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  • jenniferksweeney

Nature Art and Exploration

I'll be adding in activities that focus on being outdoors engaged with the natural world. These can be adjusted for a range of ages. Note: if you live in a city or are an apartment dweller, I know this can be a challenge, but it can also help you feel more connected to nature. Keep a collection of natural materials in a bin at home for items gathered outside--rocks, shells, pine cones, sticks. You can also add natural items you might have in your house--dried flowers, seeds, leaves. When you head outside, take along a gathering bag.

  1. Natural paintbrushes: This project has many creative acts in one. First, make the paintbrushes: gather sticks, then gather items that would make interesting brush designs. We found flowers, leaves, pine needles, bark, an empty wasp's nest! Then tie the items to the sticks with yarn. We were amazed at how beautiful the brushes were. Then, set out many colors of paint and begin painting abstracts with the different brush designs. Use them to make prints, dots, lines, strokes--explore the possibility in each shape and impression. As with all process art, I always let kids decide when they think they are "done" (if this is very soon, I ask a few questions to help encourage more possibility), and then I hold the art up from a distance showing the 4 ways it could look by turning it. They love this step, and choosing which way they like best. It's often not the one they oriented to when they were making the piece. Finally, the painted brushes are lovely at the end, and we kept them in a jar outside and bring them back into art projects from time to time.

2. Nature weaving

So much of exploring nature involves observing, gathering, and arranging. For this project, you make a simple stick frame using yarn to tie the corners together. Then weave yarn in both directions across the frame to make a "loom"--nothing perfect here, any simple wrapping motion will work for this. Then send the kids around the yard to find interesting leaves and flowers that catches their attention in the yard or park (I suggested finding different colors, shapes, and textures), and the kids arrange them into the loom. You can hang it up and see how it changes during the week and then arrange with new matter again.

3. Stick Creatures

Sticks are objects of endless possibility. For this activity, look for oddly shaped sticks and hold them in the four directions to see which way you want to orient your stick creatures. Then paint them. Here's a taste. You can stick them in the ground to make huddles of stick creatures and decorate flower beds and garden with stick folk. You could also slide one in next to a houseplant inside.

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