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Natural Treasures

Summer is finally here and I’m so happy to be able to tell my kids “go outside and play!”  Some of this month’s activity ideas come from I Love Dirt!  52 Activities to help you and your kids discover the wonders of nature, by Jennifer Ward.

ROCK N' ROLL

Next time you’re taking a walk outside, playing on the beach or going for a hike, do some rock investigating.  Make it a scavenger hunt and see if you can find…

sharp rock, flat rock, crumbly rock, bumpy rock, rough rock, smooth rock, shiny rock, dull rock, rock with speckles, rock with stripes, multi-colored rock, rock with only one color...

Older children can make comparisons in appearance and texture.  Perhaps even work in a lesson about the types of rocks (book suggestions to follow).  Younger children can play making paths or laying out circles or squares to indicate houses or a fort, even a whole town if their imagination soars!

If you’re bringing home a bucket of rocks, break out the paint and brushes and make a paperweight or, if you find some larger rocks, even a bookend.  Crafting with Kids: Creative fun for children aged 3-10, by Catherine Woram has some cute ideas for painting stones, that include ladybug paperweights and a very cool frog bookend (pick up at least one large rock, the size of your hand, for this project). 

ZOOM IN

Another great idea for exploring nature is to hand your child a magnifying glass and let them get really close to nature.  This is a nice boredom buster on a day that going out in the backyard may not seem so exciting.  Pick a small area on a tree trunk, a sidewalk crack, under a rock, between blades of grass and see what treasures lurk!  This might be a great activity to do in conjunction with this summer’s movie “Epic”, featuring miniature people and talking bugs.

STICK LETTERS

Decorate your room with your name in stick letters!  This idea comes from Step-by-Step Crafts for Summer by Kathy Ross. 

Supplies:

Enough twigs/branches to form the letters of your name

Newspaper for your work surface

Foamies, flowers, buttons, glitter, paint, chenille stems (pipe cleaners) or anything else you'd like to decorate your letters

Glue gun or craft glue

Gather up a pile of sticks that are similar in width.  Long sticks can be broken into smaller pieces, or look for curved sticks for curly letters or even forked sticks for the letter Y.  At home, lay out some newspapers to keep your work space clean.  Break sticks as need to shape out your letters and lay them out.  Ask a grownup to help you with a glue gun to form the letters.  Decorate however you like and you can twist chenille stems around the top of the letters to make hangers. A small thumbtack on each letter should be enough to hang on the wall.  Names with a lot of curly letters may be difficult, but try other words like HELLO or HI or PEACE or whatever inspires you!

 

Suggested Reading:

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, by William Steig

Pebble, by Susan Milord

Milo and the Magical Stones, by Marcus Pfister

Rocks! Rocks! Rocks!, by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

I’m a Scientist: Backyard, non-fiction J507.8 N285BU

Explore Rocks and Minerals!, Non-fiction J507.8G345BC

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