Friday, February 8, 2013

Feed the Birds...

Anybody else hear that old lady from Mary Poppins singing now? Okay, good. My work here is done. But seriously, this mama decided that a good snow day activity would be making bird feeders. Since it's me we're talking about, good old-fashioned pine cones were not enough. We had to make three more varieties in addition to the pine cone bird feeders. So, I think you can trust me when I tell you which ones are easier and less messy to make. I have ordered them from my personal favorite to my least favorite.

#1 Here is my top pick for a simple, mess-free bird feeder project that even a young child can do. We learned about this one from the story time lady at the library, and it is too good not to share. All you need is a pipe cleaner and some Cheerios or similar o-shaped cereal. Have the child string the cereal onto the pipe cleaner, leaving at least 1/2" on each end, twist it together to make a ring, and hang on a tree branch.

#2 The next best option is the cardboard tube bird feeder, which I had seen on Pinterest some time back. I took a cardboard tube that was left over from an empty aluminum foil package and used a serrated knife to cut it into two pieces (mainly because I have two kids, but also this makes it easier to work with since it was a tad on the long side). I gave each of the kids a piece of wax paper, a small bowl of peanut butter, and a knife to spread the peanut butter on the tubes. After I had to help both of them, Mia informed me that they had done this last year at preschool, but they had rolled the tubes in peanut butter on a plate. Had I known that beforehand, I would have had them do it that way. Once the tubes were coated with peanut butter, I gave them some birdseed to sprinkle/roll onto the tubes on a plate. This was a bit messy, but still very doable, especially now that I know the rolling trick. Plus, most people can scrounge up an empty toilet paper tube or paper towel tube without too much searching.

{Bird Feeders from left to right: pine cone, cardboard tube, cardboard cut out}

#3 Here is an old stand-by that I am sure everyone remembers doing as a kid: the pine cone bird feeder. This one is not at all complicated, but it is pretty messy. Mia tied her own yarn on first, and I tied Logan's yarn onto his pine cone. Again, my kids, ages 6 and 3, were frustrated by using a knife and these don't roll the best. Plus, the yarn got gloppy with peanut butter. We would not have even used pine cones if Mia hadn't located the pine cones that I had stashed away months ago in the event that we needed them for a craft project. (The pine cones would have all been buried under the new snow so you do need to plan ahead for this one.) So, this is definitely not the best option out there for home-made bird feeders.

#4 The last one is not something I would try again any time soon, to be perfectly honest. It was inspired by the latest issue of FamilyFun Magazine ("Birdseed Cafe" on page 18). They used corrugated cardboard cut in a star shape, with a circle cut in the center. Mia chose to make a (thankfully) simpler circle, which she did all on her own by tracing a bowl and cutting it out. We used a lighter weight cardboard, somewhere between boxboard and corrugated cardboard, but I don't know if there is a name for it. Logan chose a square, which I cut for him. We used baking sheets to hold the cardboard while I spread one side with peanut butter and then the kids sprinkled them with birdseed. Then, we flipped them over, I did the peanut butte again, and they did the birdseed. When we hung these outside, they immediately started spinning in circles since it was windy. Maybe the heavier cardboard would have been a better choice, but I still don't see how the birds are supposed to eat from this very easily. I guess that is why they cut a hole in the middle, but that seemed like a pain to me. I wanted a project the kids could mostly do on their own, and this is not it. The best tip I got from this one was using the baking sheets to help contain the mess.

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