Nature Explorers: Painting in the Woods

The pairing of children with nature.  

Because when given the opportunity to experience nature in an unstructured, organic way, children are more likely to carry that experience with them throughout their lives, where they can, in turn, create those experiences for future generations.

Learning with kids in a natural environment. How to gather a group to explore and learn together.

Our group of 5- and 6-year-old explorers and their siblings meet about twice a month to make friends, have fun and explore nature in a very unstructured way.  

The Premise:  Provide a set of tools to the kids, little to no instructions, and let them choose the direction of their play. Watch creativity and learning unfold, and friendships, too. 

This weeks’ tools:  Paint brushes, washable non-toxic paint and large pieces of paper. 

The Place: A wooded area with large boulders.

After a brief safety discussion about climbing on the boulders, we spread the sheets of paper out and showed the children where the washable, non-toxic paint (not harmful to plants or wildlife) and brushes were located.  Some ran to climb the rocks first. Some asked for paint right away. Nearly all the kids painted at some point. Some painted on the paper, some painted on sticks, rocks, boulders, logs, leaves and nuts that had fallen from the trees.  Some painted collaboratively, some painted alone.

The children decided when they had enough of painting and ran off to explore the woods, with a few of the grownups.  They played with sticks and built a tipi, climbed on the rocks, and explored the paths.  Games of pretend play abounded.

We used a large jug of water to wash away the paint on the rocks and ground. The next rain will take care of any traces that are left.  Some children chose to take their paintings home, others seemed content to have enjoyed the process of making something.

Pictured below: Two of our Nature Explorers running through the woods after painting. 

 Rachel Carson Quote

{This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase, it costs the same, but I receive a small commission to buy more art supplies, books or coffee. Thank you! Also, I only link to products that we use and love.}

 Resources

  • Recommended reading:  Rachel Carson’s, The Sense of Wonder
  • Our favorite paint.  Simply Washable Tempera paint from Discount School Supply. We’ve been using this paint for all projects requiring washable paint for the past six years. Click on the photo below to see (awesome) prices.

Fine Motor Activities ~ Scissor Skills

Preschool and kindergarten work often includes fine motor activities such as scissor skills to strengthen little hands in preparation for writing, manipulating zippers and buttons and so much more. Here’s a fun activity for practicing cutting skills with some really big bang fun at the end.

Fine Motor Activities: Scissor Skills for Preschool and Kindergarten

{this post contains affiliate links}

When my 5-year-old was getting extremely frustrated with a scissor skills worksheet, I knew we needed to take a step back. Offering him scraps of foam to cut freehand, not having to follow the lines on the worksheet took away the frustration factor.   Foam is very satisfying to cut. He became very intent on cutting the tiniest little pieces, turning the foam and manipulating the scissors. Yes! That’s exactly what I had in mind.

Fine Motor Skills: Working with scissors and foam.

We are using  left-handed scissors . All 3 of my kids are left-handed and when I was working with my middle child on scissor skills, it suddenly dawned on me that maybe her challenge with this activity had to do with using a right-handed scissors with her left hand. My oldest left-handed child actually prefers to use scissors and dribble a ball with his right hand. But once my middle child had a left-handed scissors, her cutting skills were the bomb. 

Left handed scissors for kids.

Once we had a good pile of confetti, we used a funnel to put some inside 3 balloons. We blew up the balloons and then I gave him a pin (with supervision, of course) to pop them. How fun to see this big confetti explosion! Sadly, I did not get a good photo of that but I’m sure you can imagine how delighted he was to do this.

And now I am going to show you an amazing object for cleaning up this big confetti mess, since I often get critical comments on some of my messier kid activities about how MESSY they are (except most of those are not worded so nicely so I delete them). 

Look. It’s called a Vacuum Cleaner. You can buy them on Amazon! I know! Isn’t it awesome? And here is a blurry picture taken with my phone of my child strengthening his gross motor skills by using this amazing invention. Isn’t that great? [end of sarcastic rant]

Don't be afraid of messy learning projects.

Messy Play and Learning Activities: Love Bug vacuuming up confetti NEXT TO our water table which is filled with sand. We are really living on the edge here.

 

For more ideas, messy and not so messy, follow along on Pinterest.

Follow Julie Kirkwood, Creekside Learning’s board Preschool: Learning is Fun! on Pinterest.

Follow Julie Kirkwood, Creekside Learning’s board Kindergarten on Pinterest.

Fun Science Experiments for Kids ~ Hydrofoils

This fun and easy hands-on science experiment, using three ingredients you already have, is perfect for warm weather outside, or not-so-nice weather inside. Hydrofoils use water (that’s the hydro) and tinfoil (yup, you guessed it) to demonstrate the concept of buoyancy.  

Big thanks to Holly Homer and Rachel Miller of Kids Activities Blog and their new book {affiliate link}101 Kids Activities That Are the Bestest, Funnest Ever!: The Entertainment Solution for Parents, Relatives & Babysitters! for some fun science experiments for kids, including this one. More on their fab book in a minute.

Hydrofoils:  Water Science Experiments for Kids from "101 Kids Activities that are the Bestest, Funnest Ever!"

Supplies Needed

  • Water in a container, bathtub or sink.
  • Tinfoil.
  • Pennies.

This experiment is about design:  Designing a boat that can float well and hold the pennies without taking on water, testing it and re-designing it again uses critical thinking skills

Fun Science Experiments for Kids - Hydrofoils @creeksidelearn

I gave the kids two different types of tinfoil, one was heavier than the other, but I let them discover that for themselves. They each set out to build, test and re-build their boats.  

While they worked, we talked about the concepts included in the experiment from the book:  Water pressure pushing up and gravity pulling the boat down. That’s buoyancy. 

 Fun Science Experiments for Kids - Hydrofoils

They made big foil boats and small foil boats and experimented with flattening the bottoms of the boats by pressing them on the sidewalk. 

Hydrofoils were a hit! We hope you will like them, too.

101 Kids Activities That Are the Bestest Funnest Ever by Holly Homer and Rachel Miller

101 Kids Activities That Are the Bestest, Funnest Ever!: The Entertainment Solution for Parents, Relatives & Babysitters! contains even more fun science experiments for kids, as well as crafts, games and boredom busters.  I love how each activity contains clear instructions and way to modify things for older or younger kids.  Each activity is geared towards kids from toddlers to 12-year-olds. Holly Homer and Rachel Miller are on a mission to create great activities for kids every day. You can find them at Kids Activities Blog and on Facebook and Pinterest

For more summer fun and learning ideas…

 Follow Julie Kirkwood, Creekside Learning’s board Summer on Pinterest.

I received this book for free for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own. Read my disclosure page. Affiliate links in this post go to Amazon. I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if a purchase is made via these links. Thank you. 

Telling Time Activities : Make a Hula Hoop Clock

Here is something I’ve learned as a mom over and over again:  Math is more fun outside! It’s true. If you are looking for telling time activities for kids, grab a hula hoop and some sidewalk chalk and you are ready to go. 

Telling Time Activities

Send the kids in search of sticks and break them to the right lengths for an hour hand and a minute hand. Soaking the chalk in water for a few minutes makes the colors brighter and easier to see. 

Call out times or write them in chalk using digital time and have your kids move the hands of the hula hoop clock to the correct time.  

You may also like:

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Fun Art Projects for Kids ~ Painting On Trees

Did you know you could paint trees? Never really thought about it, did you? Me either. Until the other day, when my kids and I stumbled upon the idea, playing with art supplies outside. If you’re looking for fun art projects for kids this summer, add this to your list. It’s fun and can be done over and over again. All you need is a little paint. . 

Summer Art Projects for Kids ~~ Painting Trees from Creekside Learning

No trees were harmed in this art project.  We used {affiliate link*} Washable Liquid Tempera Paint.  Indeed, it washed off with a rain storm later that night. 

We painted with brushes…

Paint a tree. Info on paint that won't harm trees. From Creekside Learning.

…and, we painted with our hands. What a great sensory experience! The cool paint going onto hands with tickly brushes, feeling the rough bark of the tree and the patterns in the lines of bark.

 Sensory Art: Painting Trees With Our Hands | Creekside Learning

 You might also enjoy…

Summer Art for Kids:  Painting Trees from Creekside Learning.

 *Affiliate links go to sites, such as Amazon. If you click on the link and purchase a product, I may get a small commission, but at no cost to you, the buyer.  Thank you! 

Follow Creekside Learning on Pinterest.
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