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For the Birds  
Make a milk carton birdhouse!


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Make a milk carton birdhouse!

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Gerber Life Family Times Archive

FunFinally—the sun is shining and the events of summer are in full swing. From weeklong vacations and summer picnics to extended play-dates with friends from the neighborhood and long afternoons playing in the yard—there's nothing like this time of year for kids! When the kids come around for a day of play and fun, there will probably be times when the child-driven creative energy dries up and they turn to you to answer the inevitable question, "We're bored—what can we do?" With a little advance preparation and a few common household materials, you can occupy their attention for at least part of an afternoon with a project that's fun, simple, creative, and takes advantage of recycling—it's a milk carton birdhouse project!

For this project, a little advance preparation will prove helpful. You can prepare for the project well in advance by saving a few cardboard milk or orange juice cartons (half-gallon size is the best option). When the carton is empty, rinse it out well with soapy water, drain, and let it dry thoroughly. If the carton has a pour spout, be sure to save the cap! Keep a few extra pre-cleaned cartons on hand for when that "project time" opportunity arises. That way you'll be ready to provide one child or a group with a few hours of creative fun and entertainment. When you're ready to begin the project, you'll need to gather the following items.

    You'll need:
  • Half-gallon milk or juice cartons (clean and dried)
  • A stapler
  • Scissors or utility knife
  • Hole-punch
  • Twine
  • Unsharpened pencil
  • Quick dry permanent glue or glue gun
  • Old newspapers
    For decoration:
  • Masking tape
  • Brown shoe polish
  • Old cloth
  • Stickers and paper
  • Clear packing tape

Begin by covering the work surface with newspaper to make clean up easy. If the milk carton has been opened, close the top of the milk carton and staple it shut. If the carton has a pour spout, make sure the cap is on tightly.

FunThe next step requires adult assistance to make a variety of holes in the carton for an entry door, perch, hanger, and drainage holes. An adult should first use a hole punch to make a hole midway across the carton's top vertical edge, where a piece of twine will be inserted to make a loop and hang the birdhouse from a tree or hook. Second, cut a 1" to 1-1/2" diameter hole approximately 4" up from the bottom of the carton for an entry hole. Roughly " below the entry hole, make a small, pencil-sized hole, which will hold a perch for the bird. On the opposite side of the carton from the perch hole, make another pencil-sized hole. Next, turn the carton over and poke three or four tiny holes in the bottom of the carton for drainage, if any water should happen to blow into the door opening.

Now the kids can take over and complete the birdhouse. The carton can be decorated in a variety of ways—we'll suggest two methods here. The first method gives the birdhouse a rustic, wooden look. Apply pieces of masking tape horizontally, all over the surface of the birdhouse. Just make sure you're not covering up the holes you made. You can overlap the pieces of tape and use different lengths to make it look more like actual wooden siding. Once the carton is covered, use an old cloth and lightly rub small amounts of brown shoe polish on the pieces of tape to give them the look of bark.

Another option is to decorate with stickers or glue a child's artwork to the surface of the carton. Again, avoid covering the holes that you have made in the carton. When the decorations are in place, cover the carton's exterior in clear packing tape so that rain cannot reach the decorated surface. In order to create a rain-protected surface, you may need to cover your holes with the packing tape, and then punch through the tape in those areas.

FunOnce the decoration of the birdhouse is complete, it's time to add the final touches on the birdhouse. Insert the pencil into the hole beneath the entry to the birdhouse in order to create a perch for a bird. Run the pencil through until it comes out the hole on the other side of the carton, and add some glue on the carton's exterior (where it enters the carton) to help hold it in place. Allow the glue to dry. Then, take a length of twine and insert it through the hole in the top of the carton so it can be hung from a tree or hook. Tie the ends together and—you're done!

Find a suitable place outside on a tree branch or insert a small "S" hook on a garage or porch overhang and hang the birdhouse. In no time, some lucky bird will take advantage of your child's crafty construction and make a new summer home inside that recycled milk carton.

Articles are provided for the general interest of our readers. Gerber Life Insurance is not responsible for any content and recommends that you consult the appropriate professional with any questions or concerns you may have concerning any financial or health related issues.

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