This project requires saving in advance some empty eggnog, milk or juice cardboard cartons. Use a half-gallon size for a roomier abode. After the carton is empty, wash it well with soapy water, drain, and dry thoroughly. If the carton has a pouring spout, be sure to save the cap; it’s a good idea to keep extra, pre-cleaned cartons on hand, just in case.
What you’ll need for the structure:
- Half-gallon eggnog, milk or juice cardboard cartons, washed and dried
- Scissors or utility knife
- Sturdy twine
- Unsharpened pencil
- Quick-dry permanent glue or glue gun
- Old newspapers
What you’ll need for the decorations:
- Masking tape
- Brown shoe polish
- Old cloth
- Stickers and paper
- Clear packing tape
1. Cover the work surface with old newspapers, for easy clean up.
2. Close the top of the carton and staple it shut. If the carton has a pouring spout, make sure the cap is on and secured tightly.
3. Adult to do: Using a hole punch, make a hole midway across the carton’s top horizontal edge. (Later on, you’ll insert a length of twine through the hole to make a loop for hanging the birdhouse from a tree or hook).
4. Adult to do: On the side of the carton, cut a 1-inch to 1.5-inch diameter hole about 4-inches up from the bottom of the carton, to create an entry hole for birds. About half an inch below the entry hole, make a small, pencil-sized hole, for holding a perch.
5. Adult to do: On the opposite side of the carton, make another pencil-sized hole, opposite the first “perch” hole. Then, turn the carton upside down and poke three or four tiny holes in the bottom of the carton for drainage, should any water get into the birdhouse.
From this point on, your kids can take over.
6. It’s now time to decorate the birdhouse, and your child is sure to suggest many ways to do so. Here are two:
- To give the birdhouse a rustic, wooden look:To create the effect of wood siding, apply pieces of masking tape horizontally over all the surface of the birdhouse, making sure not to cover any of the holes. To make the masking tape look more like wood or bark, use an old cloth to lightly rub small amounts of brown shoe polish onto the pieces of masking tape.
- To allow your child to display his or her artistry:Let your child decorate the birdhouse with stickers, or use glue to attach one of your child’s drawings to the carton. Again, be sure not to cover any of the holes.
7. After decorating the birdhouse, cover the carton’s exterior with clear packing tape, to make a rain-protected surface.
8. To create a perch for a bird, insert an unsharpened pencil into the hole beneath the entry to the birdhouse. Run the pencil through the carton until it comes out of the hole on the other side. Use glue on the outside of the carton to hold the perch in place. Let the glue dry before continuing to the next step.
9. Insert a looped length of twine into carton, so that the loop comes out of the hole on the top of the carton. Knot the two free ends of the twine together inside the carton, so that the twine cannot be pulled through the hold. The birdhouse now is ready for hanging.
10. Hang the birdhouse on a suitable outdoor location, such as a sturdy tree branch, or attach it to a garage or porch using a small “S” hook.
After winter, when the birds return, be on the lookout for a mama and a papa bird moving in.