Monday, April 19, 2010

just add animals, insects and creatures

Children have a natural curiosity about insects and animals, so it is not surprising to find that if it crawls, creeps, flies, squirms, wiggles or swims then children want it in their play spaces. 

Today as a part of our series on how to create an iressistible playspace for children lets take a look at how include animals, insects and wildlife in your backyard or playground.

If You Build It They Will Come 

If you add natural elements such as trees, plantings, grass, dirt, ponds, creek beds, logs and rocks to your play space you will not only add character and playability but also attract insects and other wildlife.

Learning about the wildlife in your area will give you an idea of the types of native animals, birds and creatures you could attract and the types of plantings that will provide them with food and shelter.  Don't forget to add a water source such as a pond, water feature or bird bath.

Even a small urban backyard can be a source of wonderous wildlife discoveries:
Backyard Wildlife Watching :: Go Explore Nature

Giving Things a Bit of a Nudge

If you would like to go the extra mile to entice creatures and critters into your backyard or play space, then why not adapt some of these nifty ideas:

Create a bug hotel

Create a frog habitat :: Frogs Australia
Creating a frog pond (in a container) :: Little Eyes on Nature

Inspiration from New Zealand

I find plenty of ideas from  Little Eyes on Nature , the blog for the Tawa Montessori Preschool and I am sure you will too.  Their approach to natural play spaces and helping children connect with the natural world is inspiring, and their play space includes:
  • turtles
  • fish
  • frogs
  • breeding crickets
  • chickens
  • ducks
  • rabbits
  • guinea pigs
The children have daily opportunities to care for the pets, to observe the insects and birds and to practice nurturing and positive behaviours towards the natural world. You can read more about it by following these links:

the wonderful world of insects ::: little eyes on nature
crickets galore ::: little eyes on nature
a new home for our turtle ::: little eyes on nature
our very own bug hilton ::: little eyes on nature
discovering new life: baby animals at preschool ::: little eyes on nature
creating a frog pond ::: little eyes on nature

Read the Full Series

This post is a part of a series on how to create irresistible outdoor playspaces for children. You can start reading this series here. I hope you enjoy it and feel free to share ideas that have inspired or worked for you in the comments section.

Tomorrow:  Just add levels, nooks, crannies and places to hide.


  1. We miss having trees in our yard as we live in a new house.

    At our old rental we had a huge fig tree in the middle. During the day we might get rosellas visit, and were often woken with a yard full of cockatoos.

    Our favourite time was night time and my daughter knew all about animals being nocturnal thanks to the bats and possums who would visit. Nana may not have appreciated it so much when dragged outside at 2am to go and have a look at them LOL

  2. Another great post Jenny. Little Eyes on Nature is a wonderful site ... I am about to go and check out all the links you've put up.
    Our children love bugs so we are about to create a special garden to attract them and "keep them" ... in the hope the children will allow them to be free rather than stuffing them into a plastic container ... never to breath or eat again!
    Tomorrow we will post our Hush Garden ... made over!
    Your irresistible series has been timed perfectly for us and I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's to see what else you have to inspire us with.

    Thanks jenny, Donna :) :)

  3. Another lovely post! Last year we made a bee hotel and had lots of fun in the process:

  4. Hi Jenny

    This is a lovely post especially as 2010 is the International Year of Biodeiversity. By planting what you suggest then you are creating "mix 'n' match ecosystems".

    It makes a huge difference to wildlife if there are corridors of plants and shelter and water - a few logs in isolation and away from tall grass and trees for example, will never have the diversity of lifeforms compared to these things being closely link together.

    Best wishes
    (Life Member of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society)

  5. Your blog should be called Keep the Teachers Dreaming. Every post is so inspiring and filled with possibility. I gave you a shout out in my last blog post. I hope my whole community logs on too. Thanks again.

  6. Thanks for the mention, Jenny. I've loved this series & am excited to go build a bug hotel with my kiddos!

  7. I appreciate all your comments and suggestions - glad you find the images as inspiring as I do!

  8. Oh, I was so proud of our worm bed and the fact that one of our families let us borrow their pet chicken for a day . . . Now I see there is so much more for us to do. Breeding crickets, huh? That could be fun!

  9. I know, who'd have thought of breeding crickets. Maybe if we kept a lizard we could breed the food source!