If you’re keen to inspire your child to love nature, there are few better ways than to turn natural things into crafts. Want to make a walk fun? Promise you can make a leaf garland after. Want to teach them more about plants? Encourage them to look at different leaf shapes and discuss which would make pretty pictures.
Here, we’re going to look at some of the best nature crafts for kids to get you inspired and help your child engage with the natural world on a different level.
Grass Head Monsters
You might remember growing a grass head from your own childhood – and if not, you might still find these funny little heads very appealing. Children are likely to love them, and they are the perfect way to teach your child about plants’ needs and how they grow.
For a grass head monster, you’ll have to source:
- Grass seeds
- A nylon sock
- Googly eyes
- A clear tub (e.g. a yogurt pot)
- An elastic band
Step 1: Fill Up The Sock
Get your child to help you sprinkle a generous layer of grass seed into the toe of the nylon sock. Next, add a layer of sawdust on top, creating a ball sort of shape in the sock.
Help your child tie an elastic band around the sock tightly to keep all the ingredients in, and then turn the sock the other way up so that the grass seeds are at the top. You should make sure that the sock is tightly stretched as this will help to make it look more like a face.
Step 2: Decorate The Yogurt Pot
Your child might want to decorate the yogurt pot with bits of ribbon, shiny paper, or stickers to make it look more interesting. You could also add a white sticker and write the date you started the project on, and/or your child’s name, or even the monster’s name!
Step 3: Decorate The Monster
Sticking googly eyes on the nylon sock is a great way to make it more personable and interesting to the child. Let them pick some different colors and sizes and challenge them to make their monster look weird.
You can also use a black marker pen if you want to draw on the monster’s head to add a mouth, nose, eyebrows, etc.
Step 4: Water The Monster
Water the monster and talk to your child about what grass seed needs. Explain how the seeds will sprout, and consider looking up videos online to learn more about this process. If you can, get your child to help you water the grass head or even take responsibility for watering it over the next few weeks.
After a while, you should start to see the grass sprouting, giving your child’s monster “hair” on top of his head. Let your child enjoy how it grows, and ask them if they’d like to give the monster a haircut once it is established!
Pine Cone Bird Feeder
Most kids are fascinated by birds, and many don’t get a chance to see them up close. Kids also love the idea of being able to help other animals, so if your child is interested in the idea of feeding the birds, this is a wonderful craft to do if you can find a pine cone or two.
To create a pine cone bird feeder, you’re going to need:
- A large pine cone
Step 1: Create The Hanger
Get a length of string and help your child to tie it around the widest part of the pine cone. It’s important to tie it tightly, so the feeder won’t fall when birds land on it and jostle it.
Use a natural string so that if it does come loose and get lost, it will break down harmlessly rather than damaging the environment.
Step 2: Mix The Filling
In a large bowl, help your child to stir together the seed and lard. If the lard is a bit too hard to stir, place it in a warm space for a while, and then have another go.
Make sure you mix plenty of seed in for the birds to peck at. Your child will love the idea of feeding the birds, but don’t let them get too carried away with the quantities.
Step 3: Fill The Pine Cone
Roll up your sleeves and prepare to get a bit messy – or at least your child’s sleeves. Layout some newspaper to contain any bits, and then help your child press the lard and seed mixture into the cone’s nooks and crannies.
Fill the pine cone nice and full so that the birds can get maximum enjoyment, and then let your child choose where to hang it.
Step 4: Refill As Needed
One of the best things about this craft is that it has an ongoing use as a bird feeder. Whenever it gets empty, you can mix up some more bird seed and lard, and help your child refill it, and hang it back outside. This is the perfect way to make both your child and the local birds happy!
For stamped leaves, you’ll need:
- A handful of different shaped leaves
- Paint in different colors
- A paintbrush
- A big sheet of paper
- Some twigs
- A glue gun
Step 1: Gather Up Some Interesting Leaves And Sticks
Maybe you’re going out on a walk, or you can pick some up from your garden? Encourage your child to collect some leaves in different shapes and sizes, and talk to them about what they’ve picked.
You can ask them to identify the different types of leaves or ask them why some trees lose their leaves in winter and other trees don’t. This is a great way to incorporate learning into your leaf craft.
Grab a few sticks as well; these should be thin and have lots of little branches, rather than stocky or simple straight lines.
Step 2: Paint The Leaves
Once you’re back indoors and you’ve assembled appropriate painting gear and paint-proofed your surface with newspaper, it’s time to get printing those leaves. Spread out a big sheet of white paper for your child to work on, and pour out a selection of paints.
Spread the leaves out and get your child to paint them using whatever colors they like. Some people do this using just autumn colors, but you can choose whatever colors you or your child like best, and let them get as inventive as they want to.
It may help to encourage your child to just do one leaf at a time so that you can keep things under control and don’t end up with painted leaves upside down on the floor or under somebody’s elbow by mistake.
Step 3: Stamp The Leaves Onto The Paper
When your child has finished with a leaf, help them to turn it over and press it neatly onto the paper. Use the stem to peel it back so you don’t smudge the pattern, and then set the leaf aside. You’ve got your first leaf print!
Help your child work through the different shapes, printing each one onto the paper as you go. You could overlap them to form a border or give each one its own space to stand proud like a tree.
When you have finished with the leaves, give them a quick wash and they can go back outside. Let the painting dry.
Step 4: Add The Sticks
You can use white glue for this, but you will speed the process up with a glue gun – just make sure your little one doesn’t get hold of it.
Before you stick anything, check how the leaf looks by setting the twig on the leaf. If you and your child are happy with the look, get sticking! This is a great way to make your leaves look more like trees if you want to go for that effect.
You could also use a pencil or pen to draw in the stem and some of the veins yourself if you aren’t sure about the stick addition.
Tip: Leaf Cards Make Wonderful Cards
If you want some handmade Christmas or birthday cards, leaves can be a wonderful way to guide your little one’s artistic talent. White leaves on a black background will look amazing at Christmas, especially if you surround them with some silver stars. Alternatively, bright colors on white will do nicely for birthdays or anniversaries.
You can spray a quick layer of varnish over your leaf cards if you want to seal the paint in and reduce the chance of it getting rubbed off or chipped.
Doing nature crafts with your little one is such a good way to get them talking about the planet and how it works, which is a great foundation of interest to lay.
As more and more of us look for ways to engage with the natural world, you will be teaching them valuable lessons early on, and letting them create and explore at the same time.