Art and craft supplies don’t all have to come from a store. Some of the best crafting materials are just outside your front (or back) door. Natural art and craft materials such as flowers, leaves, twigs, bark, seed pods and stones can be found in almost any street, any suburb and in any city all around the world.
There are so many reasons to embrace natural materials. Here are just a few:
1. Natural materials are free!
Free is always good. Not only are they light on the hip pocket, but these items are also freely available. Which means you don’t need to pre-plan, you don’t need a trip to the shops, and you don’t have to store them. Spontaneous creativity here we come!
2. Venture outside.
Feeling cooped up? Step outside and see if you can find anything. A change of scenery can turn a difficult situation around.
3. Notice small details.
When we are out gathering, I’ve noticed that we pay more attention to the colour of the flowers, the shape of the leaves and the texture of stones. If you look closely, you’ll notice things you hadn’t noticed before. The world is a marvelous place.
4. Develop a botanical vocabulary.
Teach your kids the names of the flowers and plants at your doorstep. If you don’t know, look it up or ask a neighbour. My daughter JJ can point out: rose, agapanthus, daisy, frangipani, dandelion, society garlic, jasmine, bottlebrush and hibiscus flowers; banksia, fern, clover and gum leaves; banksia, illawara flame tree* and morten bay fig seed pods; and paperbark – because these all grow in our neighbourhood. She also knows the difference between a twig and a stick and where the terms overlap. We are both gradually building up our vocabulary to include all sorts of wonderful descriptive words and plant names.
(* Note: As one kind reader pointed out, Illawara flame tree seed pods are potentially hazardous as they contain hairs that can be inhaled, irritate on contact with skin, and in the worse-case scenario, cause blindness. Please supervise children closely and use gloves or avoid over-handling.)
Here is what we collected on our walk one morning, which we turned into some beautiful process-orientated Nature Art.
5. Get to know your neighbours.
People love seeing kids fascinated with nature. Ask politely about your neighbours garden, and before you know it, you’ve got a new friend.
6. Teach kids respect.
When we go on our walks, we have a few rules. We say good morning to our neighbours. We gather only things that won’t bother people and won’t harm the environment, such as fallen leaves, fallen flowers, twigs etc from the footpath. If we pick flowers or leaves, we only pick from trees that have an abundance of them. (We make sure to leave plenty for everyone else to enjoy). And we never venture onto our neighbours property without permission.
7. Learn about nature.
Point out that some plants flower at different times of year. Discuss the role of bees. Gather seed pods and imagine the size of the tree it might grow into. Talk about what plants eat, and what animals eats plants. And did you see that tiny lizard? I wonder where he’s going….
8: It’s good for the environment.
If your kids are creating using natural (or recycled) materials, then you might be less inclined to buy as many supplies and toys. Less ‘stuff’ doesn’t have to equal less fun.
9. Inspire creativity.
Kids love to craft with materials they have gathered themselves. And you won’t have a store-bought craft kit with instructions to follow, so they will have to come up with some ideas themselves.
Do you gather? What other benefits would you add?
And if you are worried that you won’t know what to make, here’s a few ideas:
Or I’m pinning even more ideas here:
Follow Danya Banya’s board Nature Art & Crafts for Kids on Pinterest.
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