Building Fairy Houses Promotes Learning, Creative-Free Play & Citizen Science

Building Fairy Houses Promotes Learning, Creative-Free Play & Citizen Science

By Andrea Caluori-Rivera
MassLIFT AmeriCorps Member at Hilltown Land Trust & Kestrel Land Trust

A few weeks ago kids gathered at Hilltown Land Trust’s Bradley Sanctuary in Williamsburg to explore the woods and build fairy houses for future trail visitors to see.

The task was simple: head out into the woods, collect items, choose a spot and start building.  Two hours later, the entrance to Bradley’s woods featured creative structures leaning against tree trunks, hiding behind rocks, or settled right on the trail.  Each house was unique and showed an innovative use of materials: sticks, acorn caps, fallen leaves, moss, lichen, birch bark and more.  While we were out collecting materials, we came across salamanders, heard birds, and observed the different textures and colors nature offered to help us create our little structures.  It was a great way to spend a Saturday morning and wonderful activity that fosters skills such as teambuilding, creative play, engineering, design and citizen science. Hilltown Land Trust’s Bradley Sanctuary is open to the public and available for you and your family to build your own simple fairy houses! Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: Fairies Gather Here

Fairy Summer

There’s a magic to childhood, especially early childhood. Developmentally, I’m told, it’ll last another year, two tops. Yet I don’t want my son to lose his belief in magic. I (want to) believe in fairies. I want my son to stay open to that which he cannot see.

What did Dwagon do today?

My son prompts our bedtime story, then leaves the telling to me. Blurring the line between real and imaginary, I spin an improvised tale of a magical dragon who lives in the Holyoke Range. Dragon often finds himself in similar situations to my guy, with similar fears and worries.

Given our nightly sojourns with his magical friend, I’m surprised by my kiddo’s early summer assertion that fairies aren’t real. He turned to me for confirmation,

Wight, Mama?

Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there.

I was relieved when he accepted this at face value, then gladly helped his human playmate build a fairy house. Later that day, he constructed more under our lilac bush.

♦♦♦

It took a while to find my stash of confetti hearts that night. A few sprinkled around the entrance seemed enough to create the intended effect.

The next morning, I lingered at the sink, watching out the window. A perfect vantage to observe his discovery.  Read the rest of this entry »

Little Homes for Little Folks: Make Your Own Gnome Home

Little Homes for Little Folks
By Alethea Morrison of North Adams, MA

(Photo credits: Mars Vilaubi)

As a child, I would try to make gnome houses out of twigs and moss, always with rather disappointing results, but one of the best things about being a parent is getting to relive parts of your childhood with the skills of an adult. The opportunity to try my hand again at building a miniature house presented itself when our favorite neighbor cleared some trees in the woods. My son Xavier was distressed for the scores of Bwidgewits who were surely displaced. We sprang into action, building a lodge for them out of scrap bricks and slate and covering it with moss. It wasn’t half bad for a first effort.

Then I discovered the Storey book Nature’s Art Box, which has projects for crafting things from natural materials, including directions for some little houses made from bark and twigs and moss. This was going to be a dream come true for me. At the first blush of spring, my son and I collected materials, then dried the soggy wood in the garage for a few weeks. When it was ready, we assembled our toolbox, including the secret weapon not available to me as a kid — a hot glue gun.

  • The first step was to cut the walls. The directions indicated garden clippers should be used, but my bark was pretty thick, and I ended up using a bow saw.
  • Then I used my friend the glue gun to bind the walls together. Bark doesn’t have very straight edges, so for a greater area of contact, I taped the joints using thin sheets of birch bark.
  • Twigs, also hot-glued for adhesion, make a roof.
  • A carpet of moss over the roof makes it look so much homier.
  • The pine-cone chimney was Xavier’s idea and, in my opinion, was a stroke of genius.
  • The moss door makes the house Greyling-proof, since they are afraid of moss and other lovely things.
  • We added a pine-cone door knob, too.
  • Xavier wanted the door to be able to swing open, which I thought was a pretty tall order, but the moss was already attached to thin, flexible bark, and it wasn’t so hard after all.
  • Nature’s Art Box also had directions for some miniature furnishings, which we made to fit into the house.

Within a week, we were very gratified to see a bunny come to visit the house and whisper through the walls to the Bwidgewits. Was he soliciting advice and protection, passing along gossip, or maybe just asking permission to eat the hay we lay in front of the little house over new grass seed? If only we knew.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alethea Morrison is the Creative Director for Storey Publishing, a local publisher based out of North Adams, MA.  Storey has been publishing wonderful how-to books on do-it-yourself titles that are down-to-earth and always inspiring for over 25 years!  Topics range from gardening, cooking, crafts, nature science, animal care, farming, traditional skills and home improvement.  Read Alethea’s other blog posts at Inside Storey, the online community of Storey Publishing.

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