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Taking It Home
Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain. — Henry David Thoreau, 19th-century Transcendentalist
If you want to save animals, you have to save the Earth, and to do that, you have to be green. — Marisa Kitchell, age 12, member of First Parish UU, Arlington, MA
IN TODAY'S SESSION... we learned that habitats are environments that support all the needs of the plants and animals that live there.
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Talk about... how buildings and cities are part of human habitats. Where do you find water, food, shelter? If you find all these life-sustaining elements inside your home, does that mean your habitat is your home? Or is your habitat really a larger area surrounding your home? Where do the life supports you need actually come from?
EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Try... choosing an outdoor area near your home and keeping a list of all the animals you see there this week. How does the habitat support them? Where do they find shelter, food, water? Would the animals' lives be different in a different season? Do you see migratory birds, for example?
A Family Adventure. The next time you go to a zoo or animal park, notice how similar the created habitat is to the animal's natural habitat. Ask the zoologists how the zoo chooses what to include and what is unfeasible or unnecessary?
Family Discovery. Do you have outdoor space near your home? Find out what animals live there. Could you attract more animals by changing the environment (e.g., could you install a window box with flowers that butterflies or hummingbirds love)? If there are animals you do not want visiting you, how can you change the environment so they stay away? Some ideas are playing a recording of a quiet cougar hiss out your window at night to keep skunks away, or planting vegetables in your garden that you know deer do not like.
The Family pages insert in the Fall 2012 UU World magazine has the theme "All God's Critters... Even the Bat!" Learn how human activity has disrupted bats' habitats. Find out what some people are doing to help, and ways you and your child can get involved.
A Family Ritual. If you have pets, discuss how they would get their needs met if they lived in the wild. Why must we remember to feed our pets and clean up their waste?
To the extent that it is polite, visit friends in their homes—and invite them to your home—to see one another in your "natural habitats." Does seeing a friend's living space help you understand the whole person and what their life is really like?