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Fairy Houses: A link to Children and Nature through imagination.

Updated on June 5, 2014

Fairy Houses

Fairy Houses are popular throughout Maine and the children.
Fairy Houses are popular throughout Maine and the children. | Source

Fairy Houses

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. (http://aswm.org/wordpress/strange-wetlands-what-is-a-fairy-house/) .

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

I go on a lot of walks and collect material along the way. Like this birch bark
I go on a lot of walks and collect material along the way. Like this birch bark | Source
I have a lot of woods, and a lot of material I can use. I only use dead material. Moss or lichen that fell off of trees for one. I never pick stuff off of trees or kill plants.
I have a lot of woods, and a lot of material I can use. I only use dead material. Moss or lichen that fell off of trees for one. I never pick stuff off of trees or kill plants. | Source
Keep in mind on your walk what you might want your house to be shaped like. Straight sides, curved sides, directly on the ground, in a tree...
Keep in mind on your walk what you might want your house to be shaped like. Straight sides, curved sides, directly on the ground, in a tree... | Source
"Old man's beard" is one of my favorite materials to work with. It just looks great. But like I said I will only use it if it fell to the ground.
"Old man's beard" is one of my favorite materials to work with. It just looks great. But like I said I will only use it if it fell to the ground. | Source
Now I have a good accumulation of material
Now I have a good accumulation of material | Source
Along my walk I keep an eye out for a good destination for the Fairy House. A place that looks inviting, secluded, and I can visit during my walks.
Along my walk I keep an eye out for a good destination for the Fairy House. A place that looks inviting, secluded, and I can visit during my walks. | Source

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.

Fairy House and Your Child

5 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Fairy House

Fairy House: building the frame

I set up a branch that will set the primary structure of the house.
I set up a branch that will set the primary structure of the house. | Source
A lot of the branches I found had a curve or bow to it so I am going with a more rounded frame
A lot of the branches I found had a curve or bow to it so I am going with a more rounded frame | Source
You can use twine to tie the sticks together but I just interlock them together by resting them in nooks.
You can use twine to tie the sticks together but I just interlock them together by resting them in nooks. | Source
Before I get to far with anything I determine where and how the doorway will look. I also decide if it will be an open doorway or will have a door.
Before I get to far with anything I determine where and how the doorway will look. I also decide if it will be an open doorway or will have a door. | Source
I will periodically walk around to make sure the sides are how I want them.
I will periodically walk around to make sure the sides are how I want them. | Source
I will Stick the stick in the ground then move the stick until it rest against another stick snugly or against the stump I'm building on.
I will Stick the stick in the ground then move the stick until it rest against another stick snugly or against the stump I'm building on. | Source
Once the primary sticks are in the ground you can set some stick on top of others by hooking them together.
Once the primary sticks are in the ground you can set some stick on top of others by hooking them together. | Source
You can keep adding sticks until you have completely built up the walls or you can stop with a completed frame and add bark walls or other material.
You can keep adding sticks until you have completely built up the walls or you can stop with a completed frame and add bark walls or other material. | Source

Fairy House: Interior Decor

I have a fair amount of old trees in my woods so I have a lot of old moss and lichen that grows on old dry wood. I collect the bits that fall on the ground.
I have a fair amount of old trees in my woods so I have a lot of old moss and lichen that grows on old dry wood. I collect the bits that fall on the ground. | Source
I pick a couple rocks that would make good furniture and a piece of bark that could be a bench or even a bed.
I pick a couple rocks that would make good furniture and a piece of bark that could be a bench or even a bed. | Source
I use the lichen as the floor of the house to give the fairy a nice comfy flooring. You can also use pine needles..or just the soil that is already there.
I use the lichen as the floor of the house to give the fairy a nice comfy flooring. You can also use pine needles..or just the soil that is already there. | Source
using the lichen levels out the floor too. I was building on a kind of slope. I also have removed the doorway for now since my hands are too big to get the material in.
using the lichen levels out the floor too. I was building on a kind of slope. I also have removed the doorway for now since my hands are too big to get the material in. | Source
I then place the rocks in and the bark bench. I put "old man's beard" lichen )the light green stringy lichen) in the corner for something really comfy to sit or lie in if the visitors want.
I then place the rocks in and the bark bench. I put "old man's beard" lichen )the light green stringy lichen) in the corner for something really comfy to sit or lie in if the visitors want. | Source
I found a nice flat piece of dried wood that would be great for a table and I topped it off with some Acorn caps for dishes.
I found a nice flat piece of dried wood that would be great for a table and I topped it off with some Acorn caps for dishes. | Source
I placed pine cones upside down in the moss to create chairs.
I placed pine cones upside down in the moss to create chairs. | Source

Fairy House: Bark Walls and Roof

I have a lot of different trees in our woods so I have my pick of bark that falls to the ground. I use birch because its easy to rip into pieces and is very flexible.
I have a lot of different trees in our woods so I have my pick of bark that falls to the ground. I use birch because its easy to rip into pieces and is very flexible. | Source
I tear up the bark into pieces and lightly weave it into the frame.
I tear up the bark into pieces and lightly weave it into the frame. | Source
I leave off openings that would make great windows and interlock the bark around.
I leave off openings that would make great windows and interlock the bark around. | Source
Don't worry if it collapses, just pick it up and replace it. you can tear a little groove in the bark if you want to also and then fit the peaces together.
Don't worry if it collapses, just pick it up and replace it. you can tear a little groove in the bark if you want to also and then fit the peaces together. | Source

Fairy House: Finished and ready

Now you have a nice house for visiting Fairy.
Now you have a nice house for visiting Fairy. | Source
A nice spot that they would be very happy to visit
A nice spot that they would be very happy to visit | Source
It blends in just enough that the fairy will not be bothered
It blends in just enough that the fairy will not be bothered | Source
There is plenty of room for fairy parties and if you wanted you could renovate and put a second floor or put up some shelving
There is plenty of room for fairy parties and if you wanted you could renovate and put a second floor or put up some shelving | Source

Fairy House

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    • ambeeeeer profile image

      ambeeeeer 2 years ago

      I love this one. It reminded me of my childhood. Back then, my cousins, my brother, my neighbors and I would build our little house using twigs, bamboo, banana leaves and coconut leaves, underneath a tree just like the one above. Fortunately, the tree where we built our little houses under was not cut unlike the one you have. We would kind of build it our own. Kids from other streets would be kind of like green with envy and they, too, would build their own little houses. We would also cook there. We would steal ingredients from our kitchen and get some vegetable in our backyard. We would also go to the seashore and get some clamps and we would also cook them, but they were not perfectly cook as well as not seasoned perfectly. Those childhood memories that are really worth remembering and treasuring. Oh my god, I love this hub.

      P.S. I really love watching fairy tales. And this one I really appreciate.

    • Karine Gordineer profile image

      Karine Gordineer 3 years ago from Upstate New York

      Awesome! I'll post this Friday!! I'll connect with you via FB and send you the link so you can see it too - I know my audience will LOVE your article!!

    • BrianPHussey profile image
      Author

      Brian Patrick Hussey 3 years ago from Durham, Maine

      Thank you Karine Gordineer, That would be great if you posted it! It is a lot of fun and I would love it if more families got into it!

    • Karine Gordineer profile image

      Karine Gordineer 3 years ago from Upstate New York

      Brian great hub!! Loved it!! I especially appreciate your emphasis on respecting the environment. So important. I would love to share the link for your hub on my facebook page. I post every Friday on green living topics and environmental news and I think parents would love to see this - something they can do with their children during the rest of summer. The photos are really great too - loved the step by step aspect - very helpful. Voted up!!

    • juneaukid profile image

      Richard Francis Fleck 3 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      Thank you for this fascinating hub--it opens up a new world!