Some kids might need an incentive to get outdoors and explore the environment around them. Even if they don’t, a little direction can encourage them to use their imaginations and show them ways to be creative and continue enjoying nature.
Leaf Collages: The next time they’re drawing a picture, suggest that at least part of it be put together from the leaves they can find in the yard. This is easiest in the autumn, but can be done anytime—try stocking up on some interesting shapes before winter. It can be an interesting change from crayons.
Rock Animals: If you and your kids haven’t already picked up a few stones with interesting shapes and sizes, try going on a few nature walks to find some, and to look for useful ones that would make good bodies, head, arms, and legs. Turtles are an easy start. Use some glue and model paint to put them together.
Seashell Koalas: If your goal is to make something cute, scallop or clam shells lend themselves to the face, ears, feet, and—as long as you can find a darker shell—the nose, and a larger shell will do for the body.
Nature Walk Bracelets: If your kids pick up some smaller bits and pieces in their travels, it’s simple to mount them on a piece of colored electrical tape, ribbon or fabric—even leather—with glue, clear masking tape, or cling film. With electrical tape, use the tacky side to attach the decorations before covering with cling film. Punch holes in the ends and attach string for ties rather than sewing it shut.
Homemade Terrarium: It’s easier for a child to care for a plant in an enclosed jar that doesn’t generally need watering. Start with gravel and a few centimetres of charcoal, then mix 2 parts potting soil, 2 parts peat, and 1 part builder’s sand, and you can include any small plant or shoot you or your kids want. Spray in plenty of water, then close it off.
Nature Dioramas: You and your kids can take any convenient small box, or pieces of cardboard, and glue together whatever twigs, leaves, grasses and rocks you can find to build a scene of almost any environment, whether it’s jungle, desert, grassland, or ocean. Add in some background or animal pictures from magazines as well. You can cut and stand up blue paper to make waves, or green for grass, gluing some of the grasses you’ve collected onto folded-up bits of the green paper. For beach or desert scenes, try gluing on just a light dusting of sand.
Seashell-Covered Flowerpots: Most good model glues, or hot glue, can attach shells to a normal flowerpot. You can use shells of the same size, colour and shape, use different kinds of shells to make patterns, or use whatever variation your kids want. It’s best to start at the top and work your way downward, making rows. The top row should extend just a little bit above the top of the pot. You’ll have something both pretty and useful.