A comprehensive A-Z of sustainability activities for everyone
Photo: Dan Burton, Unsplash
For more learning materials, see our Sustainable Schools page.
A is for Arts & Crafts inspired by nature
Nature gives us unlimited inspiration. From a simple pencil sketch of the view from your window to a giant paper mache ladybird! Everyone loves a bit of art & crafts, whatever their age!
Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust has plenty of lockdown nature activities to keep you busy with their #WildAtHome campaign – and many of them are arty. Try watching their video on learning to draw birds, try a simple activity of painting a butterfly with the kids or even make your own dye!
Local artist, Kate Buchanan, has been putting some short video tutorials on Instagram – try watercolours of feathers, poppies and eucalyptus. It’s great fun; ages 6 – adult.
Here are more kids’ ideas:
Use materials you already have. Home-schooling or crafting? You don’t need to buy everything new. Old magazines and newspapers can be used for all sorts of things from reading practice to craft projects; yoghurt pots and ice cream tubs for water play for little ones to learning about capacity and measuring for older ones; all sorts of old containers (even wellies!) are great for planting seeds in – you could even make a miniature garden in a fruit punnet or a fairy garden in a shoe box.
Try making art with natural materials. Collect them when you go out for your walk or in your garden. How many colours can you find in nature? How many textures? Google Andy Goldsworthy images for inspiration of what you could turn it into!
See what local St Albans District people are getting up to on the Isolation Arts Cafe public Facebook group – lots of local people posting nature photographs and art as well as good local music.
B is for Bees, Birds and Butterflies
Attract and watch wildlife. Bird watching and counting can be done from the comfort of your sofa looking out the window.
- Join Chris Packham’s Self Isolating Bird Club on Facebook – with live feeds every morning!
- Learn how to attract birds into your patch
- Learn how to identify common British bird species
- You don’t need a garden to feed the birds – take a look at how to feed the birds from your window
- Play a game to identify bird song and find out more about each bird via this RSPB Birds A-Z explorer
- Make bird feeders from apples
- Make a bird feeder from recycled plastic bottles
- Grow a secret garden for butterflies
- Plant pollinator-friendly plants
- Count bees with the World Bee Count
- Further activities to attract wildlife into the garden
C is for Climate Change
Learn about climate change and how to combat it
Click here for our resources on climate change – we have lots of material including short films and lesson plans, many of which can be adapted for home learning or simply make interesting reading.
D is for Daily Inspiration
Follow these Facebook pages for some sustainability activity inspiration….
- Sustainable St Albans
- Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust – #WildAtHome inspiration
- FoodSmiles St Albans – Grow your own
- Grow Community Sopwell – Grow your own
- CultureWood – a Welwyn GC Forest School – Lockdown activities for kids
- The Cobbled Kitchen – Cook from scratch, use up leftovers, make food last
E is for Earth School
Earth School is a month of daily adventures. Every weekday between Earth Day (April 22nd) and World Environment Day (June 5th), Earth School will be providing resources compiled by Earth experts – watch a short animation, do a quiz, have a think and then discuss. Lots of ideas for getting involved in ways that count – with ways to protect, nurture and care for Earth. Best for ages 12+.
F is for 14 Day Challenge
Take the 14 day WickedWeatherWatch Stay at Home Sustainability Challenge. With games, crafts and garden challenges each day, there’s plenty to keep you busy – and sustainable.
G is for Growing your own food
Eat something you’ve grown yourself. You don’t have to have a garden to grow your own food. From a few seeds in a pot on the windowsill comes a wondrous new world of eating what you have grown yourself. The Royal Horticultural Society is a good place to start your journey.
- Local St Albans District groups including FoodSmiles, Grow Community-Sopwell and Plot 31 are asking everyone to make a One Plant Promise this Spring and grow one thing to eat themselves. Register here to join in and receive regular growing tips! Follow the organisations on social media to get up to date info on where to buy seeds locally and ideas of what to grow.
- If you live in Sopwell, then you can pick up free seeds and become part of the growing community there – see Grow Community-Sopwell.
- Herbs, like basil, and quick growing salad, like rocket, can be grown in punnets on a window sill. Once you have your own herbs give the kids some yoghurt or mayonnaise and invite them to invent their own recipes for a flavoured dip.
- Try growing carrot tops, cress seeds in old egg shells or pea shoots in old yoghurt pots on the windowsill.
- If you have a small outdoor space like a balcony or patio, you can pot up a few tubs. Try beetroot or carrots as they can be direct sown into the tub outside. Tomatoes are always good fun – start them off indoors and plant them out when the weather gets warmer.
- If you are lucky enough to have more space, the world is your oyster. From beans to courgettes, pumpkins to strawberries, you can grow almost anything you want.
- Don’t over-use that hose! Use water carefully and consider installing a water butt.
- For home-learning, use a vegetable you have grown yourself as a family as the basis for a whole host of learning! From drawing pictures of it, writing stories about it, dividing it into fractions and cooking with it, you can make a whole day out of it – try Carrot Tales to inspire you.
H is for Hedgehogs
- Find out more about hedgehogs with this short animated film clip, Hedgehog Close with Gordon Buchanan
- Follow the work of local hedgehog sanctuary Hornbeam Wood including videos of hedgehog releases on their Facebook page.
- Build a hedgehog house – here is how! (scroll to the bottom of the page for a simplified version using an old plastic box) and don’t forget to put holes in your fence for that hedgehog highway (see the Gordon Buchanan video above).
K is for Kitchen Fun
Enjoy cooking from scratch and make the most of all the food you have.
- Use up all the food you have – choose and make recipes that use up your leftovers using the LoveFoodHateWaste Recipe Finder.
- Learn to cook from scratch. Baking is a great way to start – this Banana Loaf Recipe for Kids uses up old bananas and has tips on baking with kids too – there are lots of other flavour Banana Loaf Recipes on the website.
- Keep up with local cooking school The Cobbled Kitchen by following them on Facebook for recipes and ideas – why not sign up to their mailing list here?
L is for Local Facebook Groups
Join in with the chat about local sustainability on these St Albans District Facebook Groups
- St Albans Eco
- St Albans Mums Zero Waste Group
- Plastic Free Harpenden
- Harpenden Garden – Home Grown Fruit & Veggies
- St Albans Greenpeace group
- St Albans Friends of the Earth group
M is for Mindfulness
Try some mindfulness: When feeling anxious, it can really help to bring you into the moment by using your senses. Think about: 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 thinks you can touch, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. Step outdoors to do this activity and enjoy nature at the same time.
Hear music in the sounds of nature: try this activity using nature to teach children about sound
N is for Nature
Find out about your own natural world
- This top ten list of nature activities to do with kids from the Woodland Trust is a great place to start.
- Follow along with BBC Springwatch on Facebook or Instagram.
- Learn all about worms
- Try more nature activities with Wildlife Watch
- Find out about the state of British Wildlife via the RSPB State of Nature 2019 report
- Walk or run through a wood or the park if you have one open near your home and use some simple identification sheets to find out what trees and flowers are growing there as you pass through. You can download some easy wildlife identification sheets here, example below.
O is for Outdoors
Try local cycling….
P is for Photography
Try some wildlife photography using a family camera or smart phone. This can be done from a window, in your garden, or in any green space. You don’t need to be in a jungle surrounded by exotic animals to capture amazing wildlife photos. Sometimes you just need to look closely at the nature surrounding you!
- Be patient, you may find that you have to sit and wait by the bird feeders for birds to come, or for the bumblebee to turn around
- Take a lot of photos and chose your favorites later
- Start off with animals that won’t run away too easily, such as a spider in its web or a plant.
- Don’t forget to look to close ups of small things – lichens and mosses can be particularly beautiful and artistic.
- Get inspired, have a look at some award-winning wildlife photography.
Why not submit you entry to the The Wilderhood Watch Photography Competition – Wilderhood Watch is a St Albans based organisation running a photography competition for all ages during lockdown to find the best photograph of garden wildlife.
Q is for Quizzes and Puzzles
- Download and have a go at our Wildlife Quiz
- Get the young people doing puzzles and exploring with Woodland Trust Activities – you can even search by curriculum level here
- Try this wildflower quiz
R is for Radio
Listen to a local show on podcast. Environment Matters – Radio Verulam (St Albans local radio) has its own environmental news show at 7pm Wednesdays or on podcast at the bottom of their webpage. Well worth a listen to hear all that is going on locally on the subject of sustainability.
S is for Scouts
Bring the outdoor adventures inside. Usually known for their outdoor adventures, the Scouts have a great selection of activities for The Great Indoors during lockdown
T is for Tell us
A reminder to share your lockdown sustainability activities with us on social media or by email – especially if you’ve given one of our ideas a go!
or email us via the contact form here and someone will come back to you to hear all about it!
U is for Understanding about the environment
Try these BBC bite size tasks on the Environment
V is for Volunteer Organisations working on Sustainability
Find out about St Albans volunteer groups focussing particularly on sustainability.
- Don’t forget to follow Sustainable St Albans on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
- Friends of the Earth St Albans – Twitter and Facebook Group
- Plastic Free St Albans – website, on Facebook, on Twitter
- Plastic Free Harpenden – website, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram
- Ver Valley Society
- St Albans Greenpeace
- Extinction Rebellion St Albans
- St Albans Environment Action Group
W is for Water
Learn and conserve.
- Build a small pond in your garden and bring wildlife in.
- Learn about the local precious chalk streams we have in the district – the River Ver and the River Lea
- Watch a film about the threats facing our local rivers and what you can do to help.
X is for Xylem
Xylem is a type of tissue in a plant’s veins that moves water and nutrients through the plant. Find about this and the plant miracle that is photosynthesis along with some linked activities here.
Y is for Yellow Sunflowers
Join in with the Great St Albans Sunflower challenge – pick up a packet of seeds from various addresses in St Albans as part of your exercise walk. The challenge is being organised by St Albans group Wilderhood Watch.
Z is for Zero Waste
There is no “away”.
- Get the whole family involved with the sorting the recycling. Look at the St Albans District Recycling Guide together to find out what goes in which bin.
- Don’t bin it! Store anything that can be reused if you can until the charity shops and swapping sites like Freecycle start up again.
- Keep an eye out for Sustainable St Albans online film screening and panel discussion for ‘The Story of Plastic’ brand new film on 1st July.