How to Make a Pinecone Robin

This sweet pinecone robin makes a lovely, forest school inspired Christmas decoration, and is easy enough for even very small children to make. This Christmas nature activity is pefect for a forest school session, or for some home crafting after a winter walk.

a pinecone painted to look like a robin, with a feather for a tail.

Not got much time or just want the bullet points on how to make these? Click here for the Quick Read Instructions.

How to make a robin from a pinecone

Whether you’re looking for Christmas forest school activities or Christmas nature crafts to do with the kids, this cute little pinecone robin is wonderfully easy to make. Making this pinecone robin at home, my children and I used Christmassy kitchen spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and allspice to make embellishments. So our robins not only looked good, they also smelled lovely too!

When I’ve done this as a Christmas forest school craft, the children have had great fun finding suitable materials to use to decorate their robins. Torn yellow leaves make great beaks, and there are all sorts of bits that can be used as eyes.

boy making a christmas robin decoration by painting a pinecone
Girl holding a homemade pinecone robin Christmas decoration, made at a forest school session.

As the pinecones in our area have often dropped long before Christmas, I usually provide a big bag of these for the children to use. So having something else to hunt for is a great way of keeping them active and engaged with their surroundings.

Materials needed to make a pinecone robin

materials needed to make a pinecone robin

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  • Pinecone
  • Red paint
  • PVA/white glue
  • Kitchen spices or bits of twigs and leaves
  • String
pinecones, feathers, paint, and spices for making a pinecone robin decoration.

Pinecone Robin Instructions

1. Start by tying some string around your pinecone, so that it hangs sideways (as shown).

tying string around a pinecone to make a pinecone robin decoration

2. Paint the flat bottom of the pinecone with red paint, to create the robin’s red breast. Look at a picture of a robin to see what this should look like – notice that the red goes all the way up to the robin’s eyes and beak, as well as on their chest.

You should therefore only paint about two thirds of the base red. Leave the top brown.

painting a pinecone to make a robin decoration.

3. Add eyes and a beak. Robins have small, beady, black eyes, so I used peppercorns for my kitchen spice version, and a bit of a cinnamon stick for the beak. When we made these out in the woods during a forest school session, the children foraged for bits of twig, bark, leaves, or seeds instead.

Adding eyes and beak made of spices onto pinecone robin craft

4. Dip the tip of your feather into some white (PVA) glue. Then insert this tip into the pointy end of the pinecone (what was the top). This makes a lovely tail, though you might need to trim it down a little if the feather is too long.

Adding a feather tail to a pinecone to make a robin pinecone Christmas decoration.

And that’s it! Your robin is finished. Now hang it somewhere to dry, and then you can use it as a beautiful little Christmas decoration. You can also make other birds in the same way – just use different colour paint and feathers to capture their colouring.

Making pinecone robins - forest school Christmas craft activity

Robin themed picture books

After doing an activity like this, sometimes we’ll read a story that ties in with what we were doing. There are lots of fabulous robin story books, but these are my favourites.

Little Robin Red Vest by Jan Fearnley

This lovely picture book is the perfect robin story for the festive season. It’s the sweet story of a robin who gives away all his winter vests to a succession of needy animals, only to be rewarded with a brand new vest made for him by a very special couple…

This edition has new illustrations – I quite liked the old ones (the book is over twenty years old) but this new version is charming as well.

Robin’s Winter Song by Suzanne Barton

You can of course make pinecone robins at any time of year. This picture book is focused on the coming of winter rather than the festive season, so it makes a great alternative when you don’t want it to be all about Christmas.

Coming Home by Michael Morpurgo & Kelly Hyndman

The king of animal stories to tug at your heartstrings, Michael Morpurgo has of course got a robin book. Coming Home follows the return of a robin on a long and dangerous journey to meet up with his mate. While there is a slight hint of Christmas, this one is really about the amazing migration of robins (only some migrate – others are resident here in the UK all year round).

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (MinaLima edition)

Lastly, and mostly because it was one of my favourite stories growing up. Who could forget the cheeky little robin that helps Mary discover the key to The Secret Garden? This lovely edition is by MinaLima, the award-winning design studio responsible for the graphic design in the Harry Potter films. Full of interactive elements and wonderful illustrations that capture the magic of the story beautifully. Of course, this is a full-length chapter book…

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Nosy Crow picture book)

…Luckily there’s an equally beautiful picture book version adapted by Geraldine McCaughrean and illustrated by Margarita Kukhtina. This is a great introduction to the story for younger readers.

A page from The Secret Garden - MinaLima illustrated edition, showing the robin who found the key to the garden
MinaLima’s robin illustration from The Secret Garden. Turn him over to see what he has found…

More children’s Christmas activities from Rhubarb and Wren

Looking for more fun things to make and do with the kids? Check out these great Christmas activities from Rhubarb and Wren!

DIY clay star ornaments

Pin this pinecone robin tutorial for later!

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Pinecone robin Christmas decoration made in forest school.
A handmade pinecone robin and a copy of Jan Fearnley's book, Little Robin Red Vest.
Three pinecone robins made as a children's Christmas craft, at a forest school session

How to Make a Pinecone Robin – Quick-Read Instructions

Materials needed: 
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Red paint
PVA/white glue
Kitchen spices or bits of twigs and leaves

1. Tie string around the pinecone so that it hangs horizontally.
2. Paint roughly two thirds of the flat end (the base) with red paint, to make the robin’s red breast. Leave the top third brown.
3. Add eyes and a triangle for a beak by gluing on either kitchen spices or bits of leaves and twigs.
4. Dip the tip of a brown feather in white glue, then insert at the pointy end of the pinecone, to make a tail.
5. Hang your robin up to dry – you’re done!

Hints and Tips:
Use different colours to make different birds.
Pinecones come in lots of shapes and sizes so use ones that are most appropriate to the bird you want to make.

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