Farmers throughout the centuries have used scarecrows to protect their seeds and grain from scavenging birds. When farmers create scarecrows using old human clothes, the birds smell the scent of humans on the fabric and avoid the fields. The imposing figure of the scarecrow may or may not be a deterrent. In Japan, farmers would use meat, fish bones and old rags to make their scarecrows. They would then set them on fire and the putrid smoke would drive away birds and other pests. Nowadays, the scarecrow serves not only its original purpose, but also finds a place as a holiday decoration.
Lay the 6-foot stake on a table. This will be the body of the scarecrow. Measure about 10 inches down from the top of the stake and mark the location with a marker.
Place the 3-foot stake on the mark, laying it across the first stake. This will form the shoulder supports for the scarecrow's arms. Tie or nail the stake into place.
Measure halfway down from the second stake and mark that spot.
Position the 1-foot stake horizontally across the first stake, laying the stake on the mark you made. This will become the supports for the scarecrow's legs. Tie or nail the stake into place.
Cut the bottom off a pair of tights or pantyhose and turn it so the open end is pointing downward. You can also use a pillowcase turned upside down to form the head.
Paint a face on the scarecrow using exterior latex paint. Stuff the head with straw, pushing the straw in tightly to make a firm, round head.
Slip the open end of the head over the top of the tallest stake. Gather the excess material together in a bunch and tie the open ends tightly around the top of the stake.
Drape the shirt for your scarecrow over the support stake. Tie the open ends of the sleeves and the bottom of the shirt to the stake. Button the shirt up halfway. Stuff the shirt tightly with straw.
Fill the sleeves and belly area as firmly as possible. Finish buttoning the shirt.
Nail or tie the trousers of your scarecrow to the bottom support. Firmly pack the legs with straw. Tie the open ends shut to keep the straw in.
Decorations like boots, vests, scarves, hats and gloves can add extra appeal to the scarecrow's design. Tucking some straw under the hat before pinning it on mimics hair and makes the scarecrow look more lifelike. Teachers and parents can adjust the size of the stakes and use old children's clothes to make child-sized scarecrows. You can also create miniature scarecrows by using Popsicle sticks and doll clothing. Just be sure to help young children with cutting and scissors.
Children will need an adult to nail the stakes together and to tie the twine tightly enough to keep straw from falling out.