Learning about our feathered friends can happen through many mediums, we all learn & are inspired in different ways. Today we are considering bird feathers & approaching them through a craft - macramé. With help & support from an adult even young children can enjoy this crafting method & if you decide to make one too, all the better! The technique does take time though, so for young children expect to spread the making out over a number of sessions. On your next walk outdoors make it a focus to also look for fallen feathers that you can use for inspiration, or use some that have collected already. If they aren't biting at you with their curiosity to find out more, here are some questions you can ask to get the process of learning about feathers started: What sort of shapes are they? What colours are the ones that you have found? Any guess as to which bird they may have come from? Are all feathers the same? How do they do such an awesome job at flying? How long/short is it?
Are feathers waterproof?
There are many books & online sources that you can find to support you and provide you with some background information. The RSPB has some information to get your started: https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/natures-home-magazine/birds-and-wildlife-articles/how-do-birds-survive/adapted-for-flight/how-do-feathers-work/ The BBC Bitesize archive also has many resources in if you enter 'feathers' into their search.
Twine (or any thick yarn like string or wool), if you are making to the measurements in this clip you will need approx 3 pieces at 80cm long to plait with & 96 pieces of twine at 15-20cm long to create the macrame knots.
Scissors ( you may need sharp ones so be sure to take care with them and keep away from little fingers!),
Heavy books (to weigh down with),
A stick (or you could use a key-ring as an alternative to attach onto) & a
Fine tooth comb. Optionals:
Thin florists wire (it can help add structure and shape to your final feather), I have used it in this clip but it isn't necessary if you don't have any.
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Whilst using this resource to inspire learning, know you are helping you and your family's wellbeing by:
1) Get Active - Get yourselves out your front doors for a walk to a local park, woodland or area you know has plenty opportunity for birdlife. Doing this will give you both the opportunity to collect a nice looking stick to attach your crafted feather to & also the possibility of some feather finds of your own for inspiration.
2) Keep Learning -There are so many wonderful things to learn about the birds outside your window wherever you are. Feathers is just one of them. See if your crafting can inspire some basic conversations about the feather - it's structure, length, colours, weight, shape & perhaps see if it might inspire a curiosity to ask more questions about it.
3) Be Mindful- Try this with your family: take your feather and see how it feels between your fingers, how heavy is it, what colours can you see, does it change as the light runs over it? Give yourselves plenty space for this next part. Close your eyes and imagine you have feathered wings instead of arms, you can move your wings if you wish. Imagine soaring over fields and towns and cities - where do you land for safety? Close your wings if you need to and open your eyes.
4) Practice Kindness- Winter is difficult for all birds, especially predominately ground feeders who can't easily access those worms underground, leaving a little food out for them is a kindness that can make a lot of difference to bird populations. See which birds come to where you live regularly and learn what they like to feed on and see if there is something you can provide for them.
5) Think Community - Share your fabulous feather outcomes with your online community to inspire others to create too!