National Wildlife Week nature activities for kids

There aren't a lot of holidays or celebrations in the year that have to
do with wildlife. Oh sure, we had Groundhog Day last month, but isn't
that over in about 15 minutes, tops? We think about reindeer at
Christmas (but it's a stretch), and sometimes bats for Halloween.

But this week, Monday through Friday, is National Wildlife Week. So no animals will get left out. It's a push by the National Wildlife Federation to encourage wildlife awareness and love for nature.

It's been awhile since I wrote any Green Hour
posts, so I thought I'd try to come up with a no-matter-how-lamely
wildlife-related nature activity for kids every day. It's my way of
celebrating. If you're interested and want to get right to the
activity, just scroll on down . . . .

Having a Green Hour is a
fun and relaxing part of the day. It's good for kids to have
unstructured play time outdoors where they can explore the natural
world. According to the Green Hour
people, there's actual research that backs up the idea that time
playing outside helps kids physically, mentally and emotionally. It
also helps kids learn to care about the environment. The Man-cub and I
don't have a Green Hour every day, but we try.

I think even if
you can do only a half-hour, it's helpful. Most of my nature activities
for kids this week don't take a long time. (Hello, short attention
spans!)

If you want to do National Wildlife Week along with me, check out the links above and also Wildlife Watch, where you can report any wildlife you see and find out more about animals in your area.

Like the squirrel we saw.

I know -- ho hum, big deal. Squirrels are everywhere. But our yard is its habitat.

Thinking about our yard as a habitat
has encouraged me to plant bushes, trees and flowers that provide food
and shelter for birds, butterflies -- and squirrels too, I guess.

So today's activity is to plant wildflower seeds that will produce nectar for butterflies.

We started with just a couple old pots and some dirt.

Which my son loved digging in.

So much so, that he flung dirt on my nice white shorts.

Then
we planted the seeds. I just happened to have one of those papers that
has seeds inside of it. Sometimes you find them as a greeting card,
sometimes as a bookmark -- please tell me you know what I'm talking
about so I don't feel like an idiot.

Now we'll water the seeds and wait for them to grow, then plant them in our butterfly garden.

This is an easy activity, doesn't take a lot of time and is high on little kid appeal. (For an alternate activity, check out how to make a toad abode.)

You
can find seeds at a nursery or hardware store. You can get seeds from a
gardening neighbor. You can even buy them at supermarkets -- in the
form of unpopped popcorn kernels! And you can grow them inside near a
sunny window, so you don't have to live in South Florida like I do to
plant something.

My tips: Don't be afraid to get dirty. (White shorts? What was I thinking?) Explain to your kids how planting seeds can help wildlife. And mostly, have fun.

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