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  • Writer's pictureGraceful Willow Learning

A Nest of Blessings: Crafting Birdhouses in the Catholic Home

Activity for 13+ year olds

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Building a birdhouse can be a wonderful and meaningful activity for Catholic homeschooling families, integrating both practical skills and spiritual elements.


It provides a myriad of elements that you can choose to make your focus: God's creation, particularly birds; carpentry; arts; family activities and quality time; stewardship of all of His creatures; Saints connections; among others. Here is a more detailed list of focusing points while you build a birdhouse.


1. Incorporate Scripture:

  • Begin the activity with a relevant Bible verse or passage that emphasizes themes such as stewardship of creation or caring for God's creatures. For example, Genesis 1:26-28 or Matthew 6:26.


2. Discuss Stewardship:

  • Talk about the concept of stewardship and how building a birdhouse aligns with the responsibility to care for God's creation. Emphasize the importance of respecting and nurturing the environment.


3. Connect with Saint Francis of Assisi:

  • Introduce children to St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment. Share stories about his love for nature and all creatures, connecting it to the activity.

  • You can also incorporate the learning of how St. Francis treated animals as a prayer for us to receive the holy spirit to do the same.


4. Reflect on God's Creativity:

  • Use the activity to discuss the beauty and diversity of God's creation. Talk about the unique characteristics of different bird species and how they each contribute to the ecosystem. This point can also help you design a birdhouse appropriate to the species that frequent your backyard the most.


5. Decorate with Religious Symbols:

  • Encourage children to decorate the birdhouse with symbols or images that have religious significance, such as crosses, doves, or images of saints associated with nature.


6. Include a Blessing:

  • Before placing the birdhouse outside, bless it as a family. You can find blessings for animals or objects in Catholic prayer books or create your own heartfelt blessing.

  • As a bonus, you can discuss your homeschooling activities with your priest, and invite him over for dinner for a house blessing, and request that he bless the birdhouse too.


7. Teach Virtues:

  • Emphasize virtues such as patience, perseverance, and teamwork during the building process. Relate these virtues to the Christian journey and the importance of working together as a family.


8. Educational Component:

  • Integrate educational aspects by discussing the types of birds that might use the birdhouse, their nesting habits, and how families can play a role in protecting local wildlife.

  • Link this to a more in depth science lesson about birds' anatomy, life cycle, habits, food gathering and nutrition facts, etc.


9. Field Trip to a Nature Reserve:

  • Consider turning the activity into a field trip by visiting a nature reserve or bird sanctuary. This can enhance the educational aspect and connect the building activity to a broader understanding of God's creation.

  • Make sure to bring your free field trip note-taking document.



To build a basic birdhouse you will need certain materials and follow a few steps to ensure you do everything right before welcoming bird-friends into your real estate.


Materials:

  • Wood: Select a suitable wood for the birdhouse. Exterior-grade plywood or cedar are good choices as they are durable and weather-resistant.

  • Wood Screws: Choose screws that are appropriate for outdoor use. Make sure they are long enough to secure the pieces of wood together securely.

  • Wood Glue: Outdoor wood glue will help reinforce the joints and make the birdhouse more stable. Try this one.

  • Drill: A drill with bits for pilot holes and countersinking will be necessary.

  • Saw: Depending on the complexity of your design, you may need a saw to cut the wood pieces to the desired dimensions.

  • Sandpaper: To smooth the edges and surfaces of the wood. This one is an Amazon top picked.

  • Paint or Sealant: If desired, you can paint the birdhouse with non-toxic outdoor paint or seal it with a bird-safe wood sealant. Make sure the paint or sealant is completely dry before installing the birdhouse. White paint for the base coat and colored acrylic paint for the decorations.

  • Hanging Hardware: If you plan to hang the birdhouse, you'll need appropriate hardware such as eye screws or a metal bracket.

  • Roofing Material: Small pieces of metal or shingles can be used to create a roof that protects the birdhouse from the elements.

  • Pencil and Ruler: For marking and measuring. Here are the pencils and ruler I like.





Steps:

  1. Design the Birdhouse: Decide on the size and design of your birdhouse. Consider the types of birds you want to attract. Use paper and pencil to draw a rough draft, and a ruler to plan all your pieces and cuts. Remember to calculate enough room for edges to meet and nail them together.

  2. Cut Wood Pieces: Using the saw, cut the wood pieces according to your design. Common components include a front and back panel, two side panels, a bottom acting as a floor, and a roof.

  3. Sand Edges: Use sandpaper to smooth the edges of the cut wood pieces.

  4. Assemble the Pieces: Arrange the wood pieces according to your design and start assembling them. Use wood glue at the joints and secure the pieces with screws.

  5. Drill Entry Hole: If your design includes an entry hole for the birds, drill a hole of an appropriate size near the top of the front panel.

  6. Add Roof: Attach the roof to the birdhouse, ensuring that it overhangs to provide shelter.

  7. Paint or Seal: Decorate the birdhouse with paint or apply a sealant to protect it from the weather.

  8. Attach Hanging Hardware: If you plan to hang the birdhouse, attach the necessary hardware to the back.

  9. Install or Hang: Find a suitable location for the birdhouse. Mount it on a pole, attach it to a tree, or hang it from a branch, making sure it's secure and not in direct sunlight.

  10. Monitor and Clean: Keep an eye on the birdhouse to see if any birds make it their home. Clean the birdhouse between seasons to ensure it's a safe and inviting space.

*Adjust the dimensions and features based on the specific types of birds you hope to attract. Always prioritize the safety and well-being of the birds when building and placing your birdhouse.


If you prefer to get a "ready to go" birdhouse kit, here are some that I found on Amazon and that have good reviews.




**BONUS: If you provide some seeds, birds will be attracted and may want to visit more often!


I hope you enjoy this family (or supervised) activity. Share your birdhouse pictures with us on the comment section below.


Thank you and God Bless.

Maria Ignacia



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