Stargazing and making homes for your garden‘s wildlife are among the exciting activities the National Trust has suggested for children to engage with during lockdown


Whatever is happening to us, our friends, family and colleagues, we can be sure that nature is continuing to ‘do its thing’ all around us.

This is not only incredibly reassuring, it also provides us all with a chance to see and hear all sorts of beautiful things, from windows, back gardens and on daily strolls.

Birds are nesting and producing new broods, colourful butterflies flit through grasses and flowers looking for nectar, and trees unfurl fresh new leaves, whilst tiny insects thrive in their bark and in fallen wood.

The lockdown has naturally proved a particularly testing time for young families, with little ones desperate for stimulation and activity, especially during warm sunny days when they want to play outdoors. Parents have had to balance work, home schooling and entertaining the kids at the same time. A tough combination.

The National Trust is here to help, with loads of ideas to keep children busy and happy this spring, bringing nature to you, with crafts, treasure hunts, even gardening tips.

Here are some activities to try… Stargazing Stargazing is best done before the moon is full, so check the phase of the moon before you start. Turn off all the lights in your home to reduce light pollution. Download an app like Star Walk (iPhone) or Google Sky (android), to find out what you can see from your location.

What to look out for: The Sun is our nearest star, and if you hollowed out the Sun you could fit nearly one million Earths inside it. But never look directly at the sun through a camera, telescope or binoculars. You will damage your eyes, and may even suffer permanent blindness if you do. You can make a simple pinhole viewer to project the image of the sun.

The Moon All of the world’s oceans are controlled by the moon. The moon is the reason we have high and low tides. It wasn’t until people saw the moon through binoculars that they realised it isn’t a perfect sphere. On a clear night, it’s easy to see its craters and bumpy edges.

Stars When you see the stars you are looking into the past. Because light takes time to travel and stars are many light years away from us you could be seeing a star that doesn’t even exist anymore.

Make a home for wildlife All sorts of animals, bugs and birds need homes and most choose to build very different ones. If you’re going to build a home for one, you’ll have to think about what they need and want from it, and why.

Hedgehogs don’t need a lot of space, but you could choose to build somewhere for even smaller creatures like woodlice, spiders or worms and you’d need even fewer materials and less garden space.

Do you think that they will want to live in the home you make? Or maybe just visit it and explore? Or could they use it for hibernating?

Does the home need to be dry or wet?

What sort of home does the animal currently live in? Can you learn anything from that about what it likes and dislikes?

Where are you going to build it – can it be on the ground, underneath it, or in the trees?

What will you make it from?

It’s probably best to go for something very similar to the animal’s current home, so natural materials like moss, sticks and stones will be better than plastic and metal.

Treasure Hunt It’s great fun to go on a treasure hunt, there are so many things you can find!

Challenge other people to go on the treasure hunt and see who finds them all or in the most imaginative way.

1. You will need a piece of paper and felt tip, and something to collect your treasure in – a bag or a beach bucket.

2. Draw a grid on the paper so that you have six spaces. In each space, write the type of treasure to be found – hard / soft/ rouge/smooth/ prickly/furry.

3. Take your sheet and your collecting bag or bucket on a treasure hunt out in the garden or on a walk. Find one of each category.

4. If two or more people are doing the treasure hunt, compare sheets and decide who has found the more interesting items!

How to make a bird feeder • Tie some string to the top of a large, open pine cone.

• Soften some vegetable fat with your hands or on a stove.

• Add in some small bird seed a bit at a time until it sticks together easily.

• Gently squash the mixture into all the holes of the pine cone.

• Roll the cone in even more seed to coat the outside.

• Tie your finished feeder directly onto a tree branch.