My two daughters loved going to crafts stores and stocking up on glitter, sequins, ribbon, paint, stickers, florescent markers, and every other type of commercialized craft product you could think of. Crafts really are a great way to encourage creativity, but you don’t need to buy packaged supplies to create fun projects. The following tried-and-true projects (I’ve done them with hundreds of kids at camps and recreation programs) require only household items or those found in nature. Enjoy!
Courtesy of Allan Clark
It’s fun for older kids to make these “fossils” and then bury them for younger campers to find. Simply mix together:
- 2 cups old coffee grounds
- 2 cups flour,
- 1 cup cold coffee
- 1 cup salt
Knead the dough until it’s smooth. On wax paper, shape it into pancakes, or, if you’re really creative, sculpt it into the shape of bones. Pat the dough flat, and press leaves or twigs into it to create an imprint. (My husband would press chicken bones into a few of the fossils for an even more realistic effect. After all, it’s always fun to dig up a prehistoric dinosaur bone!) Let your fossils dry in the sun for two days, or bake them on cookie sheet at 200 degrees for several hours until the dough is hard. Then it’s time for “fossil hide-and-seek” in a designated area of your campsite.
Leafy Forest Creatures
Take the kids on a short walk to collect fallen leaves. Afterward, give your children construction paper, scissors, glue, and markers, and encourage them to use their leaves as the basis for a “creature.” Could their leaf be the skirt of a fairy? Maybe their leaf resembles an umbrella. Use the scissors to cut the leaves into distinct shapes. Your kids will no doubt shout, “Hey! I never thought of cutting leaves!” Glue the leaves on the construction paper and use markers to add embellishments. Be sure to display these masterpieces from nature.
Nature Tree Weaving
Courtesy of Allan Clark
Find a flexible branch (on the ground) about 2 ½ to 3 feet long. Bend the branch into a circle and tape its two ends together with masking or duct tape. Cut twine or dark, heavy-duty yarn into 13 pieces, each about twice the length of the diameter of your circle. (This is a great way to incorporate a little math.) Tie one end of each strand of twine/yarn to the top of circle, spacing each about 1 inch apart. To make weaving easier, tighten all the loose ends by gathering them into one “trunk” that is then tied off at the bottom of the circle. Begin weaving 1-inch-wide ribbons or strips of fabric crosswise through the strands. Poke the ends of the weaving material into the back of your work of art. You can even do smaller-scale versions of this project using reeds and thin twigs. Each weaving will be completely unique.