Nature Art

Nature Art

I suppose it’s a bit of a swing to go from Halloween projects to something completely different … or is it?

Today I wanted to highlight the glory of Nature Art.  Or, in general, making art with things found in nature.

These pictures are from a couple years ago but we have done this project many times.

Basic supplies you’ll need:

  • paper
  • pencil
  • glue
  • leaves, flowers, sticks, grass, feathers, tiny stones, etc.

Nature Art 2

I like doing this project on plain white printer paper because the things we collect really pop against the bright background, but it can easily be done on any color construction paper.

We don’t have the giant colorful leaves that you find up north, but this craft is really about exploring your own space and using what you have where you are.

Though I may point out a few suggestions, I let my kids pick whatever they find inspiring.

We also use it as a learning experience to look up a plant when we’re not sure what it is.

Nature Art 3

You can draw something very specific, like a house or tree, and recreate those items with the things you’ve collected, or you can go more abstract.

This particular day, my daughter was making random patterns.

This was her favorite finished piece:

Nature Art

And, like I said, what’s so great about this is allowing kids the creative space to explore their local environment and then utilize simple supplies to create anything they can imagine, all while experimenting on how things fit together.

It’s a great way to spend an afternoon, especially since we’re finally heading into autumn, and we’re still not able to socialize like we used to.  This year has had us doing a lot of stuff at home – so we try to add in art where ever we can!

More outdoor ideas to try:

Birdseed Christmas Ornaments 1

Birdseed Ornaments 

Power Word Hopscotch

Sight Word Hopscotch

How to Make Pom Pom Acrons 1

Pom Pom Acorns

Painting with Chalk 1

Painting with Chalk

Happy Crafting and Creating :)

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Power Word Hopscotch

Power Word Hopscotch

We recently did some Power Words Hopscotch to help my daughter practice her vocabulary.

I drew a hopscotch board on the driveway in chalk and filled it with some of her Power Words (also known as Sight Words).  Most of the words were ones she kept missing, but I also threw in some she knew well as encouragement.

One of the reasons we did a game like this – with her calling out each word as she jumped to it – was because she’s supposed to know these words on sight instead of having to sound them out each time.

And my daughter is always in a hurry, always rushing through her reading, so she often doesn’t take the time to sound things out anyway.  She just guesses.  One of the most important things in the world to me is that reading is fun for my kids, so instead of sitting her down and having her get frustrated and upset at herself, I’ve been trying to incorporate more learning activities that include movement and laughter.

Because for as much as I read to her every day, and as much as she would ask me to read to her, she wasn’t in a hurry to learn herself.  To keep up with her classmates, though, she needs to practice.  So we’ve been playing “games” instead of just sitting in a chair and going over flashcards again and again.  ‘Cause that’s even boring for mommy….

This one was a suggestion from her teacher and it worked out really well.  The chalk lasted for days (it didn’t rain) and every day for a week she would ask to go out and play hopscotch, including each time we were getting in and out of the car for school.

Plus, she called out the words for her younger sister, so they could both play.  Extra practice for the big sis, and a heartwarming moment thrown in for good measure.  :)

Power Word Hopscotch

I also love this concept of hopscotch for learning because of the versatility.

You could use this for other vocabulary words, of course, but also for just letters for the younger crowd.  For example, if you’re working on some Alphabet Activities with your preschoolers, you could practice your alphabet by putting letters instead of the traditional numbers inside the squares.

How do you practice vocab with your kids?

Happy learning!

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Painting With Chalk

Painting with Chalk

A bit of a warm streak hit us here in Florida while most of the rest of the country was freezing.  It’s a strange December when it’s 80 degrees outside.

Anyway, it does mean we’ve been spending plenty of time outdoors.  In shorts, too, but that’s not the point.

One of the things I showed my girls today was that chalk wasn’t just great for drawing – it was great for “painting,” too.

This is a method of drawing where you simply dip your chalk into a cup of water before drawing with it.  (Kind of like watercolor pencils.)

I let the chalk soak for a few seconds before drawing, and I repeatedly dipped it back into the water while drawing.  The wetter it was, the smoother the finished product.

Painting with Chalk

You can see that I made some different shapes to show my girls how the colors would look when the chalk was wet.  It was brilliant against the brick and smooth to the touch. My oldest daughter liked to blend the colors.

You could, obviously, also do this on concrete, but we have brick in the backyard.  Whatever surface you usually use for chalk drawings should work.

We also used the blocks from the chalkboard storage box and blocks set I made.

And my girls also drew all over themselves with the wet chalk.  My 21-month-old especially.  She covered her legs in the wet chalk, and thought it was hysterical.  Luckily, one of the reasons I love chalk so much is it’s very, very easy to wash off.

Have you tried this?  I’d love to know if your kids enjoyed it, too!

Our Colorful Backyard: Color Matching Activity for Kids

Our Colorful Backyard:  Color Matching Activity for Kids

Today we spent some time exploring the colors in our backyard.

A bit of a colorful treasure hunt, really.

We collected items in various colors and placed them in matching paper boxes.  We gathered leaves, grass, flowers, mulch, moss, and rocks.  But the photos don’t even show everything we found, because we got distracted by a friendly ladybug, and when we went back out to get more flowers, I forgot my camera.  :)

Either way, here are some of the things we found:

Our Colorful Backyard:  Color Matching Activity for Kids

All of these boxes were made from construction paper and tape.

I picked out construction paper in brown, orange, green, purple, red, and white.  Then I took my scissors and cut a slit in towards the center at each corner.  Then I folded up the sides, wrapping the edges of the short ends on the outside of the long ends, and taping them together.

Kinda like this:

colorful backyard buckets

It’s not sturdy for long-term play, or to hold heavy items, but it worked perfectly for this activity.

Our Colorful Backyard:  Color Matching Activity for Kids

And here is our little ladybug friend, hanging out on my daughter’s fingers:

Our Colorful Backyard:  Color Matching Activity for Kids

You can still do this color identifying activity even if you don’t have a backyard.  Bring the paper buckets to the park instead, or use heavy-duty beach buckets in different colors to collect toys around the house.  Or just wrap some pieces of colored construction paper around existing buckets.

Not crafty at all?  Just lay the construction paper on the ground (on a non-windy day) and let your kids place their collections right on top of the paper in piles.

Either way, the point is to have fun exploring the backyard (garden/park/etc) and not fussing about the container in which they’ll collect their treasures.  :)

More Dirt Soup

dirt soup

I love the fall.

And now that it’s November, fall seems to have finally reached Florida.  (Most days.)

So we’re spending a lot more time outdoors, which is a great boon to my outdoorsy kids.

As I’ve mentioned previously, in Dirt Soup: In Contact With Creation, my girls love digging in the dirt and mixing various things with water, all while explaining, in great detail, the flavors of their soup-like creations.

Today was a nice day.  It called for soup.

And, above, you see a quick snapshot of my daughter in her fort (spaceship), next to her soupy creation and some gigantic rocks from the garden that were gifts we were bringing home from China.

Which is also why, incidentally, I usually let her tell me what we’re doing.  Her imagination astounds me.  Reminds me of how boring adults can be.

Dirt Soup: In Contact With Creation

interacting with nature

When I was pregnant the first time, I began to read about Maria Montessori.  I not only liked, I loved her ideas.  All of her explanations made perfect sense to me.

One quote:

“It is necessary for his psychical development to place the soul of the child in contact with creation, in order that he may lay up for himself treasure from the directly educating forces of living nature.” Maria Montessori

She suggested that children explore and interact with nature every day.

Luckily for my girls, Grandma has a fairly large backyard filled with endless wonderment.  They love playing there, and are always asking to go outside, no matter the weather – or the time of day.

Here you can see them involved in one of the favorite activities:  making “soup.”

The little one pretty much copies whatever her older sister does these days, and that would regularly include making soup out of dirt and water in Grandma’s empty flower pots.  This also involves the collection of leaves, small sticks, seeds, acorns, and flowers from the surrounding plants, and finding a large stick to stir it with.

The eldest sprinkles dirt over the top like a connoisseur seasoning their masterpiece.

I never tire of watching them play and discover and experiment in this fashion.  And they never tire of doing it.  They’ll replicate these activities anywhere from the park to the beach, varying them depending on the available materials.

We talk about the colors and textures of everything, and they like to describe what they’re doing and what their soup will “taste” like when it’s done.

But I think the most important part is just letting the kids roam freely in nature, wherever that may be.

They learn so much more on their own, in nature, than I could ever teach them from the inside of a stuffy classroom.

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