We've gone a little nuts for birds over here. We decorate edible Christmas trees for them and throw them birthday parties. Now we've made them their very own gingerbread house! The goal for us was not only to create something beautiful for the animals, but to get outside to observe and play afterwards.
Ok, I'm not gonna lie this is not a small project, and it's best to do it in stages. But for us it was so worth it. It's important that my daughter participate in activities where we are working in the service of wild things. She was able to help with a lot of elements of this project (assembling the cardboard house, constructing the peanut fence, spreading peanut butter on the base and adding the popcorn). Other steps might be best for bigger hands.
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What You Need
A Bird House
You will need a house to decorate. There are two options to choose from depending on your materials, time and desired effort.
Option 1. Homemade house You can make your own house of out any materials you have around (gingerbread, graham crackers, wood, etc.). We made ours out of cardboard because I wanted to recycle and eventually compost some of the boxes we have around. If you are using the cardboard gingerbread house, download and follow the instructions for making it here.
Option 2: Bought house This project is significantly easier if you buy a pre-made house. Here is one made of gingerbread and an actual wooden birdhouse.
Base for House
We wanted our house on a table so that we could have a "yard" and to help stabilize the house, so we made a bigger base out of cardboard. If you are hanging the house, or buy an existing birdhouse you probably don't need a base.
Edible Decorations for the House
1. Smooth peanut butter
2. Bird seed mix - here's a great guide to what seeds will attract which birds.
3. Sunflower seeds (separate from the bird seed mix)
4. Popcorn (best without butter or flavorings)
6. Peanuts in the shell
1. A small wreath made out of pine
2. Red and white twine
3. Any other unique/creative personal touches - miniature lamp posts made out of acorns and sticks, a marshmallow snowman etc...(all things I was going to do, but I had to check myself before I wrecked myself :))
4. An icing spreader
5. A glue gun and glue (if using the cardboard ginger bread house)
What You Do
Assemble Your House Unless you bought a pre-assembled house, you will need to construct one out of gingerbread, cardboard, graham crackers, or other. As I mentioned, I made one out of cardboard. I used a mixture of tape and hot glue (only on the inside seams) in order to construct the house.
Decorate the Edible House This is the part of the project where you can stretch your creative muscles and have fun! Keep it as simple or complex as you want. Here is what I did:
1. Using the icing spreader, put peanut butter on all four walls of the house.
2. Push crackers into the peanut butter where you would like the windows and doors to be.
3. Put birdseed all over the four walls.
4. Spread peanut butter on the roof doing one side at a time.
5. Push sunflower seeds into the peanut butter to make "shingles on the roof".
6. Put cranberries along the ridge of the roof.
7. For a snow covered yard, spread peanut butter on the base around the house leaving an area for the pathway leading up to the house and put popcorn in between the fence and the side of the house.
8. Put peanuts or pretzels all around the outside of the base to make a fence.
Feeding the Birds
1. It's time to watch the magic unfold! When choosing a location for the house, try to strike the balance between putting the house close to your observation spot, but far enough away that the birds feel safe enough to eat.
2. If they aren't coming to the house, one thing you can do is put it near a feeder that they are already familiar with or put up a new feeder near the house. You can also spread seed all over the table that the house is sitting on.
Patience is the key here, if you feed them, they will come!
Getting Outside One of the most important aspects of this activity is how it can inspire quality wild time in. My daughter went out to spread extra seeds around the base of the house. Our favorite part was bundling up and hiding just out of view to watch the birds eat. After a lot of free-play (the best kind of play in nature!), we printed out and did this scavenger hunt via inspirationlaboratories.
Activity Extensions Here are some goodies to get the kids extra excited and invested in this project:
Something to read
Here is a great list of bird books via cuttingtinybites
Something to play
We love to play Bird Bingo. You can check it out the game here.
Art to make
Winter Bird Art Lesson via @deepspacesparkle
I'd love to hear how this adventure goes for you!
Your Woman Gone Wild,
PIN IT FOR LATER!
Thanks for this fun activity I incorporated into our homeschooling rabbit study. And was able to make this fun for an age range of 3-10 year olds.
Making an edible birdhouse is a darling idea. I love how cute this looks. Building this from seeds for the base of the house, sunflower seeds for the roof, and peanuts would make a really tasty treat for the birds that come to visit my yard. This seems like a great idea to give local birds that are still in the area something to eat while it’s still cold out. Thanks for sharing this cute idea.