Ideas for arts/craft to make with kids

Bird box

It took us three hours, but we got there in the end!

One of the benefits of doing this blog is that the kids have started to think a bit more creatively, and are now coming up with ideas of things we can do themselves. I’m quite proud of that, I do think its genuinely helped us cope with some of the tougher elements of the lockdown. I’m trying not to lose that momentum as things get back to ‘normal’.

As an example, today my son asked if we could make something big with wood – ‘like a tree house or something’. It makes me smile that he’s still of an age where he thinks a) I can do these things and b) we have the stuff to do it. That said, I want to make the most of the few years I have left before he realises my general incompetence – so as a compromise (not wanting to let him down completely) we agreed a bird box might be more manageable for both of us.

I’ve made the decision not to include a template of what we did as you can find loads on the internet of many different shapes and sizes if that’s what you’re after. We didn’t use a template because we only had some old floorboards to work with, and so wouldn’t have been able to follow a lot of them anyway as they weren’t big/wide enough.

Also, I really wanted to let my son do most of it as there’s loads of different skills this project brings with it. Measuring, a bit of maths, problem solving, sanding, painting, visualising in 3-D, screwing etc. Probably most importantly he quickly realised that it also needed patience and perseverance; which is something none of us are particularly strong at.

I’ll be honest it wasn’t perfect, there’s gaps where it doesn’t quite fit together, but it has a charm and we were all proud of it. Three of us worked on it solidly for three hours without any major arguments or strops – which in itself is a triumph!

Anyway, here’s how we did it.

First off you need wood. We have a load of old floorboards, and so used them. We wanted to do one with a peaked roof but quickly realised we didn’t have enough wood for that, so settled on a flat roof.

We figured we needed:

  • Two sides pieces and a front pieces – all the same size.
  • A back piece – we went for a long piece for this so that the back can easily screwed onto wherever we hang it.
  • A top and bottom – the same size; you’ll need to figure out how big these should be based on how the size of the other pieces (mock it up on top of the bottom piece and mark how big you need it, then use the bottom piece as the template for the top).

Get the kids to measure and mark off where you need to cut them. As a guide, our front and sides were about 25cm high.

Cut the pieces with a jigsaw. My son’s not quite old enough to do this, and I’m not competent enough to supervise him with a power tool, so I did this bit myself. Get the kids to sand them off though to smooth the edges.

You should now have all your pieces. One last thing to do before you put the jigsaw away – you need a hole on the front for the birds to get in (otherwise you’ve just made a box!) There’s probably an ideal size depending on which type of bird you want to attract but I have no knowledge of what that might be so just cut one smallish. The trick to do this (which it’s probably no surprise to anyone who has the slightest knowledge of power tools but has come to me through trial and error!) is to use a drill to make a few holes in the middle of where you want it to be so that you can then get the jigsaw blade in. You can then cut a circle.

Next step to paint them. We used some blue paint that we’d done the garden furniture with as it was waterproof. I suppose the other option would have been to use any old paint and then varnish it at the end.

This took two coats of paint, during which my son got bored. However, with a bit of encouragement he did carry on and was pleased when the second coat made them nice and neat.

Now for putting it all together. If you had strong glue, I guess you could use that and save a lot of bother. However, we didn’t and so we used screws. We ran out near the end so had to go on a mad dash around the house to see whether there were any more loose screws in drawers etc. We did in the end find enough but probably a good idea to make sure you’ve got these before you start!

There’s no real trick to this, you just need more than one set of hands! We just took the back piece as the starting point, then drilled a couple of holes into the sides pieces so that it wasn’t too much effort to then get the screws in. The bottom went on with the same process. The front actually slotted in then quite nicely (only a small gap but we’ll ignore that!) and finally screwed the top on.

That’s it! Simple, but took a while for us to figure out what we had to do.


Took three hours, but we got there. Actually looks pretty good.

For other wood based projects:

Little birds:

Penny drop game:

Personalised wood chimes:

Feed me garden game:

Wheel of fortune:

Whittling wood: