Children love this craft activity as a yearly rhythm (and so do the birds!). Have a go to bring a smile to a child’s face and a caring attitude towards our feathered friends. Do you have a pine cone at home, if you find some lying around in nature from now on keep them for this special winter craft activity. If no pine cones available, an interesting piece of wood will do, or even a empty toilet roll.
You will need: a pine cone (or wood or toilet roll), jar of peanut butter (if nut allergies, honey will also be fine to use instead of peanut butter), butter knife or spatula, bird seed (bag from supermarket), and a bowl or tray.
Note: tie wool, string or pipe cleaner on first, to hang the bird feeder. It will be messy to tie the string on at the end. Let your child have fun spreading the peanut butter (honey) all over the pine cone, then roll in the birdseed (put seed in bowl or tray so less messy) to cover the pine cone in seed. Tie to a garden tree branch or fence (preferably one you can see out of the window). The birds eat their winter treat, and when pecked clean, you can repeat this craft activity again!
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Seasonal table ideas
It is through a seasonal table that your family can connect with the earth and the natural rhythm of the year. A seasonal table at home is a special area to represent the season and a place to display nature’s treasures. Children love to be a part of the creating and changing of a seasonal table.
A special place
The seasonal table can be a shelf, small table, or a window ledge. Look for a suitable place in your home. An old second hand table is fine. A collection of colored cloths and cards will begin your seasonal table.
Place a colored cloth on the table, then hang another lighter cloth from a hook on the wall, this provides a lovely back drop. These cloths set a soft and lovely scene of color for the special nature place. The cloth colors represent the season on the table. Spring colors include the greens of new grass, and pinks and peaches of blossom. The summer colors represent the yellows and blues of the beach and the bright sun. Autumn colors can be brown, red and orange, the shades of falling leaves. Finally, winter colors may include ice blue for the sky and white and dark brown for the earth and snow.
Look out for lovely pieces of material or tablecloths in second hand shops. The scene has been set…
Ideas for all four seasons
Onto the table place a vase of flowers, blossom branches or a flowering shrub, for spring time. Blossom fairies and butterflies can be lovingly made – using seasonal craft book ideas – to hang on the blossom branches. Bird’s nests can be placed on the table, as well as toy animals with their springtime babies. Children can collect flowers and blossoms for the springtime seasonal table.
During summer time it is lovely to place a selection of sea shells, perhaps a few fish in a bowl or some fabric fish in a pretend cloth sea. A summer vase of flowers adds beauty and wonder to the seasonal table.
My favorite season is autumn. The earth abounds with nature’s gifts; lovely leaves, tree nuts and pieces of wood. Place them on the season table and hide amongst them gnomes to find there – in secret places! For the winter seasonal table, in a vase bare branches can be covered with golden cardboard or sewn stars to represent the darker evenings. Crystals and stones symbolize the gnome’s busy underground, when all is quiet and bare on the earth.
A seasonal table will bring magic into your homes and hearts. Children and adults alike ‘wake-up’ to the changing faces of the seasons around them. This can bring a love, respect and awe for the natural world on planet earth. It is a miracle!
Ages and stages!
Young children tend to play with a seasonal table and it can get quite messy. Keep it simple at this age. Let them collect special treasures (but remember to respect the codes of National Parks). Your child will need your guidance and help to set up the table. As your child grows older, you may turn your back one day and the table is set. Little fingers have created magic!
Here is a great Hot Cross Bun recipe for Easter family baking fun. Children love to knead and watch the dough rise. Even though this takes time, it is a beautiful ritual on a home day during the Easter break.
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
4 cups plain flour
1 ½ tsp mixed spice
Pinch of salt
¼ cup caster sugar
1½ cup of currants
2 x 7g packets dried yeast
Combine flour, yeast, sugar, mixed spice, salt and currants in a large bowl.
Melt butter in a small saucepan, add milk and heat until luke warm. Add warm milk mixture and eggs to current mixture.
Use a flat bladed knife to mix into a dough until almost coming together
Use hands to form a dough
Turn dough onto floured surface and knead until smooth (10mins).
Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clean tea towel, set aside in warm draft free place for 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until dough doubles in size.
Punch dough down until original size and knead on a floured surface. Divide into 12 even balls, place balls on a greased tray, cover with cloth and set aside in warm place for 30 minutes, or until buns double in size.
Preheat oven at 190c. Make crosses. For the crosses use 50g of plain flour, 2tbsp butter. Rub the flour and butter together. Add water to make a soft pastry. Roll between fingers to make a snake! Lay two lengths to make a cross.
Bake for 20 to 25 mins or until cooked through and eat warm with butter – yum!
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Paint some stones and pebbles with your child. I have seen huge painted rocks too! Red acrylic paint (avoid oil based) and once dried, a black permanent marker pen (note: make sure you watch your child and take away the marker afterwards – not a great play pen!). These ladybugs were made by toddlers – whose Mums I was invited to speak with – recently here from Iran and Iraq. Sweet aren’t they? The children loved this activity and travelled the lady bugs up and down my arms – smiling!
Spring is in the air! Travel round your garden with a little basket and collect flowers with your child. Find some heavy books (phone directories are great!). Place greaseproof paper between pages and lay out flowers. Close shut and wait, in a month take a peak and you have pressed and dried flowers ready to make bookmarks for presents or cards (lovely!). Great to do each spring time.