Ahhh, the winter season is finally upon us. Just imagine a wonderful day of sledding and playing in the snow followed by warming up inside with a cozy blanket, a nice cup of hot chocolate, and a warm muffin. These are the things that winter dreams are made of, but if you are anything like us days like these come very few and far between. In Arkansas our chances for a big snow only come once every few years, at best. What do we do in the meantime? While we wait and hope for the next big winter play day to come we have to make winter feel special in other ways, too.
One of the things our family really enjoys in winter is our bird feeder. We have a handful of birds that take turns feasting on the nuts and seeds we place out for them in every season, but in the winter there are considerably more. They come and go all day long; some being stingy hanging around all day and others gathering a quick meal and then hastily moving away. We are not experienced or professional bird-watchers, many times we don’t even identify them correctly, but we do take great pleasure in watching them.
This month the morning time plan is centered around our feathered friends. There are some great activities and a lot of books you can add to the plan this month and I have linked a lot of them here, but I also wanted to remind you not to overwhelm yourself. The idea behind these plans are to add those little bits of beauty (poetry, musical composition, scripture and poetry memorization, and crafts) that you may miss out on while trying to tackle to the 3R’s of your homeschool day…not to overwhelm you. Once again, just listening to the music, reading the scripture, taking the nature walk, etc. are going to add depth to your homeschool days all on their own, but if you want a little bit more or possibly have a free Saturday to add an activity here or there I wanted to give you some ideas for that, too.
Download the January 2019 Morning Time Printable here.
The selection this month is The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams. From the very beginning the violin welcomes our imaginations to picture a bird flittering and fluttering about as it ascends into the air. This is a very long song and as such I do not encourage you to make your children sit down and listen to it intently for 16 minutes. Instead, I encourage you to play it often throughout the month: during quiet reading, craft, or poetry tea time. Their appreciation and familiarity with the music will expand as it is given to them sweetly and incrementally.
The Chickadee by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Piped a tiny voice hard by,
Gay and polite, a cheerful cry,
” Chic-chicadee-dee! ” Saucy note
Out of a sound heart and a merry throat,
As if it said, ” Good day, good sir.
Fine afternoon, old passenger!
Happy to meet you in these places
When January brings new faces! “
If you are going to do a month centered around birds, there is no other choice but to include art by John James Audubon. Audubon devoted his life to the study of birds and is most known for his book, The Birds of America. This work contains 435 hand-colored, life-sized prints of North American birds, some of which are now extinct. His paintings are incredible, so I included two in this months plan.
The range for the black-capped chickadee says that it is in the upper United States and lower portions of Canada. In case you are in an area that doesn’t have this bird I thought it would be good to include the Cardinal, too. Hopefully, this gives you a greater chance of observing at least one of these birds in nature this month.
If you are interested in learning more about John Audubon here are a few living books that you could include in your art study:
- The Boy Who Drew Birds: The Story of John James Audubon this was the very first living book I remember us reading in our homeschool journey. It was included in lesson plans for Kindergarten from My Father’s World and was the fuel that sparked my desire to include more books like this in our day. This one is an all time favorite. I definitely encourage you to read it.
- The Story of John J Audubon by Joan Howard
- A Nest for Celeste: A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home A fictional story about a mouse that finds its home in the shoe of Audubon’s apprentice. I think this one would be fun to do as a read-aloud.
- Audubon’s Birds of America Coloring Book
Teaching our children that we have a loving father in Heaven who cares for all creatures and provides for their needs is one of the greatest truths we can give them. When troubles come they will be armed with the Word of God that reminds them they are loved, cared for, and valued by Him. I think Matthew 6:25-26 portrays this type of love very well and in a way that our children can easily understand.
Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
Another nature walk! You all, this is as much for me as it is for you. If you are anything like us, you may tend to find yourself in some sort of hibernation during the winter. There are many days that just as I am stepping into bed for the night I realize I did not step outside even once that day, not even to get the mail. Fresh air is good for the body and I know I need more of it. Sometimes, I just need a little push to get me there. Consider this that little nudge.
This month we will be taking a nature walk to look for birds. Often times birds hide for their own protection and safety. Here are a few tips that may help you find them:
- Be quiet: use your inside voice, outside. I know this may be hard for our children, but if we approach it like a game and let them know we are going on an adventure I am sure they will follow along.
- Avoid sudden movements: the closer you are to a bird, the more slowly and quietly you should move.
- Look for flocks: in the winter months many small songbirds join flocks of mixed species for protection and to make finding food easier. There will always be one of two in the flock making call notes. Following a single calling bird will often lead you to a larger flock.
- Be patient
- Get the sun at your back: moving around so that the sun is behind you will make it much easier to see and identify birds
- Look around and explore all of the habitats around you: the sky, the brush, the lake, the trees.
- Find birds with your eyes and then observe them a little more closely with binoculars. Audubon.org recommends the Celestron Nature DX 8×32 Binocular as a quality, budget friendly set for beginners.
- Use a field guide to help identify birds that you find. We have the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America.
If you would like to use the Handbook of Nature Study as an aid to the science portion, you can find the study for Chickadees on pages 68-70 and for Cardinals on pages 127-130.
This month we will be making felt ornaments using free templates from Down East Thunder Farm. She has patterns for both the Black Capped Chickadee and the Cardinal. We plan to make one of each. You can download the patterns here: Feld Cardinal and Felt Chickadee
For these crafts you need felt sheets (black, gray, tan, white, red, and orange), embroidery thread, a needle, and ribbon/string to hang your ornament.
You can find a great assortment of felt sheets in packets such as this one online or if you are close to a Hobby Lobby you can just purchase the colors you need, I believe they cost less than .50 a sheet.
Pine Cone Bird Feeders:
Gather your supplies: pine cones, a small bowl of peanut butter, bird seed for winter birds (I like to get the Nut and Fruit blend otherwise, a lot of it is wasted), popsicle stick or butter knife, and a paper plate,
Assemble your bird feeders:
- Place the pinecone on a paper plate, spread peanut butter on the pine cone. Try to cover as much of it as possible.
- Once the pine cone is covered roll it around in the birdseed. Covering as many surfaces as you are able and will stick to the peanut butter.
- Attach a ribbon to the top of the pine cone and hang on a tree in your yard.
If you have made it this far, thank you for sticking with me. I pray you have a great month. Happy 2019!
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