Looking for creative ideas to engage children & families with your Churchyard? Take a look at this selection of nature-based activities for all ages to explore.
Churchyards are wonderful spaces to explore nature & wildlife. Most of them, having been there for hundreds of years, offer rich biodiversity & a safe sanctuary for many insects & endangered species. They truly are amazing places to investigate & discover more about our natural world.
Here are 20 activities to encourage all ages to come & explore the wonderful wildlife in your churchyard. Obviously, these activities are designed to be explored in older areas of your churchyard, where there are no recent graves.
1. Invite families to discover the wildlife living in the shrubs & hedges around your churchyard with a Shrub Shake. Have a white sheet, container & insect ID sheets available for them to use. Here's how we did a Shurb Shake in our garden.
2. Invite families to do a spot of birdwatching around your churchyard. Have some rugs & binoculars available for them to sit outside & observe the birds. You could print off bird ID sheets like these from RSPB Garden Watch to make identification easier. Why not have a whiteboard in Church for people to record their feathered finds, stating where, when & what they found. You might find a pattern emerging.
If you have no binoculars, invite children to make their own with cardboard tubes & paper washi tape. Obviously, the DIY version won't magnify, but it'll help children to focus.
3. Bring generations together to make bird boxes, swift boxes, or bat boxes. Box kits are available online, but if you have talented craftspeople in your community, templates like these can be found at RSPB.
4. Make bug houses. Whether you're looking for a collaborative project or an activity individuals can make & take home, bug houses are always fun to construct.
5. As children enter your churchyard, invite them to make a journey stick to take with them as they explore your outdoor space. Find out more here: How to Make a Journey Stick
6. Go on Bug Tracker Trail using these Free Printable Bug Spotter Sticks. Either place the bug sticks around your churchyard & invite children to spot them, or give the bug sticks to the children so they can track where they find the insects. These can be brought back when they've finished ready for other children to use.
7. Explore the textures in your churchyard with wax rubbings. Offer paper, wax crayons & pencils to children to rub over tree bark, leaves, walls, old gravestones etc.
8. Create a calm space with rugs, picnic blankets, & cushions. Invite families to sit for a moment & listen to what's around them. These free activity sheets could be added for children to explore.
9. Go on a leaf hunt & discover how many different trees there are around your churchyard. You can download free Tree ID Sheets here from the Woodland Trust.
10. Make Pebble Bugs like these. Have a selection of pebbles, paint pens/Sharpie pens available for children to create their own pebble bugs. These could be left in the churchyard or taken home.
11. Make simple bird feeders outdoors in your churchyard for children to take home for the birds in their outdoor space.
12. Make Clay Nature Prints. Explore the intricate patterns found in leaves & foilage by pressing them into small sections of clay. These can then be taken home & used as decorations. More info here: Nature Prints with Clay.
13. Create your own Scented Nature Frame to display herbs to take home. More info here: How to make a Scented Nature Stick Frame.
14. Be a hedgehog hero & make a Hedgehog shelter for any prickly friends visiting the churchyard. Make a pile of sticks & twigs with lots of leaves for them to hide in.
You might like to make your own hedgehog like these, or colour in your own hedgehog prayer pledge to take home.
15. Create a giant stick heart prayer station in your churchyard. Find out more here: Stick Heart - Praying for Creation.
16. Gather fallen sycamore seeds to make this nature craft: Sycamore Seed Dragonflies
17. Have a pop-up Painting station in your churchyard. Have tables (or easels) with plenty of paper, watercolour paints, brushes & fresh water for children (& adults) to paint what they notice around them. You could collect some of the artwork & create your own art gallery in the church to display the paintings.
18. Add this free Bee Trail for children to explore around your Churchyard & discover amazing bees facts & more with this Free Activity Sheet
19. This Small but Mighty Children's Nature Trail explores the amazing insects living around your churchyard. Take a look at these Free Activity Sheets which accompany the trail, but can be used independently too.
20. Discover the wildflowers blooming around the churchyard. Offer child-friendly magnifying glasses like these, so all ages can take a closer look. Download these Free Printable ID sheets from RSPB, or have a couple of wildflower books available as a reference guide. Again, you could have a large sheet of paper available in the Church for people to record their findings, & share them with Caring for God's Acre here.
Have fun exploring & celebrating your fabulous churchyard with your community this month, next month & throughout the year. These green spaces are real treasures for all ages to discover & cherish!