There are many fun and messy ways for children to create bird's nests using a variety of techniques and craft supplies. A finished bird's nest can be painted or decorated and used as a bowl for sweets or coins, as a centrepiece for a dinner table or as an ornament. At Easter time, it is perfect for holding chocolate eggs.
Wool bird's nest
You can make an attractive bird's nest from lengths of wool, white glue and a balloon. It's fun and easy to make, but it does require a little patience when waiting for it to dry. Cut strands of wool, either all the same colour or from different scraps for a colourful nest. They should be cut to a child's arms' length or shorter. Inflate the balloon so it is about the size of the nest you want to make and tie the end. Thin down the white glue by mixing it in a bowl with an equal amount of water. Take the strands of wool, one at a time, and soak them in the glue mix and then lay them over the round end of the balloon. As you add more and more strands, overlapping them in all directions, a nest shape will develop. It may help to put the knotted end of the balloon into a bowl to hold it in place. Wait until the glue has dried thoroughly and the nest is hard before popping the balloon. Trim the edges of the nest and paint it if desired.
A bird's nest made from papier mache can be constructed in a similar way to the wool bird's nest. Paper shreds from an electronic shredder work best, but you also can cut thin strips of paper or newsprint with scissors. Use a balloon or a plastic bowl as the mould for the nest. Mix one part white glue with one part water in a bowl. Take a small handful of paper shreds, soak them in the glue, and then stick them to the surface of the balloon or underside of a bowl. You will need to build up several layers of the papier mache, and make sure the nest is an even thickness all over. Leaving some shreds sticking out in different directions at the top edge of the nest makes it look more realistic. It will take at least 24 hours for the nest to dry completely, and you can speed up the drying process by leaving the nest in a warm spot or in direct sunlight. Once it is dry, papier mache can be painted. Brown paint will make a more natural-looking nest, but any colour or design can be applied.
Pine cone nest
Small pine cones can be glued together to make a natural-looking bird's nest. Have an adult bake the pine cones found outside in a low oven for about 30 minutes to kill any insects that may have been living in them. First, arrange some of the pine cones in a circular plate shape without gluing them. Rearrange the pine cones until the gaps between them are as small as possible. You may want to draw a circle on a piece of paper or use a paper plate as a template for the circle. When you are happy with your arrangement, glue the pine cones together one at a time to make a circular base for the nest. Add more pine cones around the top of the outer edge as a new layer. The pine cones can point upward, out at an angle or lie flat before being glued in place to form the sides of the nest. One layer may be enough, but multiple layers of pine cones can be glued on top of the first layer to build up the sides and make a bigger nest.
Pipe cleaner nest
A pipe cleaner bird's nest is a good project for older children, but younger children also can make one with adult supervision. Use brown or yellow pipe cleaners for a more natural-looking nest, but any colour combination will work. You need to find a bowl, cup or jar that is around the size you want the finished nest to be. First, take eight full-length pipe cleaners and curve them one at a time around the inside or outside of the bowl to fit the round contours and make a nest shape. Space them evenly in a circle. Next, take one more pipe cleaner and wind it around the intersection of the eight pipe cleaners where they meet at the bottom of the bowl shape. The eight pipe cleaners will act as struts and form a frame for weaving the sides of the nest. Starting at the bottom and, working in a spiral around the struts, take one pipe cleaner at a time and weave it over then under each strut. To start a new pipe cleaner, pinch one end around a strut or the previous pipe cleaner. As the sides get taller, push them down to compress the rows, so they are even and have no gaps. The nest is finished when the sides and struts are covered, and the pointy tops of the struts can be bent toward the middle of the nest.