Child’s Play at Grow Wilder as My Wild Child returns

(c) Stephanie Sharkey

The sound of children’s laughter mixed with bird song have made a welcome return to our urban wildlife site at Grow Wilder, as we have resumed our nature connection activities for young children. We are thrilled to be able to offer these sessions face to face again, and to tell you the stories of these wild at heart children.

At our My Wild Child sessions, children aged under five have enjoyed exploring insect habitats, collecting nature treasures and much more – taking the need for social distancing in their stride! After a year of lockdown, their parents were equally delighted to be back at our My Wild Child sessions.

One of the Mums said, “My daughter isn’t going to nursery, so seeing her playing with other children safely in nature is brilliant!” A 2-year-old Wild Child agreed, telling me, “The best thing today is meeting new friends”. Importantly, she added she had also “seen a queen bee!” Many young children have not been able to socialise during lockdown, so seeing them interact with children their own age was a joyful benefit to these outdoor sessions.

One Mum, whose 3 year old is a bit of an insect enthusiast, described why the sessions are so vital to her: “I wanted to encourage his curiosity in nature and learn about the real world; something different to football and soft play.” One thing all the parents agreed on is that children need to spend time outside in nature. They promised they would be coming back next week, not to mention the week after that!

Meanwhile, for older children aged between five and ten, our popular Wildlife Watch club has restarted on the first Saturday of the month. With wildlife encounters, fascinating animal facts and creative crafts on offer, these sessions have enabled our young wildlife enthusiasts to enjoy returning to our fabulous venue, Grow Wilder.

One 5 year-old Wildlife Watcher has been attending our sessions since she was 2 years old! She loves exploring Grow Wilder and birdwatching, but her highlight has been seeing a vole. Her mum told me, “She wants to join the young volunteers when she’s old enough and maybe even work here when she’s older!”.

Over by the fire, the children were guessing how many feathers are in a long-tailed tit’s nest. “14!” guessed one wildlife watcher, “1000” guessed another. This answer was closest; long-tailed tits use 1500 feathers to build their nests!! A sound of awe passed through the group as we munched our snacks by the fire.

What next? Time to imagine and replicate the mating dance of the great-crested grebe, of course! Nothing is off limits at Wildlife Watch – so long as it allows us to celebrate nature.

If you’re a player of the People’s Postcode Lottery, which funds these sessions, it’s thanks to you that they are happening – and the great news is that they’re now restarting around Bristol. Our My Wild Child nature play sessions for toddlers run regularly during term time at The Bommie in Knowle on Wednesday mornings, and at Grow Wilder on Friday mornings. Meanwhile, our Wildlife Watch Club sessions are for children between the ages of five and ten, and we host these on the first Saturday of the month at Grow Wilder.

Would you like to pass on your love of the natural world to the next generation? Do you enjoy working with children, and would you be able to spare a few hours a month? Avon Wildlife Trust are looking for volunteer Wildlife Watch leaders and assistants to start up new nature clubs around the Bristol/Avon area for primary aged children and their families. Email alex.dommett@avonwildlifetrust.co.uk

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