Supporters of Education, the Environment and Development Strides…SEEDS.

Enabling us to teach our children in the classroom, outdoors and at home since 1984.

 

Dear Parents, 

We know that this is a particularly challenging time for you as you work with your children to ensure that their elementary education continues as uninterrupted as possible…at home.

The activities that we offer are both fun and educational and can easily tap in to your child’s natural curiosity and creativity. These are also great activities to do as a family:

This week’s fun activity…

Painted Pinecone Turkey

If you love turkeys, this week’s activity is perfect! 
Just in time for holiday celebrations, these painted turkeys are cute and full of natural charm. Pinecones are perfect for ruffled turkey feathers. 
We’ll make a painted pinecone turkey for this week’s activity!
 
 
Materials:
  • Pinecones
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Small pompom
  • Googly eyes
  • Scrap fabric or felt pieces, or colored paper
  • Glue

Step 1 – Gather Pinecones

Head outside and find some large, open pinecones. If you cannot find any, you may find pinecones on sale at a store. 
If you gather from outside, only pick pinecones that have already fallen.
 
 
 

Step 2 – Paint

Using different colors and a small paintbrush, paint individual scales of your pinecone!
 
If you want, leave some scales brown to create a natural contrast. 
 
 
 

Step 3 – Turkey Head

To create a turkey head, glue googly eyes to a small pompom. Then, cut out
a triangle beak and a turkey waddle from felt or fabric scraps. 
Glue both the beak and waddle below the eyes on your pompom. 
 
Tip:
You can also easily create a turkey head out of paper instead if you do not have pompoms or fabric scraps. 
Just cut out a circle and draw the turkey face, or cut out eyes, a beak, and a waddle from another piece of paper and glue it together. 
 

Step 4 – Attach

To complete the turkey, glue the head to the feathered pinecone body! 
Let it dry and it’s ready for display!

 

 

Decorative Paper Autumn Leaves

 
If you already miss our wonderful Wisconsin Fall leaf colors, we can make some permanent and fun paper versions.
 
Paper leaves make excellent decorations and are just fun to make in general! 
 
For this week’s activity, we will create folded paper Autumn leaves!
 
 
Materials:
  • Colored Paper (yellow, orange, red, brown)
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Glue
 

Step 1 – Fold

Take a piece of colored paper and fold it in half. You can fold it in half either lengthwise or widthwise.
 
 

Step 2 – Draw

Along the folded edge, draw an arched pattern. This is the basic shape. Note that the folded edge is along the flat side.
 
Tip:
To give your leaves texture, cut a design along the curved edge!  
 

Step 3 – Cut

Using scissors, cut along your pattern. Unfold and press the paper flat.
 

Step 4 – Accordion Fold

Starting from the longest edge, make small accordion folds all the way up the paper. To make accordion folds, fold a small strip along the edge. 
 
Next, fold another small strip, except fold the opposite way. Continue alternating fold directions until you reach the end of the paper. 
 

Step 5 – Squeeze, Fold, Glue

Squeeze your accordion folded leaf together, and then fold the entire thing in half. The two edges should connect. Glue along the center to form the leaf.
 
Tip: The “short” folded edge is the bottom of the leaf!
 

Step 6 – Stem (Optional)

Cut a sliver of paper and glue it to the base of the leaf to add a stem.
 

Step 7 – Repeat

Try making leaves of different Fall colors and different patterns! 
 
Scalloped edges will make an oak leaf shape, a “wavy” edge will resemble a maple leaf, a heart curve will look like a basswood leaf. 
 
 
 
 

 

Seed Mosaic

 
Fall is known as harvest season because many of the plants that grow throughout the Spring and Summer months finally produce fruits and seeds during this time. 
 
A lot of our native grasses and flowers produce uniquely shaped seeds as well! 
 
For this week’s activity, we will find and collect seeds and make a seed mosaic!
 
 
Materials:
  • Seeds (collect natural plant seeds if possible, otherwise supplement with beans or grain seeds)
  • Cardstock, cardboard, or poster board
  • Pencil or chalk
  • Water-based glue 
 

Step 1 – Collect

Head outside and collect some seeds! Grass seeds are in abundance, as well as many of our native shrubs and flowers. Try collecting fluffy milkweed seeds! See how many unique seeds you can find.If you need additional seeds, you can add bean seeds, pumpkin seeds, or even birdseed.
 

Step 2 – Sketch

On your mosaic piece of paper, sketch out a rough design so you know where you want to place your seeds. 
 
A chalk outline may be easier to see instead
of pencil, depending on the paper type
you are using.    
 
Step 3 – Glue
Starting in one section at a time, add glue to your mosaic.  Use your sketch as a guideline, and fill in one space with glue to completely cover that
small area. 
 

Step 4 – Add Seeds

Add seeds to the small section where you added your glue! 
 
Add enough seeds to cover the area and leave no glue exposed. 
 

Step 5 – Fill

Repeat steps four and five until you have finished adding seeds to your mosaic! 
 
Work in small sections at a time, adding glue and then seeds to your sketched-out drawing. 
 
For small seeds, using a spoon will make it easier to place them on your paper.  
  
 
 

Step 6 – Dry

Let your mosaic dry for an hour or two so the seeds are firmly attached to your paper. 
 

Step 7 – Shake

Gently tilt and lightly shake off any excess seeds from your mosaic. 
If needed, look for any gaps or missing areas and add more glue and seeds to fix any mistakes. 
 

Step 8 – Plant

Save your picture! 
 
When you’re done admiring your seed picture, cut it up and plant the seeds into small pots or directly in the ground in Spring. 
 
Some of the seeds (especially any collected from nature) will still sprout! 
  
 
 
 

 

Painted Leaf Garland

 
Fallen leaves are a perfect material to use for creative projects and decorations. 
There are still so many trees that haven’t turned bare yet, which makes this a great time to grab some leaves and create something special!  
For this week’s activity, we will paint and decorate leaves and create a garland!
 
Materials:
  • Leaves (thicker leaves will hold up better)
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint Pens (optional)
  • Twine or Yarn
  • Elmer’s Glue
 

Step 1 – Collect

Head outside and collect some fall leaves! 
Look for thicker, medium to large sized leaves – oak leaves hold their shape very well and are thick and sturdy enough to hold up to painting and garland use.  
Trees and shrubs with “leathery” leaves are excellent for this project.  Any leaves will work though, so feel free to mix in some smaller leaves too!
 
 

Step 2 – Press

Pressing the leaves between some heavy books for a couple of days will help flatten as well as keep them flat.  
This is not necessary, as the natural drying and curling of the leaves will give the garland a unique look.
However, if you want flat leaves, layer leaves in newspaper and place a few heavy books on top. 
Leave them to dry and flatten for about two to three days. After this time, you can proceed to the next step!   
 
 

Step 3 – Paint

Paint your leaves!  
Be creative and go wild.  
 
You can paint them all different colors, paint designs, make squiggly lines, dots, or even words and letters. It’s up to you! 
 
For intricate designs, try using a paint pen.
Be gentle when you paint to prevent damaging or tearing the leaf.
 
When you’re finished, let the paint dry for about two hours. 
 

Step 4 – Glue

Once your leaves are dry, it’s time to attach them to the twine or yarn.  
Use a drop of Elmer’s glue on the leave stem and lightly press it to the twine.  
 
Repeat for as long as you want your garland to be or however many leaves you painted.  
Let the glue fully dry.
 

Step 5 – Display

Once your garland is dry, display it!  The garland shows off nature’s beauty combined with your own creativity! 
  

 

 

Autumn Leaf Candle Jar

 
Colorful Autumn leaves don’t last long!
In Wisconsin, we only have a few wonderful weeks every year to enjoy the changing colors.  
 
For this week’s activity, we will preserve some Autumn color and make a candle jar to light up some of Nature’s fallen leaves! 
 
 
Materials:
  • Mason Jar
  • Colorful Autumn Leaves
  • Decoupage Coating (like Mod Podge)
  • Spray Adhesive or double-sided tape (optional)
  • Sponge Brush
  • LED tealight 
 

Step 1 – Collect

 
Go outside and collect some colorful fallen leaves!  
 
Flat, freshly fallen leaves will work the best.
 
Leaves that are too dry will crumble if you try to attach them to the jar. 
 
 

Step 2 – Coat

Using the sponge brush and the decoupage coating (like Mod Podge), brush a small area on the mason jar.   
 
 
 

Step 3 – Attach

 
While the decoupage coating is still wet and slightly adhesive, attach and press a leaf to the jar. 
 
 Smooth it onto the glass as best you can, though don’t worry if the edges curl up – it adds character!  
 
 

Step 4 – (Optional) Spray Adhesive

 
If you’re having difficulty getting your leaves to stick on the jar, you can try using a spray adhesive or even double-sided tape to get them to stay.  
 
You can wrap double-sided tape around the entire jar and then press leaves onto it.  You won’t see the tape after the leaves are attached.
 
If you use spray on adhesive do a small section at a time because it will dry and set quickly.
 
 

Step 5 – Seal

 
Once you have pressed and attached leaves all the way around the jar, seal your work with decoupage coating. 
 
This will help preserve the leaves as well as keep them attached to the jar.

 

 

Step 6 – Light

 
For the final step, add an LED tealight to your mason jar and enjoy the Autumn colors! 

 

 

 

Mini Pumpkin String Lights

 
String lights are pretty by themselves, but they’re even better when they’re decorated to match the season! 
 
For this week’s activity, we’ll decorate string lights with physalis husks!  
 
Physalis, also known as wild gooseberry, ground cherry, or the Chinese Lantern plant, can be found growing wild throughout our area. 
You can also purchase them in garden/craft shops.
 
Tomatillos are a larger type of physalis. 
The wild ones are easily identified because the fruits look like tiny orange pumpkins, or more obviously, Chinese Lanterns! 
 
 
Materials:
  • String Lights (or Fairy Lights)
  • Physalis Fruits
  • Scissors 
 

Step 1 – Collect

Head outside and find some Physalis fruits! 
They are a pale orange papery husk, with a tiny berry inside. 
 
You want fruits that are still closed and have not split open.  You might notice these plants walking around your neighborhood – try asking around
to see if any are nearby.  
 
Otherwise, try a nearby park or green space!  Collect as many fruits as you need to cover your string lights. 
 

Step 2 – Cut and Remove

Using scissors, carefully cut a tiny circle around the stem.  
 
Remove the stem and the berry inside.  You should be left with an empty paper husk with a tiny hole on top. 
 
 
 

Step 3 – Attach

Take a paper husk and insert a light from your string lights into it.  

If the hole you cut is too big and the husk won’t stay on the light, you can use a drop of water based glue to keep it attached.  

Repeat for each husk and light you have! 

 
 

Step 4 – Light

Hang up your string lights, turn them on, and enjoy the look of miniature pumpkins or Chinese Lanterns overhead!   

 

 

Dipped Marble Pumpkins

Fall is a great time to decorate pumpkins!  Instead of carving one into
a Jack O’ Lantern, try painting the outside and giving your
pumpkin a unique look.  
 
For this week’s activity, we will use nail polish and dip pumpkins in water to marbleize the outside!
 
This is a creative fall activity for adults and families
with adult supervision!
 
 
Materials:
  • Small White Pumpkins (orange can also work) 
  • Nail Polish (3 or 4 colors) 
  • Container for water, deep enough to fully submerge your biggest pumpkin (use a disposable container because nail polish will not be easily cleaned) 
  • Room temperature water 
  • Toothpicks 
  • Plastic Gloves 
  • Q-Tips 
  • Wax paper 
 

Step 1 – Fill

Fill your container with room temperature water.
 
The water level should be high enough that you can fully immerse your pumpkin in the water.  
 
Room temperature water is important as the nail polish will not spread as easily in cold water.
 

Step 2 – Gloves

To keep your hands clean, wear a pair of plastic gloves.  This will make it easier to handle the painted pumpkin as well as prevent getting nail polish all over your hands and fingertips.  
 

Step 3 – Drip

Open one of the nail polishes and shake the brush near the surface of
the water. Don’t pour it out or drip large drops.  
Heavy drops will sink to the bottom.
 

Step 4 – Add Colors

Add your remaining polish colors the same way.  Use a toothpick if you need to swirl the colors together to create a swirled, marble look.  
 
Work quickly!   You have about 20 to 30 seconds before the nail polish starts drying and clumping in the water.  If that happens,
it won’t stick to your pumpkin. 
 

Step 5 – Dip

Hold the pumpkin by the stem and dip into the water through the nail polish.
 
 Dip it sideways, otherwise most of your color will end up on the bottom of your pumpkin. 
 
 

Step 6 – Swirl

Swirl your pumpkin around to color the entire surface and use up the nail polish,
then remove it from the water. 
 

Step 7 – Dry

 
Place the pumpkin on a sheet of wax paper and let dry. 
 
 

Step 8 – Clean

To start the process again with a new pumpkin, you need to remove the leftover nail polish from your container.  
 
Take a Q-Tip and move it around the surface of the water to collect the unused polish.
 
Now, you’re ready to dip another! 

 

 

Leaf Chromatography 

 
The Autumn season brings about color changes in many of
our plant and tree leaves.  
 
Usually, leaves are green because of the amount of chlorophyll inside them; but at the end of summer the plants stop making chlorophyll.  Without the green color from the chlorophyll, the beautiful reds, oranges, and yellow colors appear! 
The colors of our Autumn leaves are a mix of these other colors. 
 
For this week’s activity, we will separate out the colored pigments from an Autumn leaf using chromatography!  
Chromatography is a method of separating out parts of a mixture.  The word chromatography translates from Greek to “write in color”,
which is exactly what happens!
 
Materials:
  • Leaves 
  • Wooden Spoon 
  • Cups 
  • Isopropyl Alcohol 
  • Plastic Wrap 
  • White Coffee Filters (cut into 1 inch strips) 
 

Step 1 – Collect

Head outside and collect some colorful leaves.
Try to pick fresh ones, as dried out leaves will not work as well. 
Green leaves are okay, too!  
 
There are hidden colors in green leaves that can be seen with chromatography.
 

Step 2 – Tear

Take a leaf (or a few of the same type) and tear them apart into small pieces.  
Place them into a glass or cup.  Repeat with a new glass or cup any other leaves you want to do the chromatography on.  
 
Tip: You can try mixing leaves and colors in one glass as well,
to try separating out all the colors! 
 
 
 

 

Step 3 – Pour

Add enough isopropyl alcohol to completely cover your crushed leaves.  
Repeat for any other cups you have.
 
 

Step 4 – Crush

Use the end of a wooden spoon to press and crush your leaf pieces.  Continue crushing until the isopropyl alcohol solution is dark with the leaf colors.
 

Step 5 – Evaporate

Cover your glasses with plastic wrap and let sit out overnight to let the isopropyl alcohol evaporate and the to concentrate the colors.  
 
Alternatively, you can place (heat-resistant) glasses in a hot water bath for about 30 minutes to speed up this process.
 

Step 6 – Chromatography!

Place one end of a filter paper strip into the concentrated solution at the bottom of your cup.  Keep it straight and fold it over the top rim of your glass to keep it in place.  
 
Now, the solution will travel up the filter paper!  Different colors travel at different speeds, so as the solution moves up the paper, the colors separate.  This should take about an hour or two.  
 
The colors you see on the filter paper are combined together in the leaf to produce the leaf’s color!  Amazing! 

 

Beeswax Leaves

 
Colorful Autumn leaves can be preserved using beeswax.
The wax prevents them from fully drying out and helps them retain their wonderful colors!
For this week’s activity, we’ll dip colorful leaves in beeswax!
SAFETY NOTE: When doing this craft, adults should be sure to participate with kids.
 
Materials:
  • Leaves
  • Double Boiler or Crockpot
  • Beeswax
  • String
  • Clothespins 
 

Step 1 – Gather Materials

Leaves off the ground have less moisture in them
and will work better! 
Best not to use leaves picked from the tree
as they will be too moist.
BUT…If you want to use fresh green leaves, press them in a book
for a few days to slightly dry them out.
 

Step 2 – Melt Wax

Beeswax melts at a relatively low temperature, (about 150 degrees F) – much less than boiling water.
Slowly heat your beeswax in a double boiler or crockpot until it melts.
Remove from heat.
 
Note: beeswax is difficult to clean so use a double boiler or crockpot dedicated to crafts and beeswax or use an alternative container in a water bath. If the wax gets discolored or loses aroma, it’s overheated.  Do not directly heat beeswax!  
Doing so may cause it to start on fire.
 
 
 

Step 3 – Dip

Holding the leaves by the stem, dip them into the beeswax.
You may use a clothespin or tongs to hold the leaf as well.
Be careful, as beeswax is hot!
If you want a thicker and stronger coating of wax, you can re-dip your leaves once your leaf wax has cooled (about 5 minutes).
 
 

Step 4 – Hang

Run a length of string to create a hanging line.  
Clip your leaves to the string with the clothespins to hang them and allow your dipped leaves to dry.
 

Step 5 – Display

You can hang these leaves in your windows or arrange them to make colorful displays anywhere you want!
The beeswax preserves the shape and color of Fall leaves allowing us to enjoy them long after the season changes!

 

CLOVE FRUIT BALL

 
Pomander is a French word that means perfume ball. 
Pomanders are easily made with a piece of round fruit and whole cloves. 
By adding cloves and drying the fruit, they last for months and give off a wonderful fragrance. 
You can hang them around your house or set them on a table and smell them whenever you walk by! 
For this week’s activity, let’s make a clove fruit ball pomander. 
 
Materials:
  • Round fruit (choose fruits with a tougher skin like apples, oranges, lemons, limes, or tangerines.  Fruit should be free of any blemishes to prevent spoiling.)
  • Whole cloves
  • Toothpick, bamboo skewer, or pushpin
  • Cinnamon
  • Black marker (optional)
  • Ribbon (optional) 
 

Step 1 – Find a Piece of Fruit

A round piece of fruit with a tougher skin works best for clove balls. 
Apples, or citrus fruits like oranges, tangerines, lemons, or limes are choices. 
Clean your fruit and check for any blemishes or soft spots.  
If you find any, choose a different piece of fruit.
 

Step 2 – (Optional) – Design

If you want a specific design, use a marker and mark dots to draw out your pattern on your piece of fruit. 
This will tell you exactly where you need to poke a hole and where to place a clove!

Step 3 – Poke Holes

Starting with a small section at a time, poke small holes into your fruit using a toothpick, bamboo skewer, or pushpin. 
You only need to make a hole deep enough so the clove can fit!
 
 

Step 4 – Add Cloves

 
Again, doing a small section at a time, push cloves into each of the holes you made.
 
Cover your finger with a thimble or a Band-Aid to help push the cloves in.
 
 
 

Step 5 – Repeat

Continue repeating steps 3 and 4 until you’ve covered the entire fruit with cloves!
The more the fruit is covered with cloves the better protected it will be from spoiling. 
 

Step 6 – Sprinkle

Sprinkle cinnamon over the outside of your Clove Fruit Ball.  This will help it dry out and also helps prevent spoiling.
Repeat this every other day until the fruit dries out.
It’s fully dry if it sounds hollow when you tap it gently!
 

Step 7 – (Optional) Ribbon

If you want to hang your pomander, tie a ribbon around it and find a good spot to hang it from.
Pick a place where you can enjoy the smell every time you walk by!
 

Step 8 – Enjoy

When fully dried, your Clove Fruit Ball will last for months!
Place it anywhere you want to add fragrance and enjoy!

 

 

 

Maple Tree Seed Dragonfly

 
Maple tree seeds have thin wings that help them move away from the tree so they can find a sunny spot to grow!  
These wings make them spin as they fall; these seeds are also known as “helicopters.”
For this week’s activity…we’ll turn maple tree seeds into dragonflies!
 
Materials:
  • Small twig
  • Maple tree seeds
  • Paint
  • Elmer’s Glue
  • Glitter
 

Step 1 – Gather Materials

Head outside to gather some helicopter seeds and a small stick.

Step 2 – Paint

Paint your twig; this will be your dragonfly body.  
Paint your maple seeds; these will make your dragonfly wings.  
Let the paint dry before moving on to the next steps. 
 

Step 3 – Glue

Arrange four maple seeds to form your dragonfly wings. 
You can place the wings facing “up,” facing “down,” or a mix of both!  
Once you have them arranged, glue them together.  Let the glue set before moving on. 
 
 
 

Step 4 – Attach

Glue your dragon fly wings to your dragonfly twig body.
 

Step 5 – Glitter

Add dots or lines of glue on your dragonfly wings.  
Then, while the glue is still wet, sprinkle glitter over the glue.
 

Step 6 – Dry

Let everything fully dry and your dragonfly is ready!
Make as many as you want to create a dragonfly swarm!

 

 

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND –

let’s learn about fossils! 

 

Fossils

A fossil is a trace or record of ancient life. Much of our plant knowledge from the times of the dinosaurs comes from fossils. 
Let’s recreate the process of plant fossils with this activity!
  • In order to make fossils, we’ll need two things:
  • air dry clay and
  • a plant part!
If you don’t already have air-dry clay,
you can make a simple homemade version!
 
Homemade Clay Materials:
2 cups Baking Soda (1 box)
1 cup Cornstarch
1-1/2 cups Water
 

Step 1 – Mix

In a pot, mix all three ingredients together.
 

Step 2 – Heat

Heat the mixture on a stovetop at medium-low to medium heat, stirring constantly.
When the mixture looks like mashed potatoes and all the water has been absorbed, remove from heat!
 

Step 3 – Let It Cool

Make a dough ball and wrap it in a damp towel.  Let it cool for about 10-15 minutes.
 

Step 4 – Knead

Knead your dough until it’s smooth and silky.  
It’s now ready to use!
 
Keep this clay in an airtight container if you plan on using it later!
 
Fossil Imprints
Materials:
  • Air-dry Clay
  • Plant Parts
 

Step 1 – Gather Plant Parts

Head outside and find some small leaves, flowers, or other interesting plant parts in fun shapes!  
At this time of year, ferns are just starting to emerge and they make excellent imprints!  
Pine branches, birch catkins, even bird feathers work well if you’re feeling adventurous!
 

 

Step 2 – Make a Clay Cookie

Take a small ball of clay and flatten it to make a cookie shape. 
 
 

Step 3 – Press

Take your plant part and press it into the clay cookie. 
If you’re using a leaf, press the vein (back) side of the leaf into the clay.
 
 

Step 4 –

Remove Leaf (optional)

You can remove the leaf or plant part to just have the imprint, or leave the plant part in the clay to decompose and dry out naturally.  
 
It will fall out of the clay imprint just like a natural fossil process!
 

Step 5 – Dry

Let the clay sit for at least 24 hours to dry.  
Quick tip: To prevent cracking, loosely wrap the clay in a plastic bag to slow down the drying process!
 

Step 6 (Optional) – Color

Your can color your new fossils with markers or paint for a fun and creative touch!
 

 

BUILD A TERRARIUM

A terrarium is a clear container meant to hold and grow plants.   Terrariums are self-contained miniature ecosystems, and a provide everything a plant needs with very little maintenance.  Plus they’re a great learning tool to showcase how a plant lives and grows! 

This week, we’ll make a terrarium using a recycled two liter bottle!

 
Materials:
  • Clear Plastic 2-Liter Bottle
  • Scissors
  • Gravel
  • Activated Charcoal
  • Soil
  • Small Tropical House Plants
  • Small Decorations (optional) 
 
 

Step 1 – Clean

Rinse and clean your 2-Liter bottle.  Remove the label.
 

Step 2 – Cut

About 5 inches from the bottom, cut across the bottle to separate it into two pieces.  
The bottom piece we will use to pot our plants, while the top piece will slide into the bottom piece to enclose your terrarium!
 
 

Step 3 – Drainage

Add an inch of small rocks or gravel to the bottom piece of your bottle.  
Excess water will fall through the soil and prevent your plant roots from being waterlogged and rotting.
 

Step 4 – Charcoal

The next layer is activated charcoal.  
Place a thin layer of charcoal on top of your gravel.  
Activated charcoal will help purify the water in your terrarium and prevent mold!
 

Step 5 – Soil

On top of your charcoal layer, add the soil.  
You’ll need about a 2 to 3 inch layer of soil for your plants to grow. 
 
 

Step 6 – Plant

Trim your plants to fit your bottle.  
 
You can safely cut the foliage to get to the proper size, you can also safely cut off some of the bottom roots so your plants can sit nicely in your soil layer.  
 
Don’t worry, they’ll grow back!
 
 
 

Step 7 – (Optional) Decorate

If you have small decorative stones, sand, moss, or miniature figurines; add them now to your budding terrarium! 
 
 

Step 8 – Water

Your terrarium is a self-contained ecosystem – in other words, once you put the cover on it, the plants should have everything they need to survive without assistance from you! 
 
But, to get that started, we’ll add a tiny bit of water that will circulate within your terrarium to help the plants live.  
 
Add one teaspoon of water for each plant you added.  
 
 

Step 9 – Cover

When your plants are planted, your terrarium is decorated, and the plants are watered, it’s time to cover it! 
Take the top and slide it inside the bottom half – this allows any water condensation that forms to drip into the soil and not outside the terrarium.   
 

Step 10 – Observe

Keep your terrarium in a bright lit, indirectly lighted location.  Too much direct sunlight will greatly increase the temperature inside your terrarium and overheat your plants.  
Monitor your plants and watch closely if they need more or less water.  If you have too much condensation forming in your terrarium, take the cover off and let the soil dry out for a day. 
If your plants look wilted, they either need more water or they need less direct light because they’re too hot. 

 

 

 

NATURE XYLOPHONE

 

A xylophone is one of the simplest instruments we can create that will produce unique sounds.  “Xylo” is actually the Greek word for wood; early xylophones were suspended branches that were hit to make sounds.  

Make a simple natural version using mason jars!

 
 
Materials:
  • Mason Jars
  • Two Small Sticks (Wooden Spoons also work well)
  • Natural Materials (Soil, Rocks, Leaves, Grass, etc)
 

Step 1 – Jars

Get about 5 mason jars to build your xylophone.  
You can use different sized jars or all the same size, different sizes will naturally make different tones; however you can change the tone of similar sized jars as well.  You do not need the lids! 
 

Step 2 – Gather

Head outside and gather up some natural material to fill your jars.  Soil, rocks, leaves, feathers, flowers, even water will work! 
 
 

Step 3 – Fill

Fill your mason jars to different levels with your natural materials.  
Generally, the more full they are the higher pitched sound they will make – however this will change depending on the type of material you fill your jars with!
 
 

Step 4 – Make Music

Place your jars on a flat surface and hit them with your stick or wooden spoon “mallets.”  
For easier music-making, arrange your jars from low-pitch to high-pitch so it mimics the instrument.  
You can keep the jars vertical or lay them on their side.  
Finally, switch up what’s inside the jars or the amount inside of each to change the notes that are produced! 

 

TREE STUMP TIC TAC TOE

Tic tac toe is a simple game of matching three in a row.
Marked tiles of this game have been found dating to ancient
Egypt as well as the Roman Empire!
This week let’s make a simple natural version that’ll bring you
fun and enjoyment for years!
 
Materials:
  • Tree stump, tree cookie, or other circular flat object
  • Ten similar sized smooth flat rocks
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Water based sealant (optional)
 

Step 1 – Grid

 
Using a dark colored paint or a permanent marker, create your grid on your tree stump or tree slice.
 

Step 2 – Paint

Split your rocks into two piles, painting five alike and
the other five a different design.  
How you design and decorate your rocks is entirely up to you! 
You may go the traditional “X’s” and “O’s” route, or go with a nature theme, like bees and ladybugs! 
Before you paint, make sure your rocks are clean and dry.  For finer details, or to make clean letters, try using a paint pen instead of a brush!
 
 

Step 3 – Sealant (Optional)

To prevent damage and preserve your tic tac toe board and playing pieces, brush or spray on a water based sealant.  
Use at least two coats to give it a good protective layer.
 

Step 4 – PLAY!

Use your tic tac toe board outside, inside, anytime!  
It’s a simple game that can be played anywhere! 

 

 

Cole Crop Seed Planting

 
Cole crops are plants in the mustard (brassica) family, like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale.  
The word “cole” comes from the Latin word for “stem.” It does not mean “cold” crops, though all of these plants do better in cooler weather.
Many vegetables in the mustard family are Fall harvest crops, so now is the ideal time to start them from seed. They’ll be ready in Fall when the weather cools down!  
Plus, since these are not fruiting vegetables, they’re perfect for growing in small spaces without worrying about pollinators.  
 
 
Materials:
  • Seeds – examples: Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale, Kohlrabi, Turnips
  • Planting Container or Garden Bed
  • Soil
  • Organic Mulch or Compost
  • Optional Companion Plants (aromatic herbs like dill, chamomile, peppermint, rosemary, and sage)
 

Step 1 – Prepare

Whether you’re using a garden bed or a container, make sure it has adequate drainage.  In a container, place some rocks or gravel at the bottom so your plants do not sit too long in wet soil.  A raised garden bed is naturally draining.
Mix in compost or mulch to your soil.  Cole crops are heavy nutrient feeders so a healthy amount of compost will help them grow and reduce your need to fertilize the plants! 
Finally, make sure you have enough space.  The larger plants, like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, need at least 18 inches per plant.  Use a big container!
 

Step 2 – Plant

Press your seeds into the soil and plant your vegetables.
Remember to give your plants enough space!  
You can also plant multiple seeds per hole; just remember to thin out your seedlings once they sprout.
 

Step 3 – (Optional): Companion Plants

Planting aromatic herbs around your vegetables can enhance their growth and prevent insect damage!  
Particularly fragrant herbs like dill, mint, and sage work well.
Keep them cut so they don’t shade out your vegetables.
 

Step 4 – Water

Water regularly!  
Plants grown in containers need to be watered frequently, as much as once a day!  On very hot days, you may want to water your plants twice, in the morning and afternoon.
Avoid watering at night, because the plants aren’t actively photosynthesizing and won’t draw up as much water.
 
 

Step 5 – Harvest

Depending on the particular vegetables you’re growing, they should be ready in about two to three months, perfect timing for a cool weather harvest!

 

 

Recycled Water Bottle Bird feeder

This week we’ll recycle a plastic water or soda bottle
and turn it into a bird feeder!  
 
Materials:
  • Plastic Bottle – 16 oz. or 20 oz. works well. (Anything larger may not bear the weight if hung on a tree branch, when filled with seed.)
  • Scissors
  • Stick or Dowel Rod
  • Eye Hook Screw
  • Stones (Small, smooth, and flat stones work best)
  • Glue (Water Based or Hot Glue if available)
  • Pieces of Bark
  • Bird Seed
 

Step 1 – Clean and Dry

Wash and clean your plastic bottle.  
Make sure it’s fully dry before filling it with seed because
wet bird seed will mildew/rot and the birds will not be attracted.
 

Step 2 – Cut

About two inches from the bottom of your bottle, cut out a large hole.  
This should be big enough so that birds can easily reach the
birdseed inside the bottle.  
Use a scissors to poke through the plastic and then cut the opening. 
 

Step 3 – (Optional) – Add a Perch

Below the large hole, cut out a smaller hole large enough to poke the stick or dowel rod through the bottle. 
Cut out another hole on the opposite side so the stick is completely through the bottle.  
This helps the perch be stable enough to support the bird.
 
 

Step 4 – Hook

Take your eye hook and screw
it into the plastic cap.  
 
This will allow you to hang it.
 
 

Step 5 – Decorate

Starting anywhere on your bottle, add a bit of glue to the outside.  
If using hot glue, attach your stones while the glue is still hot and adhesive. 
If using water based glue, let it dry for a few minutes to become more “tacky” before attaching your stones.  
Repeat this step until your bottle has a stony exterior.  
The natural appearance makes it more attractive to birds! 
 
 

Step 6 – Add a Roof

Once your bottle is covered in stones, it’s time to add a roof!  
Add some hot glue around your bottle cap, and attach pieces of bark.  
You can add more layers if you want a “tiled” look by adding more glue and placing more bark on top.  
Don’t be stingy with the glue, you want the roof to be as secure as possible.  
Adding the roof will keep your bird seed dry.
 

Step 7 – Fill

Pour some bird seed into your feeder through the opening
you created in Step Two.  
Remember to check regularly and replace your seed every few days or every week.  
Pour out the old seed each time you refill your feeder.
 
 

Step 8 – Hang and Enjoy!

Find a sheltered spot and hang
your bird feeder.  
 
The birds may take a few days to notice it and become comfortable, but they’ll soon visit and establish a regular pattern of eating from the feeder.

 

 

 

Nature Thread Boards

Nature amazes us every day with beautiful flowers
and colors all year long.  
This week, we’ll borrow some natural colors and explore making creative designs with a fun, reusable, decorative Thread Board!  
 
Materials:
  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Hole Punch or Pencil Point
  • Flowers and Leaves
 
 
Step 1- Cut
Start with a piece of cardboard and cut it into whatever shape you’d like.  
An arch for a rainbow, a wreath, or free form shapes are all wonderful options.  BE CREATIVE!
Make your shape large enough to fit enough your flowers.
 
Step 2 – Make Holes
Punch holes throughout your cardboard shape.  
If you’re making a rainbow, follow the curves of your arches to match the colored lines of a real rainbow.  
If you don’t have a hole punch, use the point of a pencil to poke through the cardboard.
 
 
Step 3 – Collect Flowers
Head outside into your yard and collect some colorful flowers and leaves!  
When you pick flowers or leaves, leave an inch or two of stem attached so that it will stay “threaded” in your board.
Dandelions make excellent threading flowers!
 
 
Step 4 – Decorate
 
Place your flowers and leaves on your cardboard shape and thread the stems through the holes.  
 
Decorate your board with your different colors and be creative! 
 
Step 5 – Reuse
Whenever you want a new design, simply remove the flowers and add new ones! 
Create new color and texture combinations as much as often as you wish.
Show off your creative art – display it for friends and family to enjoy!

 

 

Pressed Flower Bookmarks

If you haven’t started your Summer reading list yet, grab a book, head outside, and find a quiet spot in nature to immerse yourself in the story!  
This week we’ll make a pressed flower bookmark!
 
Materials:
For Pressed Flowers:
  • Flowers or small leaves
  • Tissue Paper (wrapping paper)
  • Newspaper or Paper Towels
  • Heavy Books or bricks
For Bookmark:
  • Card stock
  • Water-based Glue
  • Pressed Flowers or Leaves
  • Contact Paper
  • Hole Punch
  • Yarn
 

PRESSING FLOWERS FOR YOUR BOOKMARK

 
Step 1 – Find
Head outside and grab some flowers and small leaves.  
Small and thin flowers and leaves will dry and press easier and much faster!
 
Step 2 – Arrange and Layer
Arrange your flowers and leaves on a piece of tissue paper.  
How you arrange them and place them is how they will appear flattened.
 
Once you’re happy with your arrangement,
place another piece of tissue paper on top. 
 
Then, layer 10 pieces of paper towel or folded newspaper on both sides (top and bottom).  This will help absorb the moisture and dry out your flowers.
 
 
Step 3 – Press
Place your flattened flower and papers in between two flat surfaces, like a book, a smooth brick, or a board.  
 
If you have a phone book, try placing your bundle in between the pages.  
 
Then, place books or bricks or other heavy objects on top to weigh it down and press your flower or leaf flat.
 
 
Step 4 – DRY TIME NEEDED
 
Your flower or leaf should be dry enough and flattened in about 3 days.  Thicker leaves or flowers may take an additional day or two.  
 
When you remove the flower to take a look, it should be flat, dry, and very fragile!  
 
Be very careful when picking it up and handling it.  If your flower isn’t quite ready, replace the paper layering and press it again for another day or two. 
 
Fun Fact:
Dried flowers made by this method are usually pressed for at least two weeks up to a month long!  We don’t need to wait quite that long to make a bookmark!
 

BOOKMARK DIRECTIONS

 
Step 1 – Cut
Cut a piece of card stock into a 6-inch by 2-inch rectangle.  
You can make this bigger or smaller, but make sure it’s at least large enough to hold your pressed flowers!
 
 
Step 2 – Arrange
Place a tiny amount of glue wherever you want to place your pressed flowers and leaves; then gently add your pressed pieces to your bookmark.  
Remember, your pressed flowers are delicate, so be gentle!  The glue will help hold them while we add the contact paper as a final step.
 
 
Step 3 – Cover
Take a piece of contact paper and press it over your bookmark.  
Once done, flip it over and take a second piece of contact paper and press it on the backside.  
This way, your entire bookmark is protected.  
When you have both sides covered, cut away the excess contact paper. 
 
 
Step 4 (Optional) – Decorate
For an added touch, make holes around the edges of your bookmark using your hole punch and weave a piece of yarn or ribbon around it.  
Start at the top, work your way around, and tie off your extra yarn.  
You could even add a bell or some beads to your yarn “tail” to remind you to read! ENJOY BEING CREATIVE!
 
 
Step 5 – Read
Enjoy using your newly created bookmark!
 

 

Tie Dyed Flowers

The stem of a plant:
  • allows the plant to grow tall and reach more sunlight
  • provides space for leaves and flowers to grow
  • has an extremely important job of transporting water from the roots to the all the parts of the plant that need it. 
When you place flowers in a vase, the stem constantly draws up water for the flowers to keep them alive. 
 
For this week’s activity we’re going to change the color of a flower using stems and colored water!
 
Materials:
  • White flowers (daisies, chrysanthemums, roses, carnations, etc.)
  • Food coloring
  • Plastic cups
  • Water
  • Sharp scissors or knife

Step 1 – Trim

Cut the stems short enough so that the flowers can comfortably stand in your plastic cups.  
Leave between 2-4 inches of height above the cup.  
Remove any leaves or thorns from the stem.
 

Step 2 – Dry

Leave your cut flowers out to dry for 30 minutes.  This will make them “thirsty” and speed up the coloring process.
 

Step 3 – Color

Fill your plastic cups with water and add food coloring.  
Be generous with the dye; the darker the color the easier it will show in the flowers.  
Do not use gel type food coloring, it does not work as well as the liquid type.
 
 
 

Step 4 (Optional) – Split

The stem can be split in half by very carefully cutting from the bottom up with a sharp scissors or knife. This step should be done by an adult.
If you’re feeling creative, you can cut it into thirds or even fourths.  
Be sure to leave about 2 inches of solid, uncut stem below the flower.
 

Step 5 – Place

 
Place your flowers in the colored water cups. 
If you split the stems, place each piece in a different cup.
 
 
Step 6 – Wait
 
Leave your flowers in the cups to absorb water.  
 
Your flowers will start to show colors in a couple of hours, but waiting longer will make the colors brighter and more vivid!

 

 

 

BUG HOUSES

 
  • Insects and other bugs are very important in the life cycles of plants. 
  • Some act as pollinators, feeding on flower nectar and helping flowers turn into seeds to reproduce. Many insects use plant parts, like leaves or roots, as their food source to survive. 
  • All insects are valuable parts of nature and our ecosystem, and just like other animals, they need food, water, and shelter to live! 
  • Plants are amazing because they provide all three of those things for our insect friends.
This week, let’s use some plants and make some bug houses for our friendly insects to live!
 
 
Materials:
  • Weatherproof open containers
Examples – Small wooden box, birdhouse with the front removed, wooden crate, mason jar, tin cans, clay pots
  • Assorted plant and natural material
Examples – sticks, bark, leaves, hollow plant stems, pine cones, dried flowers, grasses, small rocks
  • Glue
 
 

Step 1 – Container

Find a small container that is open on one end, like a wooden box or even a tin can or clay pot.
 
An old birdhouse with the front removed is easily reused for bug houses.  
 
If your containers are small, use a few to make different houses filled with different materials!  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tip:
 
You can also try cutting open a milk gallon or making cylinders from plastic bottles!
 

Step 2 – Material

Head outside in nature and collect some building supplies! 
  • Small twigs make a good home for ladybugs
  • Hollow stems make a good home for solitary bees (NOT wasps!)
  • Rocks make a good home for spiders.
Whatever material you grab, watch it over time to see which bugs take up residence in your bug house. 
Different bugs like different materials, so try a variety!
 

Step 3 – Fit

Bundle up your materials tightly and, if you need to, cut them to fit inside your container. If the houses are too far out of your container, they may get too wet from the rain; bugs will not be attracted to a wet house!  
 

Step 4 – Pack

Pack your bundles of materials tightly into your container. If you’re using small containers, pack only one type of material in each one. 
Otherwise, stack and arrange your bundles all together in your larger container. If you need to, you can use glue to keep everything in place.
For sticks and hollow stems, place them so the ends are facing out of the container. You’ll be able to see which insects use your house that way.
 

 

Step 5 – Paint

 
When your bug house is packed full and ready, find a place outside for them.
You can hang them from trees or bushes, or simply place them on the ground in a sheltered spot. 
If you put them on the ground, tie them down so they don’t blow away in the wind or during storms! 
It’s also a good idea to put them on a brick or rock to keep them off of the ground.
Your bug house will stay a little drier that way!
 

Step 6 – Watch!

Keep a close eye on your bug house and wait for insects to move in! 
Then you’ll begin to see them visiting your plants and flowers
keeping them healthy all year long.
 

 

CREATING NATURAL PAINTBRUSHES…AND YOUR OWN SPECIAL ART!

Artists use paintbrushes to apply their paint…and
brushes can be made from many different materials.
This week we’re going to make some unique paint brushes with nature’s help!  
These brushes will allow you to create your own
interesting patterns and designs. And have fun using your imagination!
 
Materials:
  • Small sticks or twigs
  • Rubber bands (or string)
  • Plant parts (leaves, grasses, flowers, etc.)
  • Paint
  • Paper
 
 

Step 1 – Collect

Every paintbrush starts with a handle.
Our paintbrushes will use small sticks as handles….
Head outside and look for small sticks or twigs.
Look near trees. 
Find a few that are small, short, straight, sturdy and feel comfortable in your hand. 
 

Step 2 – Collect Again

Now that we have a handle, we need bristles which will hold your paint.   Many paintbrushes use hair or sponges, but ours will use natures materials instead!  Collect clumps of grasses, leaves, flowers, even seed heads or any other soft plant parts.  Tip: Pine needles and grass make brushes very similar to a traditional brush.

 

Step 3 – Attach Bristles to Handle

Take a bundle of leaves or other plant parts, bunch them tightly together, and attach them to a stick using a rubber band or string…as shown
Mix your plant parts or use only one type of material. 
It’s lots of fun to create designs from varied textures.
 
 

Step 4 – Repeat

Try making a variety of brushes!
Artists might use an array of brush shapes and styles, such as soft bristled, hard bristled, flat, pointed, and even fan shaped brushes when creating their art.
 

Step 5 – Paint

Grab some paint, dip your paintbrushes, and enjoy your creations! 
 
Use your different brushes to make a variety of textures and patterns,
be creative!
 
 
 
 

Step 6 – Show off!

Let your painting dry for a little bit and show it off!  
 
The unique style and texture of each brush
+ your imagination
will give your art its own special look.
 
 

Step 7 – Save

The best part of using a handmade, natural paintbrush is that it also becomes an art form!
 
When you finish painting with your individually made brushes, let them dry and display them with your painting! 
 
 
 

 

 

POPSICLE STICK PLANTER

 

It’s time to grow some plants!  

For this week’s activity, we’re going to build a fun planter with things you might have around the house, fill it with soil, and then grow some simple herbs from seeds that are quick and easy for kids to grow.

 
 
Materials:
  • Tin can (a soup or vegetable can or similar)
  • Popsicle Sticks
  • Rubber Band
  • Ribbon
  • Markers or Paint
  • Gravel
  • Soil
  • Herb Seeds (Mint, Basil, Parsley, Cilantro are very easy and fast to grow from seed – beans are also extremely fast to grow)
 
 

Step 1 – Clean

Clean your tin can and remove the label. 
 
If you’re growing your herbs outdoors, poke a few small holes in the bottom of the can for drainage, otherwise leave the can as is if you’re keeping it indoors. 
 
Tip: To reduce any sharp edges – smooth the opening with sandpaper or apply a thick line of hot glue around the edge.
 

Step 2 – Rubber Band

Take a thick rubber band and wrap it around the can.  
We’ll use this to hold the popsicle sticks to the can instead of glue.
 
 

Step 3 – Decorate

Paint, color, and draw on your popsicle sticks.  
 
You’ll need to decorate enough sticks to cover the entire outside of the tin can!
 
 

Step 4 – Attach

Slide a decorated popsicle stick under the rubber band to attach it to the tin can.  
 
From that starting point, place more popsicle sticks next to the last one, each time sliding it under your rubber band.  
 
Continue doing this until the entire can is covered by your decorated sticks.
 
 

Step 5 – Cover

Cut a length of ribbon to wrap around the can.  
 
Use this to cover and hide the rubber band.
 
 

Step 6 – Fill

Pour a tiny bit of gravel or small rocks into the can, just covering the bottom.  This acts as drainage so the plant stays healthy.  
 
Remember, if you’re keeping your can planter outside, you should have a few holes poked through the bottom!  
 
Once you have your rocks added, fill the can to the top with soil.
 

Step 7 – Add

Place your seeds on top and gently press them into the soil.  
 
Add a little water, and move your planter into a sunny location.
A south-facing window is the best for growing herbs inside.
 
 Tip: You can also directly add already grown herbs or flowers instead!
 
 

Step 8 – Grow

Water you tin planter whenever the soil feels dry, and watch your seeds grow!  
 
Mint, basil, and seeds from the parsley family (like cilantro) will sprout quickly, otherwise fill your planter with already grown plants!
 
 

 

 

PAPER SUN PRINTS

 
During the Summer months the ultraviolet part of the Sun’s rays can be used to make pictures!
 
In this week’s activity we’ll mimic this effect using construction paper!
 
Materials:
  • Construction Paper
  • Leaves or other flat pieces of nature
  • Plastic Wrap
 
 

Step 1 – Gather

Head outside and gather some leaves or other natural objects. 
Aim for ones that have interesting shapes and are relatively flat.
Fern leaves make for an interesting print!
 

Step 2 – Lay

Once you have your plant parts and natural objects, place them on pieces of construction paper.  
Try different colors, each paper will have a unique look! 
 
 

Step 3 – Cover

Cover your paper with the objects set on top with a piece of plastic wrap.  
Alternatively, if you have a pane of glass or an acrylic or plexiglass sheet available, lay that over the top.
 
 

Step 4 – Sun

Place your papers outside in a bright, very sunny location.  
Leave them for at least a few hours for the best color change.  
The longer they sit in the sun, the more the color will change on the paper!
 
 

Step 5 – Take Off

Remove the plastic wrap and take off the plant parts from the paper.  You should see an imprint of the object on your paper!  
 
This is because the ultraviolet rays of the Sun altered the color of the construction paper.
 
Your leaf or object on top of the paper blocked the ultraviolet rays, preventing the color change below!  

 

CATERPILLAR PASTA NECKLACE

Summer is approaching, and with the change in season comes wonderful creatures called caterpillars!  
 
Caterpillars eventually turn into beautiful butterflies – as many children learn from Eric Carle’s book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
 
This week, let’s build our own caterpillar and grow it as big as the hungry caterpillar!
 
Materials:
For colored pasta:
  • Uncooked pasta (hollow/tubular like Penne)
  • Vinegar or rubbing alcohol
  • Food coloring
  • Gallon-sized Ziploc bag
For caterpillar necklace:
  • Construction paper
  • Hole punch
  • Yarn
  • Glue
  • Colored pasta
 

COLORED PASTA DIRECTIONS

 

Step 1 – Mix

Add your dry pasta, vinegar or rubbing alcohol, and food coloring to a Ziploc bag.
 
For reference, a gallon sized bag should hold a full box of pasta; for that much pasta, use approximately ¼ cup of vinegar or rubbing alcohol.  You only need enough to coat each piece.  
 
About 3-4 drops of food coloring (do not use the “gel” kind!) works well, though adding more should result in brighter colors.
 
Tip: to minimize the vinegar smell, try adding some essential oils to the mix!  Rubbing alcohol will evaporate and leave no smell.
 
Once all your ingredients are in the bag, gently turn, mix, and shake to coat each piece and make sure all get colored.
 
 

Step 2 – Soak

When you’re done mixing, let the color absorb for around 30 minutes. 
If you’re using vinegar, check periodically to make sure the pasta isn’t getting too soggy and losing shape.  
Rubbing alcohol can be left alone for hours, though it isn’t necessary to wait that long.
 

Step 3 – Dry

After the pasta has soaked, pour out any excess liquid.  
Then, spread out the pasta on some newspaper to let dry.  
 
 

CATERPILLAR NECKLACE DIRECTIONS

Step 1 – Cut

Cut one inch paper circles out of construction paper.  Use a hole punch to make a hole in the center of each one.
Make as many circles as you want your caterpillar to be long.
 
 

Step 2 – Create

Cut out a slightly larger circle to use as the caterpillar’s head.  
 
Decorate it, make or cut out eyes, and glue a pair of antennae to it!  
 
Punch a hole so that we can attach it later.
 

Step 3 – Yarn

Cut a length of yarn or string as long as you want the necklace to be.
Tip: You can also do this craft on a fuzzy stick pipe cleaner!
 
 
 

Step 4 – Assemble

Thread a piece of colored pasta on the yarn.  You may want to wrap tape around the end to make it easier to fit through the holes.  
 
Alternate a piece of pasta with a cut-out circle.  Continue adding pieces until your caterpillar is the length you want.
 
 

Step 5 – Add

Don’t forget to add the head!
 
 
 
 

Step 6 – Tie

When your caterpillar is complete, tie the ends of the yarn together to complete the necklace! 

 

 

COFFEE FILTER BUTTERFLIES

With flowers in bloom, bees, moths, birds, butterflies and other insects will be visiting those plants to feed and pollinate!  
You might see that the insects visiting the flowers can be just as colorful as the flowers.  
Butterflies in particular have a wide variety of colors.  They’re brightly colored to attract friends; some even have colors to act as a warning for birds to stay away! 
 
 For this week’s activity, let’s make our own brightly colored butterfly!
 
Materials:
  • Coffee Filters (2 per butterfly)
  • Washable Markers
  • Fuzzy Stick Pipe Cleaner (1 per butterfly)
  • Spray Bottle or Eyedropper for water
 

Step 1 – Flatten

Lay the coffee filters on a flat surface and flatten them out into a circle.
 

 

Step 2 – Color or Decorate

Using washable markers, decorate your coffee filter circles.  Once your design is complete, we’ll drop water onto the filter to blend the colors together.  
 
Tip: colors next to each other will blend together, so if you don’t want that, leave a bit of uncolored space between your colors.  
 
Also, dark colors will overpower other colors!
 
 
 

Step 3 – Water

When you finish your design, use a spray bottle or eyedropper to lightly mist or apply water to the coffee filter.  
 
You can also wet your fingers and “flick” water on it, or use a small spoon to drop water on the filter.  
 
Put your coffee filters in a shallow pan or on a waterproof plate to contain the colors!
 

Step 4 – Dry

Remove the coffee filters from any water and let them dry. 
You can place them in the sun or put them on top of a paper towel to speed up the drying time.
 

Step 5 – Fold

Fold each of the coffee filters in half, so that you have two half-circles.
 
 

Step 6 – Arrange

Place the coffee filter half-circles so that the curved sides face towards each other.  
 
The flat sides should be at the top and the bottom.
 
 
 
 

Step 7 – Pinch

Pinch and scrunch your coffee filters in the middle to give your wings some texture. 
 
 For a different look, you can also “accordion fold” the filters.  Just remember to fluff your wings when you’re finished!
 
 
 

Step 8 – Tie!

Wrap a fuzzy stick pipe cleaner around the pinched middles of your coffee filters and twist it to secure it to the “wings.”  
 
Leave enough at the top so your butterfly has antennae!
 
 

 

 

FLORAL SUN CATCHER

With Spring flowers in bloom it’s the perfect time to take advantage of nature’s color and make sun catchers! 
 Sun catchers are decorations for our windows that let the sun shine through them to light up in different colors and designs. 
Typically, they’re made with colored glass; we’ll make one using colorful flowers and leaves instead!  
 
 
Materials:
  • Paper Plate
  • Scissors
  • Hole Punch
  • Contact Paper (If you don’t have contact paper, you can use plastic wrap and glue)
  • Plant Parts (flower petals and small leaves)
  • Yarn or String
  • Crayons (optional)
 

Step 1 – Collect

Go out into your yard or take a nature walk in a park or through the neighborhood.  
Along the way, look for leaves and flowers you can collect to use in your sun catchers! 
 
 

Step 2 – Cut

Using scissors, cut out the inner circle of the paper plate.  When finished, you should have a paper plate ring. 
 
The open hole of the plate is to let the sun shine through and light up the plant parts!
 
 

Step 3 – (Optional) Color

Using crayons, markers, pencils, or paint color your paper plate ring!  
Coloring the ring can really show off your sun catcher and make it pop!
 

Step 4 – Cover

Cut out a piece of contact paper and attach it to the paper ring to cover the hole.  The “sticky” side should face towards the paper plate.  
If you do not have contact paper, you can use glue and plastic wrap.  
Carefully cut out a piece of plastic wrap that will cover the hole.  Apply glue around the ring, and attach the plastic wrap.  
Try to keep it as tight as possible!  If you use glue, allow it dry before proceeding to the next step.
 
 

Step 5 – Attach

Using the plant parts you have collected, attach them to the contact paper or plastic wrap.  
 
Sun catchers work best if the plant pieces are thin – so try attaching individual petals instead of the entire flower!  
 
Be creative and have fun with your design!  
 
Tip:  You may need to apply a tiny bit of glue to your plant parts if you are using plastic wrap.  The plant parts may not stay in place otherwise.
 
 
 
 

Step 6 – Seal

To prevent the plant parts from falling out as well as to keep them flat, let’s secure and seal your design with another piece of contact paper.  
 
Cut out another piece that will cover your design.  Place the sticky side down and attach it to your suncatcher, securing it to your original piece of contact paper. 
 
If you are using plastic wrap, once again glue around the ring and attach a piece of plastic wrap to cover your design.
 
 

Step 7 – Punch and Hang!

Using a hole punch, make a hole near the top of the sun catcher in your paper plate ring.  
 
Thread a piece of yarn or string through the hole and use the string to hang your new sun catcher in the window! 
 

 

Watercolor Crayon Leaf Rubbing

Springtime is a perfect time to gather some leaves and examine the shape and textures of different plants.  Leaf rubbings are also a fun way to learn different types of trees and other plants, by matching the shape and style of the leaf to the tree or plant it came from!

 
 
Materials:
  • Leaves (leaves with unique shapes or with prominent veins work very well)
  • Crayons
  • White Paper (copy paper is perfect)
  • Watercolors
  • Paint Brush
 

Step 1 – Find a Leaf

Head outside and find some good leaves to make a rubbing.  
 
Look for unique shapes and large veins, though any leaves will work.  
 
Leaves with large veins provide a better contrast and stand out more as a rubbing.  
 

Step 2 – Cover the Leaf

  • Place the leaf flat on a table or other flat surface.  The underside (vein-side) should face up.  
  • Place a sheet of white copy paper over the leaf.  
  • If you have a delicate, smoother leaf and a light touch, you could also try using tissue paper!
 
 

Step 3 – Rub

Using a crayon, rub over the area of the paper where the leaf is placed.  
 
Rubbing with the side of the crayon will give a different look than using the point.  
 
Try using a white crayon for a really unique look!
 

 

Step 4 – Watercolor

Once you’re done rubbing with the crayon, it’s time to paint!  
 
Use watercolors and paint over your leaf.  The watercolor paint will not stick to the crayon leaf outline, giving your rubbing a special look. 
 
Be careful when painting; since we’re using regular white paper it may easily “rip” by brushing an area too much.  
 
Absorb excess water with paper towels to prevent an accident!
 
 

 

Step 5 – Dry and Admire!

Let your leaf rubbing dry for a bit and admire your work!  
 
The outline of the leaf is contrasted with the watercolors, helping it really stand out and look amazing!
 
 

 

Happy Mother’s Day!  

Let’s have a little fun this week and make some tissue paper flowers for mom!  

 
 
Materials:
  • Tissue Paper (at least 3 sheets per flower)
  • Fuzzy stick pipe cleaner (1 per flower)
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Green paper (optional)
 

Step 1 – Measure and Cut 

Cut 3 (or more) sheets of tissue paper into a 12 inch by 6 inch rectangle.

Tip #1:
If you want a big, bushy flower, use a few more sheets of tissue paper.
Tip #2:
If you want a layered look to your flower cut some tissue paper shorter than 6 inches or cut some wider than 6 inches.
 

Step 2 – Layer

Layer your tissue paper sheets. 
If you’re using multiple colors, the color on the bottom will be the outside edge of the finished flower.
If you’re using different sized tissue paper, the widest piece should be at the bottom and the shortest piece should be on top. 
 

Step 3 – Fold

Accordion fold – fold forward and backward – all of the tissue paper sheets.  
Make a fold about every inch.  
 

Step 4 – Cut

Cut and trim the edges of your accordion folded tissue paper. 
You can round the edges, cut fringe, make a point, or choose any design you want.  
This will form your petal shape in the finished flower!
 
 
 

Step 5 – Add the Stem

Wrap a fuzzy stick tightly around the middle of the tissue paper. 
To make sure it’s centered try folding the tissue paper in half first, then wrapping the fuzzy stick around the fold.  
The fuzzy stick will form the stem of your finished flower!
 
Tip:  If you don’t have a fuzzy stick, you can wrap floral wire around the tissue paper or even just staple it!
 
 
 

Step 6 – Open the Folds!

Gently open the folds to form a circle around the stem.  
Spread each half of your tissue paper folds to make each half of the circle.
 
 

Step 7 – Pull!

Starting with the top layer of tissue paper, gently pull up and separate it from the rest of the folds. 
 
 Repeat this with the other layers of tissue paper, separating each layer from each other.
 
 

Step 8 – Add Leaves (optional)

Cut out some small leaves on green paper, and glue them to bottom of your flower or directly to your stem! 

 

Let’s make a Rain Chain to learn about

rainwater recycling/water conservation!

Rainy weather teaches how rain water can be re-cycled to work for us and preserve our environment!

Materials:

  • Zip ties
  • Optional Additions:
  • Beads
  • Cookie cutters
  • Small pots
  • Chain
A rain chain can be used as alternative to a gutter downspout, but we can hang this from a tree branch or anywhere else outside where it can collect water!
 

Step 1 – Form a loop with a zip tie! 

Connect the end of the zip tie to the top and tighten slightly until you have the size of the loop you want.
 

Step 2 – Add on

Put another zip tie through your last loop and connect it to form another loop!  
 

Step 3 – Optional Creative Ideas

To add things to your chain, you can thread beads onto your zip ties, or use the zip ties to connect cookie cutters, tiny terra cotta pots, actual chains, or almost anything else you can imagine!  
Let your creativity run wild!
 
 

Step 4

Repeat and connect enough zip ties and other items so that it is long enough to reach the ground from where it will hang. 
 

Step 5 –

Find a tree branch or other spot outside to hang your rain chain from!

 
 

Step 6 –

Secure it to the ground!

To prevent your chain from moving in the wind, secure it to the ground with some rocks or a stake.  
 
It should be tight from where you hung it to the ground.
 

Step 7 – Watch it when it rains!

The rain water will adhere to your chain and travel all the way down your chain to the ground!

 

Fossils

A fossil is a trace or record of ancient life. Much of our plant knowledge from the times of the dinosaurs comes from fossils. 
 
Let’s recreate the process of plant fossils with this activity!
  • In order to make fossils, we’ll need two things:
  • air dry clay and
  • a plant part!

If you don’t already have air-dry clay, you can make a simple homemade version!

Homemade Clay Materials:
  • 2 Cups Baking Soda (1 box)
  • Cornstarch
  • Water

Step 1 – Mix

In a pot, mix all three ingredients together.

Step 2 – Heat

Heat the mixture on a stovetop at medium-low to medium heat, stirring constantly.
 
When the mixture looks like mashed potatoes and all the water has been absorbed, remove from heat!

Step 3 – Let It Cool

 
Make a dough ball and wrap it in a damp towel.  
 
Let it cool for about 10-15 minutes.

Step 4 – Knead

 
Knead your dough until it’s smooth and silky.  
 
It’s now ready to use!
 
Keep this clay in an airtight container if you plan on using it later!

Fossil Imprints

Materials:
  • Air-dry Clay
  • Plant Parts

Step 1 – Gather Plant Parts

Head outside and find some small leaves, flowers, or other interesting plant parts in fun shapes!  
 
At this time of year, ferns are just starting to emerge and they make excellent imprints!  
 
Pine branches, birch catkins, even bird feathers work well if you’re feeling adventurous!
 

Step 2 – Make a Clay Cookie

Take a small ball of clay and flatten it to make a cookie shape. 
 
 

Step 3 – Press

 
Take your plant part and press it into the clay cookie. 
 
If you’re using a leaf, press the vein (back) side of the leaf into the clay.
 

Step 4 –

Remove Leaf (optional)

You can remove the leaf or plant part to just have the imprint, or leave the plant part in the clay to decompose and dry out naturally.  
 
It will fall out of the clay imprint just like a natural fossil process!
 

Step 5 – Dry

Let the clay sit for at least 24 hours to dry.  
 
Quick tip: To prevent cracking, loosely wrap the clay in a plastic bag to slow down the drying process!

 

Step 6 (Optional) – Color

Your can color your new fossils with markers or paint for a fun and creative touch!

 

Leaf Pounding

This week: leaf pigments and natural fabric dyes….

  • The different parts of a plant can be found in a surprising variety of colors, from beet red roots, green leaves, blueberries, and yellow flowers.
  • Many of those colors and plant parts have been used historically to color fabric!
  • One technique to transfer color and patterns to fabric is to simply pound and crush the plant parts with a hammer or mallet to separate the plant pigments and transfer them to a piece of fabric. 
  • This activity is a great way to learn about the pigments found in plants.

Materials:

  • Hammer – any small hammer or mallet with a flat metal face (You can also use a small flat rock!)
  • Masking tape
  • Cloth – unbleached cotton muslin works the best; synthetic fabrics will not absorb the dye.  
  • Alternatively, you can also try thicker absorbent paper – like watercolor paper.  
  • Leaves or flowers – Find some leaves or flowers that you want to use!  

Aim for darker leaves; dark green and red transfer very well. 

 Another tip – look for sturdier leaves with prominent veins. Very soft leaves (like most vegetable leaves) won’t hold up as well to being hammered.

 
   
Step 1 – Tape Leaf to Fabric
 
Flatten and tape down your leaf or flower to the fabric.  Completely cover the leaf with tape.

Step 2 – Flip and Place

Flip the fabric over so the tape side is down and set the fabric on a hard flat surface.  A small board would work well, or any other smooth hard surface.
 
 
   

Step 3 – Pound It!

Gently but firmly pound the leaf or flower with your hammer or rock!  
 
You don’t need big swings, just repeated small, firm strikes.  
 
 
Continue pounding until you’re happy with the color transfer!

Step 4 –

Peel Away the Leaf

Once you’re done pounding, flip the fabric over and carefully remove the tape and your leaf from the fabric.  
 
Admire your work!
 

Step 5 (Optional) –

Set the Dye

You can set the dye using a 1:8 vinegar: water solution.  
 
Soak the fabric in the vinegar solution for about an hour, then hand wash and air dry! 
 
If you used paper, try using a spray on acrylic sealant instead! 

 

 

Make some homemade suet for your backyard birds!

Late winter and early Spring are especially tough on some birds as food sources run low.
Nature is still warming up and natural food sources like insects, flowers, and berries aren’t quite ready yet! We’ll make a suet using household ingredients!
Ingredients:
  • 1 Cup Solid Cooking Fat (such as lard, vegetable shortening, coconut oil)
  • 1 cup Peanut or Other Nut Butter (chunky preferred)
  • 3 Cups Cornmeal or Oatmeal
  • 1/2 cups Flour
Optional additions to make your birds even happier!
(Toss a handful of any or all these into the mix)
  • Birdseed
  • Chopped raw unsalted nuts
  • Dried fruits and berries (chopped into small pieces)
  • Dried insects (mealworms)
Directions:
In a large pot on your stovetop, heat the cooking fat and peanut butter on low heat. As the fat and peanut butter melt, mix them together until fully combined. Remove pot from heat, and mix in the flour and cornmeal (or oatmeal).  Once that is fully mixed, now is the time to add in your optional ingredients!
Let your mixture cool slightly and pour into molds or a flat container to use.  You can even fill a hollowed out orange or grapefruit!
 

Convert your toilet paper tubes into biodegradable planters!

Recycle your toilet paper rolls…use the cardboard rolls to make seed starter pots! 

These pots are easy to make, and can be planted directly into the ground outside to naturally decompose – this also prevents root or plant damage when planting your young seedlings!

This is a great project for kids because they can track their new plant’s growth over the next few weeks while the weather warms up to plant it outside! 

 
   

Step 1 Fold!

Fold your toilet paper into a square. Flatten it, then flatten in half the other way to make a square!
 
 
 

Step 2 (for small plants only) Cut in Half!

If you’re planting large seeds – like sunflowers, for example, keep the tube full size to give the new plant lots of room for their large roots. 
For smaller seeds, cut the tube in half!
 
   

Step 3 Cut Flaps!

Cut along the corners on one side.
Using a scissors, cut ¾ inch along each of the 4 corners. You should have 4 cuts on the corners of one side.
 
   

​Step 4 Fold!

Crease and fold the flaps
Fold down each flap to crease it, then fold it cardboard box style (over/under flaps).
 

Step 5 Plant!

Add potting soil and your seeds, give it some water and sun and watch it grow!
Water carefully, remember this is paper/cardboard so too much water will decompose the tube quicker. You want enough water for the seed but not too much that the cardboard starts breaking down.

Make a Sticky Nature Bracelet

 
Take a length of masking or scotch tape and make a large loop around your child’s wrist.  
 
Keep the sticky side out and make the loop large enough so you can remove the bracelet without tearing it!
Go for a walk outdoors… 
 
As you walk, look around and add leaves, flower petals and sticks to your bracelet!  
 
Make a design or just let your creativity flow!

 

Wild Weaving

Create a mosaic and a natural loom using sticks, some yarn, and nature itself!

Step 1 – FIND SOME STICKS!

The easiest way to create your nature loom is by finding a “Y” shaped stick.  
However, you can also lash sticks together to create nearly any shape you want! 
 Try a triangle, rectangle, or even a hexagon!  
To lash sticks together, just overlap the sticks and wrap yarn or string around them in a “x” pattern.
 
 

Step 2 – CREATE THE LOOM

Tie the yarn to one side of the stick and wrap the yarn back and forth to create your loom.  
 
Wrapping the yarn twice around the stick will help prevent the yarn sliding and will also help keep the yarn as taut as possible.
 
 

Step 3 – FIND NATURE ITEMS AND WEAVE!

Go outside into your yard, your neighborhood, or even to a nearby park or nature area.  
 
Collect interesting grasses, leaves, seeds, bark, flowers, or anything else you find on the ground.  
Weave those items through the strings of your loom, in an out between the strings.  
   
Be creative!  
 
The more items you weave, the tighter the strings will become – making it easier to hold bigger items like acorns or pinecones.