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Upbeat News April 2021

The magic of nature is everywhere! After a long pandemic winter, it can be good to take time to connect with ourselves, with each other, and with the earth. This issue of Upbeat News will help you make every day Earth Day. We’re spotlighting our new release Jayden’s Impossible Garden with an excerpt featuring recycled crafts to invite nature in.

Invite Nature in with Recycled Crafts

Adapted from Jadyens Impossible Garden by Mélina Mangal, illustrated by Ken Daley.
These activities will help you bring nature close, wherever you are. Children and adults can work together then enjoy observing the birds you feed and the plants you grow.

Make a Coffee Container Planter

  • a clean, dry coffee can or plastic container
  • duct tape, permanent markers, paint, stickers, or other art supplies (optional)
  • rocks or pebbles (ideally the size of large marbles, but any size will work)
  • potting soil
  • seeds for planting (such as sunflower, marigold, radish, or scarlet runner bean seeds)
Decorate the outside of the coffee container with duct tape, permanent marker, or other art supplies—or just leave it as is. Next, layer the bottom of the can or container with rocks or pebbles for drainage, an inch or two deep. Fill the rest of the container with potting soil. Evenly space seeds on top, leaving a couple of inches between them. Press them gently into the soil, and then water them—just enough to get the soil moist, not so much that water stays on top of the soil. Place the container in a location that gets the right amount of sunlight for your seeds. (You can look online to find out how much sun specific plants need.) Check the pot daily for signs of growth. Make sure to water regularly!

Make a Milk Jug Bird Feeder

  • a clean, dry 1-gallon milk or water jug, with cap
  • pencil or pen
  • sharp knife (Note! Be sure to have an adult help you with cutting.)
  • hole puncher
  • chopstick or thin wooden dowel (this will become a perch for the birds, and should be long enough to go all the way through the jug and stick out on either side)
  • strong string, yarn, shoelace, ribbon, or plastic fishing or beading line to hang the feeder (about 2 feet long)
  • permanent markers, paint, or colored duct tape
  • bird food (sunflower seeds, cracked corn, millet, grain sorghum, peanuts, thistle)
Draw two large door-like openings on the sides of the jug that are immediately to the left and right of the handle, making the openings as even and level with each other as you can. Have an adult help you cut out the openings with the knife. (When using a knife, always move the blade away from your body.) Use the hole punch to make one hole under each opening. Poke the chopstick or dowel in one hole, through the jug, and out the hole on the other side. Now you have a bird perch!
Next, remove the cap and punch four holes around the base of the jug’s spout, spacing them as evenly as you can. Lace one long piece of string or line through the four holes. Replace the cap and knot the ends of the string together. Pull up two loops of string that you can hang on a branch or hook. (Having two loops instead of one will help the feeder stay balanced.) Decorate the bird feeder with markers, paint, and tape. Pour bird food into one of the large openings you cut out. Then hang your bird feeder where you can see it, and watch the birds that come. Record which birds visit and how they behave at your feeder. Keep it full, and make sure to clean it out occasionally.
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