Those who spend a lot of time outdoors often feel strong connections with nature. These deep feelings of connection many times are left unspoken because they are hard to put into words. At Good Shepherd, we strive to help our students find their connections with nature and articulate them through outdoor education and curricular connections to our James River and Forest Hill neighborhood. This holiday season, we wanted students to share our natural bounty and holiday spirit with the wildlife in our neighborhood. To do this, students decorated a tree in Forest Hill Park with edible treats for birds, squirrels, and other creatures.
We hope that all of you find some time this holiday season to connect with nature, enjoy the peace of the season, and start the new year with a renewed sense of kinship with the Good Shepherd community and the natural beauty that surrounds us. Happy holidays!
To make ornaments for a Wildlife Tree of your own, follow these directions:
Using a medium gauge florist wire (12-16 inch length), bend a 1 inch “L” into one end. At the other end, begin stringing fresh cranberries. Do not use berries that are soft. Run the wire through the bottom and top of the berry, not through the sides. String fruit until there is about 1 inch of wire left and twist both ends of the wire together to form a wreath. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Using a needle and waxed dental floss, thread raisins to form 1.5- to 2-foot lengths. Start with a knot at the end of the string or tie and knot the floss around the first raisin and continue stringing raisins. Tie the top end with raffia or a colorful ribbon to hang. Store in a cool, dry place.
Pine Cone Feeders
Collect or purchase pine cones (white pine works well). Tie raffia or kitchen twine about 2 to
3 cone scales down from the pointed tip, leaving 2 tails for hanging. Slather the pine cone
with peanut butter using a popsicle stick, then roll the pine cone in birdseed.
No-Bake Birdseed Ornaments
Ingredients: 2 tbsp coconut oil, 1 cup birdseed
Measure the coconut oil into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until oil melts,
about 30 sec. Add birdseed and mix well. Place cookie cutters on a small parchment-
lined baking tray. Fill with the birdseed mixture. Using a straw or skewer,
poke a hole in the top of each ornament. Refrigerate until ornaments harden.
Carefully remove the cookie cutters. Insert a piece of kitchen twine through
the hole to create a loop.
Preheat your oven to 170 degrees F. Slice the oranges into 1/4 inch slices. Lay the slices on an oven-safe rack, then place that rack on a cooking sheet. This will allow air to flow around the oranges as they bake. Bake for 6 hours. Turn the slices over every hour or so. The oranges slices should be somewhat pliable when they’re done. Start checking them diligently around the 5-hour mark. Use kitchen twine or unwaxed dental floss to hang oranges once they are dried and cooled.