Bees and Mini Beasts

comb-explorationBees are a constant theme at The Fox Guild – we just love them!

While exploring garden critters at our Little Foxes Nature Play recently we spent some time thinking about bees and were able to get hands on with old brood comb and fresh honey comb (there may have been a little bit of taste testing too).

Our magnifying glasses came in handy as we were able to see some of the brood that had been in the process of hatching out.

Wild swarms have been highly co-operative and we’ve been lucky enough to spot a wild hive at both our Inverleigh and Geelong locations giving the children and their grownups a little peek at the sort of natural spaces bees can take up residence.

A homemade miniature Kenyan Top Bar hive with felt bees provided a more hands on opportunity to have a look inside a structure people use to house and care for bees in their own yard.

Other mini beasts got a little look in with children observing and holding slaters and snails. A few found worms, spiders, millipedes and one stunning dragonfly rounded things out for us.

snails

We love the idea of making ‘bug hotels’ to encourage beneficial insects into the backyard – this can be a great family project that provides an ongoing nature connection in your household.

If you’re interested in making one we’ve pinned a few variations of bug hotels on our Family Gardening Pinterest Board.

Planting for Bees

Tom and I were a little bit excited to offer the Planting for Bees workshop.

We were lucky to have a group of families come along who had a range of different experience in gardening and keeping bees.

We started off the day thinking about our favourite insects  and chatting about how important bees are in our food production. The children helped us identify food, including honey, that bees play a role in preparing (pollinating) for us.

We talked about threats to bees, including pesticides, mites and small hive beetles – and bears 🙂

Planting both supports bees and encourages them to visit our garden. Bee ‘baths’ are another way to support them and also a way to say  ‘Thankyou’ to bees. We had a few examples of how you might create a bee bath at home.

Everyone had plenty of suggestions of different flowers bees might like and we got a little muddy making seed bombs to take home for bombing our gardens or local parks.

The honey and homemade chocolate was polished off pretty quickly.

We used the Quirky Cooking chocolate recipe that has five ingredients, one of the main ones being honey. We made a few varieties, including one with sour cherry and one with almonds. Yum!

 

We had a few take home goodies including a borage plant, a ‘bees like these’ poster with some flowers bees like and a ‘hexahexaflexagon’ (a small folding puzzle with the object being to find the queen).

You can download a poster of the Bees Like These – poster here.xx

Wind and Play

We had a beautiful winter afternoon for our Wind and Play. Unexpectedly there was sunshine and we were lucky to have a bit of a breeze and a few kites managed to spend some time in the sky.

Wind and Play was a day centred around the theme of wind, where a number of ‘play -stations’ were set up inviting for families to explore and play at their own pace. Stations included kite-making, a large parachute, wind ribbons, bubbles and a story corner with books about wind.

The little washing corner was a sweet addition, where children spent some time washing and then hanging clothes to air dry.

We had a few children trying out their capes and broomsticks and imagining taking flight in the wind.

A lovely group of families came along on the day and we’d like to say a big thankyou to all of them. xx

Enjoying the cooler months outside

Winter is the perfect time to get outside and explore wild places.

bonnie rocks playing

A few great things you can do with your children this winter include;

  • Walk to your favourite outdoor cafe and have a bowl of soup or a warm drink.
  • Select a patch in your garden for your children. Turn it over together, compost and plant some bulbs for spring.
  • Find a special place for your family somewhere within an hour of your home. A reserve, park, bushland, waterfall, river or beach. This might be somewhere you’ve visited before or somewhere you’ve had in mind as a special spot. Visit it each season to see the changes.
  • Pack your favourite snacks, scarves and rain coats and explore a new walk.
  • Visit the beach – enjoy the wind and watch the water being blown about. Running in big open spaces can be fabulous after being cooped up – and a change of warm clothes in the car may also come in handy!
  • Dig a hole and surround with rocks in the backyard. Share with your child how to build a fire, teaching them a new skill and how to be safe around fire, then enjoy lunch or a snack cooked over the fire.
  • Collect nature items for a nature table or craft activity – leaves, feathers and grasses for weaving. Gumnuts, seeds and flowers for threading.
  • Pop on your warm clothes, take a blanket and some storybooks, find the perfect tree to sit under and read together – possibly just in your backyard.
  • Go on a bug hunt, take a notebook and magnifying glass, draw pictures of all the insects you find.

Let your children know that you’re okay with rain, wind and cooler weather (even if you’re not that keen on it yourself!)

Children often take their lead from adults. If we never go outside, or complain when we are out in the elements children will take their cues from this experience.

By letting our children know that the rain can be lovely, that cooler weather is perfect for long walks and that wind can make us want to run wild and free we are letting our children know that going outside in all sorts of weather is okay – and maybe we’ll begin to enjoy it too!

 

3 kids river rocks

Cloud Animals

Tom and our two oldest children saw an amazing cloud on the way home from a bike ride last night.

cloud

And then, Tom did this…. hmmm

bear2

We’d love to see your cloud animals – use #foxguildcloudanimals on instagram, twitter or facebook and we’ll see if we can find them. xx

 

Slowly getting started

It has been lovely to spend months daydreaming, talking and imagining what The Fox Guild could be. It is beginning to take shape and we are enjoying moving out of the daydreaming and into the planning.

Business-y things are getting done and events are being scheduled.

We’d love you to look through the events and see if there is anything that sounds like it might be for you.

Little Foxes Nature Play Group is in the final stages of planning. We are offering this in 6 week blocks each term and Bec is off to a Nature & Pedagogy conference and updating her First Aid to get Nature Play ready.

The Early Winter Walk – taking place at the beginning of June is a free family event that encourages us to get outside in the cooler months. This community walk and lunch should be a fun one to get along to. We look forward to longer walks later in the year.

Both of these events are built on the idea that getting kids (& grownups) outside and playing in nature is essential for healthy and normal development.

A huge and grateful thanks to people who have encouraged and supported The Fox Guild in moving beyond the initial imagining stage 🙂

Keep your eye posted to the website to hear about upcoming events. You can also find us on Instagram and Facebook. xx