Today I’m sharing two outdoor activities for creative play…

#1: Peanut Butter Bird Feeder

bird feeder & hop circle

Our house is shaded by an enormous pinecone-dropping machine, and these little beasts can be found in all corners of our mini-oasis. They are so begging to be turned into something, right? Peanut-butter coated pinecone bird feeders, here we come! (Apologies up-front to all my gluten and nut-free friends…this is why there are TWO activities in this post!).

bird feeder & hop circle

We started by mixing some oat bran into our peanut butter. I read that this is healthier for birds than straigh-up peanut butter because the grains break up the sticky PB and aid their digestion.

bird feeder & hop circle

Our little set-up: Peanut butter mix, Holiday cheese knife, Bowl of Birdseed, Twine, Scissors, Pinecones, and Paper to place the completed bird feeders on.

bird feeder & hop circle

I twisted the twine on the cones and then handed them over to the queen peanut-butter spreader, who took her job very seriously.

bird feeder & hop circle

She then coated them with seeds (from the dollar store – huzzah!). Which reminds me, I originally bought ten bags of the seed as an alternative to sand for our sand table. I highly recommend it as birdseed feels clean, it has a nice texture, and it has little specks of color that make it pop.

bird feeder & hop circle

And there it is…ready for the birds. Not the pesky squirrels. Okay, are you ready for the sad part of this little tale? We made FOUR of these (4!), hung two by our house and two off a tree by the street. And not one of them was hanging the next morning! I’m pretty sure the squirrels managed to bring them down, but how? Clever little monsters! Has anyone else had this problem? What could we do differently?

#2: Hop Circle

bird feeder & hop circle

It was a beautiful day, so N moved down to the sidewalk and started on some chalk drawings. She drew a (wobbly) circle on the ground and asked me if I’d draw more of them so that she could play “Hop Circle.” Haha. I kept calling it Circle-Scotch, but it didn’t really matter.

bird feeder & hop circle

I thought it would be fun to add in some other shapes and drew a triangle. BIG mistake! I really should have checked with the creative director first, as this was NOT in the plan. Back to circles!

bird feeder & hop circle

Once all the circles (and lone triangle) were laid out to her liking, she hopped away. How fun! And this reminds me of another hopscotch alternative I recently saw at Let the Children Play, where the kids drew a continuous hopscotch all around the school. Take a look!


  1. Great activities! I remember having the bird feeder/squirrel problem in St. Louis. We had to make the strings really long so the squirrels couldn’t easily hop onto the pine cones from the branches. Maybe give that a try?

    • Longer strings would probably help! (It’s too obvious, right?). Thanks for the idea. 🙂

  2. Our squirrels just very politely chewed through the strings and made off with the whole pine cone, and our suet eggs, and almost every other handmade bird treat we tried. Even the ones with cayenne mixed in!

    • You know, I was thinking that the string might have been the problem…wire might be a better hanging material next time. I can’t believe they took off with the cayenne!!

    • You know, I was thinking that the string might have been the problem…wire might be a better hanging material next time. I can’t believe they took off with the cayenne!!

    • Try hanging it in a wire coat hanger

    • I have to remind myself that it’s their garden too…probably more so than it’s mine!

    • That’s fabulous — love the reused bottle cap. Is yours still hanging?

  3. Our squirrels chew through strings. Also through the thick plastic barrel we keep birdseed in…so much for not having it in the house!

    Try hanging the pinecones from a wire coathanger pulled to make a long thin loop with the hook at the top to go over the branch. Our squirrels can climb down those — I’m told that threading an aluminum pie plate down the wire (so it hangs horizontally upside down above the pinecone/feeder) foils them (sorry, bad pun, couldn’t resist). Can’t vouch for it, though.

    I once watched a squirrel bounce on a branch to start a feeder swinging. She caught it as it swung close enough to reach then ate her fill stretched between it and a branch — one hind toe on the tree, one front toe on the feeder. Any critter willing to work that hard deserves a break now and then!

    • Hi Frances,
      Thanks for the ideas. Squirrels are so resourceful!!! I’m happy to feed birds, but for some reason think our squirrels should be on their own. It’s starting to feel a little discriminatory. Maybe I should give those squirrels a break, as you suggest!!

  4. Yup, ours is still hanging! I just went out last night to refill it again! As we pulled up from school, we saw a bird eating from it, but our van scared it away! hahaha!! The kids were so excited and then so sad that he left! lol!

    We are making a deeper one that they can eat from for longer days!

    • And what I really like about yours, unlike ours, is that it doubles as a spot for the birds to actually sit and eat. I think my pinecone-feeder days are numbered!

  5. Any ideas for what to do with the remaining 3 lbs. of birdseed from the bag we bought at the 99 cent store?

    • Haha! Two idea for you: You could make bird feeders all summer long. If you’re successful at attracting birds to your feeders, you might want to keep making them or filling them. I originally bought our 10 pounds of bird seed to fill a big tub for sensory play (instead of sand). You could do the same: pour it into a big storage tub and then add funnels, bowls, and small toys. 🙂

  6. put a metal cone over the top of the pine cone about 3 ft wide with the middle of the cone pointing upwards. squirrels have a hard time with this. painting the cone black makes the cone hot so they get hot foot and leave the feeder alone.they are not hurt by it but they do avoid the feeder.

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