Mamma's School

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Category: Nature & Outdoor Craft (Page 1 of 2)

Flower Pounding – Nature’s Art

flower pounding, nature's art, art with nature, outdoor art, flower art, www.mammasschool.co.ukFlower pounding is a very effective way of doing art with nature.  My trio love doing this because it so easy and very effective.  We also love seeing how our results change over the course of the four seasons.

 

 

 

 

So what supplies are required for flower pounding?

Very few?!  Any shape or size of cotton based material…plain is better as your results will be more visible.  You need to bear in mind that whatever you choose, the material needs to be large enough to place the flowers on one side and then fold in half.  You then need to pick a good selection of flowers and leaves.  When we pick our leaves for flower pounding we look for ones that would make good patterns.  For example, bracken with their fronds are good, or something similar.  With the flowers anything with a good solid colour will work well.  Then you just need a hammer.

Now you are all set to go….

Place your material flat, and start laying your leaves and flowers onto one half of the material.  You can either do this randomly, or think about the end result you would like and put more thought it into it.  My trio are all about the colours and patterns at the moment, so lay them out randomly.  You then need to fold the other half of the material over the top so the foliage is covered by the material.

 

Now you tap, tap, tap very gently with your hammer.  Too hard or fast and the hammer will shred the material.  Make sure you are firm enough though to see the colour coming through the material.  Go over all the edges of the leaves and flowers to get the best definition results.  You also need to do this on a firm surface.  As you can see we have chosen our garage floor, rather than the lawn (too squishy with all the moss!), or the decking (didn’t want hammer shaped dents all over it!!).  Once you think you have finished, open the material up and brush off the “crumbs” of the foliage, and you will be left with a lovely colourful pattern.  One of ours turned out very much like a butterfly but this was completely accidental!!  Nevertheless the children were very happy it did 🙂

 

 

 

Blowing Dandelion Bubbles – Nature’s Bubble Blower.

Blowing dandelion bubbles - Nature's bubble blower, nature bubbles www.mammasschool.co.ukWe have just had a lovely afternoon blowing dandelion bubbles through the plant’s stem 🙂 The trio loved making these and then experimenting with them also.

It’s a really easy activity to prepare, and because it’s outside all mess is outdoors too…bonus!  So what do you need for blowing dandelion bubbles?

Washing up liquid

Water

Bowl for mixing

Scissors

and of course….dandelions!!

Here is what you do:

Make up some soapy water

Cut the flower head off

Trim the other end of the stalk too

Swirl around one end in the soapy water (not the end you want to put up to your mouth!!).

Then gently blow through the stem, and you should see your bubble 🙂

My trio loved blowing dandelion bubbles, and then experimenting with different lengths of stem, different diameters of stem, variations of puffing, and who could make the biggest dandelion bubbles.  It was such a lovely, but chilly day, they stayed there for a good while.  Afterwards the chalks came out for drawing, and even a small potion was whipped up with the newly flowering plants.

 

 

Country Kids

Seed Bombs – The Gardening Grenade!

Seed Bombs-The gardening grenade, children gardening, gardening, seeds, wildflowers www.mammasschool.co.ukSeed bombs are a great way to introduce colour, flowers, and therefore wildlife, into corners where nobody seems to care….just go for a walk, and lob one of these creations into a place that is dull and boring and then return in the summer to see if it has worked.  They are great for brightening up places you feel are uncared for, but full of sunshine with grass or bare soil.  We had an ulterior motive though here in our Swedish garden.  It is HUGE…..I’m not boasting, as that is just the way where we live, but it’s 3 hours of lawn mowing & strimming a week huge.  Gardens here are very different from back in the UK.  Forget a lot of plants that you would have in the UK, as they won’t survive the winter.  Then there are the deer and elk that like to nibble the lovely blooms, not to mention the stony wild areas that just need to be left the way nature intended.  You need to work with the wild, and tame it where you can.  It is a whole new experience of gardening out here.  I have left a very small UK garden although it was bursting with very typical English cottage style flower beds and climbing roses, to learn very rapidly that I can’t do that here (or maintain it even if I could!).  So, we have a few “wild” areas of our own, that would benefit from the gardener’s hand grenade that is the seed bomb.

So what do you need?

1 cup of air drying clay

1 cup of compost

2 packets of seeds

(we have multiplied this to cater for the fact that I have three children doing it, and a lot of space to cover!!  However, having said that, once we had put out the supplies, the boys decided they weren’t participating today!)

So how do you make them?

Break the clay into small pieces and put into a bucket or bowl

Add the compost

Rub the 2 together

Sprinkle in your seeds and gently stir.

Roll into small balls and place on a tray to dry out (1-2 days).

 

Choose your designated area and head out for a garden grenade throwing session 🙂

 

A Fairy Garden – Make Tinkerbell and Her Friends a Home.

Hooray, spring is probably here now for good, and we can take our crafting and making back into the great outdoors 🙂  So much easier especially when your supplies come from there and are a tad messy.  Today our little lady decided she was going to build a fairy garden.  Cue 2 little boys wanting to make one as well, and before I know it we have triple the amount of fairy gardens we had before we started.  So, to lighten my load a little, I suggested the mini men worked together on this one, and then I was only being pulled in 2 directions at once (although our little lady is fairly independent!).

To start with we needed to construct the fairies a little home for their fairy garden.  You can make these very neatly with crafting lolly sticks (all the same length and easier to handle), but we decided to go for a more rustic look with twigs.  The method is the same either way.  Have 2 sticks going horizontally, and place glue on them (PVA glue just doesn’t work in these scenarios, hence why the twins need help, as we have the adult glue out!!).  Then lay your pre-broken to size twigs vertically on top.  Make as many walls/roofs as you need (you can use 2 to make a pointed roof, or one for a flat roof), and then leave them to dry in the sunshine while you work on the rest of the fairy garden.

Next you need some sort of tub, and if there are no holes in the bottom, just poke some in so there is drainage.  I was lucky and had three shallow plant bowls in the garage so I used two of these.  We filled them with soil before moving onto the next phase.  We then placed our walls into the soil, making them into a square, but you can do any shape.  You can pre-glue your walls together and make the house in its entirety before placing it in the soil, but as we’d used twigs, they pushed in really well and held firm.

Then the garden is left to your creativity and imagination!  My trio placed moss on top of the soil for a lawn, and small stones for a garden path.  We then took 2 twigs, and tied string around to make a mini washing line.  Cutting up an old duster, they made towels, blankets, dresses, and even a deckchair.  We made pegs by snapping very small twigs, and slicing a small vertical line in the middle so it would hold onto the washing line.  The trio also added pieces of fir tree (to look like trees), and the odd crocus to brighten it up!!  The sky is your limit with what you can do.  Lego birds, mini barrels, mini plastic pegs, make a mini pond etc. My trio were really chuffed with their finished results, and we’ve tucked them away somewhere that is not so exposed, for them to play with out there 🙂

Make a fairy garden mini garden make a fairy home outdoor crafts www.mammasschool.co.uk

Country Kids

Thimble and Twig

Wooden Nesting Box-How to Make a Bird House.

Our little lady came to us one sunny morning, having decided she would like to build a bird’s nesting box for our garden.  I have always been an advocate of letting children use tools such as saws, drills, and hammers (under adult supervision), so I thought this was a great little project for her to do….but not so great for me.  It involved measuring and being precise, so over to Dadda went the project!

 

So before I go into the nitty gritty about the actual nesting box build, I want to explain a little why I feel it is important for children to be able to handle these adult tools.  Mine have handled them previously doing crafts at forest school, under the supervision of forest school leaders, and also at home to build simple things under my supervision.  In fact they have a box in the garden, full of wooden, a box of nails, and three short handled hammers, just for their use.  Using such tools will require co-ordination, and having a project to build requires the use of creativity and imagination, not to mention using skills such as measuring.  Using the tools gives the children responsibility and they learn to behave accordingly, and it heightens their sense of awareness as consequences for lack of it are more serious.  Plus they lead to a real meaningful experience, it’s tangible, memorable, and the learning that comes from such an experience is immense.  With all that in mind, I sent her off with her Dadda to construct their nesting box.

First of all they drew up some basic plans.  The little lady explained the shape she wanted to have, and Dadda helped her measure, and show her how to draw a plan to work from.  Then they set off into the garage for two days.  It is a good time of year to be building this as the birds around us have just started nesting.  We are really hoping for some visitors.  In our previous garden in the UK, the only garden birds we had were oversized pigeons and starlings, but here we have such a vast variety.  Plus the wildlife surrounding us is so rich and diverse.  We have woodpeckers 100m away in the wood, herons 200m another way, and I’ve come home to see a sea eagle looking very out of place in our garden tree!!  They found some old wood in the garage and set sawing the component parts they required.  Once they had all of those, they needed to drill a front door for the home owners, and then hammer the lot together.  We have placed it in a tree near our very successful bird feeder, hoping to draw attention to it!

Both the little lady and Dadda were very proud of their “scandi” nesting box!!!  I hope we have spurred you on with our post to let you children wield a “grown up” tool or two to complete a little project 🙂

Wooden Nesting Box -How to Build a bird hows, children's woodwork, childrens carpentry, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Make a Flower Press – A Fun Way to Collect Nature’s Craft Resources

Flower pressing is hugely popular with my trio.  My little lady has a bought flower press (long before I became acquainted with sawing and drilling as something to let children use), but my mini men have to resort to a home made one of which we will show you how to do here.  Once you have pressed and preserved your pieces of nature, the ways to use them are limitless.  My trio love making and creating, and now we finally have a few flowers peeping through after the long, dark, and cold Swedish Winter, I am having to control their enthusiasm somewhat or else I’d have no flowers left in the garden!!  Flower pressing is the vogue in our home!

To make your own flower press you need to have the confidence and trust in your little people to let them wield some “grown up” tools.   I want to explain a little why I feel it is important for children to be able to handle these adult tools.  Mine have handled them previously doing crafts at forest school, under the supervision of forest school leaders, and also at home to build simple things under my supervision.  In fact they have a box in the garden, full of wood, a box of nails, and three short handled hammers, just for their use.  Using such tools will require co-ordination, and having a project to build requires the use of creativity and imagination, not to mention using skills such as measuring.  Using the tools gives the children responsibility and they learn to behave accordingly, and it heightens their sense of awareness as consequences for lack of it are more serious.  Plus they lead to a real meaningful experience, it’s tangible, memorable, and the learning that comes from such an experience is immense.  I kept this very simple for my double trouble, with no precision or measuring required…I had enough on my plate making sure they weren’t nailed to their own designs!!

You can be more precise and measure your wood etc, but we sawed roughly 2 same lengths of wood.  You need 2 pieces for each flower press.  Then drill holes through (at least 4), and insert screws and nuts (wing nuts would look nice, but we used whatever we had in our odd screws box).  Make sure you cut 4 pieces of cardboard that are the size of the wood, to place between the flowers that require pressing, and you are all set to go flower pressing!

This whole project can be done outdoors in its entirety but we had drizzle today, so headed indoors for the painting and cardboard adding!

In the past our little lady has made book marks, collages, and greetings cards, all using the flower pressing method.  Today though she was utterly engrossed in her own idea of a nature guide.  She pressed various spring flowers from around the garden.  Then she stuck them into a journal she had made from cutting paper and taping the sheets together.  Then she added a flower to a page, and using a gardening book, wrote a little piece about each flower!  This was all her own initiative and she passed a whole day away immersed in her little project.  I think she will add to it as the seasons progress as well.

Flower Pressing, flower press, how to press flowers, make a flower press, pressed flower crafts www.mammasschool.co.ukMake a flower press, flower pressing, flower pressing craft www.mammasschool.co.uk

Coloured Nature Ice Blocks.

Here, in Sweden, in the midst of winter, it is hard to take science and craft outdoors (and remain relatively comfortable with one’s fingers not frozen solid!).  However, aside from snowballs and snowmen, there are a few lovely things that can be done.  Today we did coloured nature ice blocks.

What you need:  berries or leaves etc, water source, food colouring, and some containers.  I had the children running around the garden for supplies.  The request was to gather colourful berries, leaves of any shape or colour, and anything else colourful.  We ended up with large red berries, small red berries, small black berries, various pine needles, holly leaves, ivy leaves, some lavender sprigs, and some dried lavender flowers.

Next we placed them into a container and poured water over the top to fill the container up.  The children then added some more supplies in to fill the water space up a bit more.

 

 

The next step was to add a food colouring of choice (or in mini man no.2’s case, mix 2 to make purple), and give it a stir.  We then left them in a corner of the garden for nature to do its magic.  The temperature is staying below zero here in the day, so all we had to do was wait a little while.

Our finished products with the sun shining through……..

Thimble and Twig

Winter Tree Craft – Nature Weaving, Finger Painting, Journey Sticks, and Decorating Sticks.

The first of our activities, that we chose for this week’s nature art and craft, was nature weaving.  We had collected three Y shaped sticks and wound string around the V part; wind it round one branch, pull it across, and then wind it round the other, then pull it back across, and so on, until you have horizontal lines going up the V part.  We had then collected various items from the garden to weave through them.  Unfortunately at this time of year we are rather limited in the freezing cold with what we can collect, so evergreen supple branches had to do!  The children wove them over and under each horizontal thread, and then added the next one parallel to it.  At the end they tucked in brightly coloured craft feathers and tin foil to add a splash of colour!


The next idea we decided to do straight into the journals so we could keep it.  A winter tree would ideally be done on coloured paper, so it could be left bare, and use white paint thumbprints to create snow around and on it.  However, we lack white paint, and the paper in our books is white!  So, plan B was put into action, and brightly coloured leaves were added 🙂  The children painted their arms and hands and printed them into the books.  The arms became the trunks, and the fingers the branches.  I love it now when mini man no.2 does things like this (and enthusiastically as well) as there was a time when he wouldn’t even go near paint, as just the thought of getting it on him would cause a melt down….but persistence has paid off and he can now enjoy the use of it.  Next they did thumbprints or fingerprints for the leaves, and I love how they turned out.  

The third craft was an outdoor one.  A journey stick is a collection of items from a nature based walk that is then a memento of your trip 🙂  Be sure to remind the little people that they mustn’t disturb nature, so try and pick up things already on the ground.

You chose a suitable stick (chunky enough to be sturdy but not so big they can’t walk with it!), and wrap some string around it in continuous loops (these will be used to slot your items into).  We used purple sparkly wool….obviously everything must be sparkly!!  Our little lady is pictured slotting some undergrowth into her stick, whereas the mini men…..well, they had a sword fight!!  (They did end up getting a few pieces after the sword fighting and flag waving was out of the way!).  We decided as we did it, this would be an interesting thing to do every season, and then compare our photos.  Today, it was pine cones, berries, small pine needle branches (a few variations), mosses, and lichen.  So mainly greeny, brown.  Here is her finished result.

Our last craft was a very calming one (and boy we need these periods slotted into our days, as the trio are very full on, fast, and noisy!!).  We did stick decorating.  Each little person had a stick and some brightly coloured wool, and then they wound the wool round the stick to make blocks of colour.  This can be done as an outdoor activity, but the cold temperatures here make little fingers lose their dexterity, so today we did it indoors, after our nature walk and journey stick making.

15 Nature Inspired Craft Ideas.

We love basing our art and craft activities around what we have brought back from wherever we have been.  It puts to use some of the random things you can find in our home from the children foraging.  So, with that in mind, I have out together a list of 15 ideas that our children like doing with nature craft.

IMG_7634Decorating pine cones. This can either be done as animals, or with paint and glitter as decoration for such times as Christmas.

 

Decorating shells:  You can turn shells into animals and creatures too with a few googly eyes, and other craft supplies.

IMG_7638Glitter pebbles.  A firm favourite in our house, as is anything that involves liberally spreading the sparkly stuff.  My mini man has done his initial on one and then painted and stuck glitter on top of the other 2.

IMG_7104Make a rainbow picture using the petals and leaves around you.  My mini men first did this at forest school and loved it.  They are fascinated by rainbows anyway, but they enjoyed seeing the rainbow take shape with what they collected.

IMG_7462Bashing leaves onto fabric.  This is another idea we have picked up from forest school.  Get some plain fabric, put some leaves inside and fold the fabric over in half.  Then take a large stick and bash on top for a good while.  Eventually, the leaf imprints itself onto the fabric.  Several of these can be strung up as bunting.  Very good for little people to work out their frustrations doing 🙂

IMG_7775 IMG_7776Shell painting.  We always have plenty of these lying around the house, garden, and car!!  In every bag you own too.  Easy activity for a rainy day, and brightens up their rooms.

 

IMG_7778Flower pressing.  This can be done in between the pages of a heavy book.  We have a lovely wooden children’s flower press, that I see being sold everywhere now.  You can make anything you fancy, but bookmarks are a favourite in this house and our frequently made to give away to various visitors.

 

A leaf tree:  Using leaves of different patterns and textures, by glueing them onto paper to form the shape of a tree.

IMG_7777Pebble painting.  A good rainy day activity for our household.  We are never short of the presence of beach shingle in every corner of the home!  They like turning them into funky coloured items for their rooms.  Yet more clutter, but they were there in the first place as priceless treasures, so might as well put them to some use!!

IMG_7803A leaf butterfly.

 

 

 

Leaf animals:  Without using other craft supplies, you can shape and style your own animals and creatures onto paper just using leaves.

IMG_7802Dip leaves of all shapes and varieties into different coloured paints and then stamp them all over the paper.  You can make various shapes and patterns, or like my lot, just stamp randomly enjoying the colours, and the individual patterns of the leaves.

Leaf Rubbings:  Lie the paper over the top, and instead of getting a leaf pattern from printing with paint, use crayons to rub over the top.

IMG_7801A nature collage.  My eldest likes to recreate outdoor scenes with what she has brought back, whereas the two little men, just like to snip and stick it all on, enjoying looking at what they have made.

 

And to finish off our nature craft, an easy one to break up a walk, and an old favourite, tree bark rubbings (just remember a few crayons and some paper when you head out for a walk).

15 Nature Inspired Craft Ideas, nature craft, outdoor craft www.mammasschool.co.uk

Building a Bug House – Building a Mini Beast Home

IMG_7774We built a bug house, ticking off no.11 of the RSPB’s Give Nature a Home.  Ok, so it says make a high rise bug hotel, but we are very proud of our little bug house.  There was an old rickety bookcase that was stood empty in the garage, so I thought, if I chopped that with a jigsaw, then the children can hammer it into a shape with nails.  Then I had an even crazier thought….if I bought a saw, they can saw it too (I’m not quite in command of a jigsaw when operating it, so I didn’t trust myself to help them use it and leave them with a full set of limbs and digits!!).  So off we went on a hunt for a saw…a very bizarre situation buying my first saw with the purpose of my children using it!!

We had a rough plan of what needed to go into our bug house:  We needed dead wood, essential for the larvae of wood boring beetles, for example the stag beetle.  We needed bamboo canes for the solitary bees (however we swapped these for straws like our bee home, after several unsuccessful  attempts at snapping them smaller, and just making bamboo mash).  We wanted stones for cool damp conditions for any amphibians that might wander our way (not sure how likely that is but we can try).  Cardboard was rolled into the insides of cut off small water bottles to try and create a nice environment for any lacewings that might fancy a home.  We also put in dry leaves, dry bark, and fir cones to make lots of cosy crevices for any invertebrates that might fancy visiting.

IMG_7768 IMG_7769

 

They loved using the saw, and I think a few arms may ache in the morning.  Then once we had unscrewed and chopped the bookcase wood a little smaller we started out trying to make our bug home.  Our first attempt was a little optimistic and we would have made a bug skyscraper!!  Once we rapidly realised this was going to take about a year to complete and need all the dry bark from the back play area of the garden, more dry leaves than fell last autumn in Hampshire, and we’d encourage all the wildlife of the south coast to live with us (shudder), we went for something a little smaller.  It is now placed at the back of the garden peeping out from behind a plant, near a large flower bed, and out of the eternal hurricane that seems to blow everyday in this part of the country!  We all enjoyed building this, apart from no.2 mini man as it was his day at preschool, so we will have to think of another project 🙂 The wood box for hammering and nailing play is now stuffed full with the rest of the bookcase, we’ve saved a trip to the tip (it really was really wobbly as it was the first piece of flat-packed furniture I ever built back in 2000), and we have recycled something that was otherwise off to the tip!

Building a bug house, mini beast home, garden bugs, garden mini beasts, insect hotel www.mammasschool.co.uk

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