‘Tis the weekend to find a meaningful, last-minute gift! The best gift you can give a child is a gift that will help forge a connection with nature. I believe birds and plants are the two great ambassadors of the environment. If your child has been nagging for a pet, why not help them develop a sense of responsibility and foster their connection to nature with a birdfeeder?
Contrary to what you may have heard, birdfeeding will not spread disease or make the birds forget where their natural food sources are. All seed is not created equal. The cheap seed you find in mega-marts generally comes from the bottom of the silo of seed for human consumption. It is long bereft of the healthy oils that the birds are seeking. If you see the birds, “sorting” through your seed, you need to look for a better quality source.
I purchased a “pole system” from my local Wild Birds Unlimited a few years ago and am watching a pair of cardinals, a nuthatch, purple finches, mourning doves, and blue jays converging on the feeder as I type. Yes, occassionally a sharp-shinned hawk swoops in to grab a meal; but learning about predator/prey and the cycle of life is part of appreciating nature!
A nature/field journal is not only a gift that will foster the connection between a child and their environment, but it is a gift that can become treasured memorabilia. Post-holiday, help get a kid going by suggesting a location to monitor or a place to visit and suggestions on what kind of data to record. Visit your local library or bookstore and look at journals of note. NEVER edit a child’s entry! This is a record of what they observed and thought at that moment and it is never “wrong.” Don’t be surprised if they go back and edit themselves when they find more information!
You can also give kids the opportunity to contribute to the family and make the connection between living, growing things and the food they eat. A “sprout kit” is easy to assemble and package up as a gift. For a kid, sprouting seeds is nothing short of pure alchemy! Imagine, just seed and water and, BINGO! Food! You can experiment with a wide variety different seed types and flavors. Could this be the key to getting them to eat more greens??
[This post was written by Lee Welles.]