Activities

Birdseed Ornaments

by Nikki Erwin, SCRATCH Coordinator
Winter is a great time to teach your kids a little something about nature. These birdseed ornaments are a fun and easy kid-friendly activity that provides a great little snack for birds during the cold months of winter!
What You Will Need
  • 2 small packets of Knox gelatin
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 1/2 c. birdseed
  • pipe cleaner
  • mold (we used small heart shaped silicone molds)
Directions
  1. Dissolve 2 small packets of Knox in 1/2 c. of hot water (we used water that had been heated in a coffee pot).
  2. Add 1 1/2 c. birdseed and mix until the seeds are coated. If you have a lot of excess liquid, add a little more seed.
  3. Bend pipe cleaner into a circle that fits inside the mold, leave the opposite end straight.
  4. Spoon coated birdseed into mold, filling halfway. Press the birdseed down to make sure that it is well packed.
  5. Place the bent end of the pipe cleaner into the mold on top of the coated birdseed.
  6. Fill the mold the rest of the way up, pressing down on the birdseed to make sure that it is firmly packed on top as well as on the bottom.
  7.  Leave the birdseed in the mold to dry (we left them for about two hours).
  8. Pull the straight end of the pipe cleaner around and twist it, making a circle to hang the bird seed ornament.
  9. “Pop” the birdseed out of the mold; allow the ornaments to finish drying before you try and hang them (we left them overnight, just to be sure).
 You can use twine, but pipe cleaner can be twisted around tree branches, making it easier to retrieve them and dispose of them once the birds have eaten their treats! We did this activity with Pre-K to early elementary school aged children (SCRATCH) and with teenagers (Produce Pedalers). Kids of all ages enjoyed this activity!
The SCRATCH Project will be selling these ornaments at the Winter Blues Farmers Market on Thursday, February 25, starting at 4 p.m. at the Charleston Civic Center.

Family Activities for Winter Break

By Tabitha Surface, Extension Agent

Ah, winter break – that time of year when teachers and students rejoice, and parents ask the question, “What am I going to do with these children for the next two weeks?” Here are some fun and budget-friendly activities you can do with your kids during the winter break, especially with the mild temperatures we’ve been having here in West Virginia so far this season.

Indoor Snowball Fight

It’s been a snowless December for the most part, but get into the winter spirit by having an indoor snowball fight. You can buy indoor snowballs or shower poofs, found in the health and beauty section. Or, with this overly warm weather, you can still take the “fight” outside.

Snow Sensory Activity

If you’re itching to see snow on the ground, consider making your own. Using the following ingredients, mix one wet with one or more dry ingredients. Add glitter for a snow that looks more festive.

Wet:

  • Conditioner
  • Shaving Cream
  • Lotion

Dry:

  • Corn Starch
  • Baking Soda
  • Shredded Paper

Nature Walk Scavenger Hunt

Enjoy the unseasonably warm weather while it is here by going on a nature walk scavenger hunt. There are great walking trails all over the region, just check your state and local parks.

Here a few fun things to look for:

  • a squirrel
  • an evergreen tree
  • something green that isn’t an evergreen tree
  • a cardinal
  • other birds

Here’s a fun idea to try: If you take the walk with socks over your shoes, the socks will collect seeds. In the spring, plant your socks and see what grows!

Volunteer

If you’re open to venturing a little farther than your own front yard, consider volunteering someplace as a family, like at a local homeless shelter, soup kitchen, community holiday dinner, or even the animal shelter.

Have children go through toys and clothes and donate them locally. Or, join this college student and put jackets, scarves and mittens around a local city with notes that read, “I’m not lost! If you need me, please take me.” Organize an event such as a blanket and jacket handout.

Or take the time to explore your local community by going to a museum, visiting an ice skating rink, or taking a class or workshop as a family. Find local events at West Virginia Department of Commerce’s Calendar of Events.

Between at-home activities and volunteer opportunities, the are a plenty of ways to keep you and your kids busy all through the winter break.