So I realize recently I've been a little preoccupied with bird feeders but they are such a great natural craft for this time of year because the birds are SO hungry and what can be better than watching a brilliant Blue Jay or scarlet red Cardinal on a cold snowy day. Plus, once you start feeding the birds they become reliant on you for food and as such you need to try and keep up feeding them until the warmer weather arrives, spring flowers bloom and food is in abundance. You will be rewarded with bird song and natures bug eaters during warm summer days.
Anyhow I made this with my Blue Barn campers before Christmas. It was such a cool, fun project and a great alternative to the candy covered gingerbread houses we were making during the holidays, that when my little guy wanted to try too I jumped at the chance. I have just gotten around to sharing this with you now but we still have plenty of winter days left here in the Northeast to deal with.
Here the kids are making the bird houses in our not so warm Barn in December,
You will need:
Hot glue gun
Peanut butter / Crisco Vegetable shortening
Edible Bird Friendly Decorations, examples: Bird seed, cranberries, raisins, sunflower seeds, cheerios, oats, pretzels etc
Assemble base for bird house using the hot glue gun and the graham crackers. For camp I had these pre assembled for the kids. If you are worried about the glue you can make traditional icing for the houses in order to glue them together, I found that the birds pecked all the decorations and crackers and the glue was left behind.
Once the house base was assembled I glued it to a cardboard base.
When choosing peanut butter v shortening both have benefits and maybe its just what you have on hand. If you have the choice though you might want to consider this. When I made these houses with the Blue Barn Campers I had used Crisco shortening to avoid any allergies, it worked great. However, if you have no peanut allergies to worry about we found the peanut butter acted as a better glue when I repeated the house making with D. I will say if you are doing this with a bunch of kids together you probably want to opt for the Crisco as it was a lot less messy and easier for the kids to spread.
So I gave D 3 little pots containing things we had on hand, bird seed, cranberries and raisins, pretzels. He did complain that the birds got the skippy peanut butter but I wasn't about to feed them the organic homemade!
He began spreading the peanut butter over the house, its pretty sticky and I had to help him a bit with this but the older kids at camp hadn't needed help with this. Just warn them not to press to hard, the crackers can break and having a spare house base is a good idea.
Once the peanut butter was spread they are free to decorate. D had a plan, he added a chimney and roof tiles.
Kids at camp also really enjoyed making these, I was honestly amazed at how long and how thoroughly they all worked.
D used more peanut butter on the cardboard to add a fence.
We also added lots of the spare birdseed inside the house, you can just see it in this picture.
So proud of his house, as were my campers, and such a great alternative to the candy cottages.
Placed outside in a safe place for the birds to discover their winter treat.