Nature Canada

Biodiversity For Kids: Backyard Activities to Promote Biodiversity

Encouraging children to connect with the natural world can be done in our own backyards!

A great way to motivate children to connect with nature is to teach them about biodiversity, and how nature exists in a delicate balance. Promoting biodiversity for kids in the backyard is easier than one might think with some of these biodiversity activities.

This article will give you the tools to help teach children why biodiversity is so important for future generations and provide backyard activities that children can do in their area to promote biodiversity. These activities will provide an opportunity to learn about how to promote biodiversity for bees, birds, bugs, insects, and plant life in Canada through outdoor gardening and animal watching activities that families can do together. But first, what exactly is biodiversity and why is it so important?

What is biodiversity and why is it important?

Simply put, biodiversity is the diversity of life in a certain environment. This diversity of life relates to all animals, plants, and fungi that live together to keep the environment in its natural balance. Biodiversity works to support all forms of life and provides all living things with the nutrients, medicines, materials, and conditions for life to exist on earth. One thing cannot exist without the other, which means that every living thing has a purpose, from the busy bee to the great big bear. 

Biodiversity is important because humans, animals, and plants all depend on this balance for survival and for guidance. While biodiversity provides basic needs such as nutrients and shelter, it is also important for many processes that keep the world in balance, such as regulating the earth’s weather and climate, keeping water clean, as well as pollinating and dispersing seeds of plant life so trees and other plants can grow. Biodiversity is also a source of guidance, cultural significance, and spiritual connection for many people around the world. This is why it is so important for children to understand what biodiversity is, why it is important, and how they can help promote and protect it.

Backyard activities to promote biodiversity

These backyard activities were created in the spirit connecting children with the environment around them. Inspired by Nature Canada’s NatureHood program which connects city dwellers, young people, and their families to the nature around them, the following backyard activities are meant to do just that. Whether it’s out in the backyard, a park in the neighborhood, or a community green space, there is always somewhere to go and something to connect with. The following activities make it fun to promote biodiversity for kids and are accessible for families to do together.

Activity 1 | My bee garden

Bees are an important part of ecosystems across Canada and around the world. This activity is a fun and educational way to teach children about the importance of bees and how promoting plant biodiversity can help protect bees and other pollinators. 

Whether in the backyard or a community garden, this bee garden activity is a hands-on way to show children how human impact can also be a positive thing. 

  1. Find a space where flowers and plants can grow and make sure there are no pesticides used in this area.
  1. Ask your children to draw what they think the bee garden will look like. Let them imagine what kids of plants you should plant, and what kinds of pollinators the plants will attract, such as bees, butterflies and other pollinators. This is a great way to get them involved in the planning of the garden and get them looking forward to creating the sanctuary. Click here to download this ‘Bee Garden’ colouring page for your children to imagine their very own bee garden. 
  1. Next, try the following to attract pollinators like bees, butterflies and other pollinators:
  • Try wildflowers such as: Black-eyed Susan, Butterfly-weed, Goldenrod, Asters, Phlox, and Hawkweed
  • Also try herbs: Dill, Marjoram, Parsley, Hyssop, and Catnip
  • Create a bee bath with a shallow bowl or plate and add rocks for resting places
  1. Finally, spend time in your bee garden and enjoy the company of nature’s extraordinary pollinators!

Activity 2 | I Spy with my little eye… a bird!

Birds are also an important part of maintaining biodiversity and have many jobs to keep our environments healthy, such as pollination, spreading seeds, and keeping insects and bugs under control. Bird watching is not just a fun activity, but is important in monitoring the health of the environment and the level of biodiversity.

This backyard activity is sure to spark children’s curiosity in our feathered friends. I Spy has always been a classic kids favourite, so why not try it with the birds around the area?

1. Print out these ‘I Spy’ cards that have of the most common birds in Canada, or make some at home. This is a great way to teach children about bird behaviour and the kinds of birds that live in your region. 

2. Visit a park or forest in the area and play I Spy… a bird! Once a bird on the list has been spotted, it can be given a check mark. If you are in the backyard, why not try hanging a bird feeder or make one at home to attract all kinds of beautiful birds.

Activity 3 | Scavenger hunt: map and track

Bugs and insects are valuable members of our ecosystems. Bugs and insects are important because they support many animals such as birds, fish and frogs and sources of food. They also support humans by tending to the land to keep it healthy, as well as pollinating our food, and producing things like honey and silk.

This scavenger hunt is the perfect backyard activity for kids who are curious and love to explore, so they can get up close and personal with the environment. It’s also a chance to learn about the behaviour of bugs and insects, the types of areas, plants and flowers they hang around, and how are an important part of any ecosystem.

  1. Start by walking around the area and pointing out certain features, such as trees, water etc. Then, ask them to draw a map of the area that will be explored. Try printing the ‘My Bug and Insect Map’ to help them map out the backyard or green space they will explore.
  2. Next, get a closer look at each area that they have mapped out, and try to spot what bugs and insects are hanging around. Help them identify the bug or insect and try to observe their behaviour. Using this printable “My Bug and Insect Tracker’, children will be able to track what they see by naming and drawing the little creatures they find.

These backyard activities are designed to inspire little ones to learn about biodiversity in a fun and interactive way. By getting outside in their own environment, they are able to understand what biodiversity means to them, and how they play a part in the nature around them. Hopefully this article about biodiversity for kids can be used as an educational tool and can encourage families to give these activities a try for the benefit of their children and the nature in their own backyards. 

This article was written by Rachel Solway on behalf of Babysits Canada. You can visit this babysitting platform to easily and quickly find a reliable babysitter, nanny and childminder in your area!

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