Science & Design for Kids: Recycled Bird Feeder Mobile

I’ve been obsessing over all things mobile ever since receiving a hand made frog mobile as a baby shower gift. As a designer I was already predisposed to liking them, after all aren’t Alexander Calder’s mobiles every design snob’s dream art piece?  Of course I’d need a proper place to hang one as well, but I digress….

Make a Recycled Bird Feeder Mobile with a few items you already have on hand!

I can’t say that this mobile is even remotely close to a Calder but it’s a great way to combine science and design for kids in one sweet little project: a Recycled Bird Feeder Mobile. I toyed with a number of ideas for how to build this bird feeder before reminding myself that there is no perfect solution to any project, so go down one path and enjoy the exploration. This homemade bird feeder is perfect if you are looking for a kid’s craft focused on nature and recycling with a little physics thrown in for good measure!

Side note: FYI I suggest using a stick that has three branches minimum so that a bird can actually land on it and get to the birdseed. My first version was truly a balancing mobile and I saw a poor blue jay dive bombing it to knock the seed off since he couldn’t land on it!

Recycled Bird Feeder Mobile

 

Make a Recycled Bird Feeder Mobile with a few items you already have on hand!

Materials

  • Small branch or sturdy twig
  • Cardboard tubes, cut into strips
  • Cheerios
  • Light Corn Syrup
  • Paintbrush
  • String
  • Bird Seed
  • Wax Paper
  • Hole Punch
  • Scissors

Instructions

Make a Recycled Bird Feeder Mobile with a few items you already have on hand!

  • Step One Punch a hole in the top and bottom of each of your cardboard tube strips.
  • Step Two Pour the corn syrup, Cheerios, and birdseed into three separate bowls.
  • Step Three Using a paint brush, paint the outside of a cardboard tube with corn syrup, the more the better! Alternatively you can roll the tube in the corn syrup to coat the outer surface, this is a quicker way to do it.
  • Step Four Dip your sticky tube into the birdseed. If you use a Tupperware container you can put the lid on it and shake the birdseed and tube around to cover the tube. Once covered, place the tube on the wax paper to dry.
  • Step Five Repeat corn syrup and birdseed steps with more tubes.
  • Step Six Cut a length of string and thread a Cheerio on it. Pull string through the bottom hole of one birdseed covered tube. Thread on 5-10 Cheerios then thread the string through the upper hole. You can add more tubes onto this string or move on to another string. Repeat this until you have about 6 strings completed.

  • Step Seven Now it’s time to start putting the mobile together! Cut three long strings. Tie one string around one branch and repeat with the other two strings/branches. Gather the three strings together and knot at the top. Tie a loop with the excess string. If you don’t use a loop at the top your mobile will overturn if any weight is put on it.  Hang it up in an easy to reach spot.
  • Step Eight Tie your birdseed covered tube strings to the branches. Make sure they are secured tightly.Try not to dangle them too far from the branch or it will be hard for the birds to get to the seed.
  • Step Nine Trim all your excess string and hang the mobile in it’s final position.

Now enjoy watching the birds flutter around it and attempt to eat birdseed off a swinging mobile….if they can’t do it, they will knock the birdseed off the tubes and eat it from the ground. Hey, sometimes design is pretty not practical!

Make a Recycled Bird Feeder Mobile with a few items you already have on hand!

Apparently the birds in my neighborhood are talented enough to pull off the balancing feat, see my action shots below. I’m not sure if this is a physics lesson for kids or for the birds….


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Make a Recycled Bird Feeder Mobile with a few items you already have on hand!

 

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Diane!
    Made these today with our Toddler Art Share and our 5-9 year olds. This projects had so many great elements! Painting the syrup, sensory play in the seeds while coating the rolls, and stringing the o’s! Really fantastic and perfect for all ages 2.5+ to adult!
    Thanks for the wonderful idea!
    Going to make one for our house now!
    I will post a photo on my website soon!

  2. andi says

    So happy to see a birdfeeder that doesn’t have peanut butter in it. I have a peanut allergy in my daycare and I’ve never found one without peanut butter. Thank you!

  3. says

    My nine year old daughter had a science project for school called, “Beautiful Junk”. She needed to create something useful out of recycled / reusable items. We found the perfect tree branch in our back yard and made her bird feeder mobile together, having some great mommy-daughter time. We are sure our neighboring birds and her classmates and teacher will enjoy it!

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