Giving Thanks to Mother Earth: 6 Winter Nature Activities for Children and the Family

In the winter, I see many people starting to “human hibernate” as I like to call it, (term that I like to use for spending a lot of time indoors; starting when it gets cooler outside and lasting until it’s time to hit the beach again next year). In a day and age where kids seem to be running to the television or PlayStation to play video games for hours on end, parents are always looking for ideas to get them outside and interacting with nature. Nature can be so interactive for people, but parents and kids alike seem to forget all that it has to offer, especially during the cooler months.

Now, just think about all of the wonderful things Mother Nature offers us, not just in summer, but all year round. Even though November is famous for “giving thanks”, we shouldalways be giving thanks to the planet and its inhabitants, (whether it’s through recycling, composting, supporting local farmers, eating a vegan or vegetarian diet, etc.)! If you are looking for ways to thank Mother Earth this winter for all that she has provided us throughout the year, take a look at this list of 6 easy, eco and child-friendly activities to do this month!

  1. Make a squirrel corn cob feeder: What’s more fun that watching squirrels scurry about, eat, and dangle from the trees? This project is super simple for the kiddos! All that is needed is some twine, a dried corn cob and scissors, (parents, please feel free to get involved and help, especially if you don’t feel safe with the kids having scissors. Remember to always chaperone as well!). Tie the twine to one end of the dried corn cob, hang from a tree, (parental help advised), and enjoy watching the squirrels!
  2. Make a pine cone bird feeder: All that is needed for this project is some twine, pine cone, (it’s more fun if you hunt for the pine cone outside, but if needed you can get one from a craft store), peanut butter, (sunflower, almond, or cashew butter can be used in its place), some bird seed and scissors to cut the twine. First, put some of that gooey peanut butter on the pine cone, roll in bird seed, tie the twine around the pine cone, and hang the pine cone from a tree. If you are lacking twine, the tree in your yard, or the scissors, you can place on the ground or a porch and patio. Here comes the best part: get outside and watch the birds enjoy!
  3. Kids, advocate for a zero waste lifestyle: Try to limit waste as much as possible by using your normal dishes, cutlery and cloth napkins instead of using plastic cutlery and cups, paper napkins/paper towels, paper plates from the store. Urge your parents to buy in bulk and store in glass containers, (often times, it’s friendlier for their wallet as well)! Refuse receipts at checkout lines! This will cut down on the garbage that ends up in landfills. In return, help your parents or relatives with the dishes!
  4. Go on a nature hike: Whether the hike is in your backyard or at the local park, get out there in nature and explore all of the things that you notice are changing. Are there more sticks or leaves on the ground? Is it less humid? What wildlife do you see? Remember; don’t ever disturb any wildlife that you see along your hike. Wild animals are Mother Earth’s babies, not ours.
  5. Collect “brown matter” for composting: A lot of leaves, branches, and twigs end up on the ground. There is nothing better to keep the compost pile’s stink away then by adding brown matter, (such as leaves, grass clippings, twigs, sticks, etc.), to the mix. Get outside, find some brown matter, and add it to the pile every time you add some “green matter”, (i.e. old produce or produce leftovers), to it.
  6. Advocate for a compassionate diet: Besides using normal dishes and cutlery, there is a huge way that we can make our meals more compassionate for the planet: leaving animals out of it. Numerous studies show that animal agriculture is one of the biggest contributors of deforestation, global warming and climate change, which is not only harming the environment, but destroying the planet. For more information, please visit


**This article was also featured and published in Planting Seeds in South Carolina magazine. Besides following Elephant Mum, please check out the magazine’s site for more sustainable tips, tricks, and interviews!