hello bird feeders!

cora hartshorn arboretum projectMuch 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.

arboretumAge Level: 2 – any age


  • Following sequential directions
  • Beading skills
  • Learn about patterns
  • Learning about birds/nature


  • Ice cream cones
  • Fruit o cereal
  • Wire
  • Apple butter
  • Large wooden craft sticks
  • Paper plates
  • Birdseed
  • Large tin (9×13)
  • Plastic bags
  • Labels
  • Plastic containers

art camp class and party the messy artst childrens bird feederTeacher Preparation:

  • 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.

bird feeder for kidsThe first step is beading the fruit o cereal onto the wires. Show the children how they can do a pattern (repeating colors) or random colors on their wire.

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.

toddler art projectWhen the wires have a few inches left uncovered, have the caregivers help out by pushing the wire through the opposite side of the cone and twisting it to secure. The handle is now complete.north jersey kids art

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.

art class camp and parties new jerseyOnce 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.

art pary children morris county nj fine art classes for kids njWhen 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!best kids art class nj the messy artist art studio for kids


Author: hellokidsart

The Messy Artist is a special place to create art. We offer year-round art classes for children 18 months through adulthood. In addition to art classes from September through June, we offer summer art camp and Drop-In and Play art activities for kids between our regular sessions. Our bright, colorful studio is also the perfect place for a kid’s birthday party! The Messy Artist children’s art center was created and designed by Owner/Director Donna Bernstein, a professional educator and artist. The curriculum is inspired and guided by Donna’s teaching experience and research in child development, as well as her passion for art. At The Messy Artist, art lessons for kids entertain and enrich their brains, bodies, and hearts.

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