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My challenge for you today is to investigate the soil in your garden.

Watch my video here to see how.

What you need:
FSC soil handout

What to do:
Dig up some soil from an area of your garden that has not been disturbed or organic matter or chemicals added to. Below a tree or lawn is good.
Rub a small amount of soil between your fingers to see what type of soil it is.
Silky – Silty soil
Sticky or slimy – Clayey soil
Gritty – Sandy soil.

Find out how much clay there is in you soil using the FSC flow chart.
If you can make a ball.
If you can make a sausage.
If you can curve the sausage into a C shape.
If you can make a ring.

If you have a high clay content then you can use it just like clay to make things. You could make a pot, figures or clay faces on trees or your house.

You can also investigate the soil profile by looking at the types of soil in the different layers of your soil.

Please share any photos of your soil rings or creations on Twitter #Naturedays @DawnNaturedays or on the Nature Days facebook page.

Yesterday I was looking in my compost bin and I found a slow worm.
So my challenge for you today is to create a reptile refuge in your garden.

Watch my video to find out more.

What you will need:
Stones or rocks
Sticks or logs
Corrugated iron or black felt.

How to do it:
You can create a pond to provide food for snakes – see my other post.
Pile up the stones in a sunny part of the garden next to some long vegetation.
Pile up the logs in a sunny part of the garden next to some long vegetation.
You can place the corrugates iron or felt directly on the ground for reptiles to bask on top of and shelter under or lean them against your wood pile.
Leave the refuge and after a while carefully check back on a sunny day to see if any reptiles have moved in.

I would love to see your reptile refuge or photos of any reptiles you find in your garden so tweet #Naturedays or @DawnNaturedays or post on the Nature Days Facebook page.

Nature Days outdoor learning resources – Build a river.
With a lot of rain falling over night my challenge for you is to build yourself a river.

Watch my video to see how.

What you will need:
Stones of different sizes
Watering can or plastic bottle with holes in

How to do it:
You can build your river in a tray or if you have an area on a slope you could build it there.
Start by building the landscape of the river. Rivers start in the mountains or hills. So start by building a hill out of sand, soil or using a rock. If you have a slope then you can place your tray on the slope so that one end is higher than the other and represents the hills.
Use the soil or sand to create the land either side of the river leaving a gap for the river channel. Think about the shape that rivers take. Usually there are more meandering, bendy, especially close to the mouth end.
Then populate the river catchment, the area around the river which catches the rain that enters your river. You could add vegetation by foresting an area adding twigs, or moss. Build some houses along the river banks out of lego. Next place some river sediment, stones or small pebbles inside the river channel. Spread them out some near the source, the start of the river and all the way along the river’s course towards the mouth.
Once you are happy with your river model you need to add the water.
Before you do take a before photo of your river.
Then you are going to simulate a light rain. Take a watering can, or make some small holes in a plastic bottle. Very gently poor some water into the tops of the river starting at the source on the top of the mountain.
If you can you could film what happens.
Once the water has all been poured look at the river model.
What has changed? Look at the photo you took and play spot the distance. What has moved? Have the small stones or big stones moved? What about the houses? HAs the river channel changed size or shape?
Take another photo of the river.
Next rebuild the river so it looks like it did before you added water.
Now you are going to simulate a storm!
Build some extra houses and place them at different distances form the river and different heights above the river level.
Then take the watering can and removed the spray rose or take the lid off the bottle.
Pour the water straight into the top of the river channel close to the sources all in one go without stopping.
What happened to your catchment area? How did the changes compare to the slight rain?
You can fill in the worksheet below and draw a picture to see what moved and to where. All you can take another photo and play spot the difference again.

You can play with your model as much as you like changing the volume and intensity of the rainfall. Seeing if you can locate the houses in the best places to save then from flooding. Seeing if dredging of the river sediment helps reduce flooding. You could try to build flood defences along your river course and see what protects the banks of the river.

I would love to see your models and the impact of the storm on them so please share photos on Twitter #Naturedays @DawnNaturedays or on the Nature Days Facebook page.

Nature Days outdoor learning resources – Glow worms.
Last night I went on a secret hunt.
Take a look at my video to see what I saw.

My challenge for you today is to go on a glow worm hunt.

What you need:

How to do it:
Go out when it is dark in your garden. Turn off your torch and let your eyes get used to the dark. This can take 10 mins.
Then go for a walk around your garden looking for anything glowing in amongst the bushes. Glow worms like chalky areas or rough woodland edges. If you spot one then get as close as you can and then put the torch on her so you can have a really good look at her. If you do carefully pick her up make sure you put her back where you found her. Then make a sign on the ground so you can try and spot her in the day time.  The in the morning go back to the spot and see if you can still see her.
If you don’t spot glow worms, don’t worry there are still lots of exciting animals to find in your garden after dark. Look out for moths and bats, there may also be glowing fungi in the rotting wood or can you catch the eyes of animals with your torch?

I would love to hear what you spotted or see any pictures you managed to take. So Tweet #Naturedays @DawnNaturedays or post on the Nature Days facebook page.
Happy nocturnal hunting!

My challenge for you to day is to discover the grass flowers in your lawn.

Watch my video to learn more about grass flowers.

What you need:
A lawn
Blue tac
Spray paint
Sun paper
Coloured paper

How you do it:
Look around your lawn and collect a variety of different grass flowers.
Next arrange a picture frame out of the sticks.
Place the grass flowers in the frame to make a picture. Take a photo of your creation.
You can experiment with different coloured back grounds.
If you have sun paper then arrange the flowers on the paper leave in the sun for 5 minutes. Then carefully take the paper inside and immerse in water to fix the picture.
Or you could use spray paint to make a grass flower silhouette.
Arrange your grass flowers on the paper. Stick them down using blue tac, try to hide the blue tac behind the flowers. Spray the flowers with spray paint. Wait for it to dry. Carefully remove the blue tac and the flowers to reveal the silhouette.
You can stick your frame down using PVA glue to create a natural silhouette picture.

I would love to see your creations so please tweet any photos #NatureDays @DawnNaturedays or post on the Nature Days Facebook page.

It’s World Oceans Days so to celebrate my challenge for you is to create your own underwater scene in your garden.
Watch my video for ideas. 

What you need:

How to do it:
Think about the animals you find in the ocean. Then go on a hunt around your garden to see if you can find the resources you could use to make into these animals. Don’t forget to ask the garden owner before you start picking flowers!
Next find a good location for your scene, out of the wind is good, and place your items down so that they look like the animals of the sea.
You could turn it into a story or an animated film. Or recreate a story you know about the sea.

I would love to see your creations so Tweet #NatureDays @DawnNaturedays #worldoceansday or post on the Nature Days Facebook page.

My challenge for you today is to estimate how many daisies there are in your lawn using sampling.

To find out how take a look at my you tube video.

What you will need:

Four same size sticks or rulers

A Hoop

A cut out paper footprint.

What to do:

Take your sample size, either a square made out of the 4 same size sticks or rulers, hoop or footprint and place it on the lawn.

Look inside and see what plants are growing there. Choose one to count which is found all over your lawn but not the grass itself. Daisies or buttercups are good.

Then count how many of that flower there is inside your sample. If there is too many to count then estimate the proportion of your sample which is covered by the flowers. See my you tube video for more details.

Write down this number. Then repeat 9 more times all over your garden until you have 10 numbers for the amount of daisies.

Calculate the mean average by totalling up the number of daisies from all 10 samples and dividing it by 10. This is the mean average for the number of daisies for your sample size in your lawn. You can now scale that up to the whole lawn by estimating how many of your sample areas would fit in your whole lawn. If you estimate that 100 sample area would fit in your lawn then multiply your mean average by 100 to get a total number of daisies for your whole lawn.

I would love to hear your results and we can see how all your results compare so please Tweet your answers #Naturedays @DawnNaturedays or post on the Nature Days facebook page.

Nature Days has created innovative Outdoor Learning, Independent challenge cards.

These are suitable for KS2 but also can be used with KS1 and EY with support.  

The cards pose enquiry questions for students to explore independently, using the school grounds as a resource for discovery.  

The cards are divided into 6 Area of Learning and Experience:

Health and Wellbeing – including P.E

Science and Technology – Including all sciences and D.T.

Literacy and communication – Including languages.

Maths and Numeracy 

Humanities – Including Geography, History and R.S.

Expressive Arts – Including Art, Drama, and Music.

There are over 50 cards, each in a set format to encourage students to undertake the challenges independently.

Each challenge is supported with; Success criteria, Prompt questions, Identifies resources you could use, Examples of methods which could be used and Extension tasks and questions to encourage additional learning. 

Cards are also available individually on request.

The Outdoor learning cards encourage independence and can easily be undertaken with social distancing.

The Outdoor Learning cards are also suitable for use for home schooling.  The activities are suitable for any outdoor space so can be undertaken in a garden or any open space.  

As they are designed to be undertaken independently, they can be used by schools not only in school as a resource for undertaking learning outdoors, but to bring home schoolers and in schoolers together in undertaking the same activities.

Also in case you missed the Free outdoor challenges for home schoolers or use in school grounds on Nature Days Blog and You Tube channel. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDXOJ1IVfClsnj99NuCHmAQ

I hope you will be in touch and use Nature Days services at this challenging time.

Buy now by emailing naturedays@reynoldston.com

or on TES

For more details look at the Nature Days web page www.naturedays.co.uk

Follow us on Twitter @DawnNaturedays #Naturedays

Lots of free resources on the Nature Days blog and You tube channel #Naturedays

Dawn Thomas 07779950126  naturedays@reynoldston.com

The Elderflowers are out!
My challenge for you is to collect some elderflowers and make some elderflower cordial.
Check out my you tube video for instructions.

What you need:

20 heads of elderflower (picked on a dry sunny day)

1.5kg Sugar

3 pints of boiled water.

30g Tartaric or citric acid.

2 sliced lemons.

What to do:

Put boiled water into a large pan.  Add sugar and tartaric or citric acid. Stir until dissolved and leave to cool.

When cold, add elderflowers and the sliced lemons and stir.  Leave for 24 hours stirring periodically.  

Strain and bottle in sterilised bottles.

The cordial is ready to drink straight away and if kept in the fridge, will last a few months, or it can be frozen.  Dilute to taste with still or sparkling water.

And for all the grown ups, there will be a recipe for elderflower champagne in the next few days!

If you make the elderflower cordial then I would love to hear what you think of it. So tweet comments #Naturedays @DawnNaturedays or post on the Nature days facebook.

Did it rain with you last night? I love the smell you get after rain when it has been really dry.
My challenge for you is to do some smell mapping!

Check out my you tube video to see how to do it.

What you will need:
A Map of your garden or local area – check out my You tube video to see how to make one. https://youtu.be/q46ImI1NvoI
Coloured pencils.
Smell Wheel. Download below on my Nature Days blog.
Your nose!

How you do it:
Take a walk around your garden or local area.
Stop every few meters and have a good smell.
Use the smell wheel to identify which smell you can smell. If the smell is not on the wheel that you can make up your own colour for the new smell. Don’t forget to add it to you maps legend or key.
Then colour that part of the map with that colour. You can walk along and see when the smell stops and colour the whole area or just colour a circle at you sample site. Use your other senses to seek out smell sources. Rub leaves, crush petals, listen for whirring fans, touch and smell textured surfaces.

Once you have completed your smell mapping look at your map and see if you can see any patterns in your data. Is there more man made smells closer to roads or buildings? Is there more natural or man made smells closer to where you live? Can you add a value to the intensity of the smell? What if there was more than one smell, was it hard to distinguish each one? If you had to add lots of new smells to you key then maybe you can create your own smell wheel for your area, remember that this smell wheel was made for urban, built up, areas and the USA.  Can you create your own rural or UK version?
This is a great exercise to do to compare with wind direction to see if there is a relationship between the movement of smell and the wind direction.

There are some great examples of smell maps on this website so you can see how people have created their smell maps so be creative.


I would love to see the smell maps you create so we can get a whole “smellscape” of the Nature Days community.
Please tweet photos #Naturedays @DawnNatureDays or post on the Nature Days facebook page or email me naturedays@reynoldston.com