We love our Earth! In this fast-paced world, though, it's sometimes hard to slow down and take time to teach children to appreciate nature and all it has to offer. In honor of Earth Day on April 22, we're providing you some quick and easy ways to incorporate a little bit of nature into craft projects you can do with your own little sprouts.
For all of these crafty ideas, we suggest you take a nature walk first to not only find your supplies, but to breathe in the fresh air and notice the little things around you—bugs, sunshine, plants, birds and trees. So throw on your "ok-to-get-muddy" shoes and take a hike. Along the way, pick up sticks, feathers, flowers and leaves. We'll put them to use when you get home.
After a little color has come into you and your child's cheeks, take your treasures and let's find ways to preserve them so your child can have a nice keepsake of your walk and time together. Settle down into a comfortable place for kids to do these activities. Obviously, these kid-size table and chair sets would work perfectly.
These brilliant bits of foliage are truly art themselves. Yet, there are ways to preserve their beauty and make a lasting impression.
- Use paint to color each veiny detail. Then turn over and press the leaf onto paper to get a gorgeous imprint. Experiment with vibrant colors to give your picture a magical quality. Utilize lots of styles and sizes and arrange the imprints into an abstract piece of artwork. Note: Switch out the leaves for feathers and use the same technique. Notice the subtle differences.
- Take some of your favorite leaves and keep them to display year-round in your home. We love this idea of making coasters from "Confessions of a Homeschooler." Obtain some plain tiles and some Mod Podge and get to work. After a week of pressing leaves into a book to get them flat, arrange them onto a Mod Podged tile and brush away, layer after layer. Let dry, add some felt to the bottom and grab a drink to put it to use!
After your kids tire of pretend sword fighting, grab those "weapons" (ahem…sticks) and turn them into something useful.
- Arrange sticks along with rice or beans, or really any other non-perishable that'll make a cool sound when shaken or turned, in a water bottle and make your very own homemade sensory toy. This cool mom makes hers look very professional, but any empty clear bottle should do. Experiment with other items you have around the house. Add glitter and water to make it colorful and more of an optical excitement rather than auditory.
- Break some twigs into small pieces and tie the ends together with twine to make a square or rectangular border for any special photo. You know you can always use another frame.
- This last idea really lets your kids express their creativity. Pour out your jar of on-hand art supplies—yarn, googly eyes, pom-poms, feathers, pipe cleaners—hand them a bottle of glue, and let them get to work making the cutest stick toys, wands, or whatever they want to call it. Here's some starters if you need help. Flowers.
As a parent, you probably receive lots of hand-picked wildflower bouquets. Although you usually just toss them after a day (it's ok; we do the same), why not let your child make a memory out of them?
- If you really love books, like we do, then this project is a novel idea. Using self-seal laminating sheets, cut out two matching strips, then press your dried and flattened flowers into a sticky side. Lay the other sticky side on top and seal together. Hole punch an opening at the top and add a pretty ribbon to easily spot your place in a book.
- This last inspired idea might need more parental involvement, depending on the age of your children. Take your best blooms and arrange into pre-drawn circles on contact paper. Seal in with another layer of contact paper, then cut out and fit inside mason jar rings. Tie a string around the rings and then arrange them on a stick and hang outside as a sun catcher/wind chime. Find more detail here.
It's nice to not only spend some time with your littles, but by bringing some of the outside in, you blend nature with nurture and hopefully instill a sense of admiration for the wondrous world we live in.