Week One: Let’s Go Outside!

from Wildlife Promise

Jennifer WardHello! This is Jenny Ward, author of I Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature, and my brand new book, Let’s Go Outside!: Outdoor Activities and Projects to Get You and Your Kids Closer to Nature.

Thanks to Green Hour for inviting me to guest blog on their site. I am happy to be here!

Over the next six weeks, I will be sharing super fun and easy ideas from I Love Dirt! and Let’s Go Outside! to encourage kids to get outside and explore and enjoy nature, rather than stay cooped up indoors absorbed in video games and electronic gadgets.

I especially want to focus on nature related activities for older children, which is the purpose behind Let’s Go Outside!

Older children today have numerous factors pulling them indoors and away from nature. They’re more socially active and more involved in “everything electronic” and more independent with the use of their time. But the good news is as kids get older, the range of things they are able to experience independently grows–and so do the outdoor options.

That said, here’s an activity from Let’s Go Outside! that celebrates kids and nature and the abundance of animal life that’s out as well as about enjoying the longer days and warmer temperatures of summer, called “Toad’s Castle.”

It’s fun to attract wildlife to your garden and yard, such as birds and butterflies. But have you ever considered attracting a resident toad? Toads are such great creatures to observe. With their bumpy skin and stubby body, they permeate character. But even greater than their interesting appearance is their usefulness to your garden space. Toads love to dine on harmful, pesky garden insects. And as an added bonus, they will serenade your garden by night.

Materials needed for this activity are minimal, as are ALL the activities and ideas I provide in I Love Dirt! and Let’s Go Outside! So, without further ado, here is Toad’s Castle:

The Materials

  • A clay flower pot, 8″ or more in diameter
  • A hammer
  • A patch of soil in your garden

How to Make a Toad Castle:

  1. Use the hammer to break a section of the pot’s rim away. This will be the opening the toad will use to enter the house.
  2. Break another opening on the other side of the pot. This will be the toad’s escape route, if needed.
  3. Bury the rim of the flower pot in a portion of your garden. Pick out a spot that is sheltered and shaded by vegetation and not too sunny, and make sure the openings you created are above the ground.
  4. Place a small dish of water near your toad’s house, because all habitats for animals require food, shelter and water.

Shouldn’t be too long before your castle fit for a prince, ahem…I mean, toad, is happily occupied. Your garden will be healthier, and providing the experience to be a steward to the environment will create a healthier, happier child, too.

Thanks for stopping by Green Hour!

Jennifer Ward is the author of I Love Dirt! and numerous children’s books, all of which present nature to kids. She lives in Illinois. Learn more about her at www.jenniferwardbooks.com.