Pine cones are a both familiar and yet delightfully odd item with built-in appeal. And there are lots of things kids can do with a basket full of them on a rainy day if you just provide them a few ideas.
Pine Cone Critters. Start with largish pine cones and glue, then add pipe cleaners, buttons, beads, scraps of cloth, little wiggle eyes like used on dolls, anything and everything tiny you can get your hands on to create these little guys. Make giant ants, aliens with eye stalks, monsters, elephants, fish, whatever comes to mind.
Pine Cone Birds Feeder. Even the little ones can do this and enjoy watching the visitors who feed from it. Start with a large, open pine cone placed on a piece of wax paper. Tie a string to the top of the cone which you will use to hang it. Cover with a mixture of vegetable shortening, lard, or suet blended with two cups or so of oatmeal or corn meal straight from the box. Or, you can put spoonfuls of peanut butter all over the cone, inserting between the petals. When done, roll in a bed or bird seed, then hang it from a tree branch, preferably within sight of a window so you can watch the birds.
Pine Cone Door Wreath. You can start with a fall wreath of pine cones to usher in that season. This gives you a starting point for when Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas rolls around. Just add inexpensive holiday-specific ornaments like little ghosts, skulls, turkeys, and tree ornaments. For the basic wreath you need a grapevine wreath you can pick up at a craft store. Then use a glue gun to attach pine cones in ranks of two or three, all the way around the wreath. Let dry. Using wire-ribbed ribbon…orange and black for Halloween, red and green for Christmas, and begin wrapping around and around the wreath. For a Christmas wreath, attach a big wide bow at the top.
Pine Cone Tree. When Christmas rolls around, find the largest pine cone you can, one that will stand up on its own without too much trouble. Glue cotton balls around the base. They should help with stability and will look kind of like snow. Put dabs of glue at the tip of each petal, then sprinkle with glitter. String small red and green beads on dental floss, then string them around the tree. Glue a red bow on top.
Pine Cone Ornament. Very simple craft for Christmas. Glue a piece of wire on top for a hanger. Spray paint the cone and then roll in glitter matching in color. The more you have, the more consistent a look you get and the uniformity is very appealing.