Bird Watching Activities

We love to watch the birds and hear their cheerful songs throughout the day, so we do our best to make them feel as welcome as possible to keep them coming back.
Having them visit each day gives us the opportunity to get to know them better. We learn what they look like up close, what they like to eat, what they sound like, what time of the year they come around, their eating patterns, who gets along with whom, and, in some cases, who likes to eat them or invade their space.
In order to give them a reason to come around, we make bird feeders from recycled items and offer them a variety of tasty foods and building materials to encourage them to build a nest in our trees.

We used to purchase feeders, but a few of our local squirrels would break into them and throw them to the ground, ruining them! By making our own feeders, we don’t worry about the squirrels any more, we simply make another one!
We’ve made a lot of bird feeders over the years and have repurposed many different types of items. The birds are our biggest critics on what we make, so we take notes on who and what likes and dislikes the feeders we make and the items we offer.
Homemade bird feeders…
We’ve been known to use some unusual items to make our feeders such as:
Milk and juice cartons, plastic water/juice jugs, soda and water bottles, mesh fruit/veggie bags, coconut shell halves, orange and grapefruit halves, coffee cans, pine cones, stale bagels and bread, cans, cardboard tubes, sticks, soup containers, aluminum pie pans, old cups and bowls, etc.
Note: Make sure everything is clean before using it.
We’ll also use sticks, pencils, dowels, craft sticks, duct tape, yarn, wire hangers, recycled fishing line, a hole punch, scissors and anything else we can think of to make and hang our feeders.
Creating one of a kind feeders is something we enjoy doing. I’ll put some items on a table set-up outside, along with some paper and pencils for planning, and we’ll get busy making our feeders.
Tasty treats to offer…
Items to offer the birds: Cereal, nuts, seeds, raisins, dried cranberries, apple peels, birdseed, peanuts, songbird food, popcorn, and peanut butter and bird seed covered items.
During the colder seasons, we’ll make our own suet from leftover bacon grease or lard, corn meal, flour, seeds, nuts, and dried apples. We’ll make a lot and store it in the freezer.
Tip: Fill clean, recycled plastic juice and water bottles with bird seed to make refilling the feeders easier.
Inviting them to stay…

If you would like your birds to live close by, consider offering them bird-nest-making materials such as: Hair, bits of fabric, yarn, twin, shredded paper, laundry lint, pine needles, etc.
These items can be hung from a tree in a mesh bag (such as an orange or onion bag) or a fruit container with openings (such as a berry container).
Once we have the birds at our feeders, we get the chance to watch their habits, draw them, observe them and identify them by shape, color and sound. 
Here are some resources to help you get started.

Bird Identification Sites
Bird guide, cam, basics, an much more.
Search for 800 birds of North America.
Offers the following info: About this guide, how to Bird, how to identify birds, plumage and molt, parts of a bird, classification of birds, bird families, natural history of birds, endangered and threatened birds and bir
d conservation
Identify birds from all over the world.

eNature: Bird Sounds
Learn to identify certain birds by the sounds they make.
Look for free bird watching apps too.

Bird Activities
View an amazing picture journey of a chick that grows into a full grown bird in 36 days.
Instructions for an easy to make bird feeder made from a recycled milk/juice carton.
Suet Recipe – Recipe instructions for making your own suet.
Bird Word Puzzles – Scroll through to find printable word finds and other bird related word activities, coloring pages, and games.
Enchanted Learning: Birds
In addition to finding information about birds on this site, you will find:
Bird Word Find – Printable
Bird Activities – This site offers bird related: rhymes, crafts, and songs. Other activities require a membership to access.
Choose a bird-related jigsaw puzzle to do on line.
Purple Kitty Yarns:Birdhouse Shaped Cross-word Puzzle
Printable birdhouse puzzle with bird-related clues.

Related Activities on Fran’s World of Discovery…
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Note: Has this or another activity on Fran’s World of Discovery inspired you or someone else in a positive way? Have you featured this activity in a blog post? I invite you to comment and link back to where your post can be found, or tell me what you or your family enjoyed about the post! Thank you!

Leaf People and Creatures


Turn the leaves you collect into people, animals, objects, and fun designs.

You’ll need:

A variety of leaves that have been pressed, construction paper, glue, waxed paper, and heavy books
Optional: Wiggly eyes, yarn, colored pencils, watercolor and a paint brush

What to do:


  • Hunt for a variety of leaves.
  • Press the leaves between newspaper, waxed paper, or recycled grocery bags, and place heavy books on top of them overnight.
  • Use the leaves to create your person, animal, object or design in creative ways. Consider making a background with colored pencils or watercolor paint.
  • Once you like your design, glue it to construction paper and add extras like wiggly eyes and hair (yarn). 
  • Cover with waxed paper and put a few books on top to keep the leaves in place for an hour or so.
  • Hang it up or give it away!
Fall and Leaf activities on

Autumn/Fall                                         Fall Equinox

Fall Holidays and Events                      Fall Leaves

Leaf Prints & Leaf Stencils                      Leaf Hunting                                              
Leaf Identification Activities

Fall and Leaf activities on

Fall Equinox                                      Fall Holidays and Events

Fall Leaves                                        
Leaf Hunting

Leaf Prints & Stencils                      Leaf People and Creatures

Colorful Leaf Rubbings                    Leaf Identification Activities 

Experiment: Chromatography of Leaves 

Leaf Identification Activities

If you’ve collected a bunch of leaves on your leaf hunt, here are some fun ways to learn how to identify them:

Identify your leaves – The University of Florida has a printable Botany Handbook filled with information about leaves and plants that you may find useful. It also offers a bunch of plant illustrations here. Check your state’s Extension Office website for great resources as well! 
This site may prove helpful when identifying leaves: 
eNature: Trees

Make leaf identification cards

You will need:
Index cards or cardstock cut to the size you need, something to write with, leaves that have been pressed and acid-free glue

What to do:
Glue each leaf to the blank side of an index card or cardstock, and write down what tree it came from. If you want to write more info about the leaf/tree, do this on the back of the card before gluing the leaf on.

Make leaf print identification cards

You will need: 
Index cards or cardstock cut to the size you need, something to write with, leaves: fresh or pressed, a paint brush and food dye, water color, or non-toxic paint, bowl of water to clean brushes and leaves, and a paper towel to blot brushes and dry the leaves, something to put paint in such as small caps or lids

What to do:
Put a little paint or dye in a lid or a cap, paint the raised side of the leaf with a paint brush, and press it onto the index card. Rinse your leaf off in water and dry it. Write the name of the leaf on the card when the paint dries.
Tip: Markers can be used to make prints too.

Play games with your identification cards

Match Games
  • If you make two identification cards for each of your leaves, you can play a match game with them. If you can see through the card, glue a piece of construction paper behind each one.
  • Consider making one card with a leaf print and the other with the tree name.
  • This game can be played with one or more players.
  • Make 10 or more sets of cards. If you do not have that many leaves, make multiple leaf prints in different colors.

Go Fish Version
Make 15 or more pairs of leaf cards and play with them as you would the game, ‘Go Fish‘. 

Guessing Games

How well do you know your leaves? 

Make 10 or more different cards for the following games.

20 Questions

Play a game of 20 questions with your leaf cards. One player chooses a card but doesn’t tell the other players what it is. Then the players take turns asking yes or no questions to try and guess what leaf it is. After 20 questions (or an agreed on amount), the card can be shown. The player who guesses correctly collects the card, chooses another card from the pile, and the game begins again.

Guess My Leaf

A player chooses a card and describes it to the other players without saying its name. Players take turns trying to guess what leaf is being described. If a player gets it right, they collect the card, and choose a card to start another round. If players need to be shown the card, decide who gets to describe the next card.
Tip: When describing the leaf, players should be allowed to add any information they know about it, and the tree it came from: Where it can be found, the type of leaf it is (if known), how tall the tree can grow, the type of seed it disperses, the technical name for it, etc.

Try This…

When all the leaves have fallen off the tree, use your cards to identify what leaf would grow on that tree.

While the trees are budding, predict what the leaf will look like.

Note: To identify your leaves, you can use the following site to help you out, or ask someone who knows a lot about trees: A knowledgeable neighbor, friend or family member, a local nursery that s
ells trees, an arborist, a horticulturalist, your local Extension Office, etc..

Virginia Tech 
This site has an interactive map of the United States to help you identify the tree you are looking for. Click on your region/state, and put in as much information as you can. Click on any of the tree names provided, and it will take you to a picture that offers some information about that tree. 

Leaf Activities on

Fall Leaves                                          Leaf Hunting

Leaf People & Creatures                    Leaf Prints & Stencils

Colorful Leaf Rubbings

Experiment: Chromatography of Leaves

Leaf Prints and Leaf Stencils


To make leaf prints or stencils you will need: 

A variety of paper: copy, construction, cardstock, small leaves: fresh or pressed, a paint brush, a clean sponge, food dye, water color, or non-toxic paint, bowl of water to clean brushes and leaves, and a paper towel to blot brushes and dry leaves, something to put paint in such as small caps or lids, scissor
Optional: Something to write with

How to make leaf prints…

Put a little paint or food coloring in a lid or a cap, moisten a paint brush, and blot to remove excess water, paint the raised side of the leaf, and press it onto the paper. Wash and dry the leaf if you want to use it again for another print.
Tip: Markers can be used to make leaf prints too.

How to use your leaf as a stencil…

Cut a small piece of sponge for this activity.

Put your leaf on paper and quickly dab paint or food coloring around the outside edge with a sponge. Clean and dry your leaf or leaves, wash out the sponge, and dry it a little before using another color.
Put the leaves together to form an outline of something like a fish, a bird, a flower, a tree, or something else.

What you can make…

Note cards, greeting cards, frames, gift paper, gift bags, gift tags, etc.

Leaf Activities on

Fall Leaves                                          Leaf Hunting

Leaf People & Creatures                    Leaf Identification Activities

Colorful Leaf Rubbings

Experiment: Chromatography of Leaves

Wild Turkeys

Did you know…
Benjamin Franklin wanted our national bird to be a turkey!

Today’s Activities:
Hand and foot turkey and Writing with a feather
Activity 1:  Hand and Foot Turkey – Family Style

You may find it interesting to look at these wild turkeys before you begin this activity.
To make this turkey, you will need:
Construction paper: brown, yellow, red, green, purple, and orange, scissors, glue, a crayon or marker, and googly eyes
What to do:
Make the body:
Decide which family member’s shoes will make the best body for your turkey, then trace each one onto brown construction paper and cut them out. Put the heals together to form the head, then pull the wider end of the cutouts apart to form the turkey’s legs. Glue the body into place once you like what you see.
Make the tail feathers: 
Hand and foot turkey by Fran W.

To make the tail feathers for your turkey, trace each hand one time on a piece of construction paper, then place multiple layers of colored paper together and cut out all the hands at one time. Be sure to keep a firm grip on paper to prevent shifting. Glue the hands to the back of the body in layers to make the turkey’s tail as colorful and full as possible.  

Adding the extras:
Once you have your body and tail the way you like it, make and glue on its wings, feet, eyes, beak and wattle (the red thing on its face).

Hang your family-style turkey up on the wall for everyone to enjoy!

Activity 2: Write with a feather
Before people used pens and pencils, they used sticks, feathers, and other natural items to write or draw messages to one another. Take a step back in time by writing with a feather!
You will need:
A large feather
Water color paint
A small bowl of water
Tip: You can find large feathers out in nature or they can be purchased in a craft store.
What to do:
Make ink:
At one time people would use ashes, berry juice and natural dyes to make dipping ink to write and draw with, now we can purchase ink or make our own ink out of water color paint.
To make your own ink, put enough water in your water color paint to create a little pool of colorful liquid.
To draw or write with a feather you will need to either push a toothpick through the bottom of your feather or snip the tip off the bottom until you see an opening (clean with a toothpick if needed). Dip the feather in the pool of colorful water and write or draw on paper with it. Dip the tip into your homemade ink as often as needed. Wash off the tip in the bowl of water and dip it into another pool of liquid color. 
Cut your tip at a slight angle and see what happens when you do that.
When your paper dries, roll it up and give your message to someone to read. If you do not have a feather, try using a stick that has been whittled to a point.
Research question…
Turkey’s were nearly extinct by the 1930’s. Today, there are over 7 million wild turkeys! 
When and how did the turkey population get replenished?
Learn more:
Turkey history – learn how the turkey population was replenished.
History and general information about wild turkeys.
Information and facts about turkeys – learn how the turkey got its name.  Turkey Trivia/Research Fun
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Make Your Own: Net-Bag

The nicest thing about this net is that there is a working string on it so that you can close what you catch inside the bag long enough to get a good look at it. When you are finished observing, you can open the net and set what you catch free.

To make this net-bag, you will need:

A wire hanger, needle-nose pliers, mesh bag with string, a dowel 5/16” x 36”, and duct tape

1. Bend wire hanger into a circle
2. Straighten the hook part of the hanger with pliers
3. Push the end of the hanger through the area of the mesh bag that has the string coming out of it.
4. Put the bag around the circle.
5. Test string by pulling it to make sure it still closes
6. Use duct tape to secure the straightened end of hanger to the dowel by wrapping tape around wire and dowel a few times.

The net-bag is for observational purposes only. Be careful not to hurt what you catch.

Tip: If you don’t want to make your own, the dollar store may carry inexpensive nets.

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Photo by FranW

Make Your Own: Trail Mix

To make your own trail mix you will need: A cereal of choice, unsalted nuts and seeds (raw or roasted: almonds, cashews, pecans, sunflower seed, etc.), raisins, unsalted peanuts, chopped dates, dried fruit of choice, pretzels, chocolate chips (optional)


Mix all desired items in a bowl and store in an air-tight container.
Put some of this high-energy snack into a zip-top bag and add it in your nature backpack.

Tip: Too many salty items can cause you to become thirsty, so it may be a good idea to keep these foods down to a minimum.

Keeping yourself hydrated is very important while being in the great outdoors, so be sure to take plenty of fresh water with you!

Note: We always travel with a gallon of fresh water in the car and refill or replace it when needed.

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Trail Mix
Photo from Wikipedia

Make Your Own: Nature Backpack

If your family is going out to explore the world around them, a nature backpack is a great thing to grab as you are running out the door!

You may be wondering what a nature backpack is and what’s in it?

A nature backpack is bag filled with useful items that you can take with you whenever your family goes out exploring. Children can fill their own backpacks up with the items that they want to take with them as well.

Here are some of the things we add to our backpacks:

  • Water
  • Compass
  • Flashlight
  • Nature Journal (sketch book and/or notebook)
  • Pencils (regular and colored)
  • Sharpener
  • Eraser
  • Ruler
  • Safety scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil case
  • Plant and animal identification books
  • Work/garden gloves
  • Tweezers
  • Binoculars
  • Various sized plastic bags (clear)
  • Various sized plastic bottles (clear)
  • Magnifying glass
  • Snack (trail mix)*
  • String
  • Camera (We use our phones)
  • Water
  • Bio-scope
  • Clear cup
  • Old flat sheet or beach towel
  • Bag for trash
  • Insect repellant and after bite (we make our own)
  • Sunblock
  • Rain poncho
  • Dark construction paper (black or blue)
  • Child friendly first-aid kit*

* Denotes link to activity

Fill your backpack with items that fit your family’s needs and take it with you when you visit parks, zoos, and other outdoor areas. You never know when someone is going to be inspired to record what they see around them, so make sure they have access to some kind of creative outlet (journal, camera, video recorder).
Go over safety rules with your family and make sure they understand how each item in the backpack can and should be used. For safety reasons, consider exploring places together. 

We usually keep a small duffle bag in the car filled with extra clothing, sunblock, insect repellent, after bite, rain ponchos, extra snacks, a regular first-aid kit, and some other items.

If you do a lot of traveling, you may be interested in keeping the book Carschooling by Diane Flynn Keith with you.

Disclaimer: is not responsible for any injuries that may occur while exploring the great outdoors.

The following activities have been designed to inspire fun and safe learning experiences.

Make Your Own: Child Friendly First-Aid Kid

Make Your Own: Trail Mix

Make Your Own: Net-Bag

Resources to help you explore more of your world…

Frog Research Project

Bird Watching Activities



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Nature Backpack by Fran W.