Category Archives: Environment

Painting With Nature

paintingnature

Submitted by: Carrie Dunn

Find and use interesting natural items to paint a picture!

Goals:

  • To explore different textures within nature
  • To explore color mixing
  • To practice using descriptor words
  • To practice using fine motor skills

Before You Start:
Gather materials needed: BioColor® paint, art paper, paper plates or paint trays and various items collected from nature.

Let’s Get Started!
Step 1.
Lead a nature walk outside to gather items to use to paint with. Provide the children with a small bag to use to collect their items. Some items could be assorted leaves, flowers or small twigs and branches.

Step 2.
Pour various colors of BioColor® paint onto paper plates or plastic art trays.

Step 3.
Dip a nature item into the paint, then carefully use the nature item to paint onto the art paper.

Step 4.
Add or mix additional colors onto the picture. Use multiple nature items to create different effects.

Furthermore:
Discuss the different effects that various nature items have when they are used to paint on art paper. Does it make a difference if the item is soft, hard, rough or smooth?

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Vibrant Fall Leaves

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Submitted by: Sue Pollan

Mix paint to celebrate and recreate bright, traditional fall colors.

Goals:

  • To explore color mixing as seen with the changing season
  • To explore outside in the fall season

Before You Start:
Gather materials needed: Red and yellow paint, various types and sizes of sponge brushes, white construction paper (or other art paper), Mod Podge®. Lead a nature walk outside to gather leaves and other assorted fall items, such as acorns. Provide the children with a small bag to use to collect their items.

Let’s Get Started!
Step 1.
Using the sponge brushes and the red and yellow paint, brush and dab the two colors onto a sheet of white construction paper. Blend and overlap the two colors over the paper.

Step 2.
As you work, orange should begin to appear amongst the red and yellow as the colors mix.

Step 3.
When you are finished painting the paper, take out the nature items that you collected. Glue a selection of nature items on your sheet of paper to create a collage of fall shapes and colors.

Step 4.
When your collage is finished, spread a layer of Mod Podge® over the entire picture to maintain the vibrant colors. (This step is optional.)

Furthermore:
While working, talk about the different items that were collected on the nature walk. Try to discuss and identify each item.

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Specimens and Potions

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Submitted by: Gaby Merediz

Explore outside to create a special jar of specimens and potions for Halloween.

Goals:

  • To engage in imaginative play
  • To explore outside in the fall season

Before You Start:
Gather materials needed: an empty jar (jam, peanut butter, mason jar, etc.), Liquid Watercolor™, wiggly eyes, paint brushes or paint droppers, various cups for paint and water and natural items found outside. Lead a nature walk outside to gather acorns, twigs, plants, grass, dead flowers, etc. Provide the children with a small bag to use to collect their items.

Let’s Get Started!
Step 1.
Fill the empty jar about half way with water. Pour, mix and add Liquid Watercolor™ to the jar until you get the desired color.

Step 2.
Add items collected from outside to the jar.

Step 3.
Glue or attach self-adhesive wiggly eyes or other decorations to the outside of the jar.

Step 4.
Use the creepified jar to decorate for Halloween!

Furthermore:
While working, talk about the different items that were collected on the nature walk. Try to discuss and identify each item. When mixing colors in the jar, talk about color blending. What new color does two other colors create?

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Leaf Man

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Submitted by: Penny Sommers

Explore the fall season and gather materials to create a personal Leaf Man.

Goals:

  • Work cooperatively when hunting for materials to build a Leaf Man
  • Learn about the different types of things that can be found outside during the fall season

Before You Start:
Gather materials needed: Large sheets of heavyweight paper (at least 9″ x 12″), glue, and an assortment of leaves from outside with which to create a Leaf Man. Lead a nature walk outside to gather leaves. Provide the children with a small bag to use to collect leaves.

Let’s Get Started!
Step 1.
Spread the collected leaves on a work surface.

Step 2.
Arrange the leaves on top of a sheet of paper in the shape a Leaf Man. When you are happy with how your Leaf Man looks, carefully glue the leaves to the paper.

Step 3.
As the children work, discuss the different types of leaves and the trees they come from.

Step 4.
Optional: Enhance your Leaf Man creation with paint or other embellishments.

Furthermore:
Read and discuss the book The Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert. For future projects, use collected leaves to create an array of different creatures.

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Fossil Footprints

fossil

Submitted by: Meghan McKinney

This activity uses puffy paint to make fossil-looking dinosaur footprints.

Goals:

  • Practice fine motor skills, including painting and stamping
  • Create a sensory-filled, 3-dimensional piece of art

Before You Start:
Gather materials needed: White glue, puffy paint in your choice of color, foaming shaving cream, mixing bowl, spoons or craft sticks, poster board, and a selection of dinosaur footprint stamps or any other kind of stamp available.

Let’s Get Started!
Step 1.
Spray shaving cream into mixing bowl. Add white glue and mix. This mixture should be 2 parts shaving cream, 1 part glue.

Step 2.
Add paint to the mixture to give it color. Start with half a cup of puffy paint, and add more if necessary.

Step 3.
If necessary, add more glue and shaving cream to maintain “puffiness.”

Step 4.
Provide each child with a sheet of poster board (cut to a smaller size, if you like). Drop a scoop of the paint mixture onto each sheet of poster board.

Step 5.
Have the children gently spread the mixture over their poster board with a spoon or craft stick. Don’t move it around too much, or it will lose its fluffiness.

Step 6.
Give the children a variety of stamps and let them make dinosaur tracks. Or, they can carefully draw in the puffy paint with their fingers. When the paint dries, the tracks will look like they have dried in the mud!

Furthermore:
Read a book about dinosaurs and the scientists who find and dig up real fossils!

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Planet Protector

planetprotectorChildren take pride in being given responsibilities if those responsibilties are manageable and explained. Let them help out in the classroom!

Goals:

  • To encourage recycling and environmental awareness
  • To promote self-esteem and cooperation

Before You Start:
Recycle some cardboard boxes for the activity. Set out scissors, crayons and markers.

Let’s Get Started!
Step 1.
Cut a slit up from the opening of the bag to the bottom, and cut out the bottom of the bag, leaving the boxy shape intact. You can leave a lip of paper as a “collar.”

Step 2.
Cut two holes, one on each side, for sleeves. The bag should be in a “vest” shape. Decorate it or invite the children to decorate it with a drawn on “badge” and symbols of either recycling or the earth.

Step 3.
Each week, choose a new child to wear the vest and take charge of recycling duties for the classroom.

Furthermore:
Talk with the children about different organizations that help take care of our environment. Discuss other ways children could help the environment at home.

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Nature Window

naturewindow

Celebrate nature and decorate your space!

Goals:

  • To explore items in nature
  • To create a unique collage with natural items

Before You Start:
Set out the items collected from the nature walk, repositionable clear cover, construction paper, glue and scissors. Gather yarn and a craft stick or wooden rod (optional).

Let’s Get Started!
Step 1.
Show some examples of the things you’d like the children to look for on their walk: small flowers, leaves, etc. Discourage them from choosing sticks or thick items (pinecones, etc) – explain that flat things will work better for your project.

Step 2.
Take your group on a nature walk. Encourage them to gather interesting items, such as single petals, a dropped spray of pine needles, etc.

Step 3.
Place in front of each child one sheet of clear, self-adhesive paper, sticky side up. Allow the children to place flowers and other items and arrange them as they’d like.

Step 4.
“Sandwich” the cover with another piece, side down. It’s best if an adult does this.

Step 5.
Trim any excess if needed. Glue on a piece of construction paper as a backing.

Step 6.
Use as a place mat or as a hanging nature window! For a hanging window, use a hole punch to create holes across the top of the construction paper back. Alternate winding a piece of yarn around a craft stick or a wooden rod and threading the yarn through the holes you’ve created in the paper. (Younger ones may need some assistance with this.) Tie the ends together and hang on display.

Furthermore:
You can use the sandwiching technique with many other items! “Capture” and display pieces of colored paper, glitter, sand, etc.

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