If you are in one of the many states impacted by snow this week, this book might particularly resonate with you and provide an activity if the kids are getting a little tired of being indoors! In the Snow by Sharon Phillips Denslow provides a little twist on the typical winter snow story. Instead of the child playing in the snow, he leaves seeds for bird and animal friends who are looking for food in the winter.
After reading about leaving seeds in the snow, we made an easy, toddler friendly bird feeder for any feathered or furry friends who might visit our yards looking for a treat. To make the bird feeders, we each brought a stale bagel or toasted piece of bread and covered it with peanut butter (other nut butters could easily be substituted if peanut allergies are a concern). Some of the toddlers helped spread the peanut butter, other parents did the spreading before handing to the toddlers. The little ones then helped sprinkle seeds on the bird feeders. To turn the bagel or bread into a bird feeder, tie a string to the bagel or make a small whole in the bread to thread a string through and tie. Hang the feeder on a tree or bush outdoors. The web is filled with lots of ideas for homemade bird feeders, but HERE is where we drew our inspiration.
Most of the kids engaged in this activity and did not try to eat the bird seed. My son, on the other hand, was fairly hungry, so had a hard time understanding that the feeder was for the birds at first. After some explanation (and a human-friendly snack), he actually really enjoyed the process of sprinkling the seeds on the bird feeder (without eating) and told big brother and daddy later that the feeder was for the “birds birds”! His reaction was a good reminder, however, that using food for non-food purposes can be confusing for young toddlers. It occurred to me later that using an edible seed (rather than bird seed) might have been a better adaptation for this group so they could put it in their mouth without as much concern. Alternately, using completely inedible ingredients (like a pinecone with a different kind of paste), might have reduced any minor confusion.
When it finally WAS time to have snack, we (intentionally) ate what we called “toddler-seed”! Our seeds included sunflower kernels and flax mixed with some raisins and crumbled shredded wheat all topped on vanilla greek yogurt and unsweetened coconut. The yogurt and coconut resembled snow with the seed-mixture scattered about on top.
Wherever you are, we hope that you find opportunities to help wildlife in whatever way so compels you. If you happen to be in a cold and snowy state, we hope you’ll be inspired to curl up with a book with your little ones!