Nature Crafts and Activities

With Earth Day coming and spring warming us up and taking learning outside I have collected some of our favorite nature crafts and activities ! If you remember how your perspective changed when your teacher decided to take your class outside you don’t need to be told how such a simple act can open up young minds to learning.

Giant Sunflower Craft ( above)

Nature Color Match!

Rock Bugs

Nature Brochure Craft

Beach in A Jar

Spring  Tree

Coffee Grinds Sensory Tub

Looking for Earth Day Activities?

Letter of The Week

Yarn y

Letter of the week y craft

Y is always tricky but this craft does double duty not only reinforcing the letter y, but also as a active fine motor skills lacing toy! As you can see I wasn’t fussy about how my son laced it. I wanted him to get the yarn through the holes not make perfect stitches. Holding the yarn in between his thumb and fingers also promotes the tripod grip ( proper way to hold writing tools).

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some cardboard, a hole punch, some markers, yarn, scissors and tape. Letter of the week y craft
  2. Write a lowercase ( would work great with uppercase too ) on your cardboard. Letter of the week craft
  3. Hand it to your child and invite them to color it with markers.  My son has taken to tracing and writing the letter on it. Letter of the week craft
  4. Add more colors until they decide they are done. Letter of the week craft
  5. While they are coloring cut off a long piece  of yarn and double it, so it make a bog loop. Tape the 2 ends together tightly so that it makes a hard end for easy lacing. Letter of the week craft
  6. Cut the y out. Letter of the week craft
  7. Hole punch time!  Our card board was too thick for my son to punch the holes, if the cereal box in the picture hasn’t had writing on the inside ( why do they do that?!) it would have been great. If your child can help , have them help. Letter of the week craft
  8. Before you hand the y back thread the yarn through the first hole and loop it back through the yarn so it ties onto the y. This eliminates meltdowns about the yarn just zooming through all the holes. As well as keeps the 2 pieces together for later use! Letter of the week craft
  9. Lace! I laced the first two holes to demonstrate it to my son then let him at it. Letter of the week craft
  10. Keep going! Letter of the week craft

Teaching children about letters is more fun if you include as many novel and sensory experiences as you can. This was a huge hit and even bigger mess, but well worth it. My son who is in the midst of a perfectionist phase loved that he could “erase” his letters. He also loved how the bright colors magically appeared under the cornstarch.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a shallow cardboard box, cornstarch, and some brightly colored markers, pastels or what I used… window markers.  Letter of the week craft
  2. Color the bottom of your box with a few colors. If you are using anything “wet” let it dry 100% before adding the cornstarch. Letter of the week craft
  3. Add the cornstarch and cover the color. Letter of the week craft
  4. Start writing! Isn’t it cool how the colors pop? I was giddy that it worked! Letter of the week craft
  5. Explore! Letter of the week craft
  6. He wrote an M then exclaimed – look I can make a W too, then flipped the whole box , then wrote another M.
  7. Letter of the week craft Letter of the week craft We stepped outside to shake all the extra off! Letter of the week craft

Have fun this one is MESSY – I was covered, my camera was covered, my son was covered and we had a blast!

Some of our Favorite Alphabet Books

Pattern Lesson

preschool patterning lesson

Whenever I do little lessons like this with my son , I set them up when he is not around. I introduce them as “puzzles” for him to help me solve and that peaks his interest and makes it fun, not some “lesson” mom is doing cause she misses teaching . Seriously though it is fun because he uses what he calls his “detective skills” to figure out the pattern. He’s also getting a good fine motor work out pinching them onto the sentence strip.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some colored clothes pins. If you don’t have colored ones available, grab the good old wood ones and color them with markers. You will also need some stiff paper like cardboard, card stock or sentence strips like we are using.  preschool patterning lesson
  2. Set out a number of patterns with the clothes pins. I did 3, a general rule of thumb is to provide a challenge but not overwhelm them, or challenge them too much to the point of frustration . I have done patterns before with my son but it had been a while, I also wanted to provide choices for him, something if you have a toddler or preschooler is at times an absolute must have.  Preschool patterning lesson
  3. Give them the pegs and ask them if they can solve the puzzle and figure out what comes next. preschool patterning lesson
  4. If they are not sure sing a song ” White , Blue, White , Blue…” that is normally get them going if they are ready for patterns. preschool patterning lesson
  5. If an ABABA pattern is too easy try a ABCABC one.

Next time we do this I will be doing it with 3 colors in one pattern, my son needed me to sing the pattern for the first strip but them completed the next 2 on fast forward with no input. Which tells me next time to make it a little more challenging, but to also provide some at this level to give him a balance of challenge and independent success. Best part – nothing you used gets ruined. The pins can be used again and so can the sentence strips.

Earth Day Muffins!

snacks for earth day These earth day muffins were so fun to make I decided that even if they turned gray while baking I’d post this. Luckily they stayed green and the blueberries are supposed to look like water, I think they do right? My son had a blast, we ended up skipping nap he was having so much fun with a bowl of flour while they baked and he even exclaimed, they “Kinda look like the earth mama.” I take it as a success!

  1. Gather your materials. The recipe (see below)  I used  is from the May 2008 edition of Everyday Food ( I cut it in half and used whole wheat flour) . You will also need blueberries, and blue and yellow food coloring. I was out of green but I would still suggest blue and yellow as it give your more control over how it mixes with the brownish color if you are using whole wheat flour. earth day muffins
  2. When baking with my son I measure out the dry and wet first and let him help from there. There is no right or wrong way of doing this it’s just what I do.
  3. Mix the dry. earth day muffins
  4. Mix the wet- apparently it smelled yummy.earth day muffins 002
  5. Mix together . earth day muffins
  6. Add the food coloring. earth day muffins earth day muffins
  7. Add in the blueberries. earth day muffins
  8. Spoon into the muffin tin. earth day muffins
  9. Grab some extra flour , measuring cups and let your little one play. He played for a long time with plain flour. Yes it was a mess but fun normally is. earth day muffins earth day muffins
  10. Celebrate cause they look enough like earths that it was well worth it! Enjoy .earth day muffins

    earth day muffins

Recipe

¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted.

2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

2 large eggs

½ cup whole milk

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

Mix dry, mix wet. Add wet to dry, add blueberries ( 1 cup) . Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

Source: May 2008 edition of Everyday Food by Martha Stewart

Letter of The Week – Earth Day

Earth e !

Earth Day Craft

Earth Day is coming up so to extend our learning about the earth into our regular letter of the week craft we made an earth e today. My son loves this paint roller and for a craft like this where you cover over crayon it was the perfect painting tool.  I couldn’t narrow down my books to just 3 today, they range from toddler to school age so there is something for everyone.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some white construction paper ( or paper plate), another sheet for the backing, a blue crayon, a black marker, green ( or yellow and blue) paint,scissors , glue,  a dish and a paint brush or roller. Earth Day Craft
  2. Start by writing a lowercase e on your white paper. If you are me fail miserably, try again on the other side ( yes this is a picture of my better e). Still mess it up. Earth Day Craft
  3. Grab a paper plate because that was your last sheet of white construction paper, make a stencil and trace it on the paper plate. Earth Day Craft
  4. Give your child the blue crayon and explain that this e is the Earth ( show them pictures of the earth if need be to explain how the blue is the ocean and the green is the land).  Have them draw some ocean- make sure they press hard. Earth Day Craft
  5. Time to pour paint Earth Day Craft
  6. Now mix it. I prefer to do this than use the regular green if possible. It’s some extra fun and extra learning. Earth Day Craft
  7. Roll it on! Earth Day Craft
  8. Let dry and cut out.  earth day craft
  9. Glue on your backing paper. Earth Day Craft

For more letter of the week crafts check out my eBook Alphabet Crafts !  From A-Z you will be learning and creating with your child .

Books

in the garden

In the Gardenby Leslie Bockol is a little board book all about growing your own fruits and vegetables in your garden. It is simple and although it’s listed for 3-6 year olds I would read it to 1-3 year olds. It identifies a number of fruits and vegetables and completes each page with ” I pick it and eat it!” my son loved the repetition and quickly completed each page for me while I was reading it to him. I think it’s a perfect book for toddlers and young preschoolers to introduce gardening to them.

The Whole Green World

The Whole Green World by Tony Johnston was an unexpected hit with my son.  Today reading it he learned that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, he saw the book in our pile to read and wasn’t taken with it, but I suggested maybe just reading the first page and he was hooked. The book is really about appreciating the whole world, from the view point of a little girl who grabs some seeds, plants them , waters them and savors the beauty all around her. My son loved the sing song text and the ultra detailed illustrations by Elisa Kleven. Which my son would study with every turn of the page asking me ” Mommy which bird, which book, which cake is your favorite?” making reference to the illustrations . It was a wonderful book to snuggle up with !

Herman and Marguerite

Herman and Marguerite: An Earth Story by Jay O’Callahan is a funny story with interesting and sometimes unexpected illustrations. The story is about a worm who has heard about the orchard above and wants to see it, but the sun is threatening and he is saved by a caterpillar! They develop a friendship and because of it the orchard that was once barren starts  attracting  animals again.  It’s not all easy along the way and the worm gets to return the favor of saving the caterpillar when she gets stuck between rocks on her way to spin her chrysalis. When she emerges as a butterfly her worm friend is there and so is a beautiful flowering apple orchard!   My son liked this book , I found it somewhat disjointed and what we both thought was odd was the random inclusion of photos of the author throughout the book. “Who is that weird guy Mama?” I wasn’t sure how to answer that one. Still he sat for the whole thing, and learned just how important worms are. It won’t be renewed over and over from the library though.

EcoMazes

EcoMazes by Roxie Munro is a new book that was sent to me by the publisher for review. The idea of this book is to showcase different ecosystems like wetlands, the tundra, desert and more through both a maze and search and find game. This book is not designed for preschoolers although my son loves it. We do the maze together as that is far too complicated for him, but he loves to find the animals on each page and has learned a lot about them too. What is awesome for older children ( 7-10) is that along with an answer key to the maze and pictures there is a full page of information about each ecosystem in the back of the book. This doesn’t talk down to the reader and gives great information using sophisticated vocabulary. I am excited to see how this book’s use changes over time in my home.