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Category: Upcycling

6 Crafty Ways To Help Your Garden Birds This Winter

With the snow and icy temperatures predicted to last well into March, our garden birds are really going to need feeding up to survive, as well as to prepare for nesting time.

Creating things for your garden birds can also be a brilliant time to teach children how to care for garden wildlife and to recognise different birds and animals. This can lead a child to a lifelong love for wildlife and also a future career choice so it’s well worth taking the time to explain and show children the wonders of a British garden or park.

Helping the birds needn’t be expensive or time consuming but it can be creative and a lot of fun. Here are 6 crafty ways you can help your garden birds this winter:

 

Fat Bird Cakes –

Make an easy hanging fat cake bird feeder. This activity by Catherine from the Growing Family blog shows you how to make a seed cake mix that you mould into a yoghurt pot then peel out to create a hanging feeder. This sort of a feeder is brilliant for Blackbirds, Robins, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Starlings, House Sparrows, Long Tailed Tits and Blackcaps. On our bird feeders we have noticed that any fat balls or cakes are beacons for flocks of Long Tailed Tits and Blue Tits so if you have seen any of these birds in your garden then fat balls are perfect to make and put out. Growing Family – Homemade Bird Fat Cake Feeders 

Bottle Bird Feeder –

This idea comes from the RSPB and shows you how to recycle a plastic bottle and make it into a feeder to hold loose bird seed. This sort of feeder is perfect for many types of birds and you can easily make a new one as the old one gets grubby or broken. Remember not to put whole nuts in the feeder as baby or weaker birds can choke on these. Birds attracted to this sort of feeder will depend on the type of seed you put out so experiment with different seed mixes to find the one that goes down best in your garden. RSPB – Making Bird Feeders

Apple Bird Feeder –

Apples are a great food source to birds like blackbirds and thrushes and can either be cut into quarters and left on the top of a bird table or you can make this ingenious apple bird feeder from the RSPB. RSPB – Make an apple bird feeder

Birdbath Making –

Birdbaths are important for two reasons and both will attract birds to your garden. One is that birds need clean fresh water to drink so a well-kept and regularly cleaned (without chemicals, just with a hose and a scrubbing brush) water source is a valuable resource to them. The other reason is to allow birds to clean their feathers and keep them in good shape for flying. By having your birdbath slightly off the floor it will mean the birds are less vulnerable to predators on the ground. Place your bird bath somewhere sheltered and not out in an open part of your garden, this will mean there is less chance of a Sparrowhawk swooping in and grabbing a bird. This is a very easy and quick birdbath idea from the children’s part of the Wildlife Trusts – Wildlife Watch.

Nesting Boxes –

Make your birds a safe nesting box ready for when Spring actually decides to finally appear! Decide which birds you would like to tailor it for by making the correct size bird hole from the measurements given on this brilliant practical poster by Wildlife Watch.

Make a Wild Area –

Make your garden as natural as you possibly can by avoiding weed killers or slug/snail pellets as these can kill both hedgehogs and birds. Plant bushes and small trees that have berries in Winter or early Spring for birds to eat and leave an area to grow wild so that insects have somewhere safe to live. The increase in butterflies, bees and other insects will mean more birds will also visit your garden. This lovely poster is again from Wildlife Watch.

3 Ways to use your odd socks up on lost sock memorial day

We all have them, spare odd socks that seem to appear with monotonous regularity in our sock drawers. To compound matters they are usually the ones that are completely different to every other sock you possess so there is no chance of trying to get away with matching any of your odd socks together. So this Lost Sock Memorial Day why not use those odd socks for something useful and stop them continuing to bung up your sock drawer!

What to do with all those socks?

  • Sock Puppets

This may be a very obvious spare sock use but it is still a brilliant one! You can create any number of different characters and animals and with a bit of imagination they are great for using in educational play as well – such as animal and colour recognition or counting  for example.

Making a sock puppet couldn’t be more simple, you can use felt, wiggly eyes, embroidery, pom poms, ribbons, glitter glue, marker pens and wools to decorate and personalise the sock. You usually have the heel on the top of your hand with the upside down toe end as the nose or mouth. Once decorated just slip your hand inside and start playing! Themed collections of puppets from stories or nursery rhymes are brilliant or animals from habitats children are learning about e.g. polar or pond.

  • Sock dog chew

If your dog is anything like ours then a carelessly discarded sock is an instant invitation to carry it around all day, slobbering and chewing as they go (thinking about it, that’s probably why I have so many odd socks)!

pug and sock

Protect your favourite socks and sacrifice some old and holey ones to make dog toys your best friend will love! There are loads of different ways to do this and no one way is better than another as long as the stitches are secure and not loose or broken. If they are then fix it straight away or take the toy away from your dog until you have time.

One option is to cut two socks into strip tubes pieces, each about 5cm wide. Turn all the pieces inside out and securely sew each of the strip tube pieces together, alternating colours and patterns to give a patchwork effect, creating a long sausage tube of colour or pattern stripes. Sew the one end of the tube up but leave the other open for now, turn the chew the right way round and stuff with more odd or holey socks. Now sew the other end up using ladder stitch.

sock strip for dog chew

Another popular option is to cut two small simple shape pieces out of the sock, sew together using blanket stitch and stuff with a sewn up inner bag containing dried beans, this inner bag will help make it more robust. You can then use it as a bean bag throw toy. Obviously alter the size of the beanbag to your dog’s size, so for example don’t make a jumbo size toy with a huge weight of beans for a Chihuahua and conversely don’t give a Great Dane a toy that they might choke on!

If you want to add a bit of character to your dog toys then embroider faces or motifs but again always make sure there is nothing for your dog’s teeth to get stuck in.

  • Phone or MP3 Player Sock

phoneBrilliant for keeping phones or music players clean and scratch free in handbags (nearly impossible normally). You can make your “sock” as fancy and complicated or as simple and quick to make as you want.

Probably the simplest and quickest method is to first use your phone to measure how big it needs to be and add about 10cm to that measurement to allow for sewing up and the “popper seam”. Cut across the sock at this point so that you effectively have a tube. If you are able to then try to use the open top of the sock, this will already be seamed so it will make things easier to use it as the top of the phone sock and where you add the poppers to. If you do have this top intact then you can reduce the amount of added measurement you allow and just have 5cm extra on top of the length of your phone.

phone sock how to image

Turn the tube inside out and sew the one end up completely. If you haven’t got the original top intact then create a 5cm seam on the other end. This will be where you sew your poppers on to so it needs to be a wide flat seam. Turn your phone sock the right side out and sew on two sets of poppers at equidistant distance on the inside of the sock (where your seam is). This means there is less pressure than just having one and less risk of stretching and the poppers coming off.  Slide your phone inside for that perfect “made to measure in 15 minutes” feeling.  Glam this up with embroidered writing or patterns or add a felt lining to make it extra plush.

There are so many other ways you can celebrate your odd socks. Experiment now you are started on the path to freeing these lonely socks from sock drawer prison! 

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This article was posted on our original blog site Cre8ty on the 9th May 2017.

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