Fairy Houses: A Link to Children and Nature Through Imagination.
Fairy houses have been particularly popular on Maine's Coast for centuries. Monhegan Island, Botanical Gardens in Boothbay and Mackworth Island being key areas to see and partake in Fairy House Building.
Boothbay's Botanical Gardens even has a Fairy house building event every year in August.
It is a wonderful way for children to get involved in nature, and keep their imagination juices pumping. They can go on walks and want to go back because they have a little house they need to check on. They will also be looking everywhere to see if they can find one already built and in use.
These little dwellings have gone all the way back to the early 1900s when traveling school teachers brought tales of folklore to the farm communities on the coast. Child and Adult alike would build these little structures to attract the little visitors to help protect them during the long winters.
This tradition of Fairy house building has brought out some books and a vast surplus of little dwellings. A couple of Key Authors are Maureen Heffernan and Barry and Tracy Kane and Liza Gardner Walsh. If you want some awesome ideas for your own Fairy house and great ways to go about building and finding materials for the house Their books are a must!
- fairy houses: of the maine coast by Maureen Heffernan
- Fairy Houses series by Barry and Tracy Kane
- Fairy House: Handbook by Liza Gardener Walsh
A Child's Imagination
Children have the most wonderful imagination. A mere sheet over a chair is the long lost city of Atlantis, or a pillow on the floor is the sinking ship of something or other in the sea of many monsters. Some may think that their imagination can get a bit too much, but how else do they become the great people later on in life.
I spent a lot of my time as a child in the woods, pretending that the world bellow the tall ferns was nothing short of the greatest adventure of my life. I would drag branches around building forts and playing with my brother against the millions of enemy hidden beyond the ferns, Not to mention the dragons, griffins and the occasional elf. I can almost remember the sounds of the creatures that would roam the forest as my brother an I played, almost convincing myself that it really did happen, and we did make a treaty with a nation of elves and made peace with the goblins.
As I got older I saw my little brother and sister going on the same adventures in the woods I remembered. I even gave them a map of some of the areas I had mapped out and who or what you would find.
Children all over have imagination. It is up to "Us" (the not children anymore) to nudge their dreams and reality towards the realms that will keep their life more fulfilled and lead to a more interesting adulthood. Children playing outside, in the woods or around the yard have a better adaptation of imagination then children who spend their time indoors playing games, where the imagination has already been developed for them.
Nature walk for material and Location
What to use, and not to use
Fairy Houses are homes to attract Fairy. Let your child imagine what would a fairy want their house made of. They would not want it made out of things you had to kill before using. A fairy would not cut down flowers to build their walls, or tear up a tree that was still alive. They would collect what was not being used anymore. Old trees have flakes of bark laying around. Branches fall to the earth and pine cones are scattered everywhere. They might find the occasional human item, like sea glass, but they don't use too much for fear of attracting too much attention to their home. They want it to blend in along with look amazing. There is plenty of inanimate objects to use that would please the fairy. They are natural recyclers. This is a great opportunity to help your child learn to help the environment and learn to reuse things. Have the child put themselves in the situation of the fairy. They want things to grow, They want a clean environment and they would not want to use something that another creature would need more.
I myself when I made my house I collected things from my walks. I found moss that grows on the branches of old dried trees and it had blown off during one of the storms. Continuing on my walk I found a good quantity of birch bark which is like paper and easily can be found shed hear and there near a birch cluster. I pretend as I walk what a fairy might collect along their travels. A nice rock weathered flat, would make a great piece of furniture, and help make a very welcome interior. I found some acorns and thought that they might like to use the caps as plates. I found a lot of places that would make a good location for the house and after my walk was able to find enough material for a spot I noticed towards the beginning of my collecting.
I find lots of stuff that would be really cool but I don't use because a fairy would not harm anything in nature. I did not pick any flowers, or disturb birds nests, or any moss growing on the trees. I left some cool looking pine cones in the tree because I had a rule of not "picking" anything, so the leaves on the trees were left alone too. I almost used some feathers I found but I decided that it would not go with what I was planning out so I left it for nature to do with it what normally occurs.