Building birdhouses with your child is not only good for the child’s motor and creative skills but it can also help your child build a better understanding of nature. Here are some ideas for simple birdhouses for kids to make.
One of the easiest birdhouses for a kid to make is made out of an empty half-gallon milk carton. Make sure that the milk carton is washed thoroughly and dried before you start constructing it. First recluse the milk carton and staple it shut. Then wrap the entire milk carton with 2″ masking tape so that none of the original carton shows. Rub the wrapped carton with shoe polish or color it with markers so that it resembles tree bark. Make a hole in the side of the carton so the birdhouse has a doorway. Poke several holes in the bottom of the carton with a sharp pen to make holes so that water can drain out when it rains. Pierce another hole in the top of the milk carton through which string or wire can be threaded to hang it from a tree.
You can also build a birdhouse using paper mache and balloons. The recipe for papier mache is newspaper strips boiled in water for thirty minutes and two cups of flour. You then construct this unusual round birdhouse by layering strips of papier-mache over the balloon but at the same time making sure that you leave a hole that will serve as the bird’s front door. Once the papier-mâché has dried you can pop the balloon, paint the papier-mâché with brightly colored paint and hang it in a tree.
Another one of the simple birdhouses for kids to make is created out of an old garden hat. Simply find an old straw hat and tape fabric to the bottom of it so that it makes an enclosed structure. Make a hole in the side of the hat for a doorway and suspend this from a tree. The birds will use the rim of the hat as a perch.
Another idea is to build a nesting shelf for barn swallows, robins or phoebes. These can be made from any wooden box that does not have a lid and that is roughly the size of a shoebox. All this shelf needs is a hook that is situated so that the rectangular box can hang vertically. The birds will naturally roost and build their nests in the open cavity. This type of “open” birdhouse can easily be nailed to a tree, fence post or front porch.
Another very simple project for kids is a nesting cone for doves. Doves dislike birdhouses and instead prefer to hang around in trees. Unfortunately they also build very flimsy nests that are quickly blown away by the wind and rain. To make a more secure home for doves, simply take a foot long length of finely meshed screen and wrap it into a cone shape. You can stabilize this armature using tiny pieces of wire. The dove cone nest is then placed high up in a tree so that the birds recognize it as a good place to build their next home.
Bird watching is a fun, inexpensive activity for families. You can reserve a special space for bird feeders anywhere in your yard, and throughout the year watch the variety of birds that come to visit. If your child is a little older and can handle hammer, nails and glue there are a large variety of plans for birdhouses that kid can make available for free all over the internet. Usually the provider of the plans can tell you what age group the project is best suited for. Your library is a superb source of blueprints for many types of nest boxes. In addition, your state wildlife or provincial wildlife department or boy or girl scout troupe may offer free, or inexpensive waxed cardboard bluebird boxes, which only require folding to create a sturdy little structure.
You can also buy commercial bird house kits for kids that come with pre cut lumber, galvanized screws and bird-friendly non-toxic paint. Once again these are for older children who are more experienced with carpentry and handling sharper tools.