Black bat hanging upside down

Bats, owls, and mice, oh my! You can use plants, seeds, and other things you find outdoors to make some pretty cool creatures. Here are examples of a few.

Gather white and red pine cones, spruce cones, milkweed pods, maple seeds, acorns, straw, pine needles, miscellaneous dried plant parts, craft wire, fishing line or thread, a wire cutters, scissors and or knife, and a hot glue gun with glue. Collect the natural materials from your yard or get permission from your neighbors to collect them from their yard.

Finished milkweed pod mouse.

You can start by making a milkweed pod mouse. Take a milkweed pod that has a nice stem. The stem will be the mouse's tail. Now, take two pine cone scales and using a scissors, cut the round ends off for your mouse’s ears. Add the ears about an inch back from the mouse’s nose. (Look at the picture to get an idea of what your mouse will look like.) Using a hot glue gun, carefully, add each ear, making sure to put the glue on the cut end of the scale.

Cut some of your broom straw (pine needles will also work) into six one-inch pieces. Put a dab of glue on one side of the nose about ½ inch from the end, and stick three of the pieces in the glue. Fan them out and hold them in place for at least 30 seconds. Do the same for the other side. Your mouse has whiskers. If you want eyes, glue a small seed on either side of the nose between the ears and the whiskers.

Finished spruce pine cone and milkweed pod bat.

Now that you've perfected the milkweed mouse, give a bat a try! Start by selecting a large spruce cone and two milkweed pods of similar size. Use your hot glue gun to glue each opened milkweed pod on the sides of the cone. The milkweed pods become the wings and the spruce cone is the body of your bat. Now, take two pine cone scales and using a scissors, cut the round ends off for your bat’s ears, just like you did for the mouse. Glue these ears on the “stem” end of the cone about 1 inch from the end. And that's a bat.

Another cool critter creation

To hang your bat, use fishing line or thread. Tie or glue the fishing line to the middle of the cone making sure you find the balancing point that will keep your bat upright. You may have to work at it to find just the right spot. When you’re finished you can hang it in your room or on some spot outdoors.

What other creatures can you come up with? How about an owl? Put your imagination to work and see what you can create. Have fun!