With warmer weather right around the corner (hopefully!), my kids have been playing outside more. As the snow has melted away in our yard, they have begun yet another season of building fairy houses. Collecting natural things all over the yard and creating elaborate domiciles for tiny woodland fairies and their friends is a favorite pastime for my family. We have built ones in the woods, at the beach and even adjacent to my sister’s Boston city apartment.
According to The Compleat Wetlander, fairy houses are, “a 100+ year tradition in Maine, especially along the coast and on the islands, when many island communities had working farms. Traveling schoolteachers brought folk tales involving fairies that inspired islanders—children and adults alike—to build gnome homes to attract fairies in order to watch over the livestock and children during Maine winters. A fairy house traditionally included a tiny altar with a small offering, such as a coin, to pay the fairies to help the farmers…” For the budding architect to the dreamy romantic, building a fairy house can be a wonderful activity for any number of children. Here is what you need to get building!
- Fairy Houses (The Fairy Houses Series) written & illustrated by Tracy Kane
• The Series has popularized this wonderful outdoor activity that originally started on islands off the coast of New England.
• It introduce the concept of fairy houses with your family by reading these books together- get inspired!
- Talk about what kinds of fairies live where you are planning to build your house
• What do they do? What do they like? What would attract them to your house?
• Legend says that fairies will come and live in a house they like.
- Make a plan
• Brainstorm ideas you would like to incorporate into the house
• Try not to put down anyone’s ideas or tell them that making something like a four story house with a working elevator is impossible.
- Search and collect
• Have everyone scour your yard for materials to construct and decorate your fairy house.
• One of the rules of fairy-house bulding is that you cannot destroy anything living to add to our fairy house.
• Good materials for building might be leaves, twigs, pinecones, stones, feathers, dropped flower petals, acorns, seashells, etc.
- Start building!
• This is where the fun and creativity really begins.
• Think about those fairies and start to build a place you think they would like to come and visit.
• We often start ours at the base of a large tree to offer some stability.
• Stick walls, bark roofs, stone pathways and acorn chairs- the ideas are limitless!
- Try to focus on the process, not just the product
• One of the real treasure of building fairy houses is that your children are out enjoying nature and having good, old-fashioned, imaginative and creative play.
• Help them learn to enjoy the process of making their house.
• Giggle over the cute bunk beds they made and marvel over the way they used a feather to look like smoke coming out of the chimney.
• Compliment them when they work as a team or if they refuse to give up as they build their elaborate walkway.
- Share your masterpiece
• Find someone who has not helped you build and give them a “tour” of your fairy house.
• Kids are so excited to share what they have worked on.
• I love to hear the enthusiasm in their voices as they explain what each and every piece of the house is designed to do- such pride!
- Get inspired to make more
• WARNING: Building fairy houses can be addicting! Once my family starts, they want to keep building. We even keep a bag in our hiking backpack to store things we see during hikes that would be perfect additions to our next fairy house.
- Visit other fairy houses
• Do some research in your local community to see if other people are building fairy house in a central location.
• In Maine, we are fortunate to have the Maine Fairy House Festival at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay Harbor.
• We also have Mackworth Island, a magical village of fairy houses with room for you to build your own.
Have you or your family ever built a fairy house? What materials did you use? We’d love to see your fairy house! Post an image in the comments below or pop over to ListPlanIt’s Facebook page and post a picture of one of your fairy houses!
i love this i alredy made a fairy garden now i will make a fairy garden!!!
wow i cant write all this down but i am so amused fairy houses are so addicting
In Maine, there are over 60 islands with active “fairy house” villages tended by children and adults alike. Monhegan is most famously known for its Cathedral Forest (and the 50-year controversy on whether to ban fairy houses–still ongoing among island officials) but islands like Squirrel Island (Boothbay Harbor) and Bear Island (Buckminster Fuller’s island, where he built the famous geodome) in the Penobscot Bay, as well as several of the less-inhabited Cranberry Isles (e.g. Baker) have fairy houses. The real trick is to build anonymously–without signage attributing the builder (“Katie’s fairy house, 2005) so that it really leaves it to the imagination of the one who finds it. –Maine’s fairy house expert. http://aswm.org/wordpress/strange-wetlands-what-is-a-fairy-house/
Hi! I included this post in this weeks from my reader round-up. Loved the post and thought it would be super useful to my friends and readers. Yay, I included two of your posts! Love, love your blog!