COVID-19: Prince Charles encourages children to explore nature and 'decorate pebbles' in bid to tackle lockdown boredom

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The Prince of Wales is giving parents some help to tackle lockdown boredom this half term, by setting a series of outdoor challenges for children.

For Monday to Saturday next week, Prince Charles has set six "Blue Peter" style creative tasks, from planting seeds, to spotting birds, to decorating pebbles, stones or shells.

In a video message to launch the project, he admitted he was "frustrated" about not being able to get outside as much as he would like during the pandemic, and how it had been "an incredibly hard year for everyone".

Talking directly to children, he says: "So, here's a challenge for you. While you have a little time off from all your online learning, can you encourage your family to go out with you to take a really close look at the wonderful things nature is now doing, and how the same patterns occur over and over again?

"See for instance, how many birds you can spot; plant the seeds left from cooking vegetables and see how long it takes them to sprout; decorate pebbles, stones or shells."

The half-term challenge came about after the prince, a life-long environmentalist, was asked by one of his charities if he could help promote ideas that would encourage children to get outside and explore nature.

Six of the prince's patronages are involved, Garden Organic, Elephant Family, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, The Wildlife Trusts and the Prince's Foundation.

All the tasks have been set so wherever children live they can give it a go, and they take into consideration lockdown restrictions. They include drawing an elephant and using leaves as the ears or creating a garden scene on a plate using materials from the garden, the park or kitchen cupboards.

Garden Organic is one organisation that saw an enormous growth in interest during the pandemic, with double the number of enquiries through their website in 2020 compared with 2019.

Chief executive James Campbell said: "We have this sort of perception that our children and young people are all essentially glued to screens and busily playing games all the time and actually I think what the pandemic has shown people is that’s actually a finite thing, people have had enough of it.

"And actually it’s been one of the nice things, seeing children outside playing in the parks, playing together when they were able to do so, and I think that there is a lot of interest now in connecting with the natural world."

Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: "We know how vitally important establishing and maintaining a connection with the natural world is for our mental and physical wellbeing. Plenty of studies have proved the positive impact that time spent outdoors can have for young people."

The daily challenges will be set on the Clarence House social media pages with families encouraged to share their efforts online.