Much like artists inspire each other, so do teachers. This bird feeder project was introduced to us by the Cora Hartshorrn Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary many years ago when our CEO Donnaʼs son was a toddler in their nature program (heʼs in college now)! Since we incorporate seasonal elements into many of our projects, this idea was a great fit for us. Weʼve tweaked it a bit to make it work better for our students, but we tip our hat to the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum for the inspiration.
Should you find yourself in North Jersey, the Arboretum is a wonderful environmental center on 16 acres in Short Hills, and well worth a visit any time of the year. Its old stone house is the home to live animals on display (including snakes and chinchillas) while the modern addition has lots of educational exhibits and information to explore before or after walking the nature trails.
- Following sequential directions
- Beading skills
- Learn about patterns
- Learning about birds/nature
- Ice cream cones
- Fruit o cereal
- Apple butter
- Large wooden craft sticks
- Paper plates
- Large tin (9×13)
- Plastic bags
- Plastic containers
- Push one end of wire through top of cone and twist to affix for handle, one per child
- Place fruit o cereal in plastic containers, one per child (we use condiment containers with lids so we can prepare ahead of time)
- Place approx 2-3 tbs of apple butter in plastic containers, one per child (again, we use condiment containers with lids so we can prepare ahead of time)
- Fill 9 x 13 tins with approx 2 inches of birdseed
- Prepare labels with studentsʼ names to go on plastic bags for finished projects
Show the students an example of a finished project and explain that they will be making bird feeders today, projects that will give food to our friends the birds. They can hang their project in a tree when they get home and it will be a snack for the birds outdoors.
Encourage them to leave some room at the end of the wire so it can be hooked onto the cone to form a handle to hang from a tree.
Have the children walk to the supply table and pick out their cone that has already been prepped with a wire.
Once back at the table, hand out the fruit o cereal containers to the kids and have them start beading the wires. Encourage the caregivers to let the children attempt the beading on their own – the eye-hand coordination works best when the kids hold their own wires, not have the caregiver hold it.
Next hand out paper plates, apple butter containers, and wooden craft sticks. Show the kids how to scoop up the apple butter and spread it on the bottom of the cones. The plates are to help control the mess from the apple butter and make clean up easier.
Make sure the kids cover the entire bottom of the cone so there will be more surface area for the birdseed to affix to.
Once the apple butter is on the cones, the kids can come over to roll them in the birdseed tins. We like to set these up on our supply table, where they had previously gotten the cones. Have them roll the cones around in the birdseed, covering the entire bottom of the cone.
When they are finished, put the bird feeders into a plastic bag and add the name label. This makes getting them home much neater for the parents. Encourage the students to hang them in a tree when they get home and see what kind of birds come to feast on them!