Yesterday I hosted our monthly science club at a nature center only to be shooed into the basement during a tornado warning! As we huddled together waiting for the sirens to pass, I must admit that I was pretty proud of my daughter, who only found the whole experience to be as interesting as any other. The staff also showed us their herpetology room, which was so cool of them—and the mama deer and her two babies stopped by the viewing window for a visit, which was delightful.
We got to finish most of our projects, though, which were simple animal water source bowls. To make these, you can use anything you have around the house—a pie pan, an empty ice cream container, a cereal bowl, whatever. As long as it’s sturdy enough to withstand the elements, you are good to go.
You could just place this dish outside for animals to use, but where’s the fun in that? I brought along a bunch of permanent markers for the kids to decorate their bowls with. We had everything from skulls to fake pebbles, sunbursts to flowers decorating the bowls. They were all very creative—and the one boy who didn’t want to create one still got to bring home a water source.
We ran out of time for the second part of the activity, but you can do this with your own group: identify the four things that animals need in their habitat (food, water, shelter, and a place to raise their young) and then go around the nature center (or zoo, or whatever is nearby—even your own backyard) and see if you can find each of these elements for your animal(s). Are they all present? If not, which is missing—and can you help provide it?
We also discussed other ways we can help our area wildlife, such as building brush piles and bird houses, planting flowers and trees, and not cutting down forests that already exist. At the last meeting, I provided instructions on how to build a toad house at home; at the next one, I will be bringing some guidelines on how to make your yard a wildlife habitat altogether.
Sharing the joys of nature with children isn’t just fun; it’s also a good way to help preserve our environment and foster stewardship into future generations. Given that most kids adore animals, it’s also something that they are bound to enjoy themselves.