Sunday, July 3, 2011

Nature-Inspired Crafts for Children

Whether you gather supplies in your neighborhood or at the crafts store, your kids will love bringing the outdoors inside with these easy natural crafts projects featuring supplies found in nature.

Rain Stick

This instrumental craft might not summon the rain, but the natural seeds inside the tube sound like a real thunderstorm when your child turns it from end to end.

Make It: Cut a piece of decorative cardstock or scrapbook paper 1/2 inch wider than the circumference of an empty paper towel roll and 1 inch taller than the roll. Measure across the inside of the roll to get the diameter. Cut a piece of boxboard or heavyweight cardstock 1/4 inch narrower than the diameter of the roll. Accordion-fold the boxboard and stuff it inside the roll.

Next, tape one side of the roll closed. Have your child scoop rice and popcorn seeds into the tube; tape the other end closed. Adhere the decorative paper to the outside of the roll, folding the paper over the ends. Adhere two circles of the same decorative paper to cover the ends of the roll. To finish, have your child choose pretty ribbons to tie on to an elastic band. Place the band around the tube and you're ready to play.

Twig Raft

Create a playtime raft that really floats with just a few natural twigs from your own backyard.

Make It: Have your kids search your backyard for twigs. Use outdoor trimmers to cut the twigs to the same size. Using jute or hemp cord, weave the ends of the twigs on both sides to tie them together. Attach a twig in an upright position for the mast. Cut a sail from colorful felt. Fold the felt in half, punch a hole in the middle, and slide it over the mast.

Bug-Collector Bottle

This creative craft doubles as a fun science project when it becomes an indoor habitat for your child's favorite insect friends.

Make It: Rinse a plastic bottle and let it dry. Draw a rectangle on one side of the bottle and cut it out with a knife. Cut wire screen to cover the opening (but don't attach it yet). Trim a colorful piece of foam to fit around the screen.

Let your child fill the bottle with sticks, rocks, and other objects to make a habitat for his bug collection. Use glue to attach the screen and frame over the opening. Twist off the lid to let the bugs into their new home.

Strawberry Necklace

Transform a natural walnut into a darling strawberry necklace that will dress up any outfit.

Make It: Paint a walnut red or pink and let it dry. Cut out a top for the strawberry from light green and dark green felt, as shown. Glue the felt pieces together; let dry. Fold the pieces in half and punch a hole in the middle. Unfold and glue to the top of the walnut, leaving the area around the holes free of glue. Thread a ribbon, chain, or piece of string through the holes to create a fashion-ready necklace.

Seed Art
Your kids can spend hours creating fun designs and interesting patterns with dyed pumpkin seeds and popcorn kernels. The artistic possibilities are endless.

Make It: To make dye, mix white vinegar, food coloring, and water (experiment with the amounts of each to suit your child's desired look). Place pumpkin seeds and popcorn kernels in the dye. Let them soak 4-6 hours before straining and drying overnight. Let your kids have fun sorting and organizing the seeds into imaginative shapes and gluing them onto paper, foam, or canvas. 

Shell Creatures

Made with real seashells, these imaginative characters have loads of personality. Your kids will adore coming up with fun storylines for these little guys to act out.

Make It: Hunt for seashells on your next trip to the beach, or purchase them at a crafts store. Use glue to assemble the shells into creative creatures, adding google eyes and pom-poms as desired. Choose a fun name for each creature, then let the adventures begin!

Rock Mushrooms

Let your child decorate your garden, potted plants, or windowsill with easy-to-make rock mushrooms that won't wilt in the summer sun.

Make It: Search your backyard or a neighborhood park for smooth rocks, choosing ones with flat surfaces so the mushrooms can stand upright. Have your child paint some rocks red (for the tops) and some white (for the stems). Add white dots to the red tops using paint or stickers. Glue the pieces together with liquid glue.

Vacation Jar

Treasure a family vacation forever by capturing it in a simple glass jar.

Make It: Let your children collect sand, pebbles, shells, and other pieces of nature while on vacation. Place them inside a glass jar, layering as you go. Write the destination on a tag and attach it to the jar. Use as a mantelpiece decoration or centerpiece display and remember your special trip forever.

Cute Nut Bird

Your kids will go nuts for this cute little bird made from just a few nuts and some colorful foam.

Make It: Glue various natural or store-bought nuts together to form a bird's body and head and let dry completely. Cut wings, a beak, and feet from colored foam and attach to the bird. Add google eyes to finish.


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