Ways to inspire your mini ones for Hedgehog Awareness Week

Cute and snuffly, the hedgehog is one of Britain’s most-loved wild animals but sadly our only spiny mammal is now officially classed as vulnerable to extinction. Hedgehog Awareness Week 2021 (May 2nd-8th), run by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, is encouraging people to make their gardens welcoming for the little creatures to give them more safe havens to live in.

As well as on the charity’s website, you can also find some top tips at How to Take Care of a Hedgehog on Emma and 3 after a prickly visitor to their garden had them researching the best way to take care of it.

These adorable guests are not the sole beneficiaries of such efforts though as they can often lift your spirits in return. “The challenging coronavirus period of 2020 has been made much more bearable in our house by the visit of wild hedgehogs,” writes Deb from My Boys Club in Our Coronavirus Summer of Hedgehog Love. “Seeing them nest, drink, feed and play in our and surrounding gardens have really made us enjoy their company on lockdown evenings” and she includes plenty of tips you can to try to help hedgehogs thrive too including leaving fresh water out for them to drink and putting holes in fences to allow them to roam freely.

Pack the PJs‘s Tracey had a hedgehog house waiting in her garden for a new resident to adopt it but when no one wandered by she became a fosterer for hedgehog rescuers Hettie’s Helpers instead and you can read about the stories of Sonic, Womble and Arya in Hedgehog Awareness Week: Our Fostering Story.

Whilst you’re waiting for one to include your garden in its evening explorations then your mini ones might want to get creative using its iconic shape as inspiration.

In What to do with Conkers for Kids Play, Charlotte of Team Stein “made some hedgehogs using the dough, spaghetti for the spikes and the conker for the hedgehog face” and suggests “You could use craft matchsticks for the spikes or like us we used some dry spaghetti. This activity is great for fine motor skills as they are using their little fingers to work the dough and then to poke the pasta in. You could extend play by making a small hedgehog home for your conker animal.”

Sarah from Craft Invaders had her kids “foraging for natural materials” for a craft which appropriately advises the wearing of gloves for one step descirbed in How to Make an Adorable Teasel Hedgehog. “These little teasel hedgehogs only take minutes to make, but we think they are super-cute, and make a lovely autumn craft,” she writes.

Wendy from Daisies & Pie also uses natural materials in her Hedgehog Craft for Kids. “Inexpensive as well as fun”, fallen autumn leaves are used to make the prickly pattern of the spikes and lollipop sticks added to the back to make them into puppets or to decorate plants.

For The Mini Mes and Me‘s Emma it’s pine cones that form the body of her creature creations. Adding air-drying clay and googly eyes, the best instruction in the method outlined in Pine Cone Hedgehogs is the final one – “Play!”

If your minis need a bit of a rest after all that crafting then why not sit down and share a suitably-themed book? The Happy Family Hub‘s Emma suggests one that “is a good example of a factual book that helps children think about the world around them” in Book Review: Roly the Hedgehog (and Friends). By Frances Rodgers and Ben Grisdale, the book is “primarily suited to age 2-6 year old children” and is part of the How can I help series which “aim to inspire children to help and nurture wildlife and teach them what they can do to help”.

We could all do with a little nuturing right now and whilst hugs with friends still can’t be physical perhaps you could send them a hedgehug instead with one of Chameleon and Co‘s Letterbox Pin Gift. Or you could just treat yourself or your mini ones and wear it to declare your love for the both furry and prickly ones that need a little helping paw right now.

Find out more about the awareness week at www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/hedgehog-awareness-week-2021/

#30Days Wild Days 24 to 30 – Flowers, water and more butterflies

The last week of #30DaysWild went by quickly with changing weather, lots of work commitments and attempts at home learning that were, well, variable in their success.

Flower PartsSome of the tasks sent home from their school helped in our daily challenge as our eldest was set the task of learning the names of some garden and wild plants, the parts of a flowering plant and identifying trees and the parts of a tree.

We vicariously enjoyed others’ natural adventures through the CBeebies programmes Down on the Farm and Let’s Go For A Walk.   A not incredibly successful attempt at getting our youngest to sleep one night led to a marathon binge watch of CBeebies Bedtime Stories and the discovery of a beautiful book called The Rhythm of the Rain by Grahame Baker-Smith that celebrates the water cycle flowing from a pool on a mountainside, through sparkling streams, over waterfalls, through rivers and into the open sea – and on to our ever-growing book wish list.

Creating butterflies in our arts and crafts projects has featured highly in our last two month’s activities – Day Six, Day Eight, Day Nine, Day 23 – so we couldn’t pass up another opportunity to make some more of the winged creatures when we read about The Butterfly Project the Different Light Collective is running in association with this year’s SO Festival.

TheButterflyProjectGiven the current Covid-19 situation, the SO Festival has cleverly rebranded itself as the SOfa Fest for 2020 as it goes online rather than on to the streets of Mabelthorpe and Skegness but it’s still keen to be as interactive as possible.

The Butterfly Project is a creative community engagement project asking people to design and send in their own butterflies which will become part of a short film by award-winning artist Barret Hodgson.

“The project is about being a small part of something big, something special that celebrates creativity, community, beauty, freedom and self-expression.  It reflects the idea of being trapped and eventually released, of going from caterpillar to butterfly and also represents the idea of the ‘Butterfly Effect’ – one small action here can lead to a much bigger impact elsewhere.

The finished short film will show the butterfly images from individual members of the community gradually coming together to form one giant butterfly – a creative and beautiful expression and demonstration of how we really are all in this together of how when we all work together we’re stronger and can achieve more.”

Our own “small actions” saw Luke (a big fan of the recent The Great British Sewing Bee series) choosing to have his template cut out of felt so he could sew on different fabric remnants to decorate it whereas Willow headed straight to the glitter, glitter card, stickers and pompoms to design hers.

The PDF templates are available to download from Different Light’s website but be quick, the deadline for submission, which can be via email, is Sunday, July 12th at 4pm.

What a lovely colourful and collective way to round off our 2020 #30DaysWild experience.  We may not have managed something every day of June this year but then some days we did more than one thing and it’s certainly once again given us the chance to think about the importance and influence our wild world has on us and that we may have on it.  Here’s to 366 (ish) days wild.

Click here to find out more about #30DaysWild. 

#30DaysWild Day 23 – Natural art

Taking advantage of the nice weather we headed into the back garden to do some art work.  Last time we got the paints out during lockdown the necessary clean up involved washing part of the sofa as well as showering minis number two and three so relocating to the patio area made much more sense today.

Using some of the things we collected on our walk in Greetwell Hollow, we did some leaf rubbing, used leaves to make prints and, adding some sticks into the mix, created more butterflies too.

I got my bonus point for it linking to home learning work set by their school and also took advantage of the time to complete an art task set a week or so ago when I was still refusing to get the paints out again.

Painting with bubbles definitely appealed to Willow, so much she says she wants to do it again soon.  Any ideas where I can hide the paint?

Click here to find out more about #30DaysWild. 

#30DaysWild Day 22 – Colourful walk

Yesterday was all about daddy’s day (honestly he really did want to spend it clearing out the loft…) but today we managed to get out for a walk around our estate which gave us plenty of opportunity to enjoy the colourful fruits of our neighbours’ labour with all the beautiful flowers in full bloom gracing their front gardens.   

I didn’t have much opprtunity to take photos though as mini number two decided to take one of her favourite mermaid books out with her and needed reminding to look when crossing roads…

Click here to find out more about #30DaysWild. 

#30DaysWild Day 20 – Greetwell Hollow

Not to be put off by yesterday’s less than successful attempt at discovering somewhere new we headed out today to try somewhere even more local that I’ve been meaning to visit for some time but it’s taken a pandemic lockdown for me to finally get there.

I’d assumed (correctly) that Greetwell Hollow Nature Reserve just outside Lincoln wouldn’t be the best to investigate with a pushchair so it helps that Faith is now walking a bit more although the uneven terrain and heat meant that she was quite happy being carried for a lot of our stroll too.

The “interesting wildlife haven and geological” Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust site is a lot bigger than we first realised (13 hectares – there is a map available on the charity’s website for people who are better at planning than we are) so we only covered a very small area of it leaving plenty of reasons to go back again.

“The limestone grassland in the valley offers a wide range of wildflowers including bee orchid and the scrub offers great homes for wintering and nesting birds. The stream that flows through the centre of the reserve supports wetland plants and attracts wintering snipe, moorhen and heron.  In the rough limestone grassland with hawthorn scrub, traveller’s joy is a scarce plant in the area, and dwarf thistle and field scabious can be found.  Bullfinch is a characteristic bird.”

Mummy thought it would be a good place to collect some natural art supplies for a future project but the minis found out it was actually good for playing what’s the time Mr Wolf and, thanks to an impressive stick find, asking if there’s room on the broom.

Click here to find out more about #30DaysWild. 

#30DaysWild Day 19 – Fiskerton Fen

Day 19After our new lockdown discoveries of Starmers Pit and Ashing Lane Nature Reserve we were feeling emboldened today and headed out in the car to pastures new once more.

And you can’t beat a personal recommendation can you?  So when my friend Rachel Eldridge suggested Fiskerton Fen is a lovely place to go with lots of wildlife the pin was placed firmly on the map.

Sadly it was only a metaphorical map and we drove, not only through two downpours, but also past the entrance of Fiskerton Fen twice before finding it.  Then we discovered there was a height barrier to the car park which we couldn’t get in with the roof rack on.  Not our most successful journey.

Thankfully Rachel took some photos of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust’s “wet feland landscape with open water and reedbeds” on her last visit so I can share what a lovely place it looks to be for those who travel without a permanent storage box on the top of their cars.

The Trust highlights that the reed-dependent animals “include some of our rarest species including the bittern and marsh harrier. Greater water parsnip, once common in Lincolnshire but now almost extinct, has also been introduced.”

And it could prove a perfect choice to visit during next week’s National Insect Week (June 22nd – 28th):

“Surrounding the wet fenland is grassland with thickets of blackthorn and hawthorn scrub. The wildflowers of the grassland such as field scabious, knapweed and St. John’s wort provide nectar for butterflies and a host of other insects. The scrub provides shelter and song posts for birds such as yellowhammer, corn bunting, linnet and tree sparrow.”

Click here to find out more about #30DaysWild. 

#30DaysWild Day 16 – City explorers

Day 16The minis had a trip to Lincoln Arboretum with daddy this morning.

They particularly like to run around the small hedge maze and the bandstand and there are also signs to look out for by particular trees explaining what they are and where they’re from.

It was their third trip to the city park during lockdown but it’s important to pick your time as its central location can mean it can get quite busy.

After attending an appointment, I got to enjoy a walk home on my own taking in the greener side of the city roadside.

And, as we’re all about spirals at the moment, I couldn’t resist taking some photos of some I spotted to share with my five year old when we all returned home.

This evening my husband decided to have a look at whether we have any residets in our insect hotel and at least spotted this one spider.  Maybe Coronavirus has insects on lockdown in their own homes too.

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Click here to find out more about #30DaysWild. 

#30DaysWild Day 15 – Swirl by Swirl

Day 15We’ve been very grateful to post deliverers of all types during these last 12 weeks for adding a bit of unwrapping excitement, home learning opportunities and fun to the minis lockdown experience.

But the best deliveries have to be the new book days, don’t they?  (Well at least for mummy anyway, Willow might opt for when her new LOL watch arrived but let’s not test the theory…)

And when such a beautiful gem as Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes is left stood up on your doorstep, it’s a particularly special day.

SwirlBySwirl

The Newbery Honor (the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children) and Caldecott Medal (most distinguished American picture book for children) winning team combine to provide a deceptively simple but beautifully rich tale, just like the shape itself.

It starts of small and cosy – “A spiral is a snuggling shape.  It fits neatly in small places.  Coiled tight, warm and safe, it waits…” – and uncoils and expands with examples growing in size, both flora and fauna, above ground and under the sea.

From the harvest mouse to merino sheep to the spiny sea horse, the sweet pea to the rose to the sunflower and through to whirlpools, tornadoes and galaxies – “spinning and sparkling, forever expanding” – spirals are shown to be safe and strong, defensive and explorative.

But it’s final pages bring you back to wanting to curl “up neat and small, warm and safe” alongside the eastern gray squirrel and harvest mouse “warm and safe”.

Two additional pages add definition and further details beyond the poem – “Spiral: a shape that curls around a center point” – also briefly mentioning the DNA helix and Fibonacci spiral.

Click here to find out more about #30DaysWild.