Sunday, 13 September 2015

Kid's Nature Activity // Dwarf House Building

My siblings and I used to spend hours in the woods gathering the right natural objects to create miniature homes for the dwarfs, fairies and other magical creatures we were convinced lived in our local forest. Even when we were probably too old to believe any longer, you'd still find us collecting and building- old habits are hard to break, I suppose. Luckily, I have children now so making these tiny bits of magic are totally acceptable from me again :)

While building fairy houses has always been a favourite pastime of mine, this particular setup was inspired by our recent trip to Sandwich, Massachusetts's Heritage Museums and Gardens. In Heritage's incredible Hidden Hollow, we discovered a couple of basins that were filled with rocks, sticks, and leaves.The items were separated into groups and labeled, creating an inviting area for visitors to make their own miniature homes. 

For our own version of this activity,  we started with building a collection of natural items by foraging in my auntie's yard. She lives in Pascoag, Rhode Island and her yard is surrounded by woods. Greeted by 6 wild turkeys, who were kind enough to scatter some of their feathers for us, we knew we were at the right hunting place! We gathered bark covered in moss, flowers like Goldenrod, California Everlasting and Black Eyed Susans. There was Thistle, vines of wild grapes, stones and loads of acorns, nuts and other seeds. The gathering took us about 45 minutes, but we could have easily spent an entire morning scouring the grounds and identifying our finds. 

Adding a wild turkey feather to the collection 
The basket was overflowing with our discoveries
Once we had our collection, we placed the items into groups. I then labeled some old book pages with their names and taped the paper to sticks that stuck out of the ground. Labels were:

Filling different sized vessels or utilizing the ground in front of the label, items were placed in their respective piles, in an attempt to create some order from the chaotic basket collection.  Once our labels were in place, we had an area that would encourage visitors to use their imagination with the combinations of building possibilities! 

We then set out to carefully build the dwarf homes. 

A tepee base of sticks served as the building's foundation
Pinecone pillars flank the entrance
Closeup of the moss, rock, feather, sticks and ivy that created the apex
House 2 included a garden and wood chip steps in the yard.

Can you spot House 1 in the background on the left?
Acorn hats and pieces of nut shells served as bowls and plates
A dwarf takes cover under an umbrella sprig of Queen Anne's Lace
Grapes, mushrooms and Goldenrod were growing in the garden
A woodchip pathway led to the doorway of the house
My daughter placed Snow White indoors to protect her from the bugs

My sister found this amazing vintage Snow White & the 7 Dwarfs set at a yard sale a few months ago. How adorable are these figures, especially for this activity?!?! I love the little tools that the dwarfs came with- perfect for a day of working hard in their little garden. 

We immensely enjoyed this activity from start to finish. From foraging our parts, to building the homes, to playing with our creations, it was a great way to entertain ourselves on a casual summer day especially because we could take nice, long breaks from the heat and come back to the next step as needed.

Dwarf and fairy house building is such a fantastic way to use those imaginations! We'll certainly have plenty more of these magical little homes to show you again. Stay tuned! 


  1. Erin this is fantastic! The pictures say it all! Love the imagination of it all!

    1. Thank you!!! Harry & I are working on another one, every morning before school we add a little more!

  2. Love love love this reading. What a great way to use Mother Nature. Hugs and kisses to all.

    1. Thank you so much! We were so lucky to find such great stuff in your awesome yard!!!

  3. Love this adventure. You are great at this loves an hugs


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