As we dive into the summer season, it’s a great time to observe wildlife at its peak. Hibernating animals have since emerged from their winter beds and all other wildlife are busy preparing for the next winter season. It’s no wonder why July celebrates Wild About Wildlife. Unleash your group’s wild-side and explore “July Untamed” with the activity ideas below.
INVITE A WILDLIFE CONSERVATIONIST – Arrange a virtual educational presentation with a local wildlife conservationist. Ask them to share information about native plants and species vital to your community’s ecosystem. How has the ecosystem changed over the years? What can you, as a facility, do to enhance your green space to support wildlife? Encourage members to come with their own questions, too.
HONEY BEES – Often overlooked, honey bees are vital to sustaining our national ecosystem. Prepare a brief presentation about honey bees using resources from your local library. If you have a family or staff member who keeps bees, ask them to share about their experience. Reminisce with members about beekeeping and processing honey. What’s their favorite recipe that uses honey? If you can, make that recipe together.
REPURPOSED BIRD FEEDERS & BIRD BATHS – Gather miscellaneous items you have in your activity closet, such as unused terra-cotta pots, teacups, tin cans, or craft sticks. Use paints, glue, string, and other craft material to transform your items into bird feeders or bird baths. If you need help getting started, check out Home Stories for ideas that might work for you.
UNTAMED SUMMER REMINISCENCE – Reminisce with your group about summertime as a youth. Ask: What summer activities did you most enjoy when younger? How did you spend your free time in the summer? Did you have a summer job and if so, tell us about it. Where did you like to vacation with your family? Did the circus or county fair come to your town in the summer? Did you spend most of your time outdoors? What was a summer highlight that you looked forward to each year? Head outdoors with your group and serve lemonade or iced tea as you reminisce together.
THE MUSIC OF WILDLIFE – “Flight of the Bumblebee,” “The Lark Ascending,” “Carnival of the Animals,” and “Peter and the Wolf” are just a few of the many classical pieces that were inspired by wildlife. Find these songs, and more, on your favorite music streaming website and play for your group. As they listen, ask them what creature inspired the song. Afterwards, reveal the answer. Share the song’s composer and brief facts about each piece. Pair this with another activity – painting to the music – where participants paint according to the inspiration of the song. If painting is too challenging, print wildlife adult coloring pages and encourage members to color as they listen to the music.
NATURE DOCUMENTARY – As the weather heats up, keep members cool indoors with a series of nature documentaries, such as “Planet Earth.” Afterwards, discuss what new information members learned or found surprising. Reminisce about related experiences or places members may have visited during their lifetime.
WILDLIFE SCAVENGER HUNT – Make a list of common species found around your facility, such as birds, frogs, squirrels, chipmunks, or insects. Create a scavenger hunt for members to complete as they walk outdoors. Organize a group walk, or encourage members to participate independently.
CAPTION THE WILDLIFE IMAGE – Do a quick internet search for wildlife images. Select and print your favorite ones. Share with your group or during one-on-ones and ask participants to write a caption for the image. What do they think the animal(s) is saying or thinking? Which image is their favorite and why? Display the images with each participant caption on a bulletin board. Invite members or staff to vote for their favorite caption of each image.
WILDLIFE MAGAZINE ACTIVITIES – Gather all wildlife magazines you may have sitting on library shelves or in common spaces. Use them throughout the month for one-on-ones. Encourage members to flip through the magazine and reminisce with them about animals or places featured in the magazines. Challenge members’ brain power by seeing how quickly they can find miscellaneous items that you ask them to find in the magazine. Select a photo and ask members to tell a short story about that photo. Prompt by asking where they think the photo was taken, what time of year it was, what happened right before the photo was taken, and what’s going to happen next.
BEDTIME NOSTALGIA – Bring back childhood or parenting memories for members by reading “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak. Then, create a wild thing sculpture using empty paper towel rolls, cut in half. Fold in one end of the tube from each side to create the pointy ears. Use markers or paint to decorate.
WILD ANIMAL ENCOUNTERS – Reminisce with your group about wild life encounters they may have had over the years. Did they ever encounter a bear, moose, mountain lion, snake, or other animal on a trail in a national park? What was that experience like? Did any member have an unusual pet animal, such as a snake or iguana? Did anyone ever have a bird fly into their home? Consider inviting a wildlife-encounter company to visit your group – virtually or in person – and then reminisce afterwards.
VISIT A NATIONAL PARK – If you haven’t already taken your group on a virtual hike through one of the national parks, be sure to make this happen in July. Check out nationalparks.org for links to webcams all across the United States. Your group may even encounter wildlife as you take in the breath-taking views.
JULY UNTAMED TRIVIA
- Which of the following is the largest member of the deer family: caribou, elk, or moose? Moose
What common wildlife creature is best known for burying nuts for the winter season? Squirrel
- What is the largest reptile in North America? Alligator
- Which birds are distinctive by the sound of their hammering? Woodpeckers
- What is the primary source of food for the monarch butterfly? Milkweed
- Which eagle is unique to North America, and is also America’s national symbol? Bald eagle
- Because of the unique structure of their wings, which bird can fly left, right, up, down, backwards, or even upside down, flapping its wings approximately 80 times per second? Hummingbird
- What is a group of deer called? A herd
- Which insect is vital to our ecosystem, pollinating the fruits and vegetables that we eat, and also producing a sweet substance for humans? Honey bee
Unlike coyotes who prefer to hunt in packs, which animal prefers to hunt alone, lives in a den, and is actually more cat-like, than dog-like? Fox
JULY UNTAMED THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“A society is defined not only by what it creates, but by what it refuses to destroy.” ~ John Sawhill
“July Untamed” was written by Erin McCart. Copyright 2020 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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