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While you might spend considerable time and money trying to keep wildlife out of your garden, some critters can be good for your landscape and for the environment! Invite these animals, like pollinators and earthworms, into your yard by making hospitable environments for them to thrive. These fun crafts involve your children and help teach them about the positive impact that animals can have on their ecosystems.

Butterfly Puddle

This simple craft creates a small oasis for butterflies in your garden. Butterflies are important pollinators, meaning that they move pollen from one part of a plant to another, allowing it to create seeds and reproduce. A butterfly puddle not only gives larvae a safe place to mature, but it also helps butterflies get the nutrients they need. In order to create your very own butterfly puddle, find a small dish or container, and fill it with sand. Add a pinch of salt to the sand (this is important for butterfly nutrition). Finally, fill the container with water. To complete your butterfly oasis, you may even want to add some flat, darkly colored stones near the puddle so that the butterflies can sun themselves and warm up before getting back to their important work!

Earthworm Hotel

Teach your kids about the importance of earthworms through this activity that lets you see what happens underground! Earthworms are vital to their ecosystems because they work to recycle nutrients and aerate soil to keep it healthy. For this activity, you’ll need an empty and cleaned two-liter bottle (top cut off), sand, dirt or potting soil, and worms. Fill the bottle with alternating layers of sand and dirt. Place the worms in the bottle, and add some water to make the interior moist. Have kids watch what happens when the worms start wriggling around in their hotel – do the layers of sand and dirt stay intact?

Ladybug Home

While certain insects can harm plants and your garden, there are some insects that help to get rid of these pests and keep your garden healthy! Ladybugs are helpful insects to have in your garden because they help prevent aphid infestations. Invite these friendly bugs into your garden by making them a habitat to call home. Find a birdhouse with an open front or pry the front off of a closed birdhouse. Fill the interior of the birdhouse with small pieces of bamboo. Ladybugs will feel protected in all the little nooks and crannies of the bamboo. Finally, cover the roof of the birdhouse with moss or other green plants. Hang the ladybug home or place it on the ground in your garden! For an added touch of color, you can have your child paint the house.

When it comes to the relationship between animals and gardens, the conversation is usually about keeping animals out. However, so many animals are not only beneficial, but crucial to the health of a landscape, it’s time to start thinking about how to welcome helpful critters to your outdoor spaces.