Most children have a natural curiosity about the world around them, but there are a number of ways in which this can be nurtured and encouraged.
Join a club
Some of the larger national wildlife organisations have specific sections for children, some with their own magazine and local area meetings.
RSPB Wildlife Explorers (formerly YOC)
Suitable for pre-teens with a magazine six times a year, competitions, membership pack and free entry to RSPB Reserves.
Aimed at teenagers, membership benefits include Birdlife and Wingbeat magazines, plenty of competitions to enter, free entry to RSPB Reserves and an annual conference to attend.
Wildlife Watch is the junior membership club of the SWT for young environmentalist between 5 and 14 years. Members receive six packages a year full of wildlife information and goodies. There are also 23 Wildlife Watch Clubs in Scotland that you can join.
A fantastic wealth of membership items including activity packs, plus an excellent website with weekly challenges designed to get children out of their chairs and out of doors.
Go on holiday
The Field Studies Council runs family wildlife and discovery holidays covering wildlife watching, survival techniques and arts and crafts. The FSC has teamed up with the RSPB Wildlife Explorers to tailor these courses to families.
Forest School Camps give children the opportunity to learn by doing things for themselves. A limited amount of their camps take place in Scotland, with many more activities available across the UK.
The John Muir Trust oversees the highly respected John Muir Award Scheme, that encourages people of all backgrounds to connect, enjoy and care for wild places. The Award is not competitive but should challenge each participant. Taking part will develop an understanding of, and responsibility for, a chosen wild place or places.
Online games and activities
There are a wide variety of websites that cater for childrens interest in the natural world. A selection are listed below:
The BBC has a wide range of activities for children of all ages. New topics are being added all the time, but try the CBBC Wild section, and the Science and Nature section (aimed at adults and suitable for teenagers.)
Natural History Museum Kids Only section of their website – includes Fun and games where you can play with dinosaurs, volcanoes and nits! Also access to their ant and beetle naturecams.
Nature Detectives – provided by the Woodland Trust. A comprehensive resource, with games, arts and crafts, puzzles, identification guides and id sheets. Excellent selection of downloads and printables.
The WWF has a special “go wild” section on their website for children including games, ecards, activity sheets to print
Brock’s World is the official website of the Junior Badger Club, part of the National Federation of Badger Groups! Brock’s World is – a place where children can learn about the badgers of the world, and have fun too!
The Marine Conservation Society has a “Cool Seas” section for children on their website with puzzles and colouring sheets. Also includes teachers resources.
The RSPB has a childrens section on their website with a fantastic selection of games, puzzles, learning resources and projects to make and do.
Visit the Kidwings site to complete an online virtual owl pellet dissection. Although this is an american site featuring non-european species, there is good information on owl pellets, their formation and how to dissect them. The RSPB also has information about owl pellets.
The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust has a Kid’s Zone with interactive games and with an excellent collection of wildlife factsheets.
The Kids Zone on OPAL has competitions, games, activity sheets and quizzes. Subjects include weather, lichens, worms and soil, hedges, ponds and biodiversity.