While on the internet last month, I noticed that Anke of Bear Essentials in Bawnboy, was preparing for a Cavan County Council Heritage Day on Saturday, February 25th, 2012. I should have been at the CESI conference in Port Laois that day but had to change my plans as something else cropped up unexpectedly. I contacted Anke and, luckily, she had places for the boys.
We arrived at 2.00pm and there was already a great crew ahead of us. The boys were wrapped up in hats, coats and wellies and suitably excited.
The first thing they did was to pick stickers for the plant pots they were given on arrival. Lots of dinosuar stickers seemed to land on our side of the table, funnily enough.
The group was split in two for separate tasks. We took part in some bird watching and the boys were thrilled to see that there were binoculars provided for the task. They stood silent, looking through the great big windows of the Silver Bear Centre, while counting the different varieties of birds on view.
We then swapped with the other group and had a nature sounds quiz. Different bird & animal calls were played on a laptop and the children had to fill in their answers on a sheet.
Next was a nature trail. Each family was given a sheet with a few items to find on it ranging from a evergreen leaf to a winter bud. The little bags provided for their spoils was a great idea.
When we returned to the centre (via a trip to the lovely playground in Bear Essentials), there was a short talk on bird calls and how the male birds liked to make lots of noise (gladly aided and abetted by all the boys present) while the female birds looked on preening their feathers. Then each child was given three gladioli bulbs to plant in their pots that were decorated earlier and set them to one side to bring home.
This was followed by a very welcome and delicious afternoon tea. The children got juice, buns, chocolate and lollipops while the grown ups were very delighted with the scones, beautiful homemade jam and cream on offer, along with tea or coffee.
Shortly after came the sticky part of the day which all the children loved. They put lard and bird seed mixture into big bowls and made fat balls for the birds to feed on. Each child chose either a coconut shell or pine cone and put their bird seed mixture into it to bring home for their own birds.
When we got home, the coconut shells were put in the fridge to harden and one of my boys, Patrick, age 9, got up at the crack of dawn on Sunday and went out with his pyjamas and wellies on to hang his bird feeder up. A great success so.
Huge thanks to Anke of Bear Essentials, Heather Bothwell, Natural History Guide, and Anne Marie Ward, Heritage Officer, Cavan County Council for a fantastic fun-filled day.