Kids will love making these simple nature-inspired bird feeding projects! Now that the holiday season is wrapping up (yes, pun intended), it is a good time to reconnect with yourself and the important things in your life.
For me, this means connecting with nature and my family. As a way to celebrate all that nature provides, we decided to make a family nature tree. This was inspired by one of our favorite books, Night Tree by Eve Bunting, about a family who creates a beautiful outdoor holiday tree with edible ornaments as gifts for lucky animal visitors.
We began by deciding what types of ornaments to make and imagining where our tree might be. Creating popcorn strings, hanging fruit, and birdseed-encrusted ornaments were discussed. We also wondered long and hard about what animals might stop by for a snack. Since my children are still very young, we decided to stick with easy, kid-friendly ornaments and projects so that everyone could participate.
Supplies needed for a nature tree:
- Nut/Seed butter
- Large container
- Needles (embroidery needles are a better option for kids because they’re less sharp and the eyes are bigger, making them easier to thread)
- Thread (any thread will work but embroidery works best for carrying loads)
- Fruit for hanging (raisins, grapes, oranges, apples and blueberries are the most favored)
Project #1 Popcorn Stringing
So, this one seems self-explanatory. You get a needle, thread, and some popcorn, right? Well, that’s what I thought….until I realized I don’t have a microwave and even after figuring out how to pop the corn the old-school way, that the popcorn immediately breaks upon stringing.
Therefore, here are my helpful hints that I learned the hard way:
First, without a microwave, get a large pot with a lid. Turn the burner to medium. Melt a lump of butter or enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot and dump the popcorn in. Make sure to cover it! Gently shake the pan across the burner to keep the kernels from burning. The pops will start a minute or less. When the pops start to die down, take pot off the burner.
Now for stringing, here’s the trick: let the popcorn sit out for a day and get stale, and popcorn stringing will be much easier. Basically, you take your needle and thread and press through the popcorn (not the kernel). If the needle is not too sharp (embroidery needles work well), even the young ones can help with this.
Project #2 Hanging Fruit
The fruit we decided to use was what we had around the house. Clementines! For some reason, my kids go through phases of eating a few a day to none at all. We were at a low point for clementine eating and didn’t want them to go to waste. Stringing the clementines proved to be the easiest project and looked super festive. We simply took our needle and thread and made a loop through the rind for hanging. So easy!
Project #3 Birdseed Pinecones
For our last project, we first collected pinecones outside. We gathered about ten large pinecones. We then tied a string to the top of each pinecone for hanging purposes. In a large bucket, I dumped a bunch of birdseed. Then we spread peanut butter (or any nut/seed butter) all over the pinecone. Rolling the peanut butter pinecone in the birdseed creates a beak-watering delight for all of those hungry birds out there!
After we created all of these wonderful gifts for our nature friends, we went on a hike to find a special place to create our tree. Be sure to bring some hot cocoa to keep you warm as you decorate for your furry and feathery friends!
Where will you create yours?