St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

Family summer fun

an eager pond dipper with his magnifying glass (photo by Kate Ravilious)
an eager pond dipper with his magnifying glass (photo by Kate Ravilious)

A guest blog by Kate Ravilious 

Are you running out of entertainment ideas for the last week of summer holidays? Fear not: St Nicks nature reserve is ready to come to your rescue. Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoon during the summer holidays the lovely staff at St Nicks have been running their WORM (Wild Outdoors and Recycling Matter) project, providing free activities that get children delving into the natural world.

Last Wednesday I went along with my two children, Beth (7) and Kester (4), and another family of three children, looking for some summer holiday inspiration. Within minutes of arrival all the children were using nets to excitedly scoop bugs and beasties out of the beautiful pond at St Nicks.

“Wow, look mummy I’ve got something really big,” exclaimed my daughter. “Look, look, its a newt.” And sure enough, paddling around in Beth’s tray was an exquisite juvenile newt. About the length of a matchstick, this little chap had six feathery gills around its head. Using the magnifying glass we could see each of its delicate feet at the end of its four legs, and watch as its strong tail swished from side to side, powering it through the water. Beth was enchanted.

Many scoops into the pond later and we had a tray swarming with pond-life. Gliding around on the bottom we could see flatworms, and little tiny leeches, which moved with a concertina type motion. Freshwater hog-louse and minuscule water mites scuttled about, and delicate green damselfly nymphs and one rather large dragonfly nymph glided through the water.

The younger children in our party loved scooping water out of the pond, and spotting the bigger beasties, while the older ones were keen to identify what they found using picture charts and magnifying glasses. None of us would have guessed there could be all this life and activity underneath the calm waters of this small pond.

After we had exhausted the pond dipping possibilities we moved on to a craft activity, stopping briefly to listen to the vibrations of the wind-turbine, whirring above our heads. Using what they had seen in the pond as inspiration the children made their own version of a pond on a paper-plate, using copious amounts of glue and much colouring and snipping.

And finally we rounded the day off with a game of outdoor draughts, with the children all delightedly advising each other which move to make next. All in all it was a terrific afternoon in an inspiring location, and we are all keen to go back again soon.

26 August 2015 | Categories: Inspiration