Scouts Naturalist at home
Discover the three week plan you can follow along with your Scout troop to help them earn their Naturalist Activity Badge.
We’ve planned two online sessions and some activities you can send out to the group for them to complete in their own time. You could run your online meetings two weeks apart to give everyone some time to finish their at home activities – and give everyone a break from online meetings too.
Week 1: An online meeting where you’ll discover some different plants and animals and think about how our activities can affect wildlife.
Week 2: Some challenges to complete at home including some cool nature-spotting apps.
Week 3: A second online meeting to share some facts, complete a craft and award your badges.
Remember to check out our advice on delivering a flexible programme during COVID-19.
You will need:
- Device with access to the internet
- Scrap paper
- Pens or pencils
Introduce the badge by playing a quick game to help everyone think about the different plants and wildlife they might be able to spot in their local area. We’ve added some instructions for a quick game of bingo below.
- To prepare their bingo card, everyone should take a piece of A4 paper and fold it in half four times – two times from side to side and two times from top to bottom. When they unfold the paper again, they should’ve made a grid on the page with 16 spaces.
- Ask everyone to think of different plants, trees, insects or animals that they might see nearby. Make a big list together and share your screen so that everyone can see it.
- Everyone should fill each space on their bingo card with the different things from the list of plants and wildlife. They could draw a picture or write the name.
- The person leading should then randomly call out the names and everyone should cross out their plants or animals as they’re called.
- The first person to get a row or column crossed out wins. You could continue playing to see who’s first to cross out every square on their card.
- If you have time, play again with some different plants or animals. This time, the person leading could read some facts or cryptic statements about the plants or wildlife that everyone needs to solve before they can cross off their card. For example, instead of saying ‘oak tree’, you could say ‘a large tree that grows acorns’ or ‘a tree with distinctive lobed leaves’.
Under new management
Next, discuss how human activities or land management can affect wildlife to meet requirement five.
- Start by sharing some information about conservation projects you’ll be exploring in the session. Check out Under new management for some ideas, or find some local projects.
- Split everyone into smaller groups – you could use a function like Zoom’s breakout rooms to do this.
- Each group should choose a project (or find their own) and find out more about it. They should start by finding out what the land was used for before the project, and how human activity had affected the site.
- Explain that some people think conservation projects ‘waste’ land that could be used for farming or housing. Ask groups whether they agree. Can they come up with a few reasons for their decision?
- Each group should explore whether there are parts of the projects they could get involved with where they are. Even if they can’t be officially involved, could they be inspired, for example, to plant trees or encourage birds to nest in the area?
- Each group should share what they found out and explain why they thought the projects did or didn’t waste land. Everyone should try to come to an agreement if they can.
- Have a quick chat about what they’d do differently if they were in charge, and what you could do in your area.
DIY scavenger hunt
Finish your session by making your own scavenger hunt for everyone to complete before your next meeting to help meeting requirement one. You could ask everyone to make a note as you chat, or type up the ideas into a document to send out after the meeting.
If you’re struggling to get started, you could search for:
- Specific plants or wildlife you discussed
- Something of a specific colour
- Something starting with a certain letter
- Something with six legs
- Something that lives in water
- Something that flies
- Something you’ve never spotted before
- Something that lives in an unusual place
- Some animal tracks
- The smallest living thing you can find
- Some of the land management techniques you discussed
To continue working towards the Naturalist Activity Badge, everyone should try out a couple of activities at home between your meetings. We’ve added a draft email below that you can edit and send out to your group with all the info they’ll need.
Encourage everyone to share their progress as they complete the activities – track progress using an online tool like OSM, or by asking parents or carers to email you pictures or comments. Some groups use social media pages like Facebook to keep in touch and these can be a great way for everyone to share what they’re doing too. Alternatively, you could always just save the info to show and tell as a group next time you meet online.
The email draft:
- Talks about some different mobile apps everyone can use to help spot local wildlife.
- Asks everyone to keep a record of the different plants and wildlife they find. It also asks people to learn some new facts about a plant or animal that they can share next time you meet.
- Includes your DIY scavenger hunt for everyone to complete.
Thanks to everyone who joined us to start learning about nature this week! To complete your Naturalist Activity Badge, here are some activities you can have a go at home before our next meeting:
- Head out and see what different plants or wildlife you can spot. Keep a record of anything you find to share next time we meet. You could make notes, sketches, photographs or maps.
- Try out an app to help identify the different things you find – you could try Seek from WWF, iRecord or these guides from the Natural History Museum. Find your local nature reserve with an app from the Wildlife Trusts.
- Don’t forget to try out the scavenger hunt that we created in the meeting. Take it out and see how many different things you can find.
- Find some facts about two nature-related things you’ve found that you can share in our next meeting.
Have a great week, and don’t forget to let us know how you get on with the challenges.
You will need:
- Some nature facts
- Plain paper
- Coloured pens or pencils
- Sticky tape
- Craft materials (optional)
Start by welcoming everyone to the meeting. How did they get on with their challenges at home? Maybe some of the group can share some of the things they discovered when they were investigating local plants or wildlife.
You could try out a simple ice breaker like 20 questions to get everyone chatting. Why not give it a naturalist spin and ask everyone to think of a different plant or animal they spotted to use in the game?
Share your nature facts
Everyone should come to your meeting with some facts about plants or animals they’ve seen to share with the group. This will help meet badge requirements two and four.
You could give everyone some time at the start of the meeting to find out some more facts – why not make a big list together of all the different plants and animals people spotted since your last meeting. Everyone could choose one to research and find the most fun facts they can.
It’s up to you how they share their information, and how long you’d like it to last. You could:
- Set a stopwatch and give each person 60 seconds (or less) to tell you their nature facts.
- Ask someone to share their facts so that the group can guess what they’re describing.
- Invite people to share pictures they’ve drawn or photos they’ve taken.
- Ask the group to vote on the most interesting facts.
- See how many people have learned something new in the session.
- Play another game of bingo but this time use the different plants and wildlife that everyone’s spotted to fill your cards. You could take it in turns to choose a different plant or animal, or ask questions instead of just revealing the answers.
Try out a triarama
To finish your session, everyone will use the information they’ve found out to create their own triarama (a simple 3D model representing a scene).
- Everyone should think of the location they visited, and the different plants and wildlife they saw there.
- Talk everyone through the steps to make their triarama. You could share you screen and show everyone an instructional video to help them follow along.
- Before everyone sticks the sides together to make a 3D shape, everyone should decorate their triarama to represent the location they visited. For example, it could be a park, stream, pond or roadside verge.
- Once they’ve finished the background, everyone should fold and sticky tape their triarama so it makes a pyramid shape.
- Now, everyone should finish their scene by adding some of the different plants and wildlife that they saw at the location. They could simply draw them onto some paper and cut them out, or get more creative if they have other craft materials available.
- Before you finish the session, ask if anyone wants to share their creation. For an added challenge, everyone could re-visit the same location at different times of the year to create a triarama for each season.
- Don’t forget to congratulate everyone on completing their Naturalist Activity Badge!
- RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch ask you to spend an hour counting the birds you see in your garden or from your balcony.
- Citizen Science from the Natural History Museum has projects to actively contribute to the Museum's science research.
- The Wildlife Trusts have some more examples of national and local citizen science projects.
- Check out our blog to find out about the UK’s most poisonous plants.