We run play activities for local families in the school holidays in our gardens. We also run sessions in other local venues such as Imperial College Invention Rooms, local children centres and parks.
Friday 27th March 2020
Make a Petal Sun Catcher!
During this period of home-schooling, we have compiled some fun, nature and science-based activities we have found online, for you and your family to have a go at . We will send activities twice a week so keep an eye out for next week’s ideas too! Please do share pictures of your creations with us via social media or email; we would love to see them!
To make the Flower Petal Sun Catcher below, you may not have a paper plate, but instead you could use a recycled cereal packet or cardboard box as a frame and cut a circular hole out of the middle and if you don’t have sticky back plastic, you could try using clear sticky tape or clingfilm. If you don’t have petals or flowers at home, why not try to find some daisies in the park when you go for your daily outing? Sending our best wishes to you all.
Tuesday 31st March 2020
Make a Play Dough Bird’s Nest!
Here at Hammersmith Community Gardens Association we have another fun activity for you to try with your children at home during this period of home-schooling. Spring marks the beginning of the nesting season in the UK; a time when birds gather all sorts of natural materials to make their nests, ready for their hatchlings to hatch into. So, what better way to explain this special time of the year to your children, than by making their own mini bird’s nest? Enjoy! And tag us in photos if you give it a go – we’d love to see!
If you go out for your daily exercise, you should be able to find some of these natural objects along the way. You don’t need to use play dough, you could make the nest entirely out of twigs, leaves and grass- or whatever you are able to find!
Here is a useful video via the charity, Action for Children, that shows you how to make the play dough:
From all of us at Hammersmith Community Gardens Association, we send our very best wishes to you all.
Friday 3rd April 2020
Make a Flower Crown!
Here at HCGA we love using natural materials to make craft! Have a go at making your own crowns, bracelets or masks using materials you find during your daily exercise.Enjoy! And share your creations with us -we’d love to see them! Here is a photo of one of our amazing volunteers helping children, at last summer’s HCGA play scheme, make flower crowns! See below for instructions and more examples for inspiration.
Tuesday 7th April 2020
Make an Easter Bunny Scene!
Have a ‘grow’ following the instructions below! If you don’t have grass seeds, why not pick a handful of grass next time you are out for your daily outing? Happy Easter!
Friday 10th April 2020
Grow Plants Using Store Cupboard Ingredients!
April is one of the best times of the year to sow many seeds and you can grow many plants easily from ingredients you might have in your fridge or cupboards! Happy growing!
Tuesday 14th April 2020
Make an Up-Cycled Flower Garden!
If you have some plastic bottles or some juice cartons at home, why not turn them into flower pots? Follow the instructions below to make your own up-cycled flower garden!
Friday 17th April 2020
Sow Seeds in Eggshells!
Image via phenomenalmagazine.wordpress.com/
Spring has arrived and with it, the food growing season really kicks off! Here at Hammersmith Community Gardens Association, we love recycling and reusing things.
So, if you don’t have any small plant pots, do not worry! Just use your eggshells from breakfast to sow seeds inside and watch them grow on your windowsill. Happy seed sowing!
Tuesday 21st April 2020
Try Weaving with Natural Materials!
This nature art activity requires very few resources; most of them you should be able to find in the park or in your garden! So, when you are next out and about, try to find some natural materials, such as, sticks, leaves, flowers, seeds and feathers and weave your own piece of natural art! If you don’t have wool, you could use string, twine or even twisted fabric – whatever you have at home!
For children aged 3-6, they may need lots of adult help to make the frame, but they usually really enjoy winding the wool around, finding the natural materials and weaving them onto the finished frame!
Friday 24th April 2020
Try Re-using Plastic Bottles in Inventive Ways!
To help you and your family with your gardening, the following pictures show some ways to reuse plastic bottles for DIY gardening projects. Here are some of our favourites that we use at Hammersmith Community Gardens and in our own gardens at home.
You may find that slugs LOVE eating your sunflowers, so you could try this plastic bottle deterrent!
Tuesday 28th April 2020
Make a Dreamcatcher!
Image via: Warunya Ngamcharoen
To Native Americans, dreams were messages sent by sacred spirits. It is believed that the Ojibwe Nation were the first indigenous people to use dreamcatchers. There are many versions of the legend about how they work as different tribes have different interpretations. One version says that the hole in the centre of a dreamcatcher web allows good dreams to reach the sleeper, while the web itself traps the bad dreams until they disappear with the first light of morning. Another version says that the web “catches” the good dreams and allows the bad ones to slip away through the hole.
Follow the instructions below to help your child make their own dreamcatcher. Wishing sweet dreams to you all!
For younger children, you can use a paper plate: cut the middle out, punch several holes around the inner circle and weave wool through the holes instead (see photo below).
Friday 1st May 2020
Make a Dinosaur or Fairy Garden!
To help get your children excited to learn about plants and how they grow, you could help them to make their own miniature dinosaur or fairy garden!
We know many of you won’t just happen to have dried, poppy seed heads lying around the house, so instead, your children could draw a fairy on a piece of paper and stick it onto a lolly stick or on a disposable wooden spoon, then decorate it with flowers and leaves that they find in the park or in the garden! If you don’t have any dinosaurs, your child could draw them on paper and stick them on matchsticks or make them out of playdough! More instructions below.
Tuesday 5th May 2020
Can you identify this butterfly using the chart below to help you? Find the answer at the bottom of this section!
Identifying and Naming Different Types of Butterflies
Here is a useful chart to help you identify butterflies when you are out and about! To join in with the Big Butterfly Count this year, print out this chart and complete it between 17th July – 9th August 2020 then send your results via this website:
Make a Butterfly, Life Cycle Mobile!
Images via: butterfly-conservation.org
More Butterfly Mobiles for Inspiration
Image via: redtedart.com
Wax Crayon Resist, Painted Butterfly Mobile
Favourite Foods for Butterflies and Bees!
If you don’t have a garden or any of these plants, do not worry – you could try to spot these plants when you are out and about and see if you can see any butterflies or bees drinking the sweet nectar from the flowers!
Infographic via: thewildlifetrust.org
How to Make a Butterfly Feeder
Infographic via: Pinterest
Infographic via: thewildlifetrust.org
Friday 8th May 2020
Make a Miniature Sailboat
Re-Using a Recycled Plastic Container for a Sailboat
This activity is a practical way for your children to explore materials that float and sink. They could try it in the bath, on a puddle, or you could simply fill up a washing up bowl with some water for them to try it out, but keep children supervised at all times near water. Follow the instructions below!
More Sailboats Made Using Recycled Materials
Image via Floris Hovers
Image via momes.net
Image via masandpas.com
Image via sunhatsandwellieboots.com
Image via sunhatsandwellieboots.com
Tuesday 12th May 2020
Can you identify this bee using the chart below to help you? Find the answer at the bottom of this newsletter!
We know many of you might be a bit afraid of bees, but they are really only interested in two things: nectar and pollen!
Sadly, honey bees are in trouble and the numbers of many wild bumblebees and solitary bees are dropping. Two bumblebee species are already extinct. The aim of this newsletter is not to make your children feel sad about the bees. There is an opportunity here to help them learn more about these amazing creatures! So, in this week’s newsletter, we have put together some resources to help your children learn more about why bees are so important.
Pollination – What is it?
We are used to seeing bees buzzing from flower to flower in summer, but we often don’t appreciate quite how much they do for us – without them and other insects, plants would not be able to produce the fruit, berries and seeds that we eat! Here’s a short video that explains how pollination works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txv2k7OoY7U
Here is a useful diagram which helps to explain pollination and below it, there is a flower-labelling activity for your children to complete.
Infographic via: edenproject.com
Resource sheet via: beeschool.co.uk
Identify Parts of a Bee
Like all insects, bees are made up of three parts – a head, a thorax and an abdomen. Attached to the head is a tube-like tongue (proboscis) for sucking nectar. The antennae are responsible for smelling, taste and they can feel vibrations, movement of air, sounds, temperature and humidity.
Bees are easy to confuse with wasps and many people are worried about their stings. Bees can sting but in fact they rarely do unless provoked and feel they need to protect themselves and their hive. They have black and yellow stripes because this is nature’s way of telling everyone, including us, to keep a safe distance!
Image via: stem.org.uk
Finally, bees have two compound eyes which means that they see colour brilliantly! Although bees can’t see red very well, they can see ultraviolet light which is not visible to humans. The ultraviolet light makes the flowers look like targets to direct the bees to the pollen and nectar!
Here is a worksheet to identify the parts of a bee’s body. Once you know the body parts, have a go at playing the Roll a Bee game which is explained after this section!
Resource sheet via: teacherspayteachers.com
Resource sheet via: teacherspayteachers.com
The Bee Game!
This bee game not only helps children to learn key body parts of a bee but it applies to all other insects too!
Identifying and Naming Different Types of Bees
We mainly think of bees as making honey, but honey bees are just one of Britain’s 267 species! The rest are wild bumblebees and solitary bees. All species of bee collect nectar and pollen as food, and at the same time they pollinate a large amount of our fruit and vegetables.
Here is a useful sheet to record some of the different types of bees you might see in your garden or when you are out and about. If you spot any that aren’t on the list, you can draw them on the back of the sheet or take a photograph and look them up online! Always be careful to observe bees from a safe distance so they don’t accidentally sting you!
International Bee Day – 20th May 2020
To raise awareness of the importance of bees and to celebrate how amazing they are, we found a fun event to join: The Global Waggle Dance Challenge!
A bee’s waggle dance is a figure of eight dance which can tell other bees the precise direction and distance to a patch of nectar-rich flowers or water. If the bee waggles straight up inside the hive it tells the others that they need to fly towards the sun to find food. If they waggle left, they need to fly to the left of the sun, and if they waggle right, they need to fly to the right of the sun. The longer the bee waggles for, the further away the food is.
Here is a David Attenborough video explaining the honey bee’s waggle dance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU_KD1enR3Q
Can you come up with your own funny waggle dance like the bees?! Entries are accepted until 14th May 2020 via this website: https://www.worldbeeday.org.au/waggle/
Make a Solitary Bee Hotel!
Bee hotels are used as breeding places by solitary bees like Mason bees, Leafcutter bees and Yellow-faced bees which naturally nest in hollow stems, earth banks or old beetle holes in dead wood.
Image via: tes.com
From spring through summer, different species of bee will hopefully build cells inside the hollow stems and lay eggs. They’ll add pollen and nectar to feed the larvae, and block the entrance to the holes with leaves, mud or other materials.
More Examples of Bee Hotels!
Image via: friendsoftheearth.uk
Image via: rspb.org.uk
Image via: Marta Zientek and Wojciech
Make a Bee Drinking Station!
Bees need water to survive! Honey bees need water to make food for their young, and keep their hive cool and humid. They collect water during the summer months so now is the perfect time to make your bee drinking station!
Image via: northumbrianbees.co.uk
Image via: compassionateroots.co.uk
Fill a bucket, tray or saucer with water – ideally rain water – and put a few different sized stones in it that are large and stable enough to give bees a safe place to drink from. If you have a pond, you could try adding floating-leaved plants, wine corks or rocks to give bees a landing pad!
Image via: compassionateroots.co.uk
A Bee’s Favourite Plants!
If you don’t have a garden or any of these plants, you could try to grow some of them-especially herbs – in a pot on your windowsill!
Or see if you can identify the plants, on the second sheet below, when you are out and about and see if you can observe the bees collecting the sweet nectar and pollen from the flowers! Maybe you can even see pollen on the bees’ bodies as they travel between flowers!
Infographic via: hannahrosengren.com
Resource sheet via: friendsoftheearth.uk
Use Honey as a Natural Sweetener!
Here’s a quick recipe that is easy enough for your children to help you make…and eat! You could let your children decide if they want to add any seeds, nuts or dried fruit – maybe they will be adventurous and try something new!
Grow Sunflowers as Food for Bees and Birds!
Growing sunflowers not only helps the bees and birds but it also helps children learn how to look after their own plant! The sunflower can be planted in a large pot or in the ground, in a sunny place. Here is a handy video tutorial about how to sow sunflower seeds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9z9guKNNuI
A Giant Sunflower at HCGA Phoenix Farm, White City, Summer 2019
If you like, you could then enter your sunflower into our sunflower growing competition! Send us a photo of your sunflower before 7th September 2020 and the person to grow the tallest sunflower will be the winner! Prizes will be revealed soon! See more growing instructions below.
For more bee-related children’s activities have a look here: https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/learning-zone/
For more detailed bee hotel, construction and maintenance advice: https://www.foxleas.com/make-a-bee-hotel.asp
Answer: A garden bumblebee, spotted at our Phoenix Farm Community Garden in White City
Tuesday 19th May 2020
Making Seed Bombs!
Cornflowers and pot marigolds
Image via: pxfuel.com
This is a fun, messy play activity that will hopefully lead to some beautiful flowers blooming! May and June are the best times in the year to make and throw your seed bombs, so, happy seed bombing!
The following flower seeds germinate fairly easily: poppies, cornflower, pot marigold (Calendula), Californian poppies, cosmos, nigella and verbena bonariensis or alternatively, you could buy a native, wildflower seed mix. These flowers will not only brighten up a neglected area but will also provide food for pollinating insects! See instructions below.
Poppies, cornflowers, pot marigolds and chamomile.
Image credit: mywildlifeallotment.blogspot.com
Cornflowers and Chamomile Growing at Queen’s Park Gardens, Summer 2018