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Honour the Child

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BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Friday, 19 December 2014
These simple winter crafts for children can make a big difference to our littlest feathered friends!

And kids can learn more about nature all around us, whether city or country, big yard or small porch.
When we purchased our home, one of the great draws for me was the big kitchen windows overlooking the side yard.  I imagined doing all the myriad kitchen tasks while looking out at the trees and the birds in the sheltered little glade.

Fast forward through a year of many changes and 6 months of living in our new home.

My daughter sitting cross legged on the countertop with the hot chocolate she made for herself, watching the birds with absorbed wonder in the early morning winter sunlight is already filed away under 'precious memories'.

Today we baked Christmas shortbread in the company of a dozen or so little black capped chickadees swooping and hopping about, enjoying the treats we made for them.  
It's a simple little dream, but it's coming true is so  sweet.
We want to purchase some serious bird feeders and some suet in order to provide in a real way for our winter residents~ we have our hearts set on enticing a pair of Grey Jays (Whiskey Jacks, Ontario Jays...) we have seen about into sticking around for a while. But for now, we had some fun making our own seed feeders with two simple crafts (...of course, these are old school and we lay no claim to originality!).
First, we made the classic children's toilet paper/ peanut butter/ seed feeders
With a little creativity we turned this into a homeschool lesson about birds and their needs, as well as our local species.

Pine cones could substitute for the toilet paper rolls.
All you need is:
• string or yarn cut to length
• toilet paper tubes or pine cones
• peanut butter
• bird seed

Simply string the rolls for hanging, spread with peanut butter and roll in bird seed.
Set aside in a cool place (we used the fridge) to allow them to set for an hour or two.
Hang and enjoy!
Secondly, we made our own cookie cutter seed shapes to hang.
Gather up:
• unflavoured gelatin powder (ie Knox Gelatine, instructions for use are here)
• cookie cutters, large simple shapes work best
• wax paper on baking sheet or other tray
• bird seed
• string cut to length
Lay the cookie cutters out on the waxed paper on the tray.
{{We found that shapes with small/ narrow parts (ie gingerbread man arms) didn't work as well as larger shapes. We experimented with frozen cranberries in the mix, but they caused the shapes to fall apart.}}
Mix the gelatine as directed. Do not let it set.
Pour in some bird seed and stir it up... continue adding seed until there is little to no liquid remaining in the bowl.
Fill the cookie cutters 1/2 way with the seed mixture.
Lay the knotted end of a string loop inside the 1/2 filled shape.
Cover the string and fill the remaining part of the shape with sees.
Pat firmly into place.
Chill for 12+ hours in the fridge or outdoors.
Carefully remove cutters, hang and enjoy!
It took about a week before the birds discovered our feeders (and we live in a heavily wooded region), but as soon as one found them, friends were quick to join.  Hopefully the addition of a varied diet including fat and berries will bring more variety in days to come!
You can find more links and ideas for winter bird feeding and feeders on our 'Feed the Birds' board on Pinterest.
Enjoy! ♥♥

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