Decorate a birdhouse with your kids

Get your children in tune with nature -- and keep them busy -- with their very own birdhouse.

By Heather Camlot and Tara Nolan

Decorate a birdhouse with your kids

Want something creative to do with the kids this summer? Look no further than your own backyard. Youngsters are fascinated by animals in the great outdoors and a birdhouse gives them the opportunity for an up-close encounter. Using a craft-store model and decorating it yourself makes the project ideal for kids. Plus, this craft allows children of all ages to show their creative side and be proud of their accomplishment, especially when some feathered friends move in.

You'll need:
• Birdhouse (available at craft stores)
• Outdoor craft paint
• Paintbrushes and sponges
• Printable sticker paper or stencils
• Colour printer*
• Sharp knife
• Exterior varnish, such as Wood Shield Exterior and Marine Spar Varnish
• Hook or pedestal

* You can make this craft without a colour printer. Just skip step 2 and in step 3, either paint the birdhouse with the colours and designs of your choice or use purchased stencils for shapes.

To make:
1. Paint the entire birdhouse in the colour(s) of your choice. Allow to dry.

2. Create your own images by searching online for appropriate clip art and downloading it to your computer. We used free clip art from Microsoft Office Online. Print the clip art onto sticker paper according to package directions, then cut the images out with a sharp knife to create a stencil shape. (You can also use purchased stencils for this step; however, sticker paper will adhere to the surface better than stencils, and is a better choice for little artists. Plus, when you cut out the shapes, kids have stickers to play with later!)

3. Apply sticker paper or purchased stencils over the birdhouse and fill in cutouts using brushes or sponges. Allow to dry.

4. For adults only: apply exterior varnish as directed. Allow to dry.

5. Drill a hole on top of the birdhouse, insert the hook and hang it outside. Alternatively, set the birdhouse on a sturdy pedestal, ledge or bench.

6. Place the birdhouse near a window so the kids can take a peek any time of day. Then wait and watch as the birds come to check out the best new digs in town.

Tip: Make your feathered friends even happier with a snack. Learn how to make bird-friendly pizza.

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