On a recent visit to my parents' house in Illinois, my children joyfully ran around their grandparents' yard with shopping bags "hunting" for pine cones. My folks have huge pine trees in their large yard that drop pine cones by the dozen, so each of my kids quickly accumulated a bag full. My 3-year-old daughter LOVES to have "collections." My 5-year-old considers them "treasures" and fancies himself a pirate. My 19-month-old was content to brandish the pine cones like swords while chasing squirrels and sticking the occasional rock in his mouth.
As I listened to my daughter's grand plans to take her "collection" home to Iowa, I thought of a better, tastier and far more fun activity for their treasures. It's something I used to do as a kid, growing up in a yard with no shortage of pine cones. Perhaps you've done it, too. Making pine cone bird feeders!
I got out a bowl of peanut butter (you could use any type of "butter" you'd like-doesn't have to be peanut!), two spatulas (one for each of the older kiddos), some fishing line (you can use regular string, or even dental floss) and a cookie tray filled with bird seed.
First, I tied the end of a string of fishing line (about 2-3 feet) around the end of each pine cone, making sure to tuck the string under the fan-like folds of the cone so the string didn't slide off.
Using the spatulas, we coated the pine cones and got a little bit of that sticky goodness on our fingers, of course, which we "had to" lick off.
Then, we rolled the coated cones in the tray of bird seed. And viola! Easy, fun, and slightly delicious for both humans and wildlife!
My kids each got to pick the hanging locations for their bird feeders, and we had loads of fun running around the next morning looking for signs of nighttime feasting by birds or squirrels.
I'm so glad to have had the opportunity to share with my kids a fun activity that I remember fondly from my childhood. Even Alexander had fun eating peanut butter AND bird seeds!
Hey, it's fiber, right??