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.

Summer Crafts for Kids ~ Summer Memories Book

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® Elmer’s and Wet Ones, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #CraftandCleanUp http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

 

Summer’s end is drawing near. We’ve packed a whole lot of good, simple fun into this beautiful season. I want my kids to have wonderful memories of summers spent doing amazing things together: swimming, collecting shells at the beach, riding roller coasters, making s’mores around the campfire, going for long bike rides to nowhere in particular.  

How to make a summer memories book with your kids.

We have a fun way to preserve those memories and it’s also one of those summer crafts for kids that is perfect to do together, in these last remaining days of summer. We’re going to get messy with sand and glue, but that’s okay. These memory books will not only be a great keepsake but fun to show off to friends, family, classmates and more.

summer crafts for kids to make

 You will need:

  • Sand
  • Seashells
  • Elmer’s Glue/Wet Ones Combo pack (available in select Target’s Back to School section, while supplies last)
  • Cardstock
  • Printer
  • Small pocket photo album
  • Favorite photos printed out

Summer Crafts for Kids

How to Make a Summer Memories Book With Your Kids

  1. Gather your supplies. I found these 4×6 “brag book” style photo albums for $1.99 at a local craft store. Sometimes I’ve seen them in the dollar spot/dollar store bins too. We used regular play sand (the type you put into sand boxes) and seashells we’d collected from the beach. I found the Elmer’s Glue/Wet Ones combo pack at Target (available at select stores).
  2. Choose whatever colored card stock you’d like and cut it to 4×6 size.
  3. Have your kids spread Elmer’s glue at the bottom of the card to represent the beach, then sprinkle the sand on, tapping off any excess.messy summer crafts for kids
  4. Add small seashells and affix with Elmer’s glue.sea shell crafts for kids
  5. Allow to dry.  Clean up with Wet Ones wipes.
  6. Use card stock to make the title: “The Summer I was [insert age]“. We used the fun fonts and a banner at PicMonkey (free) but you can do this in any program or have the kids write it out in their own handwriting. Glue it to the card. Insert in front pocket of photo album after drying.beach crafts for kids
  7. Insert photos into the photo album pages.
  8. We added little descriptions to each photo. I asked the kids to tell me in their own words what was going on in the photo and what they liked about this memory.photo crafts for kids

 This was the best part of the project for me, hearing what they got excited about, what they remember, seeing the smiles and joy as they recalled this beautiful summer and ran to show their books to Daddy. They carried their books along when we went to visit friends and over to Grandma’s house. 

photo books for kids

 How will you spend the last days of summer with your family this year? I’d love for you to share in the comments. 

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! 

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Container Garden Vegetables ~ Grow With Your Kids

Gardening has been a wonderful learning opportunity for our kids and is a family project we all enjoy doing together. Our gardening project of choice:  Container Garden Vegetables.  We are gearing up for spring by starting our seeds indoors, as we do every year.  It’s a great opportunity for science learning (how do seeds grow?), reading practice (seed packets, books about gardening) and handwriting (marking which seeds are in which containers). We have some container garden ideas to share with you. It’s so easy and fun to garden this way, and it’s less work than a regular garden plot, too.

container garden vegetables

Choosing Seeds

First, we let the kids choose the seeds they want to plant for our container garden vegetables and I set up a seed learning area for them to plant, care for, and explore the seeds and soil. If you want to do organic container gardening,  organic seeds can be found at most garden centers and big box stores as well. We keep our seedlings indoors until there is no chance of frost (about May 1st where we live).  organic container gardening

Preparing Soil

We live in Virginia where the hard clay soil requires years of conditioning, to yield the ideal soil for growing vegetables. Raised beds are quite popular. We built those at our last house. For our current house, we put in a small plot directly into the ground in addition to patio and deck containers.  After two years of working the soil in the plot, we decided our efforts were best spent on the bounty of herbs and vegetables that were flourishing in our containers. Also, to get to our plot, we had to go down a flight of deck stairs from the main level and around the side of our house, making watering the garden an easily forgotten, if not dreaded, chore in the hot summer.  Watering the deck containers, on the other hand, was easy and fun. The kids loved to take turns caring for the plants there, and my husband, whose passion is cooking, enjoyed stepping out to the deck from our kitchen to cut some fresh herbs or pick some fresh tomatoes or peppers from the containers while he was cooking. We used a basic gardening soil mix from our local gardening center to fill our containers. Make sure the containers have adequate drainage. If not, drill holes in the bottom of the pots before filling with soil, or add a bottom layer of pea gravel or other small stones. Transplant the seedlings to the containers. container garden vegetables So what can you grow in containers? Well, almost everything, really, but here are the container garden vegetables, and a few other things, that we’ve had success with.

10 Things You Can Grow in a Container Garden

  1. Carrots – my kids’ favorite!
  2. Strawberries – You want these in a container anyway, because they tend to overtake other plants.
  3. Mint – another plant that should be contained, otherwise it takes over and you will be up to your ears in mint.
  4. Any and all herbs: Basil, Oregano, Lavender, Rosemary, Thyme, Dill.
  5. Tomatoes – We’ve grown all varieties successfully in containers but especially love grape and cherry tomatoes in our container garden. Add a small trellis or cage to support them as they grow.
  6. Lettuce – This is a favorite with the kids because it grows quick and early and can be replanted again throughout the growing season.
  7. Radishes – Since they are small and compact, they can grow in smaller, more shallow containers.
  8. Peppers – All varieties of hot peppers are small plants that grow well in containers (jalapenos, habaneros, banana, cayenne) and we’ve also successfully grown bell peppers here as well.
  9. Cucumbers, melons and squash. If you have your containers on a patio where the vines of these plants can travel to the ground, where the fruit will develop, you can grow them in containers, too. 
  10. Flowers! We love to mix flowers into our vegetable and herb plant containers. It makes the deck look even more colorful. Plant low growing flowers like petunias, which will cascade down the sides of the container and cover some of the exposed soil. 

container garden vegetables

My little Love Bug as a toddler, helping his Aunt Francine with her container gardening.

Thank you to our sponsor, HALLS®, for sponsoring this post. Disclosure.

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vegetables you can grow in a container garden

I was compensated for this post by HALLS via BlogHer network.  

Sea Turtle Facts for Kids

Sea turtles are amazing creatures! I’ve been collecting sea turtle facts for kids to prepare to learn more about these awesome animals. Much of the science learning my younger kids do is centered around animals.  A recent trip to Florida got us curious about sea turtles.  

Sea Turtle Facts For Kids

What do sea turtles eat?  Where do sea turtles live? We set up our own pretend sea turtle habitat and began exploring some great learning resources.

What do sea turtles eatHere are the resources we used:  {affiliate links} 

where do sea turtles live Safari Ltd Loggerhead Turtle in our Step2 Water Table.  You may have noticed that we use this table a lot, filling it with various things. I have a big Sterilite container that I keep the sand in, so we can use the table for other things like cloud dough, shaving cream (makes great snow) and more.

 where do sea turtles live

 Turtles, available in paperback or Kindle edition.

sea turtle facts for kids

Our sea turtle dug a hole and laid her eggs (we used mini-marshmallows), then she went back to the sea.  While my kids were playing with the pretend habitat, I read them the book about turtles. 

What do sea turtles eat?

Well, it depends on the sea turtle.  Loggerheads have strong jaws so they can eat things with shells, like conch, while green turtles eat seagrass and Leatherbacks eat jellyfish.  You can read more about what sea turtles eat at seeturtles.org. 

Where do sea turtles live?

Sea Turtles live almost all of their lives in the ocean, except for females who come ashore to lay eggs.  They live in all the world’s oceans except the Arctic.  

On-line resources for sea turtles:

Follow me on Pinterest for more hands-on learning ideas. 
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