Usher In Spring, p.2
How to make our hollow, vertical birdhouse:
1. Ask your child to remove the plastic lid from the empty coffee can. Moisten one sheet of birch bark with water, and wrap it around the coffee can. Allowing the ends to overlap by about 2", trim the excess bark using cuticle scissors (or any small, sharp pair of scissors). Also trim the sides of the bark to the length of the can, leaving no overlap. Place a large rubber band over each end to secure the bark in place. Let the bark dry overnight, or blow it dry with a hair dryer to save time.
2. Once the bark has dried, turn the can right side up with the overlapped section facing back. Use a pencil to trace a circle with a 2" diameter approximately 1 1/2" from the top of the can. Slide the can out from the bark cylinder, and cut out the circle. (This will be the birdhouse doorway.) Remove the rubber band from one end, and glue the overlapped bark in place. Help your child repeat on the other end. Secure with large hairpins or clothespins, and wait at least an hour for the glue to dry.
3. When dry, stand the bark cylinder on one end with the doorway centered and facing front. On one side, create a pair of holes with the hole punch 1" apart and 1/2" from the top of the cylinder. Repeat on the other side. (You'll use the holes to hang the birdhouse.) Then cut the 24" length of cord into two 12" pieces, and thread each one through one of the pairs of holes, leaving equal lengths of cord hanging from each hole.
4. Take another sheet of birch bark and help your child trace 2 circles of equal size, using the coffee can as a stencil. Make sure the circles are at least 3" apart. Measure 1" from the first circle's edge and make a small mark at each of the 4 compass points. Connect the marks to form an outer circle, creating a 1" margin around the original pencil line. Repeat with the second circle. Cut out both circles along the outside margin.
5. Using the pizza or pastry cutter, score the bark along the pencil mark of the interior circle. (Do not cut through the bark; just make a dent along the pencil line so the bark will fold easily.) Around the perimeter of the interior circle, cut side-by-side triangular tabs that extend to the outside margin, with 1 1/2" bases along the scored pencil mark. The bases should be touching, creating a starburst pattern. Gently fold the tabs inward along the scored crease with your child, and repeat with the second circular cutout.
6. Dab a small amount of glue on the outside of each tab on both circular cutouts. Insert one circle "drum-like" into the top opening of the cylinder, stopping when the crease meets the cylinder edge, and insert the other into the bottom opening. Place a rubber band around each end and another around the length of the cylinder to hold the top and bottom in place. While waiting for the glue to set, you can create the bird perch. Measure 1/2" from the bottom of the doorway and punch a hole into the front of the birdhouse. Ask your child to stick the narrow twig through the hole, pushing it 2/3 of the way inside the house.
7. Once the glue has dried, tie the cord ends together to create two straps on either side of the birdhouse and hang from a low-hanging branch in your yard.
What you'll need:
- 12-ounce coffee can with plastic lid
- 2 sheets of birch bark, approximately 18" x 9" ($6.50/sheet at B&J Florist Supply: 212-564-6086; 212-564-6087)
- cuticle scissors (or any sharp scissors)
- large rubber bands
- hair dryer
- strong craft glue
- large hairpins or clothespins
- hole punch
- 24" piece of cord
- pizza or pastry cutter
- narrow twig, about 6" long
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