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Give to Friends

  • Age: 0 to 8+
  • Time: Under 1 hour
  • Materials: birdseed; string; nut butter and pine cone or orange; nature treasures; tape; paper
From the perspective of our kiddos, the holidays as many of us celebrate them are heavily focused on receiving gifts. Once the excitement of opening presents begins to wind down, we can offer kids a chance to get some fresh air outside and shift their focus from acquiring treasure to appreciating the treasures that nature provides us. As kids think about how to share the joy of the holidays with our nature friends, they’ll experience a lasting lesson in empathy and giving.

The Guide

Reflect on gift giving: If your family exchanges gifts for the holidays, reflect together on how it feels to receive a gift. Wonder together who in nature might appreciate a gift. How might you show your gratitude for the animals, plants, trees and outdoor spaces in which you play? Welcome kids to share their ideas and offer support in gathering materials to create a special gift for nature friends. Or, try out some of these ways to offer a gift to nature:

A treat for bird friends: Tie some yarn or string to the top of a pine cone, spread on some nut butter and roll it in seeds to create a special holiday treat for feathered friends.  Or, repurpose an orange to use as a bird feeder. Go for a walk together and let kids decide where to hang their gift for the birds.

Present for the earth: Head outside with a bucket or bindle and collect some nature treasures together. Take a moment to use all your senses to explore the treasures and share what you love most about them. Wonder how you could use the treasures to create a gift for the earth. Use dirt or snow to make a nature cake. Make a nature sculpture or offer glue or tape to attach treasures together. Once kids have made their nature present, offer a piece of twine to make a ribbon for the gift and invite kids to present it to a special tree, plant or other favorite area of your outdoor space.

Decorate a tree: Bring the festive holiday decorating outdoors by using fruit pods, leaves, pine cones or other treasures and some twine to make ornaments for the trees in your outdoor space. Or, use tape and nature treasures to dress up a favorite tree for the holidays. Read more about this activity here.

Promises to the earth: Perhaps the best holiday gift we can give to nature is our commitment to doing our part to care for it all season long. Talk with kids about how your family might be able to care for the earth this winter and use this template to write down a few promises to our planet. If you are celebrating the holiday with friends and/or family, pass around some cards and invite them to make promises to the natural world, too. Share your promises with nature by using twine to hang them from a special tree in your outdoor space or pick a spot to display them on a nature curtain.

Why is this activity great for kids?

Slowing down and encouraging kids to think with you about what would make nature friends happy teaches kids powerful lessons in empathy. Taking time to do something special and symbolic together like giving a gift to nature also helps kids get hooked on giving, make personal connections to the natural world, and reinforces family values and the importance of connecting and sharing with one another.

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