After school this week, why not set your child the challenge of building a mini-shelter for a favourite toy?
This offers a great opportunity to chat about hibernation, habitat and the importance of leaving logs, leaves and branches in a corner of your garden or local park to provide a nesting space for wildlife. Young architects will enjoy making a stable structure, whilst others will simply relish caring for their toy and making them cosy and protected.
Thinking ahead to bonfire season, this activity also prompts a conversation about ways that we can help avoid harming wildlife when we light our fires. Andrew Impey from @essexwildlifetrust gives his top tips below:
1. Prepare the bonfire on the actual day, not beforehand. Wildlife such as hedgehogs will be looking to hibernate at this time of year, and may have seen your prepared bonfire as the perfect spot.
2. If you have already prepared the bonfire, move it to a different spot before lighting. You can simply move it bit by bit, to ensure no wildlife has settled inside.
3. Check the bonfire area using a broom or a pole. Simply work your way around the bonfire, making sure to lift and check deep in the centre.
4. If you do find a hedgehog, put on a pair of gloves and carefully remove it taking with you as much of the vegetation as possible. Place the hedgehog in a cardboard box, with the lid down, ensuring there are ventilation holes. Once the fireworks are finished and the bonfire is completely out, wait until the evening time and carefully move the hedgehog back into a quiet, secluded area such as a hedge or somewhere overgrown.