April is the month that could be called the outside month, a month of planting and growing and caring for our Earth. April 22 is Earth Day which started in April of 1970 and is a day said to take care of our planet every day. One idea to celebrate the day is to plant something.
April 23 is National Picnic Day with the word ‘picnic’ derived from the French piquenique meaning eaten outdoors, what better way to spend time with your kids eating outdoors, and then April 24 is Arbor Day which is said to be a day to encourage tree planting and to raise awareness of the importance of trees and forests. And finally, April 29 is said to be National Peace Rose Day. The peace rose is a hybrid tea rose and is said to bring serenity to any garden.
Lady Bird Johnson once said, “The environment is where we all meet, where we all have a mutual interest; it is one thing that all of us share. It is not only a mirror of ourselves but a focusing lens on what we can become.” What an awesome statement, she was an amazing lady.
Keeping with the nature theme in April, I found several interesting and fun ideas using nature as the pattern. These can be a great way to teach kids to appreciate the things in nature we take for granted and they will see the many ways nature items can be fun and used in creative ways. Most of the ideas came from the same site: https://handsonaswegrow.com/
I just turned some of them into what I felt would work for you. Other sites I got ideas from were https://www.makeandtakes.com/fall-activity-make-nature-faces http://goexplorenature.com/2011/09/backyard-nature-fun-garden-scavenger.html and thespruce.com and I just took little tidbits and put together things you all might like to do.
Let’s start with making a watering can or piece out of recycled soda bottles. The kids can paint and decorate these also.
You will need:
1 liter plastic bottle (for the smaller kids, a regular sized water bottle will work also)
Use the paper plate to make a paint palette and squirt different colors of paint onto the paper plate and provide different brushes for them to use for the different colors. Telling them to make them with a Spring design would be a great idea. After the bottles have dried completely, poke holes around the top part of the bottle below the lid, so that they can fill them with water and then turn them upside down and squeeze the water and it will flow like a soft rain. (A hint is to maybe heat the nail a bit to make it easier to poke, but don’t have the kids do this part.)
Another good idea is to teach the kids to pull weeds. They will probably like this, give them a bin or something from the Dollar Tree would work fine to put the weeds in. The kids will think this is fun, but we all know as the kids get older, the older ones may not see it as fun, but as a chore, can’t win them all can we?
Another great idea is to go on a garden scavenger hunt with your kids. An example may look like this:
Things to find
largest leaf you can find
biggest tree in the garden area
something round that is natural
a good hiding place
a spider web
Things to do
touch something that is smooth
touch something that is rough
smell a flower
touch something that is wet
listen for the loudest sound you hear
listen for the softest sound you hear
This scavenger hunt can be made to be more dedicated to your surrounding area.
I like next idea: Float or Sink – Put together a tub of water, then let kids take nature items they collect to determine what natural items float and sink.
Matches And I found for math, an idea to find leaf matches or other nature items that match.
And also, and idea to get paint swatches at Lowe’s or any painting store and find the shades that match nature, lots of different greens, yellow, and brown. Then go out and find nature matches.
A simple nature suncatcher can be made with nature items collected, to make your own nature collage suncatcher, you’ll need:
contact paper (any would work, but clear would make them even more sun catching and visual)
yarn or ribbon
flowers and leaves
You can even make the frames for the suncatchers using leftover paper birthday plates or party plates. To make the frame, just cut out the center of the plate. Then use the plate piece that was cut out to figure out the size of the contact paper that you will need. Cut a square just larger than the center of the plate. You may want to trim down the corners just a tad to make sure they wouldn’t stick out past the plate edges.
Then, stick the square of contact paper onto the back of the paper plate. The sticky side of the contact paper was up when I set the plate on the table.
Contact paper makes this an easy craft for toddlers. Contact paper is a mess-free way to glue! It’s so easy and kids love the stickiness of it. It’s like magic to them!
When the nature collages are finished, attached a piece of ribbon to the top of the paper plate frame. You can hang them in a window from the window locks, but you could also use a curtain rod or hook. They will love seeing the beautiful flowers and leaves preserved in the nature collage suncatchers. It’s like they captured a beautiful day outside together, too!
Make nature faces like Make and Takes. Kids can be creative and create self portraits with natural items, or maybe portraits of their friends and family. Nature faces can be made virtually anywhere, at any time, so remember this activity next time your kids say “I’m bored, mom!”
Supplies for Nature Faces:
Various natural materials
Sidewalk chalk (optional)
1. Gather natural materials. A paper gift bag is a handy way to carry around your natural treasures. Choose all kinds of different items, such as: leaves, flowers, moss, grass, rocks, pine cones, acorns
2. Get more than one of each item, if possible. Two matching items can be used for eyes or ears, or a handful of the same item can become hair or other accessories.
3. Spread out your materials so they’re easy to see. Younger kids might enjoy sorting the items and putting them together by category.
4. Clear off a spot on the ground, and create faces! It might be helpful for some kids if a chalk circle is drawn on the ground so they will have a starting point for their face creations.
Whatever way you spend time with your kids they will most likely enjoy it. Maybe for Picnic day, have the kids pack a picnic lunch for all of you and then just take a blanket or cloth out in the yard or wherever and make it a special time, it may even be a great opportunity for conversations between all of you. Have fun anytime in April by making nature the center of the things you do.
Let me know any ideas you have or what you would like to see and I’ll get right on it for you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember to be kind and love each other and continue to set a good example for our children. See you next week with new ideas and ways to help your children or ideas that may help you as you raise your children in some way.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928
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