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Wintertime is such a toss-up, don't you think? Snow is beautiful, but if it's blowing around or falling too quickly, it becomes quite a hassle. A day of sunshine and 25 degree weather can be the most glorious day ever, but if the wind picks up and some clouds pass over, it feels more like 15 degrees – and you're miserable.

You may feel this tension when it comes to trying to get your kids outside to play. The idea of playing in the snow or sledding is so quintessential, isn't it? Plus, snowsuits are pretty much the most hilarious things a child can wear. But after 40 minutes of zipping and finding mittens, they tell you they need to go potty, and you realize that you will need another activity to get you sanely through the next 90 days of winter (which could easily turn into 120 because, well, Nebraska).

Here's my personal solution to the wintertime blues, and 4 year olds and I have very similar traits, so it may work for your kids too. Go to the hardware store, and spend $5 on a little bird feeder and $1 on a block of suet. Hang it up in a tree or on a hook on your deck or porch near a window. Use the couple days it will take for the birds to find it, to build some anticipation for your kiddos. You will not be disappointed – you'll have birds galore!

Bird watching, especially at feeders, can be so fun for kids. Think about how fast your toddler learned what sound a cow makes, and how to differentiate between a cat and a dog; they can learn bird sounds and tell the difference between bird species too! Learning to identify markings and colors will be so fun for you to do together. Math and sorting skills can be introduced as they watch too. And if your kids are asking for screen time, try pulling up a live stream of a bird feeder at the All About Birds website for a peaceful yet engaging glimpse into birds in other parts of the country.

For more fun ways to introduce birds to your child, come to Hands-on-Habitat here at Fontenelle Forest on January 15, 2016. Drop in anytime between 9:30 am and 11:30 am, and see what we're up to! We'll have bird crafts and activities, and we'll have guided walks available so bring your boots and hats. Space is limited, so register soon. Can't wait to see you there!

Lindsay Cooley

from Fontenelle Forest

Lindsay is an environmental educator at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue. She was born and raised in Omaha, and is happy to be back after spending the past four years interning and working at various nature centers around the country. Lindsay has a background in environmental science, and is passionate about cultivating a love of the natural world in children and adults alike. When she's not cutting out craft materials or taking kids on hikes, Lindsay loves birdi ...

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