Nature Crafts for Kids

Nature Crafts for Kids

Regardless of the time of year, nature offers interesting objects that can be gathered up and made into beautiful crafts. You can also plant seeds or collect plants (within local legal limits) to create "living" crafts. Here are some ideas.

1. Bonsai

Creating a bonsai brings some of the drama of nature to your home in miniature form. It's not as hard as you'd think; you just need a few specific tools and equipment. Parental supervision is required, but that just makes it a collaborative learning experience! Here is a list of what you'll need to get started:

* Two or three bonsai pots in various sizes and shapes
* Sharp pruning shears or cutters
* Potting soil
* Pea-sized gravel (you can gather small rocks from nature if you'd like)
* Coffee filter or sheet of newspaper
* Pruning scissors
* Trowel

Before beginning, read up on bonsai at your local library. Look at the pictures and learn about which trees suit your situation best. Easy beginning tree types include juniper, cotoneaster, Japanese holly, maple, barberry, boxwood, and azalea. Here are some simple steps toward this beautiful craft.

# With the owner's permission, head into the woods or fields in your area, or go to a garden center and purchase a potted shrub.

# Look for a thick, interesting trunk shape as you search for your specimen.

# Gather up the seedling from the wild using a trowel, keeping as much dirt around the roots as possible (place the uprooted seedling in a plastic bag with the roots in a little water), or purchase your potted shrub.

# At home, you'll need to trim the roots (take away about 1/3 of the roots) and put the bonsai into a prepared pot.

# Prepare the pot by cutting squares from the coffee filter or newspaper and placing them over the hole(s) in the bonsai pot; then cover the bottom of the pot with gravel, then some soil.

# Place the root-trimmed plant into the prepared pot and cover the roots with potting soil.

# Trim the foliage and branches of the top into an attractive shape, bearing in mind that you need to remove at least a third of the foliage because you've removed that much of the roots.

# Water regularly and trim to shape over the season and years.

2. Stone Cabin

You can use your imagination with this one. All you need are a hot glue gun, a collection of small rocks or stones, and something to use for a roof, such as sticks, wooden craft sticks, moss-covered cardboard, etc. Here's how.

# On a sturdy platform such as a piece of plywood or cardboard, place a single layer of rocks in a square and glue into place. (These rocks are the "foundation" and should be slightly larger than the others.)

# Let your imagination go as you glue the rocks, stones and pebbles into walls, leaving openings for windows and doors. You can frame these openings with sticks.

# For a roof, you can use a variety of materials. Cover cardboard with moss to make a flat, rustic roof; glue craft sticks or twigs into a peaked roof shape; use straw for a thatched-roof look.

Variations: glue twigs and sticks to make a log cabin, or glue stones to the outside of a cardboard box.

3. Various

Look around you and gather pine cones, acorns, twigs, and interesting flowers. Press flowers and decoupage them onto card paper; glue pine cones and acorns onto foam rings to make a wreath; weave flowers into chains. There are so many nature crafts you can do, and they are all made from free materials!
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