It’s the 1st June and that means one thing – the very first day of the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild challenge, with its aim to get us all outside enjoying nature in whatever way we can for every day of the month to come. We will be blogging about our challenges every week on Baby Routes (sometimes more often) but you can keep up with our daily 30 Days Wild activities over on Instagram and Twitter.
Our challenge starts whilst we are on holiday in Switzerland but location is irrelevant. Wherever you are in the world, rural or urban, there is always some wildlife to be found right under our noses.
We started off our 30 Days Wild challenge by making a nature book for Roo to complete each day during June. It’s something we’ve done before and is a really nice way to encourage curiosity about the different plants and flowers around us, record any interesting nature finds or observations, as well as being a handy place to store all those nature ‘treasures’ in the form of mangy old feathers, twigs and dried up leaves that seem to constantly be found tumbling out of my 4 year old’s pockets!
After cutting up plain A4 paper in half, we hole-punched it and threaded some old spare ribbon through it to make an impromptu notebook. Roo set to work decorating the front cover. Then it was time to get outside and find the subject for her first entry.
The meadows in Switzerland are beginning to burst into flower right now, particularly those in the grassy valleys. Despite some noticeable differences in plant species many of the flowers in the lower lying areas are familiar from home, buttercups and dandelions being the most common example. Where we are staying the garden borders open farmland with wonderful hay meadows full of flowers. It’s a sight I remember well from childhood but rarely see these days back at home, and the location that Roo and Beth zoomed straight off to the fringes of in search of something ‘wild’.
Beth is at that age where dandelion seed heads provide endless fascination. It is equally enchanting watching her try to blow them. Roo is equally taken with them but being slightly older, loves watching the shape of their tiny white parachute seed forms floating out over the lawn of the adjoining garden for a different reason.
‘Now they can make new plants,’ she observed as a her sister puffed a large cloud of white into the air. ‘Lots and lots of new dandelions!’
I had a feeling that the owners of the lawn in question may not be quite as pleased about this as she evidently was but it was lovely to see that wide-eyed wonder at nature’s cleverness.
Given their abundance along the garden fence-line Roo wanted to stick a dandelion seed head in her Wild Book rather than draw it, as is usually our rule with wild plants. You try sticking dandelion seeds in a book though…one playful teasing breeze and the little white heads were off on their own adventures, oblivious to Roo’s intentions.
Her aunty suggested hair-spray – a technique I’ve heard before for keeping dried roses in shape long after their petals have passed their glory. Our first attempt was a disaster but second time round, picking a recently developed dandelion seed-head, worked perfectly and that soft cloud of downy seeds was frozen in shape.
Too perfectly shaped to consider sticking into a flat book, the idea of a nature mobile was mooted. Roo set to work gathering sticks whilst her little sister collected a few more seed heads to be hair-sprayed.
Some clear nylon thread was hunted down and then we set to work together to string up the delicate dandelion heads (see this tutorial if you’d like to make your own).
The effect was really lovely, particularly when hung up in the tree outside swaying softly but each individual seed now immune to the pull of the breeze. If the sun comes out, perhaps we will need to start our nature naps again, this time with a wonderfully soothing nature mobile to add to the wonderful calm of simply stopping a while out in nature.
Are you taking part in the 30 Days Wild Challenge? If so, what have you been up to this week? Check back in with us on social media and the blog to see what things we have been doing during our first seven days of the challenge. And if you’ve not signed up to take part yet then don’t let a day or two delay stop you. Here are 32 ideas from our challenge last year (see the bottom of that post) to get you started! Big or small, it’s time to go wild!