I remember growing up as a kid who always had pity with every animal around me. I actually did not have any fear of them for I was raised by my father that way. I was also taught by my late mom some gardening techniques. These are the same things I am trying to pass on to my kids. So we started some little projects that involve animals, plants and how we can help earth. And the results were astounding!

Project #1: Give animals shelter for the winter months

Take up the hobby of building bird/critter habitats, or houses. It does not matter if you live in an apartment, or a home. You can build homes for birds, or squirrels. If you’d like to build a bird house, be sure to observe what type of birds or critters inhabit your backyard or neighborhood. It would also be a great idea to take note of sizes too so that you have an idea of how large the entrance of the house should be.

Materials Needed:

  • 6 Sides of medium sized ply wood.: make sure all sides are cut to the same exact measurements. One side must have a 3-4 inch hole/circle for an entrance.
  • Wood sealer or varnish: Weatherproof your house.
  • A nice color of bright paint: you want to pick a nice bright sunny color because animals are attracted to bright colors.
  • Carpenter’s Wood glue: use to join the 6 pieces of wood into a nice cube.
  • Some hay or cedar chips (this will keep the critter habitat nice and plush.) Putting cedar in the house will also make it more alluring. Cedar will remove any lice, lice, ticks, or fleas, that the critter may have. Cedar is a Pesticide and plus it smells great.
  • 5-8 foot long wooden or metal dowel or pole with a 3 inch circumference. A pole would be harder for natural predator such as a cat ,raccoon, or possum to climb. Maybe it would be a good idea to use a long metal pole/pipe instead of a wooden dowel. If you’re making a bird house, and you want to proof it for predators, it may be a great idea to use a metal pole because this you could lubricate the pole with oil, making it impossible for things to climb into the bird house. However, cats can jump, high, so this may not work, unless you add a some type of aluminum or metal top of the bird house.
  • Gives and safety eye goggles. You will need gloves to protect yourself from splinters. You also need safety goggles to protect your eyes from any wood fragments.
  • Ventilation for the wood glue and varnish. Do not attempt to build in a closed in area. If you have converted your garage area into a wood working area, then that would make a fine place to build your house.

Planning the Construction:

  • Decide how large you would like your house to be. Jot down a few sizes such as 1 ft.x1 ft. Just know that you will need 6 pieces of wood shaped equally the same.
  • Go to your local hardware store. Stop by the wood/lumber department because they will cut the ply wood to your specifications.. Tell the wood guy your measurements. Be sure to remind the guy cutting the wood that you’ll need a 3-4 inch hole for one side of the wood. Or if you just happen to know someone who’s handy with their hands, you can ask them to help you with this project. I’m sure they’d love to.
  • While the wood person is cutting your wood, go to the paint/varnish aisle. You’ll want to make sure that your bird house holds up for your state’s weather elements. Select a small medium sized paint brush and a small can of varnish because that’s all you’ll need unless you plan to refinish your deck.
  • Pick out a nice sunny color of paint. Bright colors attract animals. If you’re the artistic type, who likes to paint and design things, you may want to pick up a few stencils and sponges at your local Michael’s Art’s amp; Crafts store. Your hardware store should have stencil sets as well.
  • Don’t forget to pick up a small bottle of wood/carpenter’s glue and or industrial hypoxy glue.
  • Pick up the cedar too from the garden department.
  • You’ve paid for your items and now it’s time to get to work. This should be a fairly simple project because all you’re doing is gluing wood together to form a nice cube, or box. Get to work.
  • Pick up some a painter’s masks, tight fitting safety goggles and gloves to protect your hands, eyes from the wood debris, glue fumes, and varnish stains.

Before you began to attach the house:

You may want to paint the six sides of wood before you attach the pieces to form the home. You could put the house together first and then paint it later. It’s up to you. Keep in mind that you want your house to dry for at least 24-48 hours hours.

When you glue the pieces together:

Let the box dry before you attach the wooden dowel or pole as well.

If you go with the metal pole, be sure to get industrial epoxy glue that can be used to attach wood to metals, metals to glass, and or plastics. You can also find this product on the same isle as the wood glue. It usually comes in a tube, or a double cylinder syringe that contains either a clear, cloudy, liquid, or a solid color such as black, charcoal or grayish. .

By the end of this project, you should have a bird, or critter house. You decide!

Project #2: Planting a garden, making a flower box or even a tiny nursery filled with your favorite type of flowers

Green house warming is a big issue. So why not do your part and help the earth! You’ve heard of National Arbor day, or Earth Day right? Why not make your own national holiday. Your family can make your own Flower Day, or Garden Day!

It’s easy to plant flowers, or to plant a garden and you don’t need much except for soil, fertilizer, a container or several, depending on how many you’d like to plant. Many stores such as super centers have garden centers that stock items such as seeds, green house containers, soils, and gardening tools. Stores such as Lowe’s, Home Depot, Osh’s, ACE, and even Wal-mart have garden departments. You can usually find mini seedling trays/nurseries at any hard ware store in section of 6×6 or 12×4.

Start growing your flower nursery or flower garden:

  1. First, see take note of season. If it’s winter, you can still have a green house because it is possible maintain your mini greenhouse indoors. You can use heated lamps to control the temperatures and make your seedlings think that it’s spring or late winter. b.) see what types of flowers, or species of plants can survive in your climate. Usually, seed packets contain a climate/region map that tells you whether your climate is suited for this plant. It is really easy to follow the chart. Most seed packets have a sketch of the United States that has a color coded key. If by chance you have trouble following your climate key, ask for someone to explain what the key means.
  2. Pick out your favorite flower seeds, fertilizer soil, and nursery containers and a few flower pots for when you’re ready to transplant the seedlings.
  3. Take nursery/seedling container and distribute an equal amount of soil in each square section.
  4. Open your seed packets and plant at least 2 rows of each type of flower.
  5. Water the seeds trays. Make sure that you do over water the seeds because they may mold and will not sprout.
  6. Place nursery tray in a well lit area.
  7. Give seeds 2 weeks to sprout. Wait at least 1 month or so before you give the plants vitamins or plant food. The soil usually has enough vitamins to last the seedlings a few months.
  8. When the seedlings began to outgrow their nursery, remove and place in a larger flower pot. Place 3 seedling per container.
  9. And repeat the process if you desire to have more plants. You can use this method with grasses, shrubs, and just about any type of plant.

Project 3: Hummingbirds & Butterflies

If you have any type of flower garden, then why not make your garden butterfly and hummingbird friendly? Did you know that you can invite animals such as butterflies, lady bugs and hummingbirds into your garden just by adding bright flowers and nectar friendly plants?

Here’s a list of plants that you can add to your yard that will entice creatures:

  • Hummingbird feeders
  • Honeysuckle
  • Jasmine
  • Roses
  • Daisies
  • Daffodils
  • Peonies
  • Fruit trees
  • Humming bird feeders also work great for butterflies and birds.

Be sure to check your climate settings and to make sure that these plants can be grown in your area.

Project 4: Recycling

It seems that many of us are not recycling! Let’s end that today by sorting our plastics from out cans! The earth needs our help and it’s time that we step up!

Project 5: Beach & neighborhood clean-ups!

Why not take a few days out of your month to go to your local beaches, parks and lakes to pick up garbage? How hard is it to get a pair of heavy duty gloves, a few garbage bags and pick up garbage? Why not organize a neighborhood beach cleaning committee that goes to the local parks and beaches to collect litter? If you’re a parent and or PTA member, you could enlist the PTA parents to help you
start a community clean up organization.

It’s time for humans to do a little bit more for the earth for a change since it’s been taking care of us! Get involved and you will not regret this. These activities will allow you to take in a bit of fresh air, get you outdoors and allow you to bond with family and nature!

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