The posts for the Mini Maker's Guide to Summer Fun have all been so awesome! I can't wait to try all of the rad ideas! (You can find them all here.) My contribution to this fab line up is a DIY Bug Hotel.
This is a great way to create a home for beneficial insects and an excuse to use power tools (although I offer ideas if you'd rather skip that bit). It gets the kids outside, not just to gather the materials and make the craft, but to check in and observe the inhabitants! We have only had it in place for a week and it's already become my go-to suggestion if I want to encourage the boys to play outside. "Why don't you check on the bug hotel?" does the trick every time.
The simplest version of this project can be completed with a cinder block stuffed full of things you likely already have lying around the garden. But if you're feeling ambitious, you can bust out the power tools and take the making to the next level. If you are comfortable using a drill and you have school-aged children I encourage you to let them help with this. Kids feel empowered and have so much fun using real tools. Of course it's important to provide instruction and supervision, but the long summer days are the perfect time to dive into a power tool project.
First you'll want to gather supplies, we didn't go any further than our neighbor's yard to find what we needed. Straw, small sticks, bark, logs, pine cones, and pieces of bamboo all make great filling for bug accommodations.
If you like you can simply gather these supplies and stuff them into the holes of a cinder block, a section of large diameter pipe, or even an old garden pot. But if you want to make a deluxe hotel you'll first need to make a box! We used some plywood scraps that we had around to create ours. Use self-driving screws (or good old hammer and nails) to put it together. To help our box survive the elements we gave the outside a nice coat of exterior paint.
Next you'll want to prep your logs, first by cutting them to the width of your box, then by drilling holes in them. If you are hoping to create a home for native mason bees use a 5/16" drill bit. The trick to drilling these holes safely is to hold the log firmly between your feet and apply gentle even pressure with the drill. Jude got the hang of it right away!
Now comes the part that every one can get in on: filling your box with stuff! I used twine to create bundles out of the straw and bamboo but otherwise we just kept shoving stuff in until is was full.
Once you're finished with the filling it's ready to be installed in the garden! We set ours on an old outdoor side table so that the kids could easily observe it. Hanging it would be another great option. If you don't have one near by, be sure to provide a water source. Ours is just a plastic platter filled with a few stones and an inch or so of water.
Then just sit back and wait for your guests to arrive.
Your garden and your kids are sure to be very happy!
Here's hoping your summer is extra fabulous! You and your mini makers are sure to have lots of fun new ideas to try! Remember, we will be using the hashtag #makingsummerfun all summer long, please join in when you make something! I'd love to see what inspired you and I'm sure you've got your own great ideas to share!