Growing up loving nature, one of my earliest memories was collecting minibeasts in bug pots in my grandma’s garden.  It was fascinating to see how many creatures you could find in such a small area of grass or shrub.  Those connections with nature shaped many of my life choices and without them I probably wouldn’t be doing what I am today.  For this reason I feel it is really important to connect kids with nature even if it is in your back garden or out on a huge reserve. You would be surprised at how many of the same  species call these too dramatically different habitats home.

Here at St Aidans we have developed our own Wildlife Explorer backpacks to get people out exploring the reserve and the tiny critters that call it their home. A backpack is available to hire for the day for £3 or free to RSPB members. The backpacks come in range of colours and are the perfect size for kids.  

So what’s inside?

Each discovery backpack contains plenty of activities and resources to help get kids close to nature. These include spotting sheets, guides to minibeasts, a bird book, bug pots and a magnifying glass to take a closer look at the bugs.

Although the backpacks are aimed for children it doesn’t mean they can’t be enjoyed by the adults accompanying them too! On a lovely summers day I ventured out to complete some of the activities. I picked three of the activities to complete.

 I began at the Visitor Centre with the bug hunting activity – whats that minibeast?. For this activity I used the bug collecting pots and a paintbrush to collect minibeasts. I didn’t have to go far from the visitor centre to find a range of insects amongst the long grasses and shrubs. 

Two star species were: seven spot ladybird and a yellow shell moth.

 Next stop was to find a tree to make a bark rubbing. I had to venture slightly further from the Visitor Centre this time but was soon able to see an array of trees.  Using some of the fabric, paper and crayons provided in the backpack I was able to make some fantastic rubbings. It was really interesting to compare the markings of the different species of trees. It also inspired me to increase my tree identification knowledge.  

My final activity was a brand new experience for me – Tree Sounds. For this all I needed was the stethoscope from the backpack.  Following the same steps you would normally for listening to the heartbeat of a human, I used the stethoscope to hear things moving within the tree. It was amazing what you could hear! A strange symphony of gurgles scratches and clicks.
Every tree was different too!

In just under an hour I had completed three fun but wild activities no further than 5 minutes walk from the visitor centre. Although I completed the activities on my own, each backpack contains enough equipment for two children (or adults) to enjoy.  Perfect for families on a sunny summers day!

To hire our backpacks at St Aidans just pop into the Visitor Centre and ask one of our staff.  We look forward to seeing all the minibeasts you find!