The weekend is almost here. What fun are you planning with your family?
How about some birding? A hike? Geocaching? Snowflake Experiments?
Last weekend we went on a hike, and after a peanut butter rice cake snack, and a walk to the peak to enjoy the view we stumbled upon a great find…at least we thought it was great. Obviously, it doesn’t take much to excite us.
This lovely little bird nest was hanging in some underbrush that was about shoulder high. We would never have seen it if the leaves were still on the trees, but the vireo is known for making nests primarily in deciduous trees.
If birding activities sound like a creative way to spend time with your children you’ll love this list I’ve supplied.
- Birding Information on the Web – After we got home we spent some time looking up the bird who would have called this home in the spring and summer months.
One absolutely fabulous resource for bird information is the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website – All About Birds. Whether you are new to bird watching or have been enjoying it for years, you’ll find yourself returning this site again and again.
- Sign up to Participate in an Online Bird Study Project
A great weekend project would be to hang a bird feeder, either one purchased at the store or crafted from the link below, and join the Cornell “Count Feeder Birds for Science.”
Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America. FeederWatchers periodically count the birds they see at their feeders from November through early April and send their counts to Project FeederWatch. FeederWatch data help scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.
New participants are sent a Research Kit with complete instructions for participating. You provide the feeder(s) and seed. In addition, U.S. participants receive a subscription to the Lab of Ornithology’s newsletter, Living Bird News. Canadian participants, receive Bird Studies Canada’s quarterly publication, BirdWatch Canada.
There is a $15 annual participation fee for U.S. residents ($12 for Cornell Lab members).
- Download and Use Free Birding App
Also new from the Cornell Lab is the Merlin Bird Id App. Now you can have this website’s knowledge at the tips of your fingers, in a convenient app to use while you are out and about. A step by step process helps you to identify any bird.
- Make a Bird Feeder – Another fun idea this weekend would be to recycle some products around the house to make a handy bird feeder.
Click here, for more homemade bird feeder ideas like the one below.
- Bird Craft for Kids – Make a bird mask with your younger children, by printing this page. They can add feathers, pipe cleaners, sequins or glitter to personalize their own kind of bird.
- Bird Food and Wildlife Treats – As it is middle of winter, the critters (not just birds) are looking for food. These treats will be enjoyed by squirrels, birds and other creatures. Click here, to learn how to make these.
- End the Day with a Good Book – Birds of North America For Kids – Amazing Animal Books for Young Readers – This kindle book is only $2.99 and not only includes photographs and information for the most popular birds likely to visit your feeder, but also provides insight on some of the pet bird varieties. The images are vivid and will definitely be enjoyed on a tablet.
If you are snowed in or the weather just won’t cooperate for outdoor fun here are some other indoor activities:
- Snowflake Fun – Make Paper Snowflakes
Making snowflakes can be so much fun. Click below for help in following a pattern to create the perfect snowflake of your choosing. Just download and print!
For younger children, print out these pages and paint or color:
- Create Ice Spikes in Your Freezer – What fun is this? Use your kitchen appliances to explore the world of ice and speculate as to how the water creates these gravity defying spikes. All you need is a freezer, ice tray and some distilled water. Click here for more information on this experiment.
- Borax Crystals – Make an indoor snowflake! All you need for this activity is some borax, pipe cleaner, and a wide mouth jar. Click here for the full instructions.
- Make Cotton Swab Snowflakes – After gluing these together, and I would use a glue gun instead of the tacky glue, paint with Elmer’s glue and sprinkle with glitter. Just be sure to watch your kids closely so they do not burn their fingers with the glue gun. I keep a bowl of ice water on the table so that any drips can be immediately plunged in cold water. When you are finished hang in the window for a beautiful winter decoration. Click here for full directions.
- The Snowy Day – Complete your day with this kindle version of the children’s classic book, “The Snowy Day.”
No book has captured the magic and sense of possibility of the first snowfall better than The Snowy Day. Universal in its appeal, the story has become a favorite of millions, as it reveals a child’s wonder at a new world, and the hope of capturing and keeping that wonder forever.
It is my hope that this weekly feature will inspire you to enjoy the process of learning with your children. What are your plans this weekend? Can you find time to make a bird feeder, explore the Merlin Bird App, or read a book with your children? If it isn’t all about the birds and the snow, how will you enjoy the free time we call the weekend?
“Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.”
– W.B. Yeats