Spring is an excellent time to work with your children of any age on making observations. My son, who is only 14-months-old, has figured out that birds fly and go chirp and will now point out birds that he sees on telephone poles, on the ground, and in trees. We are now working on "robin" or "pigeon" as distinct from a general "bird."
Challenge your family to spend half an hour outside in a contest to see who can spot the most wildlife - bonus points if he or she can identify what it is! With young children, they might find bugs, spiders, or birds. With older children, work with them on identifying colors and sizes and as much other detail as possible. In order to classify or identify an animal, you first have to make as accurate observations about it as you can under field conditions. Sometimes this may mean "a dark colored bird," but if you model for your kids how to be more precise with their observations and your child comments that the bird had a shiny neck, it could be enough to lead you to conclude it was a Common Grackle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Grackle.
This exercise can be done in your backyard, but it's more fun if you take a walk as a family through any one of the numerous parks on Long Island. Excellent local parks in Bellmore include:
Mill Pond Park in Wantagh on Merrick Road east of Bellmore Avenue: This park has an excellently paved walking trail around a body of water, which I must assume is Mill Pond. At this park, I've seen both waterfowl - ducks and geese - and birds such as robins and cardinals in the bushes.
Twin Lakes Preserve in Wantagh on Park Avenue and Old Mill Road: The trail around this park is unpaved and involves climbing over roots and branches and potentially walking through water depending on the amount of rain. It's fun if you and your kids don't mind getting potentially grubby. These ponds have waterfowl and other birds in the bushes.
Norman J. Levy Park and Preserve in Merrick off Meadowbrook Exit 9: This park is a hidden secret in Merrick. It used to be a garbage mound, which has been covered using multiple layers of plastic and dirt. Shell pathways take you up to a beautiful view of Long Island and Manhattan (on a sunny day). This park is great for kids because it has adorable Nigerian Dwarf Goats that are moved around the park to graze and keep the grass down. They live in children's outdoor playhouses which is guaranteed to amuse kids. The park also has guinea fowl, which are used to eat potential pests, and look like bizarrely mutated chickens. On the top of the hill, you can find waterfowl, seagulls, fish and turtles in a pond, as well as two different types of swallows that live in houses. Read the signs and ask the rangers about how they turned a dump into a park. It's interesting, and because it's right next to the dump now, you can see all the cool big machines at work and talk about where your trash goes.
More parks to come, as well as a discussion of good birding reference books for the northeast United States!