Small Hands in the Big World

Monday, April 25, 2011

Crafty Kiddos: A Springtime Nest

First, a quick simple idea you may have already seen: tuck yarn and other soft nesting materials into pinecones, hang them from trees, and watch birds choose the nest-worthy pieces. Cotton balls were the kids’ idea and it turned out that the hummingbirds loved this! It was remarkable to watch them hover while they pecked and picked at little bits of cotton before flitting back to their nests.  This got us thinking, if the birds are making their nests right now, why can’t we give it a try? Every step of this activity was educational and a lot of fun BUT every step also exceeded the attention span of my 3 & 5 year-olds. That was OK with me—I enjoyed helping, but it is something to be aware of. The finished product is totally worth it and you’ll be able to use this little gem as a spring time decoration for years.

Step 1. We gathered fallen twigs, moss, and lichen on our trail in the woods, visiting banana slugs, millipedes, and more slugs along the way. We talked about not taking too much of anything because the animals need it for their habitats and we did our best not to disturb anything that was intact.
Step 2. Breaking the twigs into 2 to 3 inch pieces was a snappy, satisfying activity for about 5 minutes. Then Sara decided the sticks were stop signs so she spent a solid half hour running back and forth for “more top signs, Mom!” and doing her best to stick them all around the yard. Oh well, she was happy and being creative!

Step 3.  Start building your nest using a small bowl set on a piece of cardboard, cookie sheet, or something easily moved when you want to let your nest dry. We used small melamine bowls as our forms and Elmer’s glue to make everything stick as we arranged twigs, moss and lichen around the bowl. I helped the kids get started so they weren’t overly frustrated by the twigs moving when accidentally bumped. This provided a great opportunity to talk about what excellent builders birds are! I carefully placed twigs on my own little nest but as usual, I should have paid attention to my little Teacher Sara. She dipped big hunks of moss into the glue then slopped them onto the bowl, stuck on a couple twigs and called it good. I finished it for her, just making it thick enough to be stable but her “generous” use of moss and lichen made the prettiest nest! 
Unbelievable but Sara's gloppy nest turned out beautifully!

Step 4. When everything is in place, drizzle more glue on and don’t be shy. It dries clear so you don’t have to worry about quantity or placement.  Allow to dry for about an hour then check on them to see if the glue has set enough to remove the bowl from the inside of the nest. Remove the bowl then allow them at least another 24 hours to fully dry.
William let Ted E. Bear help him with his nest
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  1. What a neat idea! We collected things like this for fairy houses. I had not thought of birds' nests. Are you in the Pacific Northwest? I noticed you mentioned banana slugs.

  2. Hi Deanna, thanks! Yes, we are in the NW, just outside Seattle. Need to get my profile written so that info is listed but haven't gotten around to it. I really enjoy your blog too--thanks for reading!


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