Wednesday, March 10, 2010
My five-year-old loves birds. She particularly likes identifying them, learning the differences between species ("how do you tell a grackle from a starling?"), and checking them off her mental list of "birds I've seen." The other day, we were playing outside and she asked me, "Mommy, could you make me my own bird book? One where I could mark off the ones I've seen?"
Well, yes, yes I could, because that, my dear, is a brilliant idea.
We have a fabulous bird guide that we keep within reach, and reference it often to identify new visitors to our feeders (or just learn more about old friends!). But it's clearly a grown-up book. I absolutely loved her idea of a bird book just for her, where she could record her very own observations. I got right to work.
Really, it was pretty easy. I created a simple template that gives her a place to record sightings, a place to practice writing the name of the bird, and a large box to fill with her own sketches and observations. There is also a photo of each bird, which I simply cut-and-pasted from the internet. I printed out the pages, 3-hole punched them, and put them in a spare binder we had lying around. Presto! Custom birdwatching book.
I made sure to select only birds that we've actually seen in our backyard (or close by), so as not to clutter up her book with irrelevant pages. At the same time, I wanted to give her a bit of a challenge, so I did include a few birds that either won't return for a few more months (hummingbirds) or are rare and exciting visitors to our yard, like the great blue heron. She was thrilled to flip through the book and discover that she could already identify each of the birds I had included.
It seems like such a small thing. But it is these small things that help to build the bridge between our children and nature. When we give our children the tools to become naturalists, we put them in position to revere and protect our planet. And why not start with our feathered friends?