The Museum Blog

Category: Family Learning

Backyard Birding- Make a Bird Feeder

By Colie Haahr, CMNH Educator

Backyard birding is a great way for kids to practice making observations, and to learn about ecology and biology! Learn how to make 2 easy bird feeders to attract special birds to your yard, especially Orioles, who like oranges and other fruits.  

If you have not tried backyard birding before, there are a few things to think about before you start. First, setting expectations for seeing birds. Even if you do a great job setting up a feeder with food that birds like, you may not see birds right away, or draw in unique birds right away. It’s a good idea to let kids know they may not see birds as soon as the feeder goes out. When scientists do research, they do a lot of observation and patient waiting to see results!

The food you provide is important, too, and birds need water! It may take some time to establish your backyard as a consistent food source for birds, so don’t give up if birds do not appear right away. All animals need water, so if you are able to provide clean water for your backyard animal friends, then you may see more of them more often. Birds do not have hands, obviously, so they use their beaks for many different things the way we use our hands. Different birds have different beaks that are adapted to where they live and what they eat. There’s a great book called Beaks! by Sneed B. Collard III  that helps to illustrate this to kids. When you put out food for the birds keep in mind not only what they eat, but how they eat it and whether they can access it with their beaks.  

Something else to keep in mind is the season. Some birds are only going to be around for a few months of the year because of migration, and others will be around throughout the year. Some birds migrate, or move, to warmer areas for the winter so that they can find more food. Migrating is a behavioral adaptation, or change in behavior, that helps an animal to survive. Some foods are harder for birds to find in the winter, like insects and fruits. The temperature gets too cold for some birds, but surprisingly many birds can withstand very cold winter temperatures. Spring is a great time to observe birds, and you may even get to see some nests being built. 

Location is important, too. If there is not a lot of natural habitat near your backyard, you may see fewer bird species. To see “new” or special birds, you can try visiting their habitat, like a local conservation area. The Bellamy Preserve in Dover is a great place to see birds, and since there are open fields as well as the bay nearby, you can see shore birds and forest birds on the same trip. Ideal bird habitats may also be ideal tick habitats, so be mindful of your clothing choices, and in the springtime boots will be necessary for the mud. 

Finally, bird identification can be really tricky even for grown ups! Instead of focusing strictly on bird identification, try setting up an observation chart that kids can use independently. This chart can include the day, time,  number of birds, and what the bird was doing. For example, at lunch time Sally Scientist saw one bird that was hopping, and three birds that were flying. She didn’t see any birds that were eating or drinking, so they must not have known it was lunch time. All silliness aside, noticing whether animals eat when people eat is a great observation!  A chart that kids can check off might work well: 

Sally Scientist’s Observations:

Day/Time

Birds Hopping

Birds Flying

Birds Eating

Birds Drinking

Monday lunch

/

///

0

0


Making the Bird Feeders: 

In the video you will see 2 different ways to make a bird feeder. One style of feeder is made by adding seeds to a paper towel roll or a pine cone, and it is a little messy, but can be done outdoors to cut down on spills. The second style of feeder is made by using an orange as the food rather than bird seed, and this is done to attract Orioles because they like to eat fruit. This can be done by carefully attaching an orange half to a branch, or creating a small feeder that fits an orange inside of it, and has a perch for the birds to sit on while they eat. 

Materials Needed:

  • Oranges
  • Seeds
  • Paper towel tube
  • Peanut butter, sun butter or crisco 
  • String 
  • Pipe cleaners 
  • Hole punch
  • Small jar or yogurt cup
  • Stick for a perch (sturdy)
  • Optional: jelly - this can be messy, and less messy oranges work well!

Directions: 

  1. Tube Feeder: The first feeder design is simple, but can be a little messy. For this feeder, you will need nut butter or crisco, a paper towel tube, string, and bird seed 
  • Use a tray or plate to hold the bird seed (a small mound should work)
  • Cut a paper towel tub in half so that one tube makes two feeders
  • Carefully add nut butter or crisco to the outside of the paper towel tube. 
  • Once the tube is mostly covered, gently roll it in the birdseed. The birdseed will stick to the tube, but keep it on a work surface like a plate until it’s time to hang it up
  • Use a string to hang up your feeder by threading it through the tub and tying the two ends in a knot. Hang your feeder up in a tree 
  1. Orange Feeder: For this feeder, you need an orange cut in half, sticks, a container, hole punch, and string to hang it up. The orange feeder is designed to attract Orioles because they enjoy eating fruit, especially oranges! Orioles also like jelly (not jam), but it is a little stickier and messier, so we suggest trying oranges first.
  • First, cut the orange in half so that the birds can get to it
  • The easiest way to make an Oriole feeder with oranges is to use a sturdy branch and poke the orange half directly onto a tree
  • Another method is to use a small container, like a yogurt cup, to hold the orange. Use a stick to add a perch, add holes with a hole puncher, and use a pipe cleaner or string to hang it up.

Links:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/types-of-bird-seed-a-quick-guide/?pid=1142

https://www.audubon.org/news/make-orange-feeder-orioles

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Baltimore_Oriole/lifehistory

https://feederwatch.org/blog/one-peanut-can-go-a-long-way-for-a-carolina-wren/

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First Friends at Home: Farm Animals

By Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

This week featured songs & rhymes all about farm animals!

Hello Song:

Hello it’s time to play
Let’s have some fun today!
Let’s clap our hands
And wiggle our toes
A hug...and a kiss...and away we go!

Hello (insert name here) it’s time to play
We’ll have so much fun...hooray! 

Open Them/Shut Them (action song)

Open them, shut them
Open them, shut them
Give a little clap-clap-clap

Open them, shut them
Open them, shut them
Lay them in your lap-lap-lap

Creep them, creep them, creep them, creep them
Right up to your chin-chin-chin

Open up your little mouth…
But do not let them in! 

This is the way the ladies ride (bounce)

This is the way the ladies ride
Trit-trot, trit-trot

This is the way the gentlemen ride
Jiggity-jog, jiggity-jog

This is the way the farmer rides
Hobbildy-hoy, hobbildy-hoy

And this is the way the hunter rides
Gallopy, gallopy, gallopy, gallopy
Oooooooover the fence! 

Five Clean & Dirty Pigs (action song)

Five pigs so squeaky clean
Cleanest you’ve ever seen
Wanted to go outside and play
Oink! Oink!

One jumped into the mud
Landed with a big thud
Then there were four squeaky clean pigs…

Four pigs…

Three pigs…

Two pigs…

One pig…

To Market, To Market (Bounce)

To market, to market to buy a fat pig
Home again, home again
Jiggity-Jig!

Buy a fat hog/ Jjiggity-Jog

Buy a fat cat/ Jiggity-Jat

Buy a fat sheep/ Jiggity-Jeep

Buy a fat hen/ Jiggity-Jen

Popcorn (prop song)

Popcorn, popcorn (Wave your scarf!)
Popcorn, popcorn
In the pot, in the pot (Hide your scarf in your hands)
Shake them, shake them, shake them (shake shake shake!)
Shake them, shake them, shake then
‘Til they pop! ‘Til they pop! (Throw scarf in the air!)

Scarf Peekaboo (prop song)

We wave our scarves together
We wave our scarves together
We wave our scarves together
Because it’s lots of fun!

We wave them up high!
We wave them down low
We wave them over you...peekaboo!
Because it’s lots of fun

We throw our scarves together
We throw our scarves together
We throw our scarves together
Because it’s lots of fun!

We throw them up high!
We throw them down low
We throw them over you...peekaboo!
Because it’s lots of fun! 

Goodbye Rhyme (action rhyme)

This is big, big, big
And this is small, small, small

This is short, short, short
And this is tall, tall, tall!

This is fast, fast, fast
And this is slow, slow, slow

This is yes, yes, yes
And this is no, no, no

This is hi, hi, hi
And this is bye, bye, bye! 

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Wacky Art: Tin Foil Printmaking

By Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

This printmaking is so fun and easy to do with materials you probably already have at home! The best part is it can be done over and over again with very little clean-up in between! Here’s how to get started:

Materials Needed:

  • Piece of paperboard (like a cereal box) or cardboard, slightly bigger than an average piece of paper (10in X 12in-ish)
  • Piece of aluminum foil that is large enough to cover the paper/cardboard. If needed, you can use two seperate pieces to cover the board
  • Tape
  • Acrylic or tempera paint
  • Cardstock, printer, or construction paper
  • A paintbrush
  • Q-tips
  • Paper towels or old kitchen rags

Directions (prep):

  • Make your printing board
    • Cut your piece of paper/cardboard to the appropriate size
    • Cover with aluminum foil
    • Fold the foil over the piece of cardboard and tape on the back so it does not move around
  • Prep/gather paint, brushes, q-tips, paper towels, etc

Directions (activity):

  • Drizzle a small amount of paint onto your printing board
    • NOTE: Start with quite a small amount, you do not want too much paint on there for this activity--you can always add a bit more!
  • Use the paintbrush to spread it out across the printboard so it is completely covered
  • Use q-tips to quickly draw designs and pictures directly into the paint
    • NOTE: Do this fast! Since you are using such a small amount of paint, it will dry quickly
  • Place a piece of paper onto the painted printboard and gently press down
  • Peel away to reveal your print!
  • Use a damp paper towel to clean your printboard, dry it off, and try again!

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Sheet Pan Pancakes

Foodworks

By Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

Foodworks is such a fun program that we host at The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire. It promotes healthy eating, families cooking together, and delicious food that you can find at your neighborhood Hannaford! 

I have to say, the recipe I’m sharing today is now a favorite of mine. It’s so awesome that I actually kept myself awake a little bit last night thinking about how excited I was to make it again in the morning...it’s true! There’s nothing NOT to like about it!

I am sharing sheet pan pancakes today. This recipe is a huge time saver, it’s an easy one for adults and children to create together, has lots of opportunities for food creativity, and is ready in about 20 minutes--no standing over the griddle for hours flipping flapjacks! 

Here’s how to make your own!

First - gather your ingredients

  • 2 cups pancake mix (I used Hannaford brand, obviously!)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Toppings!
    • These are up to you! I used blueberries on one portion of my pancake and raspberries with chocolate chips on another--and left some plain! 
    • Also, I used frozen fruit for my toppings and it cooks up just fine, but feel free to use fresh or whatever you have on hand. 

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees
  2. Prep your pan/pans by putting down a sheet of parchment paper and a quick spray of cooking oil. 
    1.  I used a 10 X 14 “jelly roll” pan. Just make sure it has edges and isn’t one of those flat cookie sheets. My pan made my pancake quite fluffy--which I loved! If you’d like your pancake a little flatter, use a slightly bigger pan. 
  3. In a mixing bowl, add pancake mix, milk, eggs, and vanilla extract. Whisk together until smooth. 
  4. Pour the batter onto your pan and spread it out evenly
  5. Add your toppings! 
  6. Cooking time will vary depending on your oven and the thickness of your pancake. I set my timer for 7 minutes, checked it, and then set it for an additional 3 minutes. It can take anywhere between 5-15 minutes so stay close and keep checking! 

More thoughts (I told you, I really like this recipe):

  • I love that this recipe bakes the pancake instead of frying it. Not only does this cut down on the amount of oil used to create the recipe, it also cuts down on mess and clean-up! (And, I don’t know if it’s just me and my old house--but whenever we make pancakes on the stove, our house smells like burning pancake oil for ~48 hours---not the case with this recipe!)
  • Instead of a normal pancake mixture that might only use water, this recipe adds in milk and eggs to give it a bit more protein. 
  • The toppings are so fun! You can really add whatever you want to this. I like that it can all be done in a single pan--so if the grown-ups are craving some blueberries and kids just want plain pancakes, it’s still all finished, warm, and ready to eat at the same time. 

Thank you to Hannaford for sponsoring this great program! I hope you enjoy sheet pan pancakes! 

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Paper Bag Mini Books

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by Colie Haahr, CMNH Educator

Make a mini paper bag scrapbook, nature journal, or keepsake! These books are fun for kids to put together, and the open end of the paper bag creates a pocket to store pictures, ticket stubs, or small items from a nature walk. Pipe cleaners make the book easy for kids to bind, and it’s easy to add more pages. String or binder rings can also be used to bind the book. 

Use washi tape or glue to add photos, or print photos on copy paper so that kids can use a glue stick to add them. This also makes it easier to replace a photo if anything happens to it during the art making project. Kids can label photos, write favorite memories, or tell the story of each photo and have a grown up help with the writing part if needed. 

Materials Needed:

  • Markers
  • Washi tape
  • Glue stick
  • Photos - printed on copy paper 
  • Scissors
  • Paper 
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Hole punch 
  • Paper bags 

Directions:

  • Fold the paper bags in half, and punch two holes in the folded end of the bags. It’s difficult to hole punch through more than one bag at a time, so be sure to line the holes up on each bag
  • Stack several bags together so that the folded ends are together, and the holes line up
  • Use the pipe cleaners to bind the book together by feeding it through the holes
  • Twist up the pipe cleaners, and cut off any excess
  • Start decorating and writing in your book! Use the glue stick to add photos or drawings on paper 
  • Use the open ends of the bags to create pockets for keepsakes or photos
  • Theme ideas: nature journal, teacher gift, family book, share favorite family activities and memories, make up a story 
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Up-Cycled Planters

By Colie Haahr, CMNH Educator

This is an easy, low-mess art project that kids can work on independently. Use old containers and washi tape to make an “up-cycled” planter. What is up-cycling? It’s using materials that would otherwise be discarded to make something new. We do many up-cycling activities at the museum to help reduce waste, and to allow kids to be creative with their projects by challenging them to think of new uses for things.    

This project provides a good opportunity to talk to kids about reducing waste, and some ways to do that at home. Up-cylcing is just one thing kids can do to help keep the earth healthy, and it’s a great way to cut down on art supplies and packaging if you are using things you already have.  The book Not For Me, Please! I Choose to Act Green, by Maria Godsey, is a nice story to read with kids that shows them some concrete choices they can make to help reduce waste. We recently added this book to our collection at the museum.

This is also a great project if you would like to give someone a hand made gift without getting out paints or any messy supplies! You can use the planter to grow something from seeds, or you can use it to put a small houseplant inside.  

Materials Needed:

  • Empty play dough containers with lids
  • Or: A different type of container that is safe to use 
  • Washi tape
  • Optional: scissors
  • A house plant, or soil and seeds for planting 

Directions:

  • The first step is to make sure the container you are using is safe to use and clean. Play dough containers work well. Be sure there are no sharp edges, and carefully supervise if you choose to use glass. Mason jars and other thick glass containers do not break easily
  • If you are using a plastic container, you may opt to poke a hole in the bottom with scissors for drainage for your plant. This step should be done by an adult
  • Use washi tape to decorate the outside of the container by carefully adding it one strip at a time
  • If you want to plant something, add soil and plant the seeds according to the instructions on the seed package.
  • If you want to add a houseplant that is already growing, carefully place it inside
  • If you are using a play dough container, use the lid to catch extra water under the planter
  • Ask: what three things do plants need to grow?? They need soil, sunlight, and water! Place your plant in a spot where it can get some sun, and be sure to water it! 

There are more up-cycle project ideas on the museum’s Pinterest account:

Links:

Check out some of our Educator's Favorite Up-Cycle Projects over on Pinterest:

https://www.pinterest.com/kidmuseumnh/cmnh-educators-picks/upcycle-projects/ 

Blog post that inspired the planters:

https://www.projectswithkids.com/mini-plant-pots/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=pinterest&utm_campaign=tailwind_tribes&utm_content=tribes&utm_term=296534802_8343706_112125

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First Friends: BIG and small

By Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

Hello Song:

Hello it’s time to play
Let’s have some fun today!

Let’s clap our hands
And wiggle our toes
A hug...and a kiss...and away we go!

Hello (insert name here) it’s time to play
Hello (insert name here) it’s time to play
Hello (insert name here) it’s time to play
We’ll have so much fun...hooray! 

Open Them/Shut Them (action song)

Open them, shut them
Open them, shut them
Give a little clap-clap-clap

Open them, shut them
Open them, shut them
Lay them in your lap-lap-lap

Creep them, creep them, creep them, creep them
Right up to your chin-chin-chin
Open up your little mouth…
But do not let them in! 

Five Little Kittens (action rhyme)

Five little kittens standing in a row,
They nod their heads to the children so!

They run to the left,
They run to the right
They stand and stretch in the bright sunlight!

Along comes a dog who’s looking or some fun…
ME-OW! See those little kittens run! 

Sugar Babies (action rhyme)

Roll, roll sugar babies
Roll, roll sugar babies
Push! Pull! Clap-clap-clap!

“   “
BIG! Little! Clap-clap-clap!

“   “
Up! Down! Clap-clap-clap!

The Royal Duke of York (bounce/movement rhyme)

The royal duke of york,
He had 10,000 men,
He marched them up the mountainside
And marched them down again!

Oh, when you’re up you’re up
And when you’re down you’re down
And when you’re only halfway up…
You’re neither up nor down! 

Hurry, Scurry, Little Mouse (action rhyme/tickle)

Hurry, scurry, little mouse
Starts down at your toes…

Hurry, scurry, little mouse
Past your knees he goes... 

Hurry, scurry, little mouse
Past where your tummy is…

Hurry, scurry, little mouse…
Gives you a mousey kiss!

Shake your shaker! (prop song)

If you’re happy and you know it, shake your shaker...one time! ONE!
If you’re happy and you know it, shake your shaker...two times! ONE! TWO!
If you’re happy and you know it, and you really want to show it
If you’re happy and you know it, shake your shaker...three times! ONE! TWO! THREE!

If you’re happy and you know it, shake your shaker...four times! ONE! TWO! THREE! FOUR!
If you’re happy and you know it, shake your shaker...five times! ONE! TWO! THREE! FOUR! FIVE!
If you’re happy and you know it, and you really want to show it
If you’re happy and you know it, shake your shaker!!!

Goodbye Rhyme (action rhyme)

This is big, big, big
And this is small, small, small

This is short, short, short
And this is tall, tall, tall!

This is fast, fast, fast
And this is slow, slow, slow

This is yes, yes, yes
And this is no, no, no

This is hi, hi, hi
And this is bye, bye, bye! 

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Science Magic: Secret Rainbow

By Colie Haahr, CMNH Educator

This project is fun and easy, and only requires a little bit of prep ahead of time. Kids will enjoy magically making a rainbow appear by adding water to a paper towel. This activity is fun on its own, or it can be set up as an experiment that they can try a few times and record the results.

Materials Needed:

Paper towels
Washable markers
Black permanent marker
Cup for water
Tray or plates 
Pipette, eye dropper, or small spray bottle
Optional: Different brands of markers, highlighter, permanent markers, pencil, pen 

Directions:

  • Prep ahead: This project requires some prep ahead if you want to create a truly “secret” rainbow! You can create more sheets for kids to try as you go if they enjoy the activity! -Use a water based marker to create a rainbow on a paper towel. Remember ROYGBIV! 

-Thin lines work well for this- do not make them too thick because you need to cover them with permanent marker

-Use a black permanent marker to carefully draw over each line, hiding the colorful lines under the dark lines. 

-Optional: create shapes that are different colors, and use the same process to cover them with permanent markers. 

-Optional: Set up the color mixing part of the activity the same way coloring two circles next to one another in primary colors (red and yellow, red and blue, and yellow and blue)

  • Place one of the prepared paper towels onto a plate or tray that is okay to use for an art project (it may get marker ink on it!), with a cup of water and pipette or spray bottle
  • Make a prediction- ask: what do you think will happen when we add water?
  • Ask kids to slowly add some water to the picture
  • The rainbow will “magically” appear when the water based marker dye spreads, and the permanent ink stays in place
  • Try the same method with color mixing, or the colors hidden behind shapes
  • Let the artwork dry completely, and some of the dye will stay on the paper towel once it dries. Too much water can cause the color to wash out completely
  • Alternatives: This also works with a tray of water, and kids can carefully place the paper towel in the water and watch what happens. 

-Make an experiment! To make this a true experiment, try using different types of writing utensils, like markers, pens, pencils, highlighters, etc., and testing each one to see if water changes anything. Compare different brands of markers to see which ones work the best. Make predictions and write down the results! 

Science Information: 

For this activity there were two types of markers used, and they were made of different types of dyes or inks. One was water soluble, and one was not. If the experiment went as planned, the water based markers should have spread color out on the paper towel. These markers have dye that is water soluble, which means that it is able to dissolve in water. 

The permanent marker has a different kind of ink or dye, and it is not water soluble, which means that water will not wash it away. The permanent marker is alcohol based, so it will dissolve in alcohol. If rubbing alcohol were added to the paper towel, it may have changed the permanent marker, but because only water was added, the permanent marker stayed the same.  

The paper towel also played an important part in making this activity work. This activity did not work well on other types of paper, like card stock and copy paper. Paper towels are absorbent, and designed to absorb or suck up liquids. If the paper were waxed paper or something similar, the water would bead up into droplets because water molecules like to stick together. Water molecules still like to stick together on paper towels, but there are tiny air pockets in paper towels, and a soft cellulose material that allows the water molecules to move around the paper towel together. 

References:

https://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/how-do-paper-towels-absorb-water.php

https://www.thebestideasforkids.com/surprise-rainbow-activities/

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