Recycle Paper Bags into Bird’s Nest Art Projects
In this science and art activity, kids recycle old brown grocery and lunch bags into bird's nest art projects. This activity is great for exploring nature and birds, for celebrating Earth Day, and for studying solutions and liquids (chemistry).
Nests: Birds build nests to lay eggs and protect their newborns. Their nests are woven together from relatively weak materials to make remarkably strong and complex structures; in fact, scientists study bird nests to improve their own understanding of engineering and design. Nests can be any shape or size, and can be made of just about anything a bird can carry, including fur, grass, twigs, mosses, bones, mud, hair, spider silk -- even bits of garbage like string and plastic bags. Nests are usually built by female birds, usually in high, protected areas, such as in a tree or in the eaves of a building.
Earth Day: To help protect the Earth, you should practice the 3 Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. In this activity, old brown bags are recycled into an art project!
Chemistry: When you combine the glue and water in this activity, you make a solution. It is a solution because the glue and water are evenly combined and would be difficult to separate back out. The glue and water are both examples of liquids: they flow and take the shape of their container.
- Used paper bags or similar
- Washable glue
- Plastic wrap
- Small bowl or similar
- Shredder or scissors
For each nest, you will need about 2 cups of dry, shredded paper. Used grocery bags or lunch bags are a great source for brown paper -- but any paper will work. Put the paper in a shredder, or cut into thin strips with scissors.
To make the glue solution, combine equal parts washable glue and water. For each nest, you will need about 1/4 cup of the glue solution. Consider adding glitter to make the nests sparkly! Be sure to use washable glue, as this can be a messy activity, especially with very young scientists.
Place 1-2 large handfuls (about 1 1/2 cups) of paper into a bowl, reserving another 1/2 cup for later. Stir in enough of the glue solution to moisten most of the paper. It doesn't need to be soaking wet -- just wet enough to partially clump together. If the paper gets too wet, it will mash down and look more like papier mache; you want little bits of paper to stick out like dry twigs.
Place a piece of food wrap onto a plate. Scoop out the wet paper and form into a flat circle. Carefully pick up the plastic wrap and place onto an upside-down small bowl, with the plastic wrap down against the bowl and the wet paper up. Center and mold the paper around the bowl. This is messy; consider having a growup do this step for the littlest scientists. Set aside to dry. (If you are in a hurry, you can dry in the oven.)
Remove from the bowl. The plastic wrap should peel right off. Add another 1/2 cup of dry shredded paper to the nest, and then the eggs or bird of your choice! As a fun extension, consider making these marbled eggs.