Kid Made – Nature Gifts

Guest Post by Susan Case

There is a growing body of evidence which indicates that direct experiences with nature are essential for a child’s physical and emotional health. Studies have also shown that exposure to nature can increase a child’s resistance to stress, anxiety, and depression as well as build up their immune system. Ask your child if they would like to go on a nature scavenger hunt or go bird watching. Their answer may surprise you.

Become as a child yourself as you rediscover the wonder and mysteries of flowers, ants, worms, birds, or critters in a pond. Take a free walk around the neighborhood meeting friends, relaxing, and building muscles as your child leads you on an adventure of learning and awe. Bring a sack or basket to collect some of the treasures that you discover.

My friend Katie from Mommy with Selective Memory took these photographs of her twenty-two month-old Little Buddy and three-year-old Munchkin Girl on an outdoor adventure.

Little Munchkin and Buddy took a nature walk with mom, gathering some of nature’s beauty.

When they returned home with their sack of treasures, they helped mom make a Salt Dough mixture so they could make a keepsake.

The children enjoyed combining the ingredients and feeling the texture of the salt dough.

Then they pressed their nature objects into the dough.

Mom baked the keepsakes to harden them. Now they can be used as a gift to grandma on Mother’s Day or kept in their special Treasure Box as a reminder of a fun outdoor adventure.

I asked Katie if the nature walk and salt dough recipe was enjoyable for her children. This was her response: “Yes, they had so much fun they wanted to go back outside and collect more stuff! They spent the next 30 minutes happily collecting outside and talking to each other about all the things outdoors. It was really cute.” If you need a laugh, click here to see what Little Buddy collected the next time Katie gave him a sack.

Salt Dough Recipe:

1 cup of salt

1 cup of flour

½ cup water

In a large bowl, combine the salt and flour.
Make a well in the salt/flour mixture and add the water.
Knead until smooth and shape into a ball (can wrap in plastic or store in airtight container for later use).
Press flat and add objects.
Put on baking sheet in oven at 100 degrees C or 200 F for 2-3 hours, or if hot weather, may dry outside for several days in the sun.

Check out these posts that have more ways you can use your nature collections. Pattern Naturally has ideas for children to learn math by using objects found in nature. Also, Why Craft? Why Art? will give you more ideas and reasons why the art process is so important for children to experience.

Susan Case is a retired teacher, now author and blogger. You can visit her at Kindergarten for Teachers and Parents.

 

Simple Fun Outside!

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Today’s Guest Post is from Janna who blogs at  The Adventure of Motherhood , we met at a conference and immediately bonded over our love of activities and linking them to books.

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Mountains of toys, video games, movies, and computers were either non-existent in my childhood or almost non-existent. Three of my favorite toys really weren’t what most people would consider toys, but they gave me hundreds of hours of enjoyment.

Outside is where I wanted to be. I wanted to be in the dirt, playing with water, or up in a tree.

Dirt

  • looking for roly polys or “pill bugs”
  • making mud pies
  • squishing my toes in mud
  • digging a hole in an empty lot
  • burying things
  • riding my brother’s dirt bike

Suggested Book: Jeff Foxworthy’s book of poems Dirt on My Shirt.

Water

  • swimming
  • spraying the hose
  • the sprinkler
  • water guns and balloons
  • dancing in the rain
  • splashing in puddles
  • observing earth worms

Suggested Book: Mo Willems Are You Ready to Play Outside? (An Elephant and Piggie Book)

Trees

  • to hide
  • to rest
  • to enjoy the shade
  • to challenge
  • to swing from a branch
  • to pick some fruit
  • to dream big dreams

Suggested Book: Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree

When it comes to having fun outside, I still find myself in the dirt, spraying the hose, or attempting to climb a tree. These are three things I intend to share with my daughter, and joys I hope to never outgrow. What things will you never outgrow from your childhood?


If you have children’s books that you love and would like to share them with other moms, please consider linking up to my weekly meme called Feed Me Books Friday. It’s kind of like an online book club from moms, and a great way to compile a stellar library list.


If you’d like to learn about a project to record the stories of  YOUR youth join me at MommysPiggyTALES.com.

Paint Chip Flowers

Now that school is out for most of you I have been brainstorming crafts that are a little more challenging but that can be adapted for younger kids as well. This was fun to make and by no means do you or your child have to make flowers, the sky is the limit with these fun vibrant colors. Also you can take this opportunity to talk about shades and hues ! Don’t miss the matching activity after the craft for younger kids either!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paint samples, scissors, paper and glue.
  2. Start by deciding what to create, or deciding to make an abstract creation.
  3. I started with some grass and glued it on my paper.
  4. Next I made flower stems and leaves, and added them.
  5. Time for some pretty colors, I chose to make pink and purple flowers.
  6. Cut out the petals and glued them on.
  7. Now was the more creative part – the “extras” I decided to make some clouds with a dusty blue.
  8. Then my favorite a butterfly!
  9. As it dries the glue will stick but the paint samples will pull away some. I personally LOVE this, I like how 3 dimensional it makes the craft. If you don’t like this just pop a piece of wax paper over it and lay a heavy book on top for a few hours.

Paint Color Match

This activity is not just a color match it’s also a wonderful fine motor challenge for toddlers and preschoolers.
Here are the instructions.

Find and Count Bug Hunt

find & count bug hunt nature activity

Math and science all together is my kind of activity, but when it’s fun it’s even better. We have all been a little cranky around here and when that happens one of the best ways to shake off the fuss is to go outside! So I made a quick check list and we were off to find creepy crawlers and tally up what we found!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a clip board, a marker and a piece of paper. If you want grab a magnifying glass and a plastic jar if you want to collect what you find.Find and Count Bug Hunt
  2. Make a simple check list with bugs you normally find in your yard. It’s okay if you don’t find some of the things on your list but if you come up completely empty handed that would be a huge bummer. So take their suggestions but fill in some gaps if all they suggest are lions, and tigers and bears! Unless you have those in your yard. Find and Count Bug Hunt
  3. We drew pictures as well as spelled out the words.
  4. Out you go! Start searching!

    Find and Count Bug Hunt

  5. Make little check marks for the bugs/ creatures you find. We took turns. Find and Count Bug Hunt
  6. Here he is counting and yelling out the number of ants he saw and I tallied them. ( which reminds me I need some Dr.Bronner’s to get rid of said ants). Find and Count Bug Hunt
  7. He’s pointing to the  snake we found! Find and Count Bug Hunt 010
  8. Together count up your discoveries. Find and Count Bug Hunt

The best learning for young children are experiences they can do, and if they are resistant to something at the table, get outside ! You will both be happier and the lesson whatever it is will make a much larger impact than anything you had to force or cajole!Find and Count Bug Hunt

Bug Books!

Ant's Day Off

An Ant’s Day Off by Bonny Becker is an interesting tale about an ant who has lived his whole life never seeing the sky , or anything beyond the tunnels he works in until one day he decides to take the day off. The text was a little long for my son who kept flip flopping on my bed, but he didn’t want me to close the book either. The story was solid though, my favorite part was when he tried to return to his tunnel and the guard he expected to give him heck, was supportive and even shared that he too has taken a day off.

The Very Quiet Cricket

The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle is one of my favorites and I am a little shocked this is the first time I have reviewed it here. The story is all about a little cricket who is trying and trying to chirp like the others to talk to all the bugs talking to him but he can’t!  Whenever I read it to children ( and it was a classroom favorite too) I would wiggle my shoulders like I was trying to rub my wings together just like the cricket. Kids latched on to that and I loved seeing them so engaged by the repetitive but never boring book. I thought seeing 12 little 3 year olds wiggling was precious but one little 3 year old is pretty cute doing it too!  Of course there is a “surprise” at the end that toddlers and preschoolers alike will love.

The Gentleman Bug

The Gentleman Bug by Julian Hector is a story about a bug but not just any bug a proper gentleman one who lives in the Garden, the Garden being a bug version of London. One day a lady bug comes to town and he is smitten. He tries to get her attention but falls flat. As it turns out though they do have something in common, a love of books and that brings them together in the end.  I liked the details of this book, the illustrations were wonderful and the map of the garden in the inside cover was awesome but the story fell a little flat.  I am eager to read the author’s other works though because I think there was potential it just wasn’t quite a home run.

Need more bug themed activities?
Check all of ours out