Playful Parenting: Bringing Play to Every Day

Playful Parenting: Bringing Play to Every Day

Milk Carton Bird Feeder

If you have a young naturalist at home, spark their creativity and love of animals with this DIY bird feeder. It’s a quick and easy project that will lead to hours of fun birdwatching.

What You’ll Need

  • An empty paper milk carton (half gallon size)
  • Scissors
  • Acrylic paint
  • Wooden dowel, skewer or stick
  • 3D decorations- like buttons or twigs! (optional)
  • A glue gun (optional)
  • Bird seed

What You’ll Do

  • Cut a “window” out on two opposite sides of the milk carton. The window could be rectangle, circle or any other shape large enough for a bird to comfortably access the bird seed through.
  • Poke a hole into the container below the cutout window and through to the other side of the carton. Later, you’ll poke a stick through these holes, which will serve as a perch for birds.
  • Paint the carton using acrylic paint. (Parents. You may need to use a primer on the carton first to cover up dark colors or lots of writing)
  • Once the paint is dry, decorate the carton. Use a glue gun to attach buttons, twigs and twine. Or, draw a picture with markers or more paint.
  • Push the wooden dowel or stick through the pre-made holes near the bottom of the bird feeder.
  • Punch a hole through the top of the carton and thread a string through. Tie it to a tree branch where it is visible.
  • Fill the feeder with bird seed. Sit back and enjoy watching the birds that come to visit.

Other Ideas

  • Try a log of all the birds you see at your bird feeder. Use it as an opportunity to learn about local birds. If you aren’t confident in your bird-identifying abilities, print out a visual list of common birds in your area. This is a great way for younger kids to get involved. Sharpen observational and creative skills by keeping a naturalist sketchbooks. Do the vibrant colors of a blue jay catch your child’s eye? Encourage them to capture it on paper.

What Kids Learn

How to Support the Play

  • In addition to comments like “good job” and “you did it,” describe what a child is doing and how they did it. “I see how you made the tower taller by adding another block.”
  • Focus more on the doing, less on the outcome.
  • Take note and celebrate when an activity takes an unexpected turn. Be flexible when a child goes in a completely different direction than you had imagined.


Hands-On Activities

DIY Kinetic Sand

Kinetic sand is an easy project that allows kids to explore their senses, build fine motor skills and strengthen their imaginative play muscles.

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DIY Marble Run

With cardboard tubes, boxes and other recyclables, kids can experiment and build critical thinking skills in this fun STEM activity.

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