by Kelly Villaruel
This is a fun activity to do together with your whole family. Go out on a wander or in your backyard, wherever you will find twigs and small sticks.
- Small sticks (or large, depending on size of finished nest)
- Cups for glue
- Paint brushes for spreading glue (fingers work great also)
- Piece of cardboard to build nest on
Together, collect handfuls of sticks that you will use for your nest. After gathering all of your supplies, use the cardboard as a base to start your nest on. Using glue, paint the twigs and stick them together piece by piece to form a nest. Take turns placing sticks on your nest. How might the birds build it? How big will it be? Will it have something soft to line it? When it is complete, you can add extra glue (if you need it) so it stays together, then set it in the sunny spot to dry. Using paintbrushes to spread the glue is easier for young children who may still be developing strength in their hands and are not yet strong enough to squeeze the glue bottle themselves.
Imagine building a nest that represents the container of your family unit. It is the basket that holds your day to day actions and interactions. When you build your nest together, it is a time of the in breath, the coming together in connection and being present with each other. It can be a time of crafting more magic and conversation into your day. Placing the nest where it is visible gives children a reminder of the connection time and that can be helpful in the times of out breath when we need to get stuff done. It is a physical representation of your family bond and common ground that your children can come back to when they need to feel the closeness.
Now the fun begins! How will you use this nest? Maybe it becomes a place to leave special notes to each other when you have other things to do? Maybe it is used as a talking piece? Maybe it sits in a place to be filled with found treasures? Maybe you have older children that make birds to represent each member of your family? The possibilities are endless.
When my own children were little we made a nest together. We used it in a variety of ways for many years. When my oldest daughter moved out, she made one with her family. When my second daughter went to college, my son and she decided together that she would take it with her since he is still living at home. We have had that nest for 17 years and it’s still going strong.
It is easy, as the adults, to take over the creative process and limit children’s creativity. This is not intentional and it usually has more to do with the mess that may come with the project. Do your best to step back and let your children lead. Let them decide who’s turn it is to place the next stick. If you put it in the “wrong” place, let them move it. Birds do that, fix the placement of nest materials. Your children may use a LOT of glue. Do your best to let them and work in a place where glue can get everywhere and it would be ok. Know that this is a time of social and emotional growth for your children. Through the creative process and conversation that you have together, they are developing communication and language skills. In the creative process your children are problem solving and working with numeracy and reasoning skills. Notice the joy in your children as the nest is being built and see their pride when it’s done. Know that everything your children do through creativity and play has purpose and meaning. Enjoy the process.