Garden birds facts for kids

Even during lockdown winter, you can look out for birds in your garden and local park.

If you have a garden, why not put down some seeds, fat balls or fruit, and see which birds visit? Make sure that they are bird safe and don’t have any added salt. For some healthy bird food ideas, go to https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/how-you-can-help-birds/feeding-birds/

When you spot a bird, you could draw a picture of it. If it was too far away, or you didn’t get a good look, ask your grown up to find a picture of the bird for you. Then you can take your time drawing a picture. Take note of the shape of their body, their beak and what colours they are.

You could also look up some interesting facts about the bird that you spotted.

You could find out:

What they eat (diet),

Who eats them (predators),

Where they usually live (habitat),

How many eggs they lay each year,

And their size.

Then you could write down the best facts on your drawing. Soon you will have a fact file of birds, to keep and show your teacher and friends one day. 🙂🐦

Two good websites for finding bird facts are https://www.rspb.org.uk/fun-and-learning/for-kids/facts-about-nature/

And https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/animals/birds/

I have made some fact sheets about three birds that I saw in my garden: robin, blackbird and house sparrow.

What birds will you spot?

For more fun ideas on how to encourage your child to enjoy reading and writing, go to https://wordsforlife.org.uk/

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Fluffy is kind

It was morning, and Autumn the fox and Fluffy the hedgehog were sitting at the kitchen table, doing homeschooling.

“I just want to go back to normal,” Autumn sighed, “I miss all of our friends at school.”

“I miss them too,” agreed Fluffy, “and Mrs Badger too.”

The friends were learning maths, and it was tricky. Mr Hedgehog was trying to teach them, but he was a firefighter not a teacher.

“Just write 8,” huffed Mr Hedgehog.

“But how did you get the answer 8?” asked Autumn.

“I can’t explain, but the answer is 8,” he sighed.

Mr Hedgehog was brave and kind and an excellent firefighter, but he did not like maths.

“Can we have a break please Daddy? My brain hurts,” asked Fluffy.

“No, you can’t. Finish your maths first,” replied Mr Hedgehog.

“But we don’t understand it!” said Autumn.

She burst into tears and ran to her bedroom. She hated homeschooling and she hated lockdown. She lay down on her bed and cried.

Mr Hedgehog was sad. He didn’t mean to upset Autumn.

“I will go and have a chat with Autumn,” he said to his son Fluffy, “I know that you are both struggling with being at home all of the time.”

“I have a better idea, who don’t you make us both a hot chocolate, and bring it upstairs in a few minutes? I am going to do something to cheer Autumn up,” said the little hedgehog.

“Ok, that sounds like a good plan.”

So Fluffy got out the things that he needed for the surprise for his friend.

After a few minutes, he was finished.

“Ok Dad, are the hot chocolates ready?” He asked.

“Yes,” replied Mr Hedgehog, “with extra marshmallows.”

The two hedgehogs walked up the stairs to Autumn’s bedroom. She was still on her bed.

“I am sorry that you are sad,” said Fluffy, sitting down on the bed with the gift, “I made you something to cheer you up.”

Autumn sat up, wiping the tears from her furry cheeks.

“You got me something?” She sniffed.

“Well, I made you something.” He handed the gift to Autumn.

Mr Hedgehog put the hot chocolates onto the bedside table.

“Thank you,” said Autumn.

Autumn looked at the gift that Fluffy had made her.

“It’s a drawing of us!” She laughed, “thank you Fluffy, it’s lovely.” She gave her friend a big hug.

“You’re welcome,” smiled Fluffy.

“Look, we are in the forest where we met the sleeping bear last year,” said Autumn.

Autumn felt happy that her friend Fluffy was so kind and had made her a gift. Fluffy felt pleased that he had cheered up his friend.

After their drinks, the friends went back downstairs to finish their maths. Mr Hedgehog showed them a video about the work that they were learning, which helped them to understand.

That evening they uploaded a photo of Fluffy’s drawing for Mrs Badger to see.

“Well done, you have been kind to your friend,” wrote Mrs Badger, “two house points to Fluffy.”

Fluffy felt proud of himself. It was good to be kind.

The End

Illustrations by Bethany, age 7.

We took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch always takes place in January. It allows the RSPB to assess how wildlife is coping.

https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch/everything-you-need-to-know-about-big-garden-birdwatch/

It’s Sunday afternoon, and Bethany and I are sitting in the gazebo in our garden, wrapped up in coats and blankets. We have coffee, hot chocolate and chocolate brownies to hand.


So far, we have only seen two seagulls flying overhead. We also heard a bird’s claws scrambling about on the gazebo roof, but we couldn’t see what it was. We heard a crow in a nearby garden earlier. It’s snowing lightly and very cold.


To stave off boredom, Bethany is now drawing a Robin in pencil in her drawing pad. I have drawn one too. We often get robins in our garden. But not so far today.

I put nuts and birdseed on the grass earlier. They aren’t tempting the birds to our garden yet.

It’s quiet, although we can hear birds calling. I don’t know if we will see any birds this hour. It’s snowing a little.

A flying insect passes nearby. I thought that it was too early in the year for them?

We are probably scaring the birds by being outside, but this is more fun than watching from the warm indoors. It feels like more of an adventure. My feet are getting cold.

A single starling flies past, twirling and showing off. It’s unusual to see one by itself: they are usually in flocks of 20 or more.

The snow is getting a bit heavier now.

There go some seagulls: 1, 2, 3.

I am enjoying sitting outside and looking and listening. It’s peaceful. A silent snowy Sunday afternoon.

We both eat a brownie.

There are some perfect snowdrops at the base of the apple tree. I notice that the apple tree has many buds, waiting patiently for spring.

Hooray! Bethany spots a male blackbird, who quickly flies into the garden and finds a snack near the bushes.

A little brown sparrow pauses for a second on the fence.

That’s it, our hour is up. We spotted only two birds, but had a peaceful time together in the garden watching the snow fall.

Autumn and Fluffy at home school

It was a grey and rainy day. Autumn watched the raindrops hitting the window. She sighed.

“Why does it have to rain so much?” She wondered aloud. “When can we go back to proper school?”

Autumn’s Mummy looked up from helping Fluffy with a maths question. 

“All the grass would turn brown if it didn’t rain,” she replied, “and wouldn’t that be sad?”

“Hmph.” Answered Autumn.

“And as for going back to proper school, I don’t know the answer to that… we will have to wait until it is safer, don’t you think?” Mummy said.

“But why isn’t it safe now? I miss my friends. I miss my school playground with the basketball net and forest school pond.” The young fox moaned.

“We all wish it were safe, don’t we Fluffy?” Asked Autumn’s Mummy.

“Yes. I miss school too. Although, I am glad that we live in the same house so that I can still play with you,” answered Fluffy. “Imagine if we lived apart? No friends to run around the garden with, or play games with then.”

“You’re right. I am glad that we live together too.” Autumn smiled for the first time that day.

“I still miss normal life though. School dinners were much tastier, you got lots of rice pudding for dessert…”

“Thanks a lot!” Laughed Mummy. 

“Sorry Mummy.” Said Autumn with a cheeky grin. 

“Oh, it’s time for your live English lesson soon.” Said Mummy. “I will just start up the laptop. Have you got your pencils and paper ready?” 

“Yes Mummy.”

“Yes Autumn’s Mummy.” 

The friends had some live lessons with their teacher on the computer. They couldn’t have all of their classes that way because their teacher Mrs Badger had to teach the key workers’ children at school too. It was quite complicated.

The live lesson started.

“Good morning class.” Said Mrs Badger on the computer screen.

“Good morning Mrs Badger!” Chimed the children simultaneously.

“Today we are going to practice writing the letter G.” Announced Mrs Badger. “So make sure that you have your sharpened pencils ready, as well as some lined paper. But first I will read you a story. Have you ever heard of Hansel and Gretel?” She asked.

A few children said yes but some said no.

“Right, well, let me show you the cover first…”

The teacher showed them the cover of the book with the title ‘Hansel and Gretel’ on it, and a picture of a gingerbread house.

“Can anyone find the letter G on the cover?” Asked Mrs Badger.

“I can!” Answered a boy called Fido. “There it is, in the title.”

“Well done Fido!” That’s right, because Gretel starts with the letter G.” Mrs Badger pointed to the letter.

“Once upon a time, there was a boy called Hansel and his sister, called Gretel. They lived in a little wooden cottage in the woods. They were very poor. One day…”

Blip! 

The laptop suddenly froze, with a still picture of Mrs Badger reading the book, stuck on it. 

“Oh no!” Sighed Fluffy.

“Mummy, the laptop froze again!” Shouted Autumn angrily. 

Mummy came rushing from the other room, where she had been trying to do some work on her computer. 

“Oh not again. Let me have a look at it.”

Mummy pressed a few buttons on the laptop, but nothing happened. 

“Why does it always go wrong?” Sniffed Autumn. “I am fed up with this home schooling!”

Autumn jumped up from the table and ran upstairs to her room.

Fluffy looked sad and watched as Autumn’s Mummy tried to fix the computer. Eventually, the picture and sound came back. 

“Well done.” Smiled Fluffy.

“Thank you.” Said Mrs Fox. 

He called up the stairs to Autumn that the laptop was working again.

Fluffy really enjoyed the story of Hansel and Gretel, even though she had missed some of it. He explained to Mrs Badger that his computer had gone wrong part way though. Mrs Badger said that she would send the story as a file to read with their grown-ups, for anyone whose video or computer wasn’t working.

Finally, Autumn stomped back downstairs. She still looked cross.

“I see that the stupid laptop is finally working again.” She said, sitting down at the table.

“Yes, your Mummy fixed it.” Replied Fluffy.

Fluffy’s Daddy came downstairs for a cup of coffee. He made one for Autumn’s Mummy too. He was a firefighter. He was working that night, so resting in the day.

“How are you getting on with the home schooling today?” He asked.

“Badly!” Replied Autumn. “Our laptop is so old that it doesn’t work properly. I just want to go back to real school now.”

Fluffy’s Daddy sipped his coffee thoughtfully.

“Do you know why you have to home school now?” He asked Autumn.

“Yes, because of the virus. It is safer for us to stay at home.” Said Autumn.

“The more we mix with other people, the more people will get sick.” Added Fluffy.

“That’s right,” replied Mr Hedgehog. “So even though home schooling is difficult and sometimes annoying, you are both helping to keep everyone safe.”

“Yes, but it’s not fair that we have an old computer. I missed the story today because it went wrong!” Answered Autumn.

“We are lucky to have two computers to use: one for your school work and one for Mrs Fox’s work. Some people can’t afford any computers. Did you know that?” Fluffy’s Dad asked.

“No.” Said Autumn. “How do they do their school work at home then?”

“Some of them just can’t. Others have to borrow their Mum or Dad’s phone, when they can.” Replied Mr Hedgehog.

“Oh,” said Autumn, “I didn’t know that. I suppose that our old laptop isn’t that bad after all.”

“Yes, it does work most of the time.” Agreed Fluffy.

“I helped put out a fire at a house last night,” said Mr Hedgehog. “They lost all of their clothes, toys and computers in the fire. That was very sad.”

“Oh no, were they all ok?” Asked Autumn.

“Yes, we got them all out safely.” He replied. “Look, the rain has stopped. Should we all go outside to play football for a while? It can be your PE lesson. After that, we can have hot chocolate with marshmellows.”

“Yes please!” Said Autumn and Fluffy excitedly.

Autumn thought that home school wasn’t so bad after all.

The End

I wrote this story, and my daughter Bethany drew the illustrations. We enjoy making up stories together.

If you have kids, there are many ways to encourage their love of books. You can read to them; make up your own silly stories; or draw your favourite story-book characters. 🙂

If you would like to find more literacy based activities, and stories to read with your child, have a look at https://literacytrust.org.uk

They have a wealth of resources for all ages.

Christmas memory baubles

It was 7 days until Christmas, and Leila was extremely excited. She loved Christmas. She loved the presents, she loved the crafts, but most of all she loved having all of her family together and eating too much.


Leila’s Mummy and Daddy had put up the Christmas tree, and Leila and Mummy were making some more decorations for it. They had already made some paper snowflakes and painted some wooden cutouts of the Nativity scene. Now they were working on baubles. These were no ordinary baubles though: they had little photos of their family members inside them. Mummy was cutting out the photographs and Leila was adding decorations like small sparkly stars and glitter, to make them look snowy. It was quite messy.


“Oops!” Leila cried as a pile of glitter landed on the floor. “Sorry Mummy.”


“Oh dear, not again.” Sighed Mummy, reaching for the dust pan and brush for the third time that morning.


“Glitter is quite messy, isn’t it?” Mummy asked.


“Definitely.” Agreed Leila.


Leila was filling up a bauble with a picture of her Gran and Grandad in it. They had big smiles. She put in extra glitter because she loved them very much.


“Mummy, I wish that Arlo could be with us this Christmas.” She said.


“Me too!” Agreed Mummy, reaching over to give Leila a hug.


“I really miss him.” 


“So do Daddy and I. We think about him every day.” Replied Mummy.


“How old would Arlo be now, of he was still alive?” Asked Leila.


“He would be 2 now. Just imagine, he would be getting his fingers in the glitter, and pulling the baubles off the tree!” Answered Mummy.


“Yeah, I think that he would be very cute, but also a mischief.”


“I think so too.” Agreed Mummy.

“Look, here is a photo of you holding Arlo when he was very little. Shall we make this into a special memory bauble?”


“Yes please. I think that it will be the best bauble ever.” Said Leila.


They had some tiny heart stickers, which Leila added to the outside of the bauble to show that it was an extra special one.


When it was finished, Leila held the bauble in her hand and smiled. 


“It’s beautiful.” Said Mummy.
“Sometimes I feel sad when I think that Arlo is missing out on Christmas.” Admitted Leila.


“Me too darling. But we will always remember him and always love him, won’t we? Do you remember that time that he weed all over Daddy when he changed his nappy?” 


“Oh yes, that was hilarious!” Laughed Leila.


Mummy and Leila hung all of the baubles onto the Christmas tree. They all looked good, but the one of Leila and her little brother was especially lovely. A ray of sunshine came in through the window and made it sparkle.
Mummy and Leila looked at each other and smiled. 


“It’s like he’s saying hello.”

Christmas can be a difficult time for bereaved people. If you have been affected by baby or child loss, here are some places that offer support.

https://www.careforthefamily.org.uk/family-life/bereavement-support

https://www.thegoodgrieftrust.org

https://www.sands.org.uk

National Grief Awareness Week: my story

Care for the family, who have a bereaved parents’ group, lead by the lovely Mike and Kath, spoke to me about my experience as a pregnant Mum who knew that her baby would die, and grief after your child has died.

https://www.careforthefamily.org.uk/bereaved-parents/a-very-short-life

Autumn and Fluffy and the foggy day

Autumn woke up, yawned widely, showing off all of her sharp teeth, and peeked out of the window.  


“Oh no! The world has disappeared!” She cried.


The young fox ran downstairs to tell her Mummy.
“Mummy, the world has gone, look outside!”

She pointed to what used to be the back garden.
Mummy put down her cup of coffee and looked outside the kitchen window. Autumn was right. The back garden was gone. Instead, everything was all white.


“That’s ok Autumn, it’s only fog.” Smiled Mummy Fox.


“What’s fog and why did it eat our garden?” Asked Autumn, feeling concerned.


“It’s cloud. Thick cloud that is very low. Our back garden and the world is still there. It’s just that you can’t see it.” Explained Mummy.


“Ok. I am going to wake Fluffy, to show him the fog.” Replied Autumn.


Autumn ran up the two flights of stairs to the attic, where Fluffy and her family lived. Fluffy was a hedgehog. 


“Fluffly, wake up! There’s fog!” She shouted into the attic room.

Fluffy sat up in her tiny bed, looking confused.


“What’s fog? Where’s fog?” She asked, rubbing her eyes.


“The fog is outside of course!” Said Autumn.


Fluffy crept to the window and looked outside cautiously.


“Where has everything gone? Why is it so white?” She asked.


“I told you, it’s fog!” Laughed Autumn. “But don’t worry, it’s not eaten the whole world! It’s just a cloud.”


“Oh.” Replied Fluffy. “I thought that clouds lived in the sky.”


“They do live in the sky usually,” replied Mr Hedgehog, who had put his slippers on, and was now looking out of the window too.


“But fog is low cloud. It sits on the ground and makes it difficult to see anything.” He explained.


“Fog, like a stratus cloud, is a cloud which forms when cool, still air is trapped underneath a warm air. Fog normally occurs at a relative humidity near 100%…”         

 “Daddy, that sounds incredibly complicated.” Interrupted Fluffy politely.


“Oh, sorry kids. Sometimes I forget that you are still young and don’t have your science degrees yet.”


“That’s ok, Mr Hedgehog. We like to learn all of the facts that you teach us.” Smiled Autumn.


“I have a great idea!” Said Fluffy. “Let’s go and play hide and seek in the fog.”


“Ok  but only after we had breakfast.” Said Autumn. “I’m hungry.”


The friends went downstairs and enjoyed their breakfast.


Fluffy had slugs and snails on toast and Autumn had pickles and chicken on toast. Yum.


Then the friends went outside to play hide and seek. The fog was swirly and white. They couldn’t see much. Autumn held up her paw in front of her face.


“Oh, I can’t see my paw properly.” She said. “I know it’s there, but it looks… smudgy. Like I am a pencil drawing and the artist started to rub me out!”


Autumn giggled. Imagine her being a drawing? Wasn’t that a silly thought? She was a real fox, not just a picture! 


“You hide first, I’ll seek.” Said Fluffy.
“Ok, good luck finding me in this fog!” Laughed Autumn.


“10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, ready or not here I come!” Shouted Fluffy.


Where could his friend be? He couldn’t see a thing. Maybe she was behind the shed? No. Perhaps Autumn was in the gazebo? Fluffy looked all around it. No, she wasn’t there. Maybe behind the apple tree? Fluffy crept close to the tree and peeked behind it. 


“There you are!” He cried happily.


“It was so easy to hide,” smiled Autumn. “The fog is so thick that I bet you didn’t see me until you got really close, did you?”


“No, not until I was right next to the tree.” Agreed Fluffy.


“Now it’s my turn to seek.” Said Autumn.


The friends played hide and seek for the rest of the morning, until they got too cold and had to go inside to ask for hot chocolate.


Later, they looked out of the window, and the fog had gone. The sun was beautiful and shining.


“Where has the fog gone?” Fluffy asked his Dad.


“The sun warmed up the air and so the fog went. We only get fog if the temperature of the air cools to the dew point, or if the dew point rises to be the same as the temperature of the air, fog will form.” Said Mr Hedgehog. 

    “Ok, thanks for all of the facts Daddy. Replied Fluffy.


“I do hope that the fog doesn’t go on holiday for long.” Muttured Autumn sadly.


“Oh, I’m sure that it will come back soon.” Said Mr Hedgehog.


The end.

My daughter Bethany and I wrote and illustrated this story.

Reading, writing and drawing builds confidence in kids, as well as developing their literacy and imagination.

To listen to stories, and access a great selection of educational activities, have a look at the National literacy trust’s website: https://literacytrust.org.uk