On Sunday afternoon we headed down to the annual family day at our local nature reserve here in St Albans. Mr C and I have been involved there for years helping to run things, but it's only now that Little Miss C is getting a bit older that we are getting involved more as members than volunteers.
Whilst the bug hunt and pond dipping were of interest to her today, but she's not yet ready to properly try her hand at either. We also unfortunately missed the start of the storytelling session which was much more for her age range, but we were in time for the craft activity that followed it. Now I'm guessing the story was about butterflies as that's what all the children went on to make.
Provided with a piece of modelling clay to form the butterfly's body the children then had a huge tray of leaves, sticks and berries to go through to create the leaves and antennae – and any other body parts that the more imaginative children wanted to include in their designs.
As with all the best children's craft projects the simplicity of this one was part of its beauty. The smallest of hands could roll the clay into a "sausage shape" for the body and with a bit of help from the adults leaves were pushed into it to form the wings.
The beauty of this project is just how adaptable it is and how few materials you need to do it. As long as you have some clay or plasticine in the house everything else should be easily found in the back garden or at your local park. Children can be left to design the creatures that they want with only their own imagination as a limitation. I'm also a big fan of the idea of natural materials being used in the project as it's a great way of introducing children to all the wonderful shapes, textures and colours that surround us in nature and of getting them to notice what is around them. Older children can be let loose to design their own creatures whilst younger ones can be guided to copy pictures or make familiar things.
As we move into autumn here (and once there's a new baby to push around in the buggy) I'll be looking to introduce more activities where we go out on walks to collect materials for craft projects. Where possible I'll also try to relate what we make with a story that we've read, or with another toy or game that LMC has. With the warm weather and constant presence of builders in the house we've not managed so many craft projects lately, but I'm hoping to change that as the new season approaches.
What outdoor materials have you used in successful craft projects? Please leave a comment below and let me know.