Mini treehouses are a fun summer project

Kids are home for the summer, camps are in full swing and parents and instructors are embracing as many inventive things as they can to keep their youngsters happy, busy and productively playful.

It's a challenge for which I wholeheartedly love to offer ideas. These tips are as much fun for the adults as they are for the kids, and they cost next to nothing. This project gives kids their very own imaginative outdoor destination.

Miniature tree house

Construct a small-scale primitive structure using scraps of salvaged wood materials. Build it the old-fashioned way using a handsaw, hammer and nails so the kids can be a part of things from the ground up. The house can be as simple as a three-sided structure with a base and roof. It doesn't have to be square since a little unevenness adds to the charm of such a project. Leave the backside open so that you have access to the room(s) and install it in the lower branches of a tree in your yard or use larger-diameter branches for posts to secure to the base of a tree. Be creative with your design, materials and embellishments. Add a porch, swinging doors, a second floor, markers and signage — make it your own.

Rustic residents and furnishings

Give your structure some personality by creating rustic residents to inhabit the joint. These nutty play people are my absolute favorite. They make me smile every time I look at them and I'm quite confident that you, too, will be smitten. They're made of wire, branches and pods or nuts.

You'll need branches that are anywhere from 1/4- to 1/2;-inch in diameter. Dry (but not brittle) branches are better than green branches to drill through. You'll also need various nuts and pods for heads, a pair of anvil pruners, 18- or 20-gauge steel wire, finish nails (1 inch to 11/4 inches in length), a drill with a one-sixteenth-inch drill bit, a small vise to secure branches as you drill and a pair of needle-nose pliers.

To make the body: Cut a 1/4-inch-diameter branch into a 21/2;-inch length.

Drill a hole, widthwise, about 1/2; inch from the bottom of your "body" so that you can run the wire through for the legs and drill another hole about ¾ inch from the top of the body for the arm wire. Be sure your holes are running the same direction at each end.

Cut four arm sections that are 1 inch long from a 1/4-inch-diameter branch.

Cut four leg sections out of your 1/4-inch-diameter branch that measure 11/2; inches long.

Cut a 6-inch length of steel wire for the arms and an 8-inch length of steel wire for the legs.

Take the 8-inch length of wire and pull through the hole toward the bottom of your body piece for the legs, leaving equal lengths of wire on each side of the body.

Place two leg pieces on each end of the wire; curl the end of the wire to secure. Repeat the procedure for the arms. Both the arms and legs will bend so your rustic residents can be positioned.

Drill a starter hole in the center of the top of your body to drive a small finish nail in place. Use a drop of wood glue when driving the nail into the branch.

Drill a hole in a pod or nut, add a drop of wood glue and secure over the nail. Embellish with hats or hair made out of other natural elements.

To furnish your house, use a combination of natural elements and recyclables. Challenge yourself and the kids to see what everyone can come up with for furniture and accessories. This task alone could go year-round with additions, seasonal changes and rearrangements.

Just remember to bring your rustic residents in when you're not using them because the squirrels and other critters like to munch on their heads.

Share This Story