Wherever you are hunkered, you can still connect with nature.
As a homeschooling mama and a provider of early childhood programming, my mantra is always to KEEP IT SIMPLE. Below you'll find the first of several Wilderplay prompts for your pop-up homeschool, your essential-worker childcare service, even your shut-in cat family. This short activity serves as a reminder that small educational exercises, simple ideas, and open-ended approaches are enough to keep you connected to nature!
BEFRIEND A BIRD: THE ROBIN
Some never left this winter. In most areas of the country, if they flew away south, they have returned. And on warming mornings, you can already hear their sunrise warble. Robins area all around us!
Birdwatching is a calming, centering activity that is perfectly tailored for a quarantined family. You can go outside to observe birds, or, if needed, watch from a window. Not only can you learn the facts about a bird species, but over time you can observe quirky behaviors and even form relationships with your new feathered friends!
Here are some brief instructions for befriending a robin with your family:
1. Gather some birdwatching supplies. All you really need is a window or outdoor area and a keen eye. You might also enjoy having books about birds and identification guides (print or electronic), binoculars, a journal, or a camera.
2. Watch for birds and work together to identify a robin based on his black body, bright beak, and red/orange breast. You'll find them perched in trees, scavenging around below bird feeders, and hopping about on the lawn.
3. Listen for the robin's distinct song, especially in the morning. By listening together, your child may grow to associate the sound of a morning robin with this special time spent with you.
4. Encourage rich conversations while you observe your robin. Count the robins you see while birdwatching. Notice what they are doing- are they flying? Eating seeds with their beaks? Building a nest? Talk about the colors in their feathers and the way they are behaving in today's weather. These conversations will introduce new vocabulary to your young child.
5. When you see your robin friends, say hello. Ask them how they are doing. Encourage your child to tell your robin all about their day. Forming personal relationships with living creatures supports social/emotional development including empathy.
5. Record your family's robin sightings in your journal. There are two popular ways to record your bird sightings: a field entry, which includes data such as the date, time, location, weather, and behavior of the bird, and a life list, which is a running list of the bird species you are able to identify. If your child loves to write and draw, invite them to be the official journal-filler-outer!
Be well, and enjoy this time with your family and new feathered friends.
See you out there soon,
When not working with children and their caregivers, "Lady" Lisa and her family enjoy exploring the woods, lakes, and beaches that surround their northern Michigan home. She holds a masters degree in early childhood studies, a graduate certificate in teaching adults in the early childhood field, and accreditation in wilderness safety and the forest school ethos.