Discover Wildlife at Home: A Guide to Encouraging Birds, Mini-beasts, and Insects in Your Garden

Garden Safari

We can travel thousands of miles to see incredible creatures that inhabit our planet, but we can also find them right on our doorstep. There is nothing as wonderful as observing children discover the amazing creatures that exist in their immediate environment.

Encouraging wildlife into our gardens is good for biodiversity and good for our gardens. Additionally, wildlife in the garden provides endless opportunities for our children to be curious! A shallow tray, gentle hands, a small pot, a magnifier, and a paintbrush to carefully sweep up a creature for closer inspection are all you need to keep your children enthralled and entertained for hours.


There are many ways to encourage birds into the garden. Bird feeders, placed out of the reach of cats and made squirrel-proof if necessary, are extremely popular with all kinds of birds. When birds are feeding, they stay around long enough for us to watch them. Remember to add fresh water too. Children love watching the birds have a drink and a shower! If you have room, pop up some nest boxes in sheltered areas of your garden. There are several different types of nest boxes that will attract different types of birds. You can even set up a camera in the boxes to watch, from a distance, the birds rearing their young. Berry-rich shrubs and trees, wildflowers that attract insects for birds to feed on, and plants that produce seeds are all further enticements that will make your garden a great place to watch birdlife. My son assures me that his son can not only name all the characters in Paw Patrol but also name at least ten of our native birds!


Slugs and snails are fascinating creatures! Where are they? We can see the tell-tale signs of where they have been, but they mostly hide during the day. Children can be detectives and seek them out in their shady, damp places. Get down low and close and watch them. Children love having them move across their hands, feelers out, leaving a trail of slime behind. In your search for slugs and snails, you may find a frog or toad, a newt, or even a grass snake. Children find worms fascinating, and a great way to find them is to leave a flattened piece of damp cardboard out overnight. Worms are attracted to cardboard, and your child will delight in flipping over the cardboard and observing what has come to visit. Woodlice, millipedes, and centipedes are all worth watching as they scurry around. Just imagine if they were a thousand times bigger!

Mini-beasts play an important role in creating healthy soil. Why not make a wormery to watch how the worms incorporate organic matter into the soil to improve it?


There are over 24,000 different types of insects in the UK alone—all with six legs, some with wings, some without. Insects are literally everywhere! One of our favorite pastimes is to place a white sheet under a bush and give the bush a vigorous shake. You will be amazed how many creatures fall off!

If you haven’t already, then maybe now is the time to create a bug hotel. A haven for all the tiny creatures mentioned above is great fun to build with recycled materials, and you never know—you may get a visit from a hedgehog!

The life cycles of all the above creatures are incredible. Frogspawn to frog, tiny egg to butterfly, maggot to fly—each creature has its own fascinating story. All gardens will be full of the wonders of nature, and children will thrill at their discoveries while also learning to respect and care for these vitally important creatures.