(ARA) - The sun is shining, birds are singing, butterflies are darting from colorful flower to colorful flower ... and children across the country are complaining about being bored. Eliminate this by taking advantage of the weather. Get the family outside and interact with nature.
Head out to the garden toddlers in tow - or to a local park with flowers - and create a list of items to find and count. For example, ask them to find one blue object, two soft and fuzzy plants, three flowers that smell pretty and four objects that are round in shape. This game incorporates shape, smell, touch and counting - all into one fun activity. Taking or drawing pictures together is a great way to document each finding. When you get back inside, print the photos and hang them along with the pictures you have drawn as a collage on the refrigerator. Or, arrange photos or pictures together into your very own counting book, so that the days' fun can be enjoyed again and again.
Colorful birds singing beautiful tunes and flitting from tree to tree are a great attraction for younger, elementary school children. To encourage birds to visit the backyard, work with your child to create a songbird habitat. It is simple - all you need to provide is food, water, shelter and a place for birds to raise their young. Supply food by making your own bird feeder out of recyclable materials like soda bottles and milk cartons. Fill these feeders with different kinds of foods - dried fruit, peanuts or Scotts Songbird Selections NutriThrive. Then, place a dish filled with water near the area and ensure there are nearby native plants or trees. Now that your habitat is ready, visit savethesongbirds.com to pledge to care for your habitat and receive an official songbird habitat certificate. Not only have you connected your children with nature, you have helped Scotts in its commitment to save 1 million songbirds by creating 50,000 acres of songbird habitat through the Save the Songbirds program.
Organize a scavenger hunt game for your children with some neighborhood kids in the garden or a local park. Make certain you have one adult to help every team. Equip each team with a camera - digital is better so you can review the photos quickly while still on site - and a plant identification book. Assign the teams to find and photograph items - both living and nonliving - that start with each alphabet letter. For example, an apple starts with A, so the teams would bring back a photograph of an apple, found in the orchard. Be sure to have a list of items that start with some of the more difficult letters handy. For example, share with the players that zinnia would work for the letter Z, but do not tell them what a zinnia looks like. Demonstrate how to use the plant identification book. Have a small garden-themed prize for teams that complete the entire alphabet. Seeds, watering cans, garden gloves and small kid-sized hand shovels work great.
For older kids, create seed bombs to share and plant in fun spots. This is a great, hands-on craft project that can be used to decorate not only your yard, but the community as well. First, use a mixture of either Miracle-Gro Potting Mix or Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix and flower seeds. Wild flower seeds work well here but a blend of annuals and perennials is also nice. Work with your children to pick the best seed mixture. Once the seeds are selected, carefully mix the ingredients together and form balls. Have your children wrap two or three seed bombs in colorful tulle, secure the package with a ribbon and hand them out to family and friends to plant. Once planted, the seeds will germinate and blossom beautifully all season. Find fun spots in the neighborhood or community that are available to plant. It is important to ask the property owner first. Continue the project by returning to the planting sites, keeping the mini-gardens watered and beautiful all summer long.
Visit Miracle-Gro for outdoor game ideas that are not only are fun, but educational as well.