Note: This is Part 3 of my “Art and Sustainability” Series. For an introduction, head over to Part 1. For tips on developing an eco-friendly practice, check out Part 2. Otherwise, continue on ☺

Part 3: Environmental Art for Kids (Plus, a Birdhouse Project)

When it comes to working with kids, I believe there is no better combo than nature-based art projects. You get a little bit of science, a little bit of art, and a whole lot of fun. However, I may be a touch biased — my practice consists of playing with plants to make artwork. As a result, I decided to consult with my lovely partner/niece, Kinsley Grace, to get her thoughts on the matter. Here’s what she said: “It’s fun because a lot of times, we get to go outside AND make art.” So, there you go. To demonstrate our point even further, Kinsley and I decided to make a little bonus episode for you all (in other words, Kinsley has been consistently asking me to make another video for about a month now and I finally gave in).

In this episode, we make birdhouses using recycled containers and natural materials from our backyard. What I particularly like about nature-based art projects are the conversations they facilitate. Kinsley and I got to talk about birds, what they like and eat, their predators, and so on. I think it’s important we continue to foster this conversation. As a result, here are 3 little tips to do just that.

Take kids outside. It seems like a given, however with all the distractions we have now, it’s sometimes a forgotten solution. It’s pretty simple though—the more the kiddos learn to enjoy nature, the more they care for it.

Work on a project together. Not only can you make nature-based art together, but doing things such as gardening can be a powerful way of teaching kids about their surroundings. When working with plants, they are not only learning the valuable skill of taking care of something else, they are also learning about life cycles, worms, sunlight and all the other fun ingredients to support life.

Lead by example. It’s cliché and we already know it. Yet, here’s another reminder. Kids absorb everything you do and say like a sponge. Kinsley NEVER forgets a word I say. So, take the opportunity to show your appreciation for others and your surroundings. The kiddos will follow suit.

Now, onto the birdhouses!

DIY Birdhouses

Materials:

  • acrylic paint
  • hot glue
  • recycled containers such as milk cartons, bottles, etc.
  • plant materials such as twigs and leaves (I got ours from the recycling bin)
  • optional: birdseed

Step 1: Find your desired container to act as your “house.” Make sure they are completely cleaned, have airflow, and the appropriate size. Once you’ve chosen said vessel, cut a hole for the entrance.

Step 2: Paint your houses with acrylic paint. Avoid using too bright of colors if your intention is put your birdhouse outside. You don’t want to attract predators.

Step 3: Construct a roof using twigs and hot glue. Add décor with dried plants. All these help “camouflage” your birdhouses. You can also throw in some bird seed at this time if you would like.

Step 4: Find a special spot for your birdhouse! Go in your front or backyard with the kids, figuring out where you should put it. If you want to hang it, attach some wire to the top. Just make sure the birdhouse stays in a residential area, where you can monitor it. You should never introduce foreign/man-made objects to a naturally preserved area, such as a state park. Within those areas, the animals and birds already have homes, and as a result, the goal is to keep those homes undisturbed. That’s why a residential area is best!

As always, good luck with your projects. May the birds come flying in.

All photos by Hannah Pomante

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the Spokane Art School Artist-in-Residence, and not necessarily to the Spokane Art School.