Monday, June 18, 2012

The Great Backyard Bird Count

Winter might seem dull and boring sometimes, but that is probably because you do not know about the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). The GBBC is perfect for kids. This year will be the 13th year bird-lovers throughout North America spend four days in February taking a census of their local birds and submitting their results to one of the largest birding citizen science projects in the world.

The National Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Bird Studies Canada organize the event. They encourage an awareness of winter birds and coordinate efforts to study them.

Plan on spending at least 15 minutes in any location you choose to count your local birds. You can count them at the park or in your own backyard. You will then submit a count checklist of positively identified birds to be correlated with thousands of other count lists submitted from thousands of other birders.

My daughter and I have done this twice. It is fun and educational.

Here is a great craft: Make a Recycled Bird Feeder

Make a bird feeder from the bottles you would normally throw away.

Stuff you need:
Plastic drinks bottles, yogurt containers or milk cartons (make sure they are clean), wire or string, birdseed, scissors.

Cut a hole in the side of the plastic drink bottle that is large enough to allow a free flow of seeds, but in such a way that they will not all fall out on the ground, and will not get wet if it rains.

Make a few small holes in the bottom of your feeder to allow any rainwater to drain away. Hang it with wire, or strong string from a tree.

If your feeder starts to wear out or the seeds get moldy, empty the food and recycle the feeder. Remember to keep your feeder well stocked, especially in winter. Birds rely on them and can go hungry if you forget.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Set a flag out in front of your child and begin a discussion with them about the American Flag (or the flag of whatever country you live in). Ask them if they know what the flag stands for. Ask them where they might have seen the American flag flown. Write down their answers.

Give your child a stack of old magazines and newspapers and let them search for pictures or draw their own pictures of places they told you they have seen flags. Next, have your child write Our Flag at the top of a piece of red, white, or blue construction paper. Then let them arrange their pictures on the paper the way they want them to appear. Finally, let them glue the pictures on the paper. For an extra, encourage them to draw pictures of other flags they have seen.

For the next activity, have your child research the symbolism of flags. They may use the Internet (with your supervision), reference books, and books with pictures of flags… Supply them with miscellaneous craft materials, pipe cleaners, glue, tape, magazines, crayons or markers, scissors, scraps of paper and cloth, paints, and a large sheet of white paper, poster board, or cardstock … so they can create a U.S. flag collage.

For a final project, have your child design a personal flag. Tell them to sketch it first. Remind them to consider what kind of flag would best represent the kind of person they are, or want to be. They can create their own logo or emblem. They might want to use their initials, make a silhouette of them self, and use their favorite colors.