Summer is almost here in Ontario, Canada and the warmer weather has brought out the animals who were hiding during the cold weather. One of my toddlers is fascinated with all the birds around my property. He routinely checks for bird nests, chases the birds looking for worms in the grass and points into the trees going, “Birdies, where are you?”
His fascination with birds led me to browsing Pinterest for a variety of new activities that would help enrich his learning. I purchased bug catchers to encourage learning about other wildlife, but he was still fixated on learning about the birds. He asked questions about where they lived, what they ate and this set a light bulb off. Bird feeders!
I gathered the necessary supplies and rounded him up. After rinsing and drying the carton, I cut out a large square (1×1 inch) on opposing sides, and placed it on a sheet of newspaper. I help him put on a smock, and handed him a small container of acrylic white paint and a paintbrush. I explained to him that we were going to paint this milk carton to make a bird feeder, and hang it from the eavestrough so we could watch the birds have their lunch while we ate ours. He was thrilled!
He got to work right away and began painting. I painted two more cartons for the younger children. I applied two coats of paint, and let them dry overnight. The paint dried beautifully, and it was ready for decorating.
I had the children use non toxic washable Crayola paints in a variety of bright and fun colors. They loved making a mess and creating their own designs! The younger ones enjoyed throwing the bird feeders around a little too to hear the dull thuds the cartons made against the surface.
After the bird feeders finished drying, I took a metal barbecue skewer and poked a small hole about an inch below the bottom of the square cutout on either side. I ran a wooden barbecue skewer through it and cut it to size. You can hot glue it in place if it is too loose. I also pieced a hole in the top of the carton and thread a string through it for hanging.
The final step was pouring some bird seed into the bottoms. I had the children assemble around a sensory bin with the bird seed in it, and provided them with plastic measuring cups. I had the scoop and transfer the bird seed into the feeders. After they transferred enough, they enjoyed playing in the seeds. Two for one activity!
We hung out outside our lunch window and we loved watching every day to see who is going to turn up to eat with us. This super simple craft is a creative, sensory experience that allows the children to explore and discover the wonders of nature.
What You’ll Need
- Milk cartons (half and half, chocolate milk etc. 1L cartons is what we used).
- White acrylic paint.
- Colorful Crayola washable paints.
- Metal and wooden barbecue skewers.
- Measuring cups and a bin for the bird seed.
- Hot glue gun (optional).
- Rinse and dry a milk carton. Cut a 1″ square hole about midway down the carton on opposing sides.
- Paint the exterior of the carton with a flat base acrylic paint and let dry. Apply a second coat and let dry.
- Decorate the carton with fun colors and designs and let dry.
- Poke holes using a metal skewer about an inch under the hole on opposing sides and push a wooden skewer into them. Cut to size and hot glue to secure if necessary.
- Poke a hole in the top and thread a string through for hanging.
- Add bird seed to the bottom. Hang and enjoy!