It started one morning when we spied tiny three-toed tracks in a coating of newly fallen snow — a bird had been busy in our yard. When our 4-year-old asked how the bird was able to find food in the frozen earth, I had some ideas, but I wanted her to think it through. And, I was happy she was thinking about the well-being of the small creatures around us. Together we went outside to see for ourselves. After observing a cardinal and a sparrow or two, we went online to audobon.org, where we read about the winter habits of local birds — and came up with a plan to give our feathered neighbors a little midwinter snack.
As we worked, we asked questions about our habitat, the environment, even a little science. We’ve found this activity works well in group classes, too. It’s easy to put together a small bird buffet -- and feel more connected to the wildlife all around us.
What starts out as a nature walk and a small kitchen craft ends up packing in a lot of growth opportunity for your child. Encouraging children to consider the comfort of those around them builds empathy, a sophisticated skill for self-interested preschoolers, and one that will make them far better equipped to handle social pressures like bullying. Since young children tend to learn better through hands-on play rather than passive learning, this project’s emphasis on direct observation and sensory experience helps engage them as they discover more about the habitat around them. Plus, getting into that peanut butter is a liberating, sensory-stimulating mess, which helps them prepare to think creatively later on. By taking a concrete action, you help nurture their sense of service. And of course, the time spent in shared discovery results in extra bonding time for both of you.
We think all families should be learning outside. Try this activity with your child and begin to see the power in outdoor, play-based learning. Have fun!Email it to me