esteem will also make children more confident in themselves, as people, as well as in their abilities. This is a good thing and a way to help them thrive in the world and within their peer group and community.

19. Enhanced Preparedness for School

We run our own Forest School in Edgbaston, Birmingham.All these benefits help children to develop mentally, physically and socially and, in so doing, they will be better prepared when the time comes for them to move from pre-school to school.

20. Enhanced Preparedness for Life

By setting children up with the mental and physical tools that will help them to thrive, they will also be more prepared and equipped for life in general as they progress from infant to child and ultimately into adulthood.

Outdoor Play at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.Leaps & Bounds nursery/pre-school has wonderful outdoor facilities Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwickwhere the children can play, explore and learn in a safe environment. It’s a stimulating and immensely enjoyable area where children can let their imaginations free to gain all the benefits that the outdoors has to offer. We also have our own Forest School in Edgbaston/Birmingham to take this a step further, out into nature. Children simply love it and learn so much!

Outstanding Childcare in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds is a childcare nursery & pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham, close to Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

If you’d like to explore our wonderful nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham or are looking for exceptionally good childcare near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick, please get in contact with us. We can show you and your child around, answer any queries you might have and give you any information you need. Please choose a button below:

Safety First

While outdoor play is fun and offers so many benefits for children, by its very nature it can be potentially more hazardous. Suitable adult supervision and safety measures should therefore always be in place for the safety and wellbeing of children playing outdoors.

Microgreens: Fun Food Growing for Under-Fives

Growing microgreens is an exciting activity that results in hundreds of nutritious baby shoots that children can eat in salads and garnishes.In our last post, we featured fun food growing activities for under-fives. Today, as promised, we follow up by explaining how children can grow ‘microgreens’. These are easy, fun and educational for children to grow and indeed food-growing activities have many benefits for little ones. Growing microgreens is an exciting activity that results in hundreds of nutritious baby shoots that children can eat in salads, garnishes, stir fries and more. Growing microgreens is also a nature-based activity for children and one that requires very little space or equipment. It can be accomplished entirely indoors — just a well-lit windowsill will suit.

What Are Microgreens?

First, though, what exactly are microgreens? Also known as micro leaves, they’re the very young shoots of edible plants like herbs and vegetables (more about those later). When young and grown from seeds, these can grow into a thick ‘blanket’ of tiny growing shoots that can be harvested and eaten as food. They’re very tasty, totally natural and extremely nutritious.

Microgreens are great in salads, in sandwiches, or used as garnishes with meat, fish, burgers and pasta.Children will get to enjoy every stage of growing them — from sowing the seeds, watering them, watching them sprout and later snipping off the blanket of shoots ready to use in meals. It’s another great way of teaching children where food comes from and, what’s more, it’s really easy, inexpensive and is faster than growing most other types of plant-based food.

Which Seeds Can be Grown into Microgreens?

Seeds that are suitable for use as microgreens include those for the following herbs, vegetables, root vegetables and leafy greens:

  • Basil for tasty, aromatic leaves — great on pizzas, in salads and perfect for making pesto sauce.
  • Rocket, a peppery and flavoursome addition to any salad or pizza.
  • Coriander with its strong and unique taste — a personal favourite and a great addition to salads, curries, chopped onions and stir fries.
  • Spinach microgreens are mild and extremely nutritious — perfect in salads, pasta and risotto.
  • Broccoli shoots taste quite different to fully-grown broccolis with a slightly spicy taste that will liven up any salad, omelette or risotto.
  • Beetroot leaves make any salad, garnish or fish dish look gorgeous with their red stems and rich micro leaves.Red cabbage micro leaves are teaming with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. With the highest level of Vitamin C of any microgreen, they’re the chef’s favourite for use in soup, garnishes, salads, vegetables or with meats and stews.
  • Radish microgreens, like their fully-grown counterpart, taste a little bit fiery — great in salads, sandwiches and in stir fries.
  • Mustard microgreens also have a certain heat to their taste and are suited to use in salads and stir fries.
  • Fennel micro leaves taste a little of aniseed, giving flavour to soups, risotto, pasta, salads and stuffing.
  • Beetroot leaves make any salad, garnish or fish dish look gorgeous with their red stems and deeply coloured micro leaves.

Depending on the seed chosen, most microgreens take from just a few days to two weeks to grow large enough to harvest. Red cabbage is amongst the fastest of them all if you’re in a hurry for results. Broccoli, rocket, radish and mustard micro leaves can also be harvested in just a week.

What’s Needed

Children will love it if they use empty egg shells for their microgreens.Essentially, children will just need seed shallow seed trays or other containers, some compost, the seeds and a well-lit windowsill.

The seeds, trays and any ‘drip trays’ (or equivalent to catch water underneath) can be purchased from garden centres or online. They’re not expensive, especially if you shop around. Other alternatives to commercially available seed trays include flower pots, recycled yoghurt pots or used food trays that you may have left over from ready meals. So long as they have drainage, they should work fine, so some holes may be needed underneath if there are none. Another option is used egg cartons or children will love it if they use empty egg shells with their tops sliced off so there’s an opening to fill. The children will typically draw faces on those and then, when the microgreens grow, it’ll look like hair!

For the compost, ‘multi-purpose compost’ or ‘seed and cuttings compost’ are suitable but try to buy a peat-free variety as it’s kinder to the planet.

How to Plant the Microgreen Seeds

  1. Seeds can be either sprinkled or hand placed into small indents, so they're evenly spaced out.Compost should be used to fill the containers almost to the top if they don’t have much depth. Otherwise an inch-and-a-half or so is ample.
  2. It should then be patted lightly so it’s flat.
  3. Then the seeds can be either sprinkled or hand placed into small indents, so they’re evenly spaced out (not too densely otherwise problems will occur later on).
  4. Optionally, a light dusting of more compost can then cover the seeds.
  5. Then they’ll need either a light watering or the pots/trays will need to sit in shallow water for up to an hour so the water can be drawn up through the soil.
  6. If more than one variety of seeds are being grown, it would also be good to label the trays/pots appropriately. Wooden lollipop sticks marked with a pencil would be perfect, although any way of marking the trays will be fine.
  7. A sheet of paper towel, newspaper or cling film can then optionally be used to cover the seed pots or trays until the seeds germinate.

Growing & Harvesting the Microgreens

As soon as the seeds begin to sprout, any covering should be removed.The rest is easy! The trays or pots should then be placed on a well-lit windowsill and children will need to check every day that the soil is moist and doesn’t dry out. Ideally there should be ventilation too. As soon as the seeds begin to sprout, any covering from step 7 above should be removed. After anywhere from a few days to two weeks, the seeds will have grown into a low ‘blanket’ of densely growing seedlings with thin, short stems and tiny leaves at the top — the tender young micro leaves that lend microgreens their name.

To harvest, the beautiful blanket of seedlings can be snipped near the base of their stems (for safety, a supervising adult may need to help with this part if children are very young). Snipping instead of pulling up by the root will allow children to harvest and re-harvest them because the seedlings will grow into microgreens more than once in many cases. They can then be rinsed to clean off any of the soil and then added to salads, garnishes or used as a food ingredient.

To harvest, the beautiful blanket of seedlings can be snipped near the base of their stems.Children will love the growing journey and will learn many lessons and new skills along the way. They’re sure to enjoy the beauty of the little plants, the wonder of nature and their part in the success of this lovely childhood activity. What’s more, they get to eat the tasty and highly nutritious crop and it could even encourage them to be more experimental and perhaps less finicky with their food choices.

Our Outstanding Nursery & Forest School in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Conveniently Near to Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Children grow plants and herbs at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham. Growing microgreens, herbs, vegetables and other plants is both fun and educational for children, especially in their early years. The activities also teach children about nature. As well as being a nursery and a pre-school, Leaps & Bounds is also a Forest School, so it’s natural for us to include activities around nature at the setting. We are an outstandingly good nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham and are also a convenient choice if you are looking for the best pre-schools and nurseries near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick. Contact us to arrange a visit, ask any questions or to enrol your child at the nursery. We’ll be happy to help!

Today we’re taking a look at some fun food growing activities that under-fives can undertake at home. As we said in that last post, teaching children to grow food has an enormous number of benefits, so our post today explains some easy and inexpensive ways that children can get started.

No Garden Required

Many of today’s vegetable and herb growing activities can be accomplished simply on a well-lit windowsill. So, if you do not have a garden, courtyard, balcony or access to an allotment, it doesn’t matter — your little ones can still get involved in these wonderful activities. The plants will simply need some water, soil, light and a little care.

Re-Growing Herbs for Free

To re-grow herbs, snip off a few clippings, remove any leaves nearest the bottom and place the stems into water — roots will grow.When you next buy herbs like basil, parsley, coriander or rosemary from the supermarket, get your child to try this simple herb-growing task using a few left-over stalks.

All they need to do is pull or, with suitable supervision, snip off a few clippings, remove any leaves nearest the bottom of the stems and place those stems into water as shown in the photograph (right). If these are left dangling in water for a week or two, roots will start to grow from the stems. The clippings are then new plants, ready to be planted into soil, for example in pots on the windowsill. Once the roots have grown, young herb plants can be potted into soil and grown on the windowsill.Flower pots, used yoghurt pots or anything similar will do, so long as there is drainage in the bottom (place on a saucer or tray to protect the windowsill). Once they’ve been potted in the soil, they’ll need to be regularly watered and, in time, they’ll sprout into fully-fledged herb plants that can be harvested for food as they grow. New clippings can also be taken from the mature plant so that the whole process can be repeated. Children will love seeing and being responsible for this little miracle! And the best thing is that the cost will have been negligible. How’s that for sustainable food production!

Re-Growing Lettuce & Vegetables for Free

Baby lettuce leaves sprouting just 4 days after placing the lettuce base in water.Next time you cut the leaves off a lettuce, the edible part off a celery, or the ‘bulb’ flesh from an onion, instead of discarding the ‘root’ section at the bottom, keep hold of it. In a similar way to what we described above, this bottom section can be dangled or placed into a water vessel for a few days. The tops will eventually grow shoots and the bottom sections will eventually grow roots. In our own experiment with lettuce, the little lettuce leaves nearest the centre started growing in just one day! Plants like celery can also be re-grown and planted into pots once roots have grown.The accompanying photo (right) shows the growth after four days and all this is happening before the roots have even begun to sprout!. In just a week or two, this approach will give children new leaves to harvest for vegetables like lettuce, Swiss chard, celery, bok choy (Chinese lettuce), lemongrass and any similar salad leaf.

Children can use a similar approach using the lower section of things like onions, spring onions or garlic. New plants will sprout, roots will grow and the new young plants can be replanted into soil. With water, soil and light, they will eventually grow new ‘bulbs’ that can later be harvested and eaten.

Carrot tops can also be regrown and used in salads.A similar approach can also be used for carrot tops, except with those it’s the green, leafy carrot tops that your child can retain, grow and later harvest. These can be used in salads and garnishes.

Seeds can be harvested from vegetables like tomatoes and peppers, then grown into new plants.

Growing Vegetables & Fruit Using Free Seeds

Did you know that you can grow new fruit and vegetables from the seeds found in shop-bought fruit and vegetables? All your child needs to do is to keep some of the seeds from inside fruit and vegetables that you already bought as part of your weekly shop. Just a few examples follow — pips or seeds from all of the following can be ‘harvested’ and grown into new plants, ready to sprout new fruit or vegetable plants:

A few fruit examples:

  • Save the pips from apples
  • Save the pips from pears
  • Save the ‘stones’ from peaches or plums

A few vegetable examples:

  • Save the pips from tomatoes
  • Save the seeds from peppers
  • Save the seeds from pumpkins & squashes

Seeds from ripe beans, sugar snaps and similar can be saved, grown into seedlings and planted into containers or grow bags to make new plants and a new crop.The seeds from ripe sugar snaps and beans can also be saved by children to ‘seed’ into new plants, to get free vegetables! Once sprouting, they can be planted out into grow bags or a patch of soil in the garden. They will give the family a whole new crop of vegetables if they’re regularly watered and looked after.

Children can also save the seeds from courgettes and marrows. However, those need to come from really mature ones that have ideally been left to fully ripen on the plant itself. So, for these two examples it may be best to ask around to see if any friends or neighbours are growing any. The seeds in shop-bought marrows and courgettes may not be mature enough to grow new plants from. Plants like marrows, courgettes and beans do need quite a bit of space too, once they become mature plants. Therefore, from a practical point of view, children may have to limit themselves to herbs and vegetables that only grow into smaller plants if their households has limited growing space.

Looking for an Outstanding Nursery, Pre-School or Forest School in Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick?

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Children grow plants and herbs at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham. As a Forest School and a nursery/pre-school that educates under-fives as well as looking after them, we encourage children to engage in activities involving nature. These include plant growing as well as learning about and enjoying everything that the natural world has to offer. If you are looking for an outstanding nursery & Forest School in Edgbaston, Birmingham, or the best pre-schools and nurseries near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick, please contact us. We’re here to answer any questions,  show you around so you and your little one can experience the setting for yourselves and to welcome your child to the childcare setting if you decide to enrol. Please apply for a place or contact us below:

Next Time …

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.In our next post we outline how children can extend their food-growing activities to include growing ‘microgreens’. It’s a real fun, easy, educational and exciting activity that results in lots of nutritious baby shoots that children can eat in salads or as garnishes. Learn more about how children can grow microgreens at home here.