When it’s cold outside and gets dark so early, we can only play outdoors for so long. But as soon we come inside and have our hot chocolate, we can continue to respect nature by taking care of outdoor plants and animals! These two winter indoor activities are not only fun and easy but a great way to teach your child about outdoor environments. Let’s get started!
A terrarium is a miniature garden grown inside a covered glass jar or plastic container. They are simple to make and a fantastic way to teach your child about responsibility for plant maintenance and care. Terrariums are also a great tool for teaching children about water cycles, as they demonstrate evaporation, condensation and precipitation. This will be fun for your child to observe each day: How is my plant growing? Does it need water today?
Here are the materials you will need:
- A glass jar
- Small pebbles
- Mini charcoal
- Mini figurines (fairy garden gnomes and kits are perfect)
- Succulent plant
First, set out all materials and explain to your child the order in which you will prepare your terrarium. Give them a spoon to scoop and place all items inside the jar, and guide them in this order: Scoop the small pebbles into the jar first, then the charcoal, then the soil. Next, add your figurines. Then, snip off pieces of your succulent plant and place them gently into the soil. Lastly, water your plants with a spray bottle, and place the lid on the jar.
Instead of succulents, you can also use small ferns, mini peace lilies, spider plants or Swedish ivy. And as far as how much to water your terrarium, observe the moisture levels inside your jar over the first few days. If there is no moisture along the sides of the jar, you need to add more water.
Also, allow your child to help you prune your plant regularly so the plants don’t touch the sides of the container. Enjoy!
Homemade bird feeders
Once you’ve finished your terrariums, you and your child can make simple homemade bird feeders to hang on the trees around your home. Be sure your children can see the feeders from your windows so they can watch birds and squirrels enjoy their snacks! Here are a few ideas:
- Pinecone bird feeder: You will need two or three pine cones, either purchased or found on a winter hike. Before you begin, tie string to the top of the cone. Then, heavily coat the pine cone with either peanut butter or lard, and allow your child to use a butter knife for this step. This is great practice for knife handling! Finally, roll your pine cone in birdseed.
- Bread bird feeder: String a wire or twist tie to the top of a stale piece of bread. Then, spread a heavy amount of peanut butter on both sides, and coat in birdseed. You can also do this with a bagel, or an empty toilet paper roll. Coat in peanut butter and birdseed, and hang from a branch just as well.
- Orange cup bird feeder: Upcycle your orange peels! Cut an orange in half, and peel gently so the cup remains intact. First, put a layer of peanut butter on the bottom to hold the food in place. Then, you can either fill with birdseed, or you can make your own mix of nuts, berries and sunflower seeds. Place in the backyard for the birds and squirrels to enjoy.
- Cheerio bird feeder: Work on your child’s fine motor skills by simply stringing Cheerios onto pipe cleaner, then bending into a circle or heart to hang on your tree branches. Enjoy!
About the Author
Angela Tewalt is a writer, storyteller and mother to two boys. She shares parenting stories and inspiration in Guidepost Parent.
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