Winter Mission Possible

Your Mission, should you choose to accept it, is to feed and observe song birds in your backyard.

The winter is a great time for bird watching! 51.3 million Americans birdwatch. So this month g2g Outside is going to join in the fun!

The mission for this week is to throw out some bird seed in the back or front yard, near a window where it’s easy for you and your children to watch the birds that come to feast.

What seeds do you throw out? Sunflower seeds attract the most variety of birds (jays, finches, nuthatches, etc). Safflower seeds are also great. Millet and corn work well too. You can find bird seed mixes at the store that have all of these.

If you don’t have a bird feeder, just scatter the seeds on the ground or on a tray on a porch railing and see who comes to eat. It’s lots of fun for kids to see which birds visit the backyard, and then go to a bird ID book or website to discover the name of the bird they saw. Check out this online bird guide.

Mission Report:  1)  How many birds came and ate your bird seed?  2)  Can you name any of the birds you saw?  3)  Draw or take a picture of the birds you saw eating in your backyard.

For more information on bird watching join me at Wichita Tractor Supply East, at 11am on January 22 for an hour bird feeding and watching seminar.  This is geared towards adults, but older children who are interested in birds will enjoy it.  I will include hints on how to encourage young people to start bird watching.

Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to serve somebody.

Christmas was just two days ago and many people had the incredible blessing of celebrating Christmas in a warm home with beautiful friends and family and maybe even getting some yummy pies and receiving a gift from a loved one! But truly, truly, the most beautiful gift of all is giving. Helping somebody in need, or just because you want to help them, is a great gift to give!

Here are some ideas for how, or who, to serve this Holiday and winter season:

1. Since we have no snow on the ground, and it doesn’t look probable in the 10 day weather forecast, shoveling is probably out (at least for a little while). But when we do get our first big snow – make sure to shovel your own driveway (make a game of it and your parents will be very thankful, I’m sure!), and when you’re done with yours – shovel your neighbor’s!

2. If you have elderly neighbors, or neighbors that are unable to drive, check with them to make sure they have enough food, water and that their heat is working okay. Check with them to see if they need help fixing a drafty doorway, a broken window and check to make sure the heater is working properly. (Make sure your parents go with you if you are working on projects bigger than what you think you handle.)

3. Go serve at a homeless shelter or at a food kitchen. Serving others is a wonderful way to help your community and provide warm food in a cold, empty belly.

There are many other ways you can serve during the cold, winter months, but these are just a few of my favorites. So, get to going – what are you waiting for? Go outside, serve your neighbors, your friends, a stranger, and go make someone’s day!:) It will make your day, too!

I wanted to clear up some confusion about the g2g Winter Mission.  You DO NOT have to do the “missions” in the month the missions are given.  We would just like you to do 8 Winter Missions total between November and February.  You can save them up and do them all in February, or 2 per month to space them out.  So, if you haven’t been keeping up 2/month, don’t worry you’re not out of the running for the g2g Prize at the end of February.  Turn in those Mission Reports to after you complete any of the missions, at any time.

It’s a gorgeous winter day today, turn off the computer and go outside to play!

Your mission should you choose to accept it is to make your own snow sled.  The snow may not be drifting yet, but it isn’t too early to start to think about going outside to ride a sled down a hill.  In Kansas, even though we tend to think it to be mostly flat, there are some great places to go sleigh riding!  As you ride around town or in the country,  be on the look out for a nice steep slope.  You may want to even make a list, so when the snow flies, you will know where to go.

Of course you can use a sled or saucer to go sleigh riding, but I challenge you to make your own sled out of cardboard!

You will need:

Cardboard – a box works well


Pencil or markers

Bar soap

  • You can break the box down or leave it whole it works either way. The whole box works better if you have someone to push you and the broken down box you do better when you can get a running start.
  • Take the bar of soap and run the corner up and down left to right coating the bottom of the box with a waxy layer of soap.
  • Climb in the box and get a push from a friend down the hill. You can also back up with a flat piece of cardboard and get a running start. If you hold it by one of the flaps you are able to pull up with your knees into the flap and control your new cardboard ride.
  • Post a photo or two of your sled!
  • Easy clean up! Throw the cardboard away when you are done. If the box slows after a few runs then cover the bottom in soap again.
  • Mission Report: Make Your Own Sled

    1.  Does the shape of your sled influence the speed of the sled?

    2. How does soap make the sled slide?

    Your Mission should you choose to accept it is to find a friend and play the Meet a Tree Game.

    Step one is to find a spot in a backyard or a park with a number of trees.  Pair up with a friend or family member.  One will be blindfolded and the other will be the leader.  (Remind children to be gentle and careful with the blindfolded partner.)

    The leader will carefully lead the blindfolded partner to a tree.  The blindfolded child will explore his/her tree to feel its uniqueness.  Adults can give children suggestions like: “rub your cheek on the bark,” “can you put your arms around it?” “can you feel branches,” “is the bark smooth or rough?” “are plants growing around it?”

    When the blindfolded child is finished exploring, the leader takes them back to where they began.  But, they can take the “long way around.”  Remove the blindfold and let the child try to find his/her tree with their eyes open.

    This helps children see individual trees and use their senses other than sight.

    MISSION REPORT:  1)  How did you know which tree was “your tree”.  2)  Draw or take a picture of you and your tree.  Send your mission report to us at


    One of the most exciting things of Fall for most people are the changing of color on the leaves. It looks like a nature canvas in action: strikes of red, brown, orange, yellow colors. The tress like nature easels displaying all that beauty… It is a perfect time to join that festivity of colors just waiting outside for us. So why not go for a nature walk and enjoy all that fresh “painting”, and absorb the fresh smell Fall scenery brings  to us.

    Your mission should you choose to accept is to collect different kind of leaves; look at their shapes, texture and beauty. Are they the same, are they different? Why some of them are fuzzy and others not? How do you think the fuzzines on a leaf affects its ability to hold water? Why leaves are pointed like a needle and other flat like paper? Are all the leaves in one tree the same? Why are they different? What are the colors in one of the leaf? Check out the veins on a leaf!!!!!!

    Your mission should you choose to accept is to observe and touch the different kind of tree barks around you. Is the texture rough or smooth? Is it dry or can you feel some moisture on it? is it flaky or more compacted?….

    One exciting activity you can do while in your nature adventure is the leaf and bark rubbing. It’s like magic!!!

    You will need:

    • Crayons, chalk, pastel, charcoal are ideal. You will want a good selections of colors. Ask an adult to spray the
      picture with hair spray to keep the chalk from smearing.

      "This is magic!!!!!"

    • Paper- Not too thick that the impression doesn’t show, not too thin strong rubbing will tear the paper. Tracing paper is good for older kids but toddlers are better off with standard computer paper.
    • A flat surface like a table or a clipboard
    • Paper clip to keep the in place during leaf rubbing
    How to make leaf rubbing?
    1. Collect a range of large and small leaves of different shapes. Look for dry leaves with good veins that will lay flat. If the leaves are too wet, the paper will absorb the moisture and may tear; too dry and the leaf may crumble.  *Avoid spiky leaves such as holy or pine, which will not only puncture the paper but also your skin.*
    2. Place the  leaf veins up on the board, pin the paper with the clips and hold it flat. Tight over the leaf to prevent from slipping.
    3. Peel the paper from a large crayon and lay it flat on the paper.Rub gently but firmly over the leaf to create the outline, working from top to bottom in a slightly diagonal motion, making sure to rub over the edges of the leaf  to expose the outline.

    How to make bark rubbing?

    1. Peel the paper from a large crayon.
    2. Press and hold the paperagainst the trunk of a tree.Gently rub the side of the crayon on the paper until the pattern of the bark shows.

      "Where's the turkey? I'm ready for Thanksgiving dinner..."

    Holiday Craft: Thanksgiving Place Mat – Tape or glue the paper with the leaves rubbings on a construction paper bigger than your paper. Laminate it and VIOLA!!!  There’s your Thanksgiving place mat and ready for  the turkey…

     Mission Report
    • Show us your favorite leaf and tell us why you like it.
    • If you made the place mat, tell us how you did it and send us a picture.

    Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to go on a hike around your neighborhood or a local park to find interesting leaves.

    Of course, trees have interesting leaves all year, but in the fall it can be especially fun to go out and look for leaves because many of the leaves are turning colors other than green!

    Here are some things to look for when you go on your hike:

    – Trees with leaves that are needles rather than flat leaves.

    – Trees that still have green leaves.

    – Trees that have dark purple leaves.

    – Trees that have more than one color on their leaves.

    – Trees that have very small leaves.

    – Trees that have very large leaves.

    – Leaves that feel very thick and leathery.

    – Leaves that feel soft or fuzzy on either the top or the bottom.

    – Trees with very strangely shaped leaves.

    – Trees that have more interesting things on them than just the leaves (like acorns or fruit).

    Here is a link for a more structured “Leaf Hunt” activity.

    Fall is a great time to walk around looking at leaves for a lot of reasons. Of course, with leaves all over the ground, it is a lot of fun to run through them and crunch them up! Dry leaves can be folded along the veins to explore the symmetry of the leaves.

    You can also collect leaves that are on the ground or gently take colored leaves off a tree to take home. If you put the leaves between sheets of newspaper, then on a rainy day you can take the leaves out and use them for an activity. It is really easy to glue a dry leaf to paper to make a card or use several leaves to make a collage. Older kids can collect a variety of leaves and identify them to start a leaf collection.

    If you get your leaves home and want to try to identify the trees they came from, here are three websites that can help you out:

    What Tree Is It?

    I’ve Got My Leaf, Let’s Get Started

    Leaf Tree ID Key

    Mission Report: Leaf Hike

    Email your mission report to us at  Your mission report should include the answers to the following 2 questions and a picture of you doing the mission.

    1. How many different leaf shapes and colors did you find?

    2. Tell us about (or show a picture) of your favorite leaf. Using a book or a computer, tell us what kind of tree that leaf came from.

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