Looking for a fun outdoor craft to do with your kids on a crisp, fall day? Try making some pinecone animals and critters. This is a fun, fast project for lots of family fun. Pinecone critters make for festive table décor, and, best of all, they make good use of all of the fallen pinecones in your yard. This craft is best done with older kids, ages 5 and up, as pinecones can be fragile, some of the supplies can be teeny tiny, and glue can be, well, very messy. Here’s what you need to get started.
- Super glue or other craft glue
- Scissors (preferably crafting scissors, but regular ones are fine, too)
- Felt strips
- Colorful popsicle sticks
- Glue-on googly eyes
- Pipe cleaners
- Colorful cotton balls
*Pinecones come in all shapes and sizes. If using natural pinecones from your backyard, consider their shape when determining what type of critter to make. Some pinecones are more brittle than others.
Since no two pinecones are alike and no two critter projects follow the same set of instructions, an exact step-by-step guide to making these nature pets doesn’t always work. So, rather, I’ll give you some tips that I picked up along the way that will help make your critter-building afternoon a success.
1. Take it Outside
This one gets a wee bit messy, folks. Before starting, set up a craft table outside, or cover an existing table with newspaper to protect it from the globs of glue that may drop throughout the course of the project.
2. Hold it in Place
The thing about pinecones is that they wobble and roll and, well, move. Try using a clamp to hold the pinecone into place. If using a natural (more brittle) pinecone, try placing it in or on kitchen tongs to hold it in place. You may consider creating the critter “face” separately before then gluing the entire thing onto the pinecone “body,” which will reduce the amount of wobbles you have to deal with.
3. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Tiny parts. Clumsy hands. Glue. What can go wrong? If you find you or your kids getting frustrated in the middle of the project, take a step back. Go grab a snack. Revisit the pictures of the real-life animals to see what details you can add. A new perspective can give you the energy you need to power through the rest of the project, and to keep the fun levels super high.
4. Regardless of Looks, Love Your Critter Forever
Listen, we’re not all Picassos, and that’s okay. But be proud of your final critter creation. Take a look at these little guys. I may have stapled on the sheep’s ears—I plead the fifth—and the turkey’s head might be lopsided, but I do love these critters. They’re unique—just like each one of us—and that’s what makes them special. So proudly display your critters around your house to remind yourself of the fun you and your kids had that fall afternoon with some pinecones and a few art supplies.
5. Get Inspired
For this project, we made a sheep, a hedgehog, and a turkey, but there’s no limit as to what types of critters you can make. Use images of real-life animals as your inspiration—or simply go on a hike in your neighborhood woods or park and observe animals in their natural habitat. Owls, mice, and squirrels all make for great pinecone critters. Use the supplies list as a jumping off point. Depending on the type of critter you want to make, you may want to add to this list. Who knows? Maybe that pinecone owl really does need glittery feathers added to its body.