I try to plan a simple, special, seasonal activity to do with my kids at every turn of the season. I like to use the solstices and the equinoxes (as well as the powerful days at the mid-season, called “cross-quarter” days,) as anchors throughout the year. And I try to plan opportunities to spend some special time with the kids, or as a family, to do a special craft or activity and acknowledge the changing of the seasons. I use this as a time to connect with them and to talk about the meaning of the season, share any wisdom or lessons the season has to impart.
This year’s spring activity we started at the Spring Equinox and finally hung on May Day. (Because, you know, sometimes it just takes awhile to see a project through from beginning to end.) I’ve been enjoying hearing the birds singing out my bedroom window every morning, so I found this sweet, simple bird feeder craft for us to do.
This was our inspiration. (Photo on left.) I liked this bird feeder because it seems likely you can round up most of these materials (or something like them) around your house. As you’ll see, we used the photo as inspiration and kind of winged it on the execution.
Bird Feeder Instructions
1) Gather your cans (or a creative substitute).
I didn’t have any cans in the recycling and wasn’t planning on having any for the next several days so I ran to Lowe’s for a cheap, acceptable substitute. I came out with these tiny terra cotta pots. They were about 75¢ each.
2) Paint your can (pot, etc.)
The kids (mostly) had fun painting their pots. Ellie a bit more than Jaden. In a moment of pre-teen apathy Jaden decided all he wanted was the one red stripe and he was done. Probably they also bickered about something in the process. (Love each other thought they do.) We just used whatever paints the kids had around the house. Nothing special.
3) Find a dowel-like stick.
The kids found sticks outside the size of a small dowel, about ¼” in diameter. We taped the sticks down on the inside with duct tape, figuring the tape would be covered with bird seed.
We’re going for simple here. And realistic.
Maybe you have this problem too …
Too often I don’t do the activities and projects and things I’d like to do (with my kids and otherwise) because I over-complicate them. In this case, I easily could have created a long list of needs from the craft store because … I need special paint for outside, or wooden dowels just like the picture, or the right glue to glue it down. Then … we don’t actually do the fun activity because I never got around to going to the craft store, and now spring is over and suddenly it’s the middle of summer and I still have that damn craft store list on my fridge and “Go to the craft store” written on my To Do List.
Instead of getting hung up on perfection (on any of the things you find in The Seasonal Soul; projects, meditations, journal prompts, all of it), don’t get caught up on perfection. Instead, just improvise. And create an imperfect, and totally awesome, craft with your kids. (Or create something on your own!) Sure, it might be wonky, and you’ll probably have to experiment to get it right but, who cares?!! It’s the experience of doing anything that’s the point. Not the Pinterest-worthy outcome.
Case in point …
4) Fix any design issues your bird feeder might have.
The terra cotta pots had an inherent problem with their design – the opening of the pot, when hung on its side, just spills out the birdseed. SO! I put my pre-teen son on the task of devising a solution.
Obviously it required cardboard and duct tape.
My son simply cut a small piece of cardboard, with a notch for the stick, that fit in the curve of the pot. He fastened it with tape on the inside. This will all be covered with birdseed.
5) String ribbon (or wire) around (or through) your can (or pot).
Finally, instead of ribbon we used this faux-wood wire we had in our laundry room/utility closet/garage/garden shed. I’m sure you could use anything here. Then just string your wire, (or ribbon, or whatever) through the hole on the bottom.
6) Fill your bird feeder with bird seed.
We got a big ol’ bag of birdseed at Lowe’s for around $5.
7) Hang your bird feeder.
Find a charming spot to hang your bird feeder. Somewhere you can really enjoy it. Because they’re super sweet and they’ll remind you of this awesome time you spent with your kids. Hang them outside a window you look out of often. Maybe out the kitchen window and they can bring you some joy while you’re doing the dishes. We hung ours in our front yard where we can see them every time we walk out our front door. I can see them from my favorite chair on our front porch.
Mid-Spring Teachings to Talk to Kids About
Everything is bursting with life right now.
Notice the world around you. What are the signs of spring you’re observing right now. Talk about the leaves returning on the trees, all the flowers that are blooming. What are the coolest flowers you’ve seen so far this spring? What are your favorites?
Spring is a time for celebrating all the life around us.
Remind the kids (and ourselves) to be grateful for all the life that returns in the spring. It makes us feel happy. And joyful. And alive.
It’s so amazing and important and magnificent how life is able to renew itself, and create new life. It’s important we feel grateful for that, as well.
Talk about how new things are born. Embrace spring as a time to have those important conversations with your kids.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your kids about how human babies are born. This is a vital conversation to have with your kids. Often. Use this time to check in. Engage them in age-appropriate conversations about sex. Follow their lead. Ask them what they know. Ask them if there’s things they want to know. (If you need some ideas for jumping into “the talk” with your kids, try this article with age-appropriate talking points.)
Remind children their bodies are SACRED.
Their bodies are powerful. Their bodies are beautiful and astounding. And, their bodies will have the ability to create new life when they are older. But their bodies are still growing and changing, they need to feel comfortable and confident in their bodies, their bodies need to be mature, before they’re able to explore that part of themselves. Children and teenagers need to take the time to enjoy and celebrate all the different things their bodies are able to do.
What is something your body can do now that you’re really proud of? What is something you can do this year, that you weren’t able to do last year? Set a goal for yourself, what is something you’d like to accomplish, physically, in the next year.
Overall, spring is a time to be joyful, and to celebrate life. Spring is a time to feel good.
What makes you feel good? What is something joyful and fun that you’d like to do outdoors this spring?
Please come back and share your crafting pictures in the comments below. We’d all love to see your finished projects. Did you have to improvise on the design? What worked for you? What didn’t?
Also, I’d LOVE to hear about the spring conversations you had with your kids. What are they feeling proud of? How did it feel to engage in “the talk” with them? What did you talk about? What kind of language did you use? I’d really like to hear all your stories. These are such important conversations, I’d love to hear about your experiences.
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