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Ideas for Connecting Nature with Books: A Year in the Secret Garden

Have you ever read a book with the kids and thought “Wow!  I wish there was something more that we could do with the story.” ?

Than boy do we have an awesome post for you today!

One of our amazing friends has created a book of extension activities to pair with the much loved story The Secret Garden. 

There are recipes, nature activities, fun things to make and great discussion ideas all organized by the months of the year.  It’s a wonderful way to “bring a book to life” so to speak and really let the kids enjoy all the story has to offer.


Each day in November, you can hop around some outstanding book blogs and read all about A Year in the Secret Garden A Year in the Secret Garden.  We will walk you through the extension activities and share some of our favorite parts of this new book.


Connecting Nature with Books

We are reviewing the December activities and just in time for the holidays!

Just in case you haven’t read The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, let me give you a quick overview:

Mary Lennox is a young orphaned girl who is sent to live with an Uncle she’s never met after her parents have died.  Her new home is a huge, cold manor with an Uncle who is still mourning the death of his wife.  Mary is a very sickly girl but begins to play outside and wander through the neglected garden which helps her to gain strength. 

She mainly has contact with only servants until she happens upon the room of Colin, her invalid cousin.  In order to help him get well, Mary begins to visit with Colin every day and then takes him to the secret garden too.  Together, they see many wonderful things happen in the garden and the entire family begins to heal as a result.


There are so many themes of nature that run throughout the book and Valarie, the author of A Year in the Secret Garden, has captured so many of them with hands-on activities.

Since we are big nature fans at our house, we decided to do two of the extension activities.  The first is making  winter bird feeder.

This is a favorite among kids (and of course, birds love it too!)  The book has a detailed list of supplies and directions with beautiful illustations and photos for you to follow.


Making a winter birdfeeder

Gather you’re supplies (more details about that in the book: A Year in the Secret Garden)


Peanut butter bird feeder

Spread the peanut butter (and make sure to only use organic — all those additives in other peanut butter is really bad for the birds — and us too for that matter).


DIY Bird Feeder

 Roll the covered tube in birdseed — this is the fun part kids love!


how to make a bird feeder

 And hang it on a branch or bush for the birds.  We are keeping ours in the tree where a pair of cardinals always nests for the winter.  Hoping they are happy with their surprise 🙂


We also loved the area of the book titled “Bringing in the Evergreen”.  Christmas trees became very popular during the time the book was published and many would bring not only trees, but evergreen branches into their home during the holidays.


Bringing in the Evergreen

We chose to cut some evergreen branches and use them to decorate the branch of our Advent Calendar this year.  They smell wonderful!

Below you’ll find links to all the other activites for the book — hop around and visit each of the blogs to learn more about how you can spend some time with The Secret Garden too!

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway — we’ll have a luck winner in time for the holidays!


About the Book

A Year in the Secret Garden - cover

Title: A Year in the Secret Garden

Author: Valarie Budayr | Illustrator: Marilyn Scott-Waters

Publication Date: November, 2014 | Publisher: Audrey Press | Pages: 144

Recommended Ages: 5 to 99

Book Description: Award-winning authors Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters have co-created A Year in the Secret Garden to introduce the beloved children’s classic, The Secret Garden to a new generation of families. This guide uses over two hundred full color illustrations and photos to bring the magical story to life, with fascinating historical information, monthly gardening activities, easy-to-make recipes, and step-by-step crafts, designed to enchant readers of all ages. Each month your family will unlock the mysteries of a Secret Garden character, as well as have fun together creating the original crafts and activities based on the book.Over 140 pages, with 200 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. A Year In the Secret Garden is our opportunity to introduce new generations of families to the magic of this classic tale in a modern and innovative way that creates special learning and play times outside in nature. This book encourages families to step away from technology and into the kitchen, garden, reading nook and craft room.