Monday, March 16, 2009

National Wildlife Week nature activities for kids

There aren't a lot of holidays or celebrations in the year that have to do with wildlife. Oh sure, we had Groundhog Day last month, but isn't that over in about 15 minutes, tops? We think about reindeer at Christmas (but it's a stretch), and sometimes bats for Halloween.

But this week, Monday through Friday, is National Wildlife Week. So no animals will get left out. It's a push by the National Wildlife Federation to encourage wildlife awareness and love for nature.

It's been awhile since I wrote any Green Hour posts, so I thought I'd try to come up with a no-matter-how-lamely wildlife-related nature activity for kids every day. It's my way of celebrating. If you're interested and want to get right to the activity, just scroll on down . . . .

Having a Green Hour is a fun and relaxing part of the day. It's good for kids to have unstructured play time outdoors where they can explore the natural world. According to the Green Hour people, there's actual research that backs up the idea that time playing outside helps kids physically, mentally and emotionally. It also helps kids learn to care about the environment. The Man-cub and I don't have a Green Hour every day, but we try.

I think even if you can do only a half-hour, it's helpful. Most of my nature activities for kids this week don't take a long time. (Hello, short attention spans!)

If you want to do National Wildlife Week along with me, check out the links above and also Wildlife Watch, where you can report any wildlife you see and find out more about animals in your area.

Like the squirrel we saw.

I know -- ho hum, big deal. Squirrels are everywhere. But our yard is its habitat.

Thinking about our yard as a habitat has encouraged me to plant bushes, trees and flowers that provide food and shelter for birds, butterflies -- and squirrels too, I guess.

So today's activity is to plant wildflower seeds that will produce nectar for butterflies.

We started with just a couple old pots and some dirt.

Which my son loved digging in.

So much so, that he flung dirt on my nice white shorts.

Then we planted the seeds. I just happened to have one of those papers that has seeds inside of it. Sometimes you find them as a greeting card, sometimes as a bookmark -- please tell me you know what I'm talking about so I don't feel like an idiot.

Now we'll water the seeds and wait for them to grow, then plant them in our butterfly garden.

This is an easy activity, doesn't take a lot of time and is high on little kid appeal. (For an alternate activity, check out how to make a toad abode.)

You can find seeds at a nursery or hardware store. You can get seeds from a gardening neighbor. You can even buy them at supermarkets -- in the form of unpopped popcorn kernels! And you can grow them inside near a sunny window, so you don't have to live in South Florida like I do to plant something.

My tips: Don't be afraid to get dirty. (White shorts? What was I thinking?) Explain to your kids how planting seeds can help wildlife. And mostly, have fun.

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Blogger Lauren said...

Looks like yall had fun!

March 16, 2009 at 11:07 AM  
Anonymous chelle said...

Some days are just too cold for a green hour. Not to mention there isn't a lot of green yet. We do try to get out once a day though and once the weather changes my hope is that we are always outdoors!

March 16, 2009 at 2:31 PM  
Blogger Momisodes said...

I LOVE the idea of Green Hour.

But sorry to say, I've never seen the paper with seeds in them. Then again, I live under a rock (one that doesn't reside around gardens apparently). My daughter would LOVE planting seeds. She is constantly begging to dig up dirt.

Perhaps this weekend! And I promise not to wear white.

March 17, 2009 at 12:17 AM  

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