Tuesday, March 15, 2011

For the Birds!

*Please note: all photos (if not borrowed from the web) on this blog have been taken with my webcam, laptop carefully balanced on whatever surface is closest, yelling at the kids to keep still...then edited at www.picnik.com. Please bear with me...I am actually a decent photographer, when I have an actual camera in my hands!

Welcome to Day 3 of my "Surviving March Break" guide: For the Birds! We've had lots of fun outside, trying to catch some new freckles in this glorious sunshine (hooray for longer days!), and looking for signs of Spring. Today we saw a terrific magic show, and had a long-overdue visit with dear friends. My kids are alternately playing together nicely, and fighting/whining/yelling. The same could be said for their mother.
Today we're going to try some bird-related activities! Have fun...I wonder when we'll see the first robin of the Spring?

Chocolate Bird's Nests!

Violet actually has eyes. She is (long over)due for a haircut.
You'll need:
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/4 cup sugar
Bring the above ingredients to boil in a medium saucepan.
Then add:
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Remove from heat. Then stir in:
  • 3 cups quick-cooking (not instant) oats
  • 1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
*You may not fit all the oats in; just add and stir until it is firm and seems like you'd be able to shape it!

Shape mixture into golf balls; squeeze tight till it holds together. Push your thumb in gently, and refrigerate till firm. Then nestle in some Cadbury's Mini Eggs. Delight your children with a Spring treat!
*I halved this recipe for the batch above; you might want to do the same unless you're taking them to a party or making them for your child's class!)

Salt Dough Bird Nest

You'll need:
  • 1 1/2 cups salt
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. alum (if you don't bake your clay; it acts as a preservative. I bake ours!)
Mix the dry ingredients together, then gradually add water. When dough forms a ball around the spoon, knead it well, adding water if it doesn't hold together. Once you've formed your small items, bake it at 300 degrees F for 30-40 min. or until hard. Allow to cool before painting!

  1. Roll a medium sized ball, then pinch and shape it to resemble a bowl/nest.
  2. Shape a small ball of clay into a simple bird shape.
  3. Place nest and bird on baking tray, and bake till hard.
  4. Paint nest brown, and add some twigs/moss/dried grass
  5. Paint your bird, and nestle her into her nest!
Just take your kids out! Put on rubber boots and take them on a walk; bring a bag to pick up any litter that the melting snow has revealed. Or bring along a small notebook and make a list of signs of Spring (remember to explore the five senses...what signs of Spring can they see? smell? hear? feel? When you get home, make a chart and sort the signs of Spring into their sense-category!

Alternatively, you could make a Spring Scavenger Hunt list, and have your child check them off as they see them (examples: trickling water, exposed patches of grass, mud, birdsong, warm sun, gentle breeze). 

Have fun!

Fine Motor
Turkey Baster Feather Race

You'll need:
  • turkey basters, one per child (or adult who wants to play)! Shop around till you find one that is not too firm (at least for smaller children)
  • feathers (those coloured ones you find at the Dollar Store or craft store
A toddler will need hand-over-hand support to coordinate the squeeze necessary to make the feather move!

Sit on opposite sides of the table, and place a feather about halfway between you. Now, use your turkey baster to try to blow the feather towards your "opponent"...there are no points, or winners here...just blow the darn feather around! If your kids tend to fight over everything, as mine often do, give them each a feather and let them blow them willy nilly! Any activities that encourage your child to SQUEEZE with their hands builds up their hand strength, which leads to better fine motor control. This will make printing, colouring, drawing, cutting with scissors, etc. easier for them!


  1. what great ideas. I'll have to see if there is any time at home to try some out. Seems like we're booked without trying this week. nice.
    and yes, my friend did roll all those teeny cherries for the teeny pie! Next time she said she'll make a false bottom. Good idea.
    cheers for the rest of the break!

  2. Weeee! A great series full of wonderful ideas. And fine motor skills are near and dear to my heart too. Defecits in this area are often undetected...until the little ones land in school. Which is your point. And you are being marvelously proactive. Yay!

  3. I particularly love this one even though I am not using any of the ideas for obvious reasons. I LOVE nests (don't we all!) and spring and so I really, really liked this one especially the walks outside and looking for signs of spring with ALL senses. I might do that myself today.

  4. I love those little nests! Maybe we can make some when you are here?
    And the feather racing is such a clean and fun little game for kids! I am going to pass this on to my caregiver.
    Can't wait for spring!
    Great post.

  5. Oh! those look so good!

    I will definatly have to make them.

  6. I am really loving all the work you are putting into these posts! Thank you for the inspiration :)


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