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Learn About Animal Nests and Build Your Own

Step outside into your garden, street, or park, and take a good look around you. Everywhere you look, nature is busy: Plants are growing, flowering, making seeds. Animals are eating, building, hunting, scavenging.

Take a few minutes to observe some of the animals’ activities. What creatures do we share our community with, and what are they up to?

Look for Real Nests

Visit a mature tree. Look for nests or leaf piles up high in the trees’ branches. Can you spot holes in the tree trunk? What animal homes can you find?

Animals are constantly at work—searching for food and building their homes. Often they are doing both! What kinds of building materials do they use?

Animals are very creative in finding objects from their community to build homes with. Sometimes they include human-made stuff like paper, plastic, or fabric. Can you spot nest materials that aren’t natural?

Go on a neighborhood scavenger hunt to gather some of nature’s treasures. There are lots of things to collect if you look carefully!

Use this list as inspiration:

  • acorn
  • small rock
  • fruit
  • green leaf
  • bark
  • feather
  • twigs
  • nut
  • grass
How many things did you find?

Make a Nest of Your Own

an illustration of a next made of manmade materials
Illustration by Sam Tomasello.

You can create an animal home yourself using the materials you collected. If you have lots of long, bendable pieces (grass, leaves, branches), try weaving them together to make a nest. You can include human-made materials, too!

If you have lots of loose objects, find a small box to arrange them in. If you like, use pine sap, mud, or glue to hold your treasures in place in your box.

illustration showing a box with nature objects
Illustration by Sam Tomasello.

Imagine who might live in your nest, and how they would use it! While you are assembling your nest, pretend to be the animal living there.

Human Nests

Take a look around your home. Is it built with some natural materials? Do you have decorations, furniture, or other objects inside your home that come from nature? (Hint: Look at what these items are made of.) What other natural treasures can you find in your home nest?

Help foster a sense of delight and curiosity about plants and connect children with the natural world with gardening projects created by Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s education team. This project is one in a series. Stay tuned for more!

This project originally appeared in Gardening With Children (Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 2007).

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