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Salt-Dough Nature Pendants

The boys and I needed a handcraft to make for the Wild + Free handicraft fair and this was the perfect little project. While I plan on teaching my boys practical handcrafts – like sewing and woodworking – this time I needed something simple enough that my three year old could participate in.

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Salt-dough is such a neat medium to work with and very easy to mix up (my favorite recipe is below). We used cookie cutters to cut out the pendants and nature treasures from our nature collection to use as stamps.

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Straws work perfectly to make holes for stringing the pendants into necklaces.

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Once the pendants were all designed, we let them dry. Air drying is an option, but we were in a bit of a time crunch so we dried ours in the oven. We placed them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and dried them at 200 degrees for an hour on both sides. Then we left them on the counter overnight to completely dry out before painting.

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Both of the boys got a paintbrush and some acrylic paint and painted the nature impressions, leaving the rest white. (You can also use watercolors or even crayons)

Once the paint was dry, I went ahead and brushed on a coat of clear polycrylic. Then, the boys strung some colorful beads onto a string and through the hole in the pendants. I tied them off and viola!

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These would also make sweet little gifts for Christmas or birthdays.

Salt-Dough Recipe

2 cups of flour

1 cup of salt

1 cup of water

Thoroughly mix the first two ingredients together. Gradually stir in the water bit by bit, until you get a dough-like consistency. Form it into a ball and knead on a floured surface for 5 minutes. (If the dough gets too sticky, add some more flour.) Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness before cutting out the pendants with cookie cutters.

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How to Set Up an Art Center for Kids – and Inspire Creativity in Your Home

Do your kids love to create? My boys will literally craft and create things all day long if given the opportunity.

I’ve been reading Julie Bogart’s new book, Brave Learner, and it’s inspired me to up my game in my own home when it comes to carving out spaces for my kids to express their creativity.

I love Julie’s heart for creating an “enchanted childhood,” as she calls it, with space and opportunity for our children to chase their creative spark.

We’ve always kept markers and coloring books out, but why limit their imagination? My boys are alllllllways asking to “do a craft,” so why not just let them come up with their own craft when the mood strikes?

And for some reason, my boys are in total craft mode as soon as they wake up in the morning.

Which is why I love the idea of an “always open for business art table,” as Julie calls it.

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How to Create an Art Center in Your Home

Requirements to preserve your sanity:

  • Stable table and chairs (ones you don’t care about)
  • Floor protector if your area is carpeted
  • Smocks for hanging on the wall next to the table
  • Butcher paper attached to the walls adjacent to the art table (if you’re opposed to paint on your walls)

Organizational must-haves:

  • A storage cart for art supplies – a must! We have this one and I LOVE it – and it’s on wheels!
  • Buckets and containers for holding supplies (get ones that are open or easily opened by a little person)
  • Hanging rod (like this one) for storing rolls of craft paper
  • An area for displaying artwork using string and clips

Supplies:

You can find a lot of these items at the dollar store, if you don’t already have them!

  • Drawing paper
  • Watercolor paper
  • Construction paper
  • Craft paper
  • Watercolor paints and brushes
  • Washable craft paint
  • Colored pencils
  • Crayons
  • Washable markers
  • Wooden stamps and inkpad
  • Scissors
  • Gluesticks
  • Glitter glue
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Googly eyes
  • Feathers
  • Stickers
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Beads (you may want to skip this one if you have toddlers… I can just hear them being dumped out on the floor…)
  • Stencils for tracing

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Another key to sparking creativity is keeping the art center or table and supplies out in the open, in a frequently used area. As Julie says in her book — art tables in spare bedrooms or basements are lonely tables.

Sure, you may have to clean the area (or better yet, train your kids to clean up!) once a day, but at least it’ll get used – and that’s the point, right?

Of course, you can always start small. Try leaving watercolors, markers and papers out and see how your kids wander over to paint multiple times a day. It’s magic!

 

 

 

 

 

**I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**

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Caterpillars Unit Study and Caterpillar Craft

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For the past few weeks we have been studying caterpillars with our nature study curriculum, Exploring Nature With Children. I have to say, this has been one of the most exciting subjects to study (for all of us).

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Along with our curriculum, here are some of the other resources we used:

Anatomy of a Caterpillar Craft with Homemade Playdough

Since we couldn’t find any real caterpillars for a hands-on study, we made one! Here is the video we watched for instructions on how to make a Swallowtail Caterpillar out of playdough.

We then used a small chalkboard to label the parts of the caterpillar.

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Have you tried homemade playdough before? I just recently became a believer and will never go back to the store bought stuff! My boys played for hours after we made the caterpillar craft, literal hours.

Here is the recipe I used (taken from @wovenchildhood on Instagram):

  • 2 Cups White Flour
  • 1 Cup Iodized Salt
  • 3 Tbs Cream of Tartar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Cups Boiling Water
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Essential oils (optional, for an extra sensory element)
  1. Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl
  2. Carefully add in oil and hot water
  3. Add 10-20 drops of essential oil of your choosing (we added lemon EO)
  4. Stir together until blended
  5. Add food coloring, then stir again
  6. Knead and sprinkle a little more flour until your preferred consistency

Caterpillar and Butterfly Free Printables

Butterfly life cycle sequencing cards

caterpillar craft

Here’s another fun, hands-on craft we found for teaching kids about the butterfly life cycle and metamorphosis.

What better way to study caterpillars than to observe them in real life? We’ve ordered this butterfly kit from Amazon before to grow and release our own butterflies and it was an incredible experience! (Sadly, we didn’t get to it this year)

Caterpillar Unit Study and Life Cycle Picture Books

**You can probably find most of these at your local library, but we try to add our favorites to the shelf, because ALWAYS more books!**

From Caterpillar to Butterfly

Summer Birds – The Butterflies of Maria Merian (so fascinating!)

Caterpillar Dreams

Ten Little Caterpillars

The Caterpillar and the Polliwog

Monarch and Milkweed

 

 

 

 

 

 

**I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**

 

 

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DIY Flower Sun Catcher Craft for Kids

A few weeks back, the kids and I made some simple sun catchers with the wildflowers (and weeds) we collected on some nature walks. Of course, my pockets are ALWAYS loaded with all kinds of treasures from our walks – rocks, leaves, flowers, etc.

This was a fun way to turn their nature treasures into a little keepsake and eye candy for my windows! The boys loved arranging their treasures to make their flower sun catchers. I can’t get over how gorgeous they turned out, considering how easy this project was.

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You’ll need:

First, go on a hike, nature walk, or a field trip out to your garden. Let the kiddos gather some flowers – heck, even weeds look good in these DIY sun catchers. My boys picked dandelion and skunk flower (yep, it smells bad), and they look beautiful.

Next, press your leaves/flowers. The less moisture you end up with, the longer they will last in your sun catchers.

*Note: you can also make these with fresh, flattened flowers and they will last for a few weeks before the moisture from the flowers will start to interfere with the contact paper. We’ve made them this way and they’re still pretty – but temporary.

Once your flowers are pressed, lay down one square of contact paper big enough to cover the embroidery hoop with a few extra inches on each side – sticky side UP.

Arrange the flowers on the contact paper however you wish. I mean, however your kids wish. Because this is an activity for them, not for you. Obviously. 😉

Next, place another square of contact paper on top of the flowers, sticky side DOWN. Make sure you push down on all of the air bubbles as much as possible to get a tight seal.

The flowers will now be sandwiched in between the contact paper.

Now have your kids unscrew the embroidery hoops and help them sandwich the flower-filled contact paper in between the hoops, screwing it back together tightly.

Finally, cut off the excess contact paper and hang your pretty DIY flower sun catchers up on a window, preferably one that you walk by frequently.

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All the heart eyes emojis. 😍

These would make a great Mother’s Day gift or homemade gift for someone special.

But I kept ours. Because 😍😍😍

These homemade sun catchers also make a great hands-on nature study activity or flower craft. We looked up our flowers in one of our favorite field guide books to see what we had collected. And our favorite picture book to go along with this craft is Miss Rumphius – it’s SO good!

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Did you make these with your kiddos? I’d love to hear how they turned out!

 

 

 

 

**I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**

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Easy, Budget-Friendly Spring Flower Craft

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We are just starting to see the daffodils pop up and man, am I happy about it. This winter seemed longer than usual, and we are all ready for longer days and more time out in the sunshine.

My boys love doing crafts, so in the spirit of spring I put together this simple and easy craft you can probably do with items you already have in your home.

Easy Daffodil Craft

You’ll need:

  • Paper muffin tin liners (preferably white but any light color will work)
  • Paint (not watercolor) and paint brushes
  • Gluesticks
  • Green pipe cleaners, optional

Each flower will require two muffin liners. Have them spread out one nice and flat, and keep the shape of the second one intact.

With the yellow paint, have them cover one side of both muffin liners, making sure they don’t smush the cup-shaped one. This can be made easier by having them cup the liner in one hand while they paint it with the other. They’ll get paint on their hands, but it’s not the worst thing in the world. 😉  I always keep a pack of baby wipes nearby for emergencies.

(Because if you’re not cleaning your house and kids with baby wipes, are you even a mom?)

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Okay, now let them dry for a bit.

Next, they take a smaller paint brush and paint dots on the inner liner, which will represent the pollen. We used orange and white for this part. Allow a few minutes for it to dry.

Finally, have them glue the cupped liner to the middle of the flat one.

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You can also glue or staple on a green pipe cleaner to use as a stem, but my kids just wanted to keep making more flowers, so we didn’t get to that part.

How pretty would these be sitting in a little vase?

Happy Spring!

spring craft for kids daffodil

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Fizzy Valentine’s Day Sensory Art

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Last week we made baking soda and vinegar volcanoes to go along with our volcano study with Classical Conversations. And since there was much begging and pleading to do more “fizzy experiments,” I cobbled together this sensory art project (the idea is from The Pinterested Parent) as a sort of last-minute Saturday morning activity and the boys loved it!

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And anytime I can turn a hands-on art activity into holiday-themed decor – I’m in.

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First, we traced hearts onto watercolor paper using a cookie cutter and cut them out. Of course, you can freehand this, but I’m horrible at drawing hearts. It’s a curse, but I’ve accepted it.

I would definitely recommend using watercolor paper, since the end result is VERY wet. I can’t see regular old paper (or even cardstock) holding up well. We use this paper from Amazon and it holds up fabulously (and is the best deal out there, in my opinion).

Place all your hearts on a cookie sheet. You can cover it with aluminum foil or parchment paper like I did to make cleanup easier. Or you can live on the wild side and put ’em right on the cookie sheet.

Next, get out a muffin tin and add a couple of drops of food coloring into each section and fill them halfway with vinegar, mixing well. Sort of like coloring eggs.

Then, get out your eyedropper. Or, in my case, rummage through your medicine cabinet and find an eyedropper-like syringe. What can I say? I’m resourceful like that.

Now’s where the fun begins. Give your little people a cup or small dish with a few scoop fulls of baking soda and a spoon. They are going to carefully pour a spoon full or two of baking soda onto each heart and spread it around with the back of the spoon until the hearts are fully covered. It doesn’t matter if there are small clumps or if it’s not even – it’ll just make it more fun later. I let the boys take turns choosing their hearts and spreading the soda on.

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Okay! We’re finally to the action-packed part. Using the eyedropper, squeeze out a few drops of the colored vinegar onto each heart and watch as it fills with fizzy color.

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You can talk about the acid-base chemical reaction of baking soda and vinegar, or just ooh and aah over it while your kids make loud volcanic eruption noises – your choice! 😉

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Right after you’re finished, carefully remove the hearts from the cookie sheet and place them on a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil to dry. You can tilt them to allow some of the baking soda to drip off, but this will change how the colors look.

The actual color after they dry is lighter and more muted than it looks during the reaction. We found that rubbing off some of the dried baking soda helped the colors show a little more vibrantly.

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I’m sure there are many ways you can showcase these colorful hearts, but we turned them into a mobile. (Since I turn everything into a mobile. I can’t help it.)

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Go get a stick from the backyard (or, better yet, send your kiddos out to fetch one), thread a needle with some string and have the kids help you string them up.

Just don’t leave the stick in reach of your dog, who’s favorite thing just happens to be sticks. Oopsie.

Add some smaller white hearts for visual interest, hang it all up and viola! It’s your new Valentine’s Day decoration.

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I wonder how many more of these hearts I can hang around the house? It’s a nice departure from the transformers and legos decorating the floors.

Did you try this with your family? Let me know how it turned out!

 

**I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**