Making a bug hotel – 3 inspiring ideas for eco friendly play!

Making a bug hotel – 3 inspiring ideas for eco friendly play!

Making a bug hotel is a great way to get toddlers and younger kids outside and learning about mini beasts!

Now Spring is here and the days are longer, you want to get the kids out in the garden and enjoying the open air! Especially after a winter of lockdowns, the spring air and sunlight seem particularly sweet and enticing.  It’s nice to get your kids out and connecting with nature again!

Here at PKS, we are really concerned about wildlife and making our surroundings as planet friendly as possible! For our personalised bottle bands and personalised silicone cutlery sets we use environmentally friendly materials that can be recycled – after you’ve finished with them you just need to return them to us for specialist recycling.  

Making a bug hotel is easy and fun!

Making a bug hotel is something you can easily do with kids that improves the environment for bugs and insects and by doing what might seem to be a little thing, you and your child can actually make a big difference to the lives of mini beasts in your garden!

Nowadays people often like really clean, tidy gardens without the traditional flower or shrub borders – it might look really smart but it isn’t the best thing for nature! Little insects and bugs need to make their homes in things that are left lying around, which is hard if everything is clean, cleared up and put away!

Kids and mini beasts definitely have something in common – they love a bit of mess! So harness the power of your child and get them making a bug hotel!

Making a bug hotel is not only super fun but also educational – your child will start to learn about the ecosystem and that even the tiniest insect is very important for the health of the planet! It’s so essential that kids learn about nature and learn to appreciate it – because we have just one planet and we all need to look after it!

You only need simple things for making a bug hotel

You don’t need a lot of complicated kit to get started – usually simple things you can find around the garden or the park will provide plenty of scope for making a bug hotel! You can even get the kids making a bug hotel if you just have a small patio garden or even a balcony – you’ll be surprised and amazed at how many bugs and insects will still need a home in the smallest of spaces!

Don’t forget the kds’ water bottles with their personalised bottle bands on – you’ll need some refreshment before too long as making a bug hotel can be thirsty work!

What will making a bug hotel teach your kids?

All bugs need sheltered spots to live in – just as we do!  Your kids can learn – even very young – that even insects need a cosy corner to call home! Somewhere that will provide a nearby source of food and water, but mainly somewhere to get away from any rough weather – and of course to escape from predators that might want to have them for dinner!

Your child will also learn about which materials bugs and insects like to live in – and how they can easily provide a home for bugs by just using things that they find in the garden!

Depending on the size you make your bug hotel, it could also be a home for a hedgehog or a little mammal like a field mouse or even a lizard! Making a bug hotel small and compact is great for mini beasts and bugs and a slightly larger structure is fantastic for small mammals. Any small creature will love to be given room in a shelter to call their own – and mini beasts should flock to your child’s bug hotel!

What will I need for making a bug hotel?

You really don’t need to buy anything for making a bug hotel! Just pull the wellies on the kids if it’s a bit mucky in the garden, even if it isn’t it’s always a good idea for them to wear something that won’t get spiked by the odd prickle! Go exploring with them in the garden or the local park and see what you can find for making a bug hotel!

You’ll need some sort of structure to the hotel – we tried an old wooden box! You can just use old bits of wood that you find around or even branches.  You can also make your bug hotel in old flower pots stacked together or even old, hollowed out tree stumps. Old bits of brick along with planks of wood can make a brilliant structure too.  Any size will do, large or small – mini beasts only need a tiny crevice for a home so your bug hotel will never be too small! 

Ideal things for making a bug hotel are:

Dried leaves

Sticks

Old broken bits of pot

Pine cones

Old bits of wood

Stones and bits of broken bricks

Roofing felt strip – if you want to make a really strong roof!

Straw

Bits of bamboo canes

Moss

Pieces of bark

Old logs

Anything else you can find!

How to do it – making a bug hotel!

Help your child to put together a structure for the outside of the bug hotel – this really doesn’t have to be complicated! What you do really depends on the materials you can find! If you’ve decided to use old flower pots then you can stack them up to make a triangle or any shape your child wants! If you just have one flower pot then that’s fine too, plenty of room for bugs in there! 

If you’ve got some bricks and planks then you can stack them up to make a multi layered bug hotel, making sure you find something for the roof to keep it nice and cosy! We used some branches cut last year from a conifer tree, the denser foliage of this type of tree provides good cover! If you do have some roofing felt then you can make a proper roof for your bug hotel! It really depends what you have around the garden, there is so much that is great for mini beasts!

If you have something like a wooden pallet this will be a brilliant framework for making a bug hotel! Anything goes really though, as long as it will give shelter from the wind and rain and also from hot sun.

Once you’ve decided on the framework, it’s time for your little one to find things to pack into it! It’s a good idea to put different materials in different parts of the bug hotel – it will keep it tidy looking and also give the opportunity for different sorts of mini beasts to colonise! It doesn’t have to be really tidy though – mini beasts will love just some old dried leaves and sticks, anything to give them a bit of shelter. It’s fine to do it any way your child wants to!

If your child wants to make different ‘rooms’ for each material, they could try sticks in one section, pine cones could go in another section, stones in another! Pack in as much as you can find to make your bug hotel super cosy and warm for your crawling customers!  A few fresh flowers with scent or plenty of pollen might also attract butterflies, bees and moths who also need a little space they can call home!

Once your child has had lots of fun finding materials for making a bug hotel and packing them in, you can find a space for it in the garden or on a terrace – somewhere with sun and partial shade is ideal.  Mini beasts love the sun but they don’t want to boil in the heat so a little shade is a good idea!

What sort of mini beasts might you attract?

You’ll be giving a home to centipedes, millipedes, snails, ants, woodlice and lots of other insects too! If you make a larger home you might find a hedgehog in charge if you’re really lucky!

Making a bug hotel is sure to be a big hit with the kids! It’s really fun to make and even more fun to keep checking who has taken up residence! Not only that but it really gets kids looking at what’s in the garden and realising that it’s all pretty useful for insects and mini beasts! What they might think of as rubbish is actually essential for little creatures! A really tidy garden without any leaves or natural debris lying around is actually really bad for nature!

Other ideas to try to attract mini beasts:

Piling up sticks in a sheltered spot – this is great for woodlice.

Leaving around larger stones for ants to discover – in a few months you’ll find hundreds of ants underneath.  You might even find a lizard crouching underneath a stone in the heat of summer!

Leaving piles of leaves at the bottom of the garden rather than bagging them up for the bin man – lots of little creatures will love this – you might even get some bigger ones! Growing flowering plants will attract bees and butterflies too!

If your little one gets the nature bug you might want to try some other activities in the garden that will encourage wildlife! 

Make a highway for hedgehogs!

If the kids have finished making a bug hotel and they are looking for other eco friendly ideas, why not try making a hedgehog highway?

Creating roads for hedgehogs – hedgehogs like to roam around to find food and it’s often really difficult for them to do this in modern gardens with fences and concrete posts! If you have a garden with hedges rather than fences this is ideal as hedgehogs can find their way through.  If you don’t, then it’s really good to see if you can find a little gap or space big enough for a hedgehog to squeeze through! 

This will mean that they can do what they naturally want to and travel between gardens.  Your kids might even get to see a hedgehog – and if you’ve been making a bug hotel together that’s big enough for a hedgehog, you might even find one makes your hotel its home!

Make a bird bath!

Making a bug hotel is fun! Another quick eco friendly task for the kids to try is making a bird bath – this is a great activity for the kids that will also be an endless source of interest for the garden! It’s always fun to watch a bird having a bath and it’s an important part of a bird’s self care routine!

You will need some old bricks or something raised to put your bird bath on.  Birds feel safer from predators if they have a high vantage point off the ground, then they can easily spot a cat who might be coming for them! 

You’ll also need a shallow tray if you don’t have a purpose built bird bath, to go on top of the brick base.  Get the kids to look for some stones or gravel to put in the tray so that birds don’t slip while they are having a bath as their little legs and feet need something to cling on to! You can even use some stones the kids have painted for extra colour!

Fill with tap or rainwater – kids love playing with water so they will love to help fill the bird bath! Then stand back or watch from a window and before too long the birds will start to realise the bath is ready and waiting for them! Birds love to splash around and it’s really important for them to keep their feathers clean and groomed for maximum flying efficiency! Kids will love watching the birds have a bath – and keeping clean just as they have to!

These are just a few ideas to encourage the kids to get out into the garden or open space and get closer to nature! Soon your garden will be a haven for wildlife – plant a few flowering plants to attract bees and butterflies and you’ll be well on the road to giving wildlife a better home!

Your kids will love leaning about how they can play a part in making the garden a better place for little creatures – and they will love watching the wildlife enjoying the garden! The garden is always interesting, there is always something going on – and kids will enjoy spotting what that is! 

At PKS we really love seeing kids getting into enjoying learning about nature – and showing them how important it is to look after the environment! Making a bug hotel, a hedgehog highway and a bird bath are great activities for your toddlers and younger children to enjoy and hopefully fun for parents too!

We hope you share our passion for nature and we’d love you to take a look at our products – we try as much as possible to be planet friendly, with eco friendly materials and recyclable packaging. Have a look in our shop and see for yourself!

We love eco friendly ideas for kids – here are some more from the RSPB..

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