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:

Back by popular demand…

Popsicle Stick Planter

 
 
It’s time to grow some plants!  
 
For this week’s activity we’re bringing back a favorite…
 
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!
 
 

 

 

Make a Soda Bottle Bird Feeder

 
Recycled plastic bottles make great bird feeders! 
A little birdseed and a perch are all you need to add to make a very effective bird feeder.  
For this week’s activity, we will make a bird feeder using recycled plastic bottles and wooden spoons! 
 
 
Materials:
  • Plastic bottle (can be a water bottle, soda bottle, or sports drink bottle) 
  • Marker 
  • Scissors 
  • Craft Knife 
  • Wooden spoon(s) 
  • Small eye screw (Optional) 
  • Bird seed 
  • String or twine 
 

Step 1 – Prepare Bottle

Remove the bottle wrapper and thoroughly clean and rinse it out.  
Save the bottle cap because it protects the birdseed inside and can also act as a hanger!  
Let the bottle dry completely. 
 
 
 

Step 2 – Mark and Cut

About an inch from the bottom of the bottle, draw a one-inch diameter circle (about a quarter coin sized).  
 
Directly across from the circle on the opposite side of the bottle, mark an “X.”
 
If you’re using a small bottle like a small sports drink or bottled water, one spoon is probably enough.  
 
For a larger bottle, mark another circle about half or 2/3 of the
way up the bottle.  And again, directly across from that circle, mark an “X.”
 
Using scissors or a craft knife, carefully cut out the circles. Then, cut the “X” marks to make slits. 
 

Step 3 – Spoon

Insert a wooden spoon, handle end first, through the circle and out through the “X” marked slits. 
 
The spoon acts as a perch and also collects seed as the birds eat! 
 
If you’re using two spoons, do the same thing for your second set of cutouts. 
 

Step 4 –Cap (Optional)

An eye screw provides a convenient way to hang your bird feeder!  
 
Screw a small eye screw to the bottle cap, with the “eye” on top. 
 

Step 5 – Birdseed

Pour birdseed into the bottle.  
Use a funnel to make it easier! 
 

Step 6 – Cap

Screw on the bottle cap once the bird feeder is full. 
If you attached an eye hook, tie some string to the eye to hang it.
Otherwise, loop string around the bottle neck. 
 

Step 7– Hang

 
Place your bird feeder outside in a sheltered location for your birds to enjoy! 

 

 

Make a Woven Willow Wreath

 
Willow tree stems are ideal for crafting!
Willows have a fast growth rate, and in Spring when the sap is flowing freely the long stems are extremely flexible.
It’s possible to weave and create a number of items with willow branches; a wreath is a simple yet beautiful way to use them!
This week’s activity, weave a wreath from willow twigs!
 
 
Materials:
  • Four-foot length willow twigs (can also use flexible twigs of other woody plants like dogwood, or cotoneaster for example)
  • Pruning shears
 

Step 1 – Cut

Gather some fresh willow or other flexible twigs.
 
Cut thin branches into 4-foot lengths.
Fresh and thin (no bigger than your pinky finger) are extremely pliable and are perfect for weaving.
Strip the leaves, leaving stems only.
 

Step 2 – Loop

To make the wreath, start by forming a loop with a thicker stem.
Form the first stick into a circle the size you want your wreath to be.
 
Wrap the end of the stick around itself to secure the shape. The thicker end can stick out of the ring if needed.
 

Step 3 – Add

Use a second stick and wrap and weave it around the ring, starting a quarter turn past the starting point of the first stick.
 
You can leave the thicker end of the stick out of the loop if needed.
 

Step 4 –Repeat

Continue adding sticks, starting each new stick a quarter turn past the previous starting point.
 
The wreath should start becoming more and more rigid as you add more sticks.
 
Any ends that cannot be tucked neatly into the wreath can be trimmed off at the end.
 

Step 5 – Final Wrap

When you start reaching the desired thickness of the wreath, trim and cut off the straggling ends with pruning shears.
 
Give your wreath a final polished finish by wrapping a couple long, thin twigs around your wreath – tucking and hiding both ends into the weave.
 

Step 6 – Drying and Decorating your Wreath

The wreath can be used as is, once it is dry it should last for years.
 
It will dry naturally and the color will darken as it dries.
 
The wreath itself should hold together well through tension,
and you can easily add decorations to it.
 
Either directly insert flowers or other decorative items into the weave, or attach them by wrapping floral wire around the wreath itself.
 
ENJOY this attractive addition to your home!

 

 

Cabbage Dyed Eggs!

 
There are many fruits and vegetables that can be used as natural dyes for coloring eggs, including onions, beets, and turmeric as just a few examples. 
 
Red cabbage is unique because the dyed egg color is different than expected!  Red cabbage contains a compound that acts like an acid-base indicator, and changes color depending on how acidic something is. 
Eggs, being less acidic and more alkaline, change the red cabbage color from red to blue! 
 
For this week’s activity, we will naturally dye eggs! 
 
 
Materials:
  • Hardboiled Eggs 
  • One head of red cabbage 
  • White vinegar 
 

Step 1 – Chop

Roughly chop the entire cabbage head, including the core, into small to medium sized pieces. 
 

Step 2 – Boil

Add the chopped cabbage to a pot with water and bring to a boil. 
For reference, you’ll want about a cup of water for each cup of cabbage. 
 
For a small head of red cabbage, this is probably about five cups of water.  Once the water is boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. 
 
 

Step 3 – Strain

Strain and remove the chopped cabbage.  Once all the cabbage is removed, add about 4 tablespoons of vinegar to your cabbage juice.  
 
This will help the dye to adhere to the eggs! 
Allow the dye to cool completely before using it. 
 
 

Step 4 – Dye

You can keep the cabbage dye in the pot or transfer it to small bowls or cups. 
 
Submerge eggs in the dye to color them.  The length of time spent in the dye will determine how deep the color is. 
 
The deepest color can be achieved by soaking eggs overnight.  A very light blue can be seen in as little as 15 minutes! 
 
These eggs are completely safe to eat, as the natural cabbage dye is edible! If you do plan on eating the dyed eggs, keep the eggs refrigerated through the
dying process. 
 
Tip: you can also naturally shine your eggs by rubbing vegetable oil on the shell!  

 

 

Rolled Newspaper Pots

 
Spring started March 20!
While the temperatures and weather conditions outside
may not be suitable for seeds yet,
now is the perfect time to start some of your
summer vegetables indoors!
 
 
Materials:
  • Scissors
  • Newspapers
  • Small can (6oz tomato paste can, for example)
  • Soil
  • Seeds
 

Step 1 – Cut

 
Cut the newspaper into long strips that are at least 1 inch taller than your can. 
 
You’ll want your strips long enough to wrap around the can twice. 
 
You can also use multiple strips per pot to make it sturdier!
 

Step 2 – Wrap

Roll the can along the newspaper strips until it’s wrapped at least twice. 
 
Make sure there is about an inch of newspaper hanging off the bottom of the can!
 

Step 3 – Push

Push and fold the edges of the newspaper down over the can and work your way around until all the edges are folded over.
 
Increase the sturdiness of the pot by pushing the can on a firm surface to create a better seam on the bottom edge.
 

Step 4 – Remove

Remove the can from the wrapped newspaper. 
 

Step 5 – Fill

To use the pot, fill it to the top with soil. The newspaper wicks water and dries fairly quickly, so filling it fully with soil helps retain moisture. 
 
he soil also will make the newspaper pot more stable and sturdy!
 

Step 6 – Seed

Once your pot is full of soil, add a vegetable seed! 
 
Tomato plants can be started early, as can other warm season crops like beans, squash, melons, cucumbers, and eggplant! 
 
Cool season crops like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, and brussels sprouts also benefit from an early start indoors.
 

Step 7 – Water and Wait

Water your seeds carefully and monitor daily. Newspaper pots dry out faster than plastic, but do not over water. 
 
The pots should last about a month before breaking down – though if you keep the bottom of the pots in water they’ll break down much too fast. 
 
When the danger of frost has passed outside, you can plant these pots directly in the garden!
 

 

Brigid’s Charm

 
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by making a Brigid’s Charm.
This craft, traditionally made from reeds, was made to honor Brigid, a mythological Irish goddess. 
Brigid’s charms were historically found in many different shapes, including three-pointed triangles and even two pointed “corners.”
The woven crafts were placed in the home to protect it.
 
For this week’s activity, we will make a Brigid’s Charm with fuzzy pipe cleaners!
 
 
Materials:
  • Fuzzy pipe cleaners
 

Step 1 – Gather

Gather together pipe cleaners to assemble the charm. You will need at least 8, but you can use more to make it larger. 
You always need multiples of four, however, no matter how large or small you want it to be. 
You will need one extra pipe cleaner to tie the ends.
 

Step 2 – Fold

Fold your pipe cleaners in half. 
Remember, you will need multiples of four to assemble your charm!
 

Step 3 – Connect

Take two folded pipe cleaners and slide them together to connect them, like a chain link. 
Pull them tight, but do not twist.
 

Step 4 – Overlay

Slide another folded pipe cleaner at a right angle to the first two.
This pipe cleaner should be placed next to the connection point of your first two pipe cleaners.
 

Step 5 – Overlay Again

Repeat this on the opposite side with a fourth pipe cleaner. 
This one should be placed on the other side of the connection point of your first two pipe cleaners.
 

Step 6 – Layer

Add a new folded pipe cleaner to the last pipe cleaner you added. 
Add this one perpendicular to what you are placing it on.
 

Step 7 – Repeat

Repeat step six, always adding pipe cleaners perpendicularly to the last one you added. 
It takes four pipe cleaners to make it all the way around, keep that in mind to make your charm even and balanced. 
When you are satisfied with the size, move on to the next step!
 
 
 

Step 8 – Tie

Cut a pipe cleaner into 2-inch pieces and wrap a piece around the loose ends of your charm. 
Tie all four ends.
 

Step 9 – Finished!

 
Once your Brigid’s charm has been tied, display it!
You can use the same techniques to make
a 3-pointed triangle charm or the “corner” charm. 

 

 

Make a Yarn Ball!

 
Spring is coming!
  • A great way to decorate for the spring season is with colorful yarn balls.
  • Yarn balls are simply yarn that is in the shape of a sphere.
  • They’re fun to make with endless possibilities of color and use of materials that are easily available. 
 
 
Materials:
  • Yarn
  • Glue
  • Balloons
  • Bowl
  • Pencil
  • Vaseline (Optional)
 

Step 1 – Balloon

The size of your balloon will determine how big your yarn ball will be.
 
A 5-inch balloon is a good size to start. Do not inflate the balloon to full size – this helps keep the shape a sphere and it also leaves some wiggle room to press and separate the yarn in later steps.
 
 

Step 2 – Cut

Cut a long length of yarn. 
f needed, practice wrap your balloon to help determine your length.
 
 

Step 3 – Mix

In a small bowl, combine 2 parts glue and 1 part water and mix well.
 

Step 4 – Dip

Submerge and soak your length of yarn in the glue mixture.
Make sure the yarn is covered and wet, then remove and squeeze out any excess.
 

Step 5 – Wrap

Beginning at the knotted end of your balloon, wrap your balloon with the yarn!
Wrap in all directions, both top to bottom and side to side. The more you wrap, the denser your final yarn ball will be.
When you have wrapped enough, cut the excess length of yarn, and tuck the cut end under your wrapped yarn to hide it.
 
 

Step 6 – Dry

Hang your balloon to dry. Allow at least 24 hours to fully dry.
The yarn should be completely stiff – however it is still very delicate.
 

Step 7 – Separate

To prevent the yarn ball from collapsing, gently separate the balloon from the yarn.
Take the eraser end of a pencil and gently push the balloon inwards, away from the yarn.
Do this gently in as many places as you can.
 

Step 8 – Pop

 
When the balloon has been separated from the yarn, it is time to pop it!
Use a needle or scissors and pop the balloon. Remove the balloon from the yarn ball.
Your yarn ball is finished!
 

Step 9 – Notes for success!

  • If your yarn ball collapses at the end, you can inflate a new balloon inside the ball to push the collapsed spot out. Then, just let the air of the balloon to remove it.
  • If you have issues separating the yarn from the balloon, try coating the balloon with Vaseline before wrapping.
  • You can also dry wrap the balloon with yarn and directly paint on glue to the top of the yarn, trying to avoid gluing the yarn to the balloon.

 

 

 

Easy Tie Dye

 
  • Traditional tie dye art can be messy and time consuming.
  • BUT…. there is an easier way to achieve a similar look! 
  • Permanent markers, which are not dissolvable in water – make them safe for laundry! 
  • The markers are, however, dissolvable in rubbing alcohol, which is how we can get the faded, washed out, and blended look that is unique to tie dyed clothing! 
 
 
Materials:
  • Permanent markers
  • Cotton clothing (t-shirts, socks, shoelaces, etc.)
  • Cardboard or newspaper
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Eyedropper
  • Iron
 

Step 1 – Cardboard

Slide a piece of thick cardboard or a layer of newspaper in your cotton clothing.
 
This stretches the fabric, making it easier to work with, and acts as a barrier to prevent seepage or bleed-through. 
 

Step 2 – Design

Go wild! Color your clothing with the permanent markers, leaving some space to allow for the colors to spread.
 
You can work in small sections or design all at once, it is up to you!
 

Step 3 – Spread

Using the eyedropper, drop rubbing alcohol directly on to your clothing. 
 
The alcohol will dissolve the color and spread your designs. 
 
Colors that are close together will bleed and mix together,
just like traditional tie dye! 
 
Rubbing alcohol evaporates quickly, so do this in a well-ventilated area. 
Tip: You can use a spoon to pour rubbing alcohol onto the clothing if you do not have an eyedropper available
 

Step 4 – Dry

Let your tie-dyed clothing dry completely; a quick way to check is to press a paper towel
and check if any color transfers.
 
If it is dry, the paper towel should be clean.
 

Step 5 – Repeat (if necessary)

One of the best things about using permanent markers is that you can add more color and
change up your design if you wish!
 
Make sure the rubbing alcohol is completely dry, and then you can add more color to your
designs to darken it or change it!
 

Step 6 – Heat

The final step is to set the color. We do this by heating the clothing. 
 
You can iron your clothing at a high heat or toss it in the dryer on high
heat for about 15-20 minutes. 
 
This will help the color adhere to the clothing. 
 
Once it is heated, it is ready to use! To wash it, wash in cold water with like colors.

 

 

 

Denim Feather

 
  • Creating denim fabric feathers is a great way to upcycle old clothes or pieces of fabric. 
  • You can use these soft feathers as reminders of birds or as decorations!
 
 
Materials:
  • Denim scraps
  • Twine
  • Fabric Glue
 

Step 1 – Scraps

Collect scrap pieces of denim! Yard sales, thrift stores, and your closet are great places to look for older, used denim clothing to use as scrap.
 

Step 2 – Cut

Cut out a feather shape from a piece of denim. Use a piece of denim that does not have any embellishments or seams and cut as large of a feather as you want it to be. 
 
The length of the feather (picture where the “spine” of the feather would be) should be in line with the weave of the denim. 
 
Tip: Cut out a feather template to make it easier to cut your denim!
 
 

Step 3 – Twine

Cut a length of twine slightly longer than your feather.
The twine will act as the “spine” of your denim feather.
 

Step 4 – Glue

Using fabric glue, attach the twine down the center length of the feather shape. 
You may choose either the front or back side of your denim; the final look will vary depending on which side you choose! 
The fabric glue will harden the twine and help your feather hold its shape. Let the glue dry and harden before moving on the next step. 
You can directly sew the twine spine to the feather, however with this method your feather will lack the stiffness that the glue provides.
 

Step 5 – Fray

To give your feathers the actual feathered look, we need to fray the denim. 
 
To do this, we will carefully pull out and remove the threads of one color. You will pull out the lengthwise threads to make
your feather. 
 
Tip: if it helps, use a small needle or tweezers to grab the threads. Depending on which way you aligned and cut your feather, pulling out white threads will make a blue feather, while pulling out the blue threads will make a white feather. 
 
If you want a feather the other color, cut your next feather perpendicular to the weave.
 

Step 6 – Finish

Once you fray both sides, your feather
is finished!
 
You can attach beads and hang them on walls or display them other ways! 
The possibilities are endless!

 

 

Valentine Seed Paper

Create now and plant in pots in sunny window or in the ground after the frost.
  • Seed paper is an excellent way to reuse and recycle old paper that might end up in the trash!
  • Seed paper is biodegradable and provides a medium for seeds to sprout.
  • Seed paper also makes great valentines!
 
 
Materials:
  • Paper (uncoated – not shiny; newspaper, tissue paper, construction paper, etc.)
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Blender
  • Seeds (Wildflower seed packets, cat grass, small vegetable seeds – aim for small seeds)
  • Bowl
  • Cookie Cutters
  • Towel
 

Step 1 – Tear

Cut or tear your paper into small pieces. 
The smaller the better, as that will reduce the strain on the blender.
Place these pieces into a large bowl.
 

Step 2 – Soak

Add enough water to the bowl to completely submerge and cover your shredded paper.
 
Let soak for at lease an hour, though longer (including overnight) would work better.
 
Tip: If you are using white paper, add color by using food coloring. 
If you started with dark paper (like brown paper bags) it is difficult to color.
Construction paper also is a way to provide color without food coloring.
 

Step 3 – Blend

Place your paper mixture into a blender or food processor and blend until it’s a fluffy pulp. 
 
You may need to add more water to help blend your mixture.
 

Step 4 – Mix

Move your paper pulp to your bowl, taking care to gently squeeze out some of the water. 
Do not over-squeeze! You want your mixture to be damp, just not dripping wet. 
Add seeds to your mixture. Small seeds will work best, larger seeds like sunflower tend to break or be crushed. 
Using your hands, gently mix and fold the seeds into the pulp.
 

Step 5 – Press

Lay out an old towel on a flat surface. Place a cookie cutter on the towel and add some of your seed pulp. 
 
Gently press and pack seed pulp into the cookie cutter to form a firm shape. Use a small towel, sponge, or paper towel to press down the shape and absorb excess water. 
 
When the shape is firm and slightly drier, carefully remove the cookie cutter.
Repeat as needed to use all the seed pulp.
 

Step 6 – Dry

Leave your seed paper shapes to dry on the towel.
 
If necessary, transfer them to plastic wrap or parchment paper once they are mostly dry and “set” but before they dry and become attached to the towel.
 
You can also lay a towel or parchment paper over the top of the shapes and place a book to press them. This helps prevent curled edges as the paper dries.
 
Tip: You can speed up the drying process by using a hairdryer! 
Gently air dry your paper on the “cool” setting. 
 

Step 7 – Plant

If you made seed paper with “indoor” seeds like cat grass; your shapes can be planted in a pot inside anytime!
 
Otherwise, keep your seed paper dry until the danger of frost is over and plant it outside.
 
The paper will absorb water and help the seeds sprout!  

 

 

Heart shaped bird feeder

 
This Valentine’s Day, and all winter, lovingly care for your feathered friends. 
The middle of Winter can be a rough time for birds and other animals because food is scarce. 
 
This week, we will make a heart-shaped bird feeder to feed some hungry birds!
 
 
Materials:
  • Bird seed (4 cups)
  • Flour (3/4 cup)
  • Corn or maple syrup (3 tablespoons)
  • Unflavored gelatin (2 and ½ teaspoons, which is usually one packet)
  • Water (1/2 cup)
  • Large bowl
  • Heart-shaped cookie cutter
  • Wax paper
  • Straw, chopstick, or wooden spoon
  • String or yarn
 

Step 1 – Mix

Add the bird seed, flour, syrup, gelatin, and water to a large bowl and mix until fully combined.
 

Step 2 – Fill

Place a cookie cutter onto a sheet of wax paper. 
 
Using your hands or a spoon, tightly pack your seed mixture into the cookie cutter. 
 
Tip: to easily remove the birdfeeder from the cookie cutter, spray or wipe the inside of the cookie cutter with oil.
 
 
 

Step 3 – Hole

In the upper center of the heart shape, make a hole so you can hang it later!
 
A simple method is to stick a small piece of a drinking straw into the feeder, but you can also carve out a hole with a chopstick or a wooden spoon handle.
 
Once you have the birdseed packed into the cookie cutter and a hole formed, remove the cookie cutter.
 
 

Step 4 – Repeat

Repeat steps two and three until you have used up your birdseed mixture.
 

Step 5 – Dry

Allow your birdfeeders to dry overnight (at least 12 hours). This gives them time to firm up and harden. 
 

Step 6 – Hang

Attach a piece of string or yarn to your birdfeeder, using the hole you created.
 
Then, find a place outside to hang it and give your birds a Winter treat! 
 
Try to place your feeder in a shaded, sheltered location – this not only makes it more likely that birds will eat it, but direct sunlight may melt your gelatin and break apart your birdfeeder!

 

Ice Candle

Ice candles are a fun to make and result in a fascinating creation.
 
They are made by pouring hot wax over ice in a candle mold. 
The ice melts away and leaves pockets and holes inside the candle, like Swiss cheese. 
The result is a wonderful, delicate, lacy candle – beautiful with or without being lit.
 
For this week’s activity, here’s how to make your candles…
 
 
Materials:
  • Cardboard milk or juice cartons
  • Taper candle
  • Wax (beeswax, paraffin, soy, or use old candles and crayons!)
  • Ice
  • Double boiler, crockpot, or candle wax melter
  • Rimmed pan or container to catch water
 

Step 1 – Cut and Clean

Remove the top of a carboard milk or juice carton. Any size carton will work, as long as the carton itself is sturdy and the inside is waxed.
 
Milk and juice cartons, since they hold liquid, work well for this.
The bottom part of the carton will become your candle mold!
You may make a candle as tall or as short as you wish by the height of your carton.
 
 

Step 2 – Add Taper Candle

The taper candle forms the backbone of your ice candle. 
Cut the taper candle to a length slightly below the height of your carton (about ½ inch). Place the taper candle in the center of the carton.
 
Tip: to secure the taper candle in place, stick a flat-headed pushpin through the bottom of the carton into the candle.
 

Step 3 – Melt Wax

Candle waxes melt at a relatively low temperature, (about 150 degrees F or less) – much less than boiling water.
 
Slowly heat your wax in a double boiler or crockpot until it melts. 
 
You may also melt crayons or old candles, the process is the same! Simply remove crayon wrappers or break apart old candles to remove the wick and metal base. Remove from heat once melted.
 
Notes: Wax is difficult to clean so use a double boiler or crockpot dedicated to crafts
or use an alternative container in a water bath.
 
As a general rule, if your wax begins to have an unpleasant odor or changes color,
it is overheating and needs to be immediately removed from heat. 
NEVER directly heat wax! 
 
Doing so may cause it to start on fire.
 

Step 4 – Ice

Place your carton on a rimmed sheet or container to add crushed ice or cubes to your cardboard candle mold. 
 
Larger ice pieces will give larger holes in your finished candle while smaller pieces will give smaller holes. You could even mix snow with ice chunks! 
 
Add enough ice to reach the top of your taper candle, leaving about ½ inch to the actual top of your mold. 
 
Make sure the taper candle is centered and upright in your mold.
 

Step 5 – Pour

Carefully pour the melted wax into cardboard mold. Try pouring close the center, near the taper candle.
 
This will help secure it to the new wax, give your candle a solid core, and also limits melting too much ice around the exterior. 
 
Fill your mold to the top of your taper candle!
 

Step 6 – Cool

Let your candle cool and harden. Normally this process takes hours, but the ice will help speed up the process. 
Depending on the size, it may start to harden in as little as 15 minutes.
 

Step 7 – Drain

As your candle cools and hardens, tip it to drain the melted water from the candle. 
 
Repeat this process over an hour or two to remove as much water as possible as well as let your candle completely cool and harden.
 

Step 8 – Remove Carton

Once your candle is drained, carefully tear away your cardboard candle mold.
 
Some parts of the candle may break off; this is okay – it adds to the overall look!
 

Step 9 – Finish

The top part of the candle mold will typically have more wax and may be a more stable bottom to your candle. But, either end of the candle will work.
 
You may need to dig out the end of the taper candle to find and light the wick!

 

Frozen Bubbles

 
Blowing bubbles in the Winter is a chance to put a fun spin on a “warm-weather” activity.
 
It’s perhaps even more fun because the cold weather means we can try freezing our bubbles as they fall!
 
Frozen soap bubbles look like snow globes while they freeze and there’s some incredible science happening
when they do. In a bubble, there’s a thin layer of water sandwiched between layers of soap –
the water freezes before the soap does!
 
Once ice starts forming at the bottom of the bubble, tiny ice crystals move around in the water layer
and help freeze the entire surface!
 
 
Materials:
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 Tablespoons Dish Soap
  • 3 Tablespoons Corn Syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • Bowl or Cup
  • Large Straw or Bubble Wand
 

Step 1 – Bubble Solution

Add one cup warm water to a bowl or cup.
 
Mix in three tablespoons of corn syrup and two tablespoons
of sugar until the mixture is clear. 
 
 
The corn syrup and sugar will provide strength to the bubble as well as help it freeze slightly faster. 
 
Once that is mixed, gently mix in three tablespoons of dish soap.
Do not stir vigorously, as you do not want to create any bubbles or foam yet!
 

Step 2 – Stuff

Place your bubble solution in the refrigerator or freezer for about 20 to 30 minutes.
If the mixture starts out at cooler temperature it helps the formed bubbles to freeze!
 

Step 3 – Bubble Tool

Find a large straw or a bubble wand to make bubbles. 
 
You can also make a quick bubble wand by twisting a pipe cleaner into a small circle – you can also simply use plain wire as well.
 
Smaller bubbles will work better to freeze, but try experimenting with larger bubbles for fun!
 

Step 4 – Make Bubbles

When the temperature is below freezing (32oF) head outside to make bubbles!
Dip your bubble wand into the chilled bubble solution and gently blow bubbles.
 
In the cold air, quite a few of your bubbles may pop right away,
but don’t get discouraged! 
 
Keep trying, some will freeze as they fall, otherwise try blowing a bubble and placing it directly on a surface. Frozen bubbles will eventually pop as they freeze, but they’re beautiful while they last!  
 

Step 5 – Tips

  • The colder the weather, the better for frozen bubbles. Below zero temperatures will really help bubbles freeze!
  • Doing this activity in the morning or early evening may help because that’s when the daily temperatures are usually coldest.
  • Calm air is essential. Wind, even a slight breeze, will cause the bubbles to pop. Try finding a sheltered spot outside to protect your bubbles.
  • Try using a wand instead of a straw – the warm air from your lungs when blowing a bubble makes it more likely the bubble will pop faster. Using the natural cold air through the wand may help it last slightly longer.
  • To get them to freeze mid-air – you need COLD air (below zero!) and blow them high in the air to give enough time as they fall to freeze.
  • Patience! It may take many tries to get a bubble to freeze – but once you finally get one you’ll want get more!

 

 

Snow Painting

 
Painting snow is a great way to get creative and spend quality time outdoors
in nature. Plus, every time the snow falls we have a new canvas to decorate!
 
Snow paintings are wonderfully temporary and a great way to teach
younger children about color mixing. 
However, snow painting is fun for any age! 
 
This week, we’ll list some different methods for painting the snow!
 
 
Materials (not all needed for every method)
  • Water based paint (tempera or water colors)
  • Cornstarch
  • Food coloring (gels give a more vibrant color)
  • Kool-aid packets
  • Paint brushes
  • Plastic cups or bowls
  • Empty spray or squirt bottles
 

Method 1 – Paint

The first method is the simplest – mix up some water-based paint and you can go wild! 
 
Add powdered paint to cold water (warm or hot water, while it will dissolve and mix the paint easier, will melt the snow too much), mix, and you’re ready! 
 
If you have ready-to-use tempera paints you don’t need to mix with water. When you have your paint mixed, head outside with some paintbrushes and apply directly to the snow!
 
 

Method 2 – Food Coloring

If you don’t have paint available, food coloring can also be used to paint snow. 
 
Gel food colors give a more vibrant color, though regular liquid colors will work. 
 
Be prepared to use quite a bit of food coloring to give a pronounced color! 
 
Mix cold water and food coloring to make “paint.”
 
You can either apply directly to snow using paintbrushes, or add your colored water to spray bottles to make
painting easier!
 

Method 3 – Cornstarch

Mixing cornstarch with water and food coloring helps your “paint” stick the surface of the snow and will help your paintings stand out. 
 
Mix a teaspoon of cornstarch per cup of water, adding more cornstarch as necessary, until you have a milky white liquid. 
 
From here, add your food coloring. You can add this mixture to spray bottles, but the addition of cornstarch may clog the nozzle eventually. Squirt bottles and paintbrushes will avoid this issue.
 

Method 4 – Kool Aid

Instead of food coloring, try using a Kool-aid packet! 
 
Just mix Kool-aid (skip the sugar!) with water and add it to your spray bottles. 
 
Kool-aid can give unique colors and it also smells good!
 

 

 

 

Snowstorm at Home!

 
Winter is officially here!  
Snow cover is an essential part of our natural ecosystem – snow actually helps protect plant roots and keeps them healthy and insulated over the cold Winter months. 
 
If you love the snowfall, this week’s activity is perfect. We will create a snowstorm at home! 
 
 
Materials:
  • Jar, bottle or large drinking glass
  • Baby oil (vegetable oil will also work)
  • Water
  • White acrylic paint
  • Glitter (optional)
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Alka Seltzer tablets
 

Step 1 – Fill

Fill your container ¼ full with water. 
Add a tablespoon of white paint and swirl to mix.
Your mixture should have a milk-like consistency and color.  
This is your “snow!”  Add slightly more paint or more water to get the right consistency or color.
 

Step 2 – Oil

Pour oil into your container until it is 2/3 full.   The oil is the “sky.”
Clear oils like baby oil work well; if you use vegetable oils you’ll have a yellow colored sky instead! 
The oil will float on top of the water and paint mixture because it is less dense. 
 

Step 3 – (optional) Glitter

Add glitter to the top of your oil – this will make the snow sparkle and shine as it falls. 
 

Step 4 –Make it Snow

Break an Alka Seltzer tablet into two or three smaller pieces.  When you’re ready, drop a piece into your container to start a snowstorm!
The tablet produces air and bubbles when it reacts with water.  Those bubbles will float to the top of your container and pop.  
Then, the water and white paint will fall back down to through your oil sky because they’re heavier (more dense) and will sink!  
When the snow stops falling, you can start a new storm again by adding another tablet!
 

Step 5 – (Optional) Color

You can also add color to your snow by dropping food coloring into your container! 

 

 

Mobile made with twigs!

Natural decorations and ornaments can be made simply just by finding some material outside and recreating nature inside!
 
For this week’s activity, we’ll create a tree-shaped mobile using twigs!
 
 
Materials:
  • Small twigs
  • Yarn or thin wire
  • Optional decorative materials, like paint, glue, glitter, etc. 
 

Step 1 – Gather

Head outside in your yard or a nearby park to gather a few thin sticks or twigs that have fallen to the ground. 
 
Do not remove twigs from a live tree!  Look for straight twigs, and look for a few different types if you want a natural variety to your finished design! 
 

Step 2 – Trim

Using a strong scissors or pruners, trim the twigs into different lengths from short to long.  
 
Arrange them from shortest to longest. 
 
The “height” of your mobile is determined by how many pieces you cut and arrange! 
 

Step 3 – (optional) Decorate

If you want a completely natural look, skip this step.  Otherwise, use your creativity to decorate the twigs and sticks! 
 
Paint them in different colors, coat them in glue and glitter, or wrap them in yarn or ribbon. 
 
The choices are endless! 
 
 

Step 4 – Wrap

Starting with your shortest stick, wrap yarn or string around the middle and knot it securely. 
 
If using wire, just wrap the wire around the twig – you do not need to tie wire into a knot.
 
Make sure to leave a length of wire or yarn to hang it.  
 
The other excess length we’ll use to wrap the remaining twigs! 
 

Step 5 – Add Twigs

Add your next twigs following the shortest to longest pattern you arranged.  Simply take the yarn or wire and wrap or knot around the twig to secure it.  
 
Continue with each longer piece until you’re happy with the size of your mobile or you run out of sticks! 
 
Tip: to help maintain balance for each stick, balance the stick on your finger to find the middle point. When you find the part of the stick that makes it balance evenly, wrap the yarn or wire around that point. You can also leave it slightly loose before tightening to make adjustments if you hold the mobile upright. 
 

Step 6 – Hang

Find a spot to hang your mobile! 
 
The balancing twigs resemble a tree and make a beautiful decoration wherever you put it! 
 
If some branches are drooping or not hanging straight, try sliding them to the left or right to balance them. 

 

 

Painted Pinecone Flowers

 
Pinecones are an easy, readily available natural item for crafts.
Their shape and unique textures make a painted pinecone really pop with color.
In this week’s activity, we’ll paint pinecones and turn them into flowers!
 
Materials:
  • Pinecones
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Small Paintbrushes
  • Small Sticks
  • Yarn
  • Hot Glue or a strong water based glue
 

Step 1 – Trim

Collect some pinecones!
 
Store bought pinecones are already cleaned, dried, and fully opened and work wonderfully. If you collect ones from nature, sterilize them first.
 
To do this, brush and wash them in soapy water to remove dirt and debris. Then, place them on a foil lined baking sheet and dry them in a 200 degree oven.
It will take between 30 minutes to an hour for them to fully dry and open up.
 
Monitor them frequently, as the stems may start to smoke when the pinecone is fully dry.
Alternatively, to do this without baking, soak them in a 2:1 water: vinegar mixture for 30 minutes. Then, let them air dry for about 3 days.
 

Step 2 – Stick Stem

The small stick will become the flower stem. 
 
Wrap yarn around the stick to give it color, and glue or tie the yarn to secure it.
 

Step 3 – Attach

Using hot glue, place a bean sized amount on the bottom of the pinecone and attach the stick stem to the pinecone. 
 
If using regular water-based glue, use a large dollop and place the pinecone and stem upside down securely in place to let it dry for a day. 
 
Tip: If it’s a challenge to attach the sticks, a quick workaround is gluing them to wine corks! This allows you to stand and display them upright. 
You can paint the cork green or wrap yarn around it as well.
 
 

Step 4 – Paint

Paint your pinecones in your colors of choice! 
 
Try painting just the tips, go full out and paint the entire thing, or blend different colors for an ombre look. 
 

Step 5 – Display

Display a bouquet of pinecone flowers wherever you choose!
They are a beautifully colorful way to have nature in your home.

 

Holiday Wreath

 
A natural wreath is a welcome addition to a home and an easy way to keep the beauty of nature close at hand.
Pine and evergreen branches smell wonderful and a natural evergreen wreath is a decorative way to bring that fragrance into your home! 
For this week’s activity, we will make an evergreen holiday wreath!
 
 
Materials:
  • Wreath Form (12 inch metal or grapevine wreath)
  • Floral Wire (any thin, easily bendable wire will work – look for 20 gauge or thinner if buying)
  • Wire Cutters
  • Floral Shears
  • Greenery (A simple wreath can be made with all balsam fir branches, but you can also use multiple types of greenery to give a layered look)
  • Berries, Bells, Other Decorations (optional)
 

Step 1 – Trim

Trim your greenery into smaller, wreath-sized pieces.
A good estimate for the amount of greenery needed is about 20 2-foot branches to complete a 12-inch wreath.
If you’re using multiple types of greenery, organize and keep the different types separate.
If you want a “bushier” look, you’ll need additional branches
 

Step 2 – Bunch

Create a small bunch of greenery from about 3 to 4 pieces.
Start with a large piece and layer on 2 or 3 smaller pieces on top.
If using multiple types of greenery, use a large piece of balsam and place the smaller, more delicately textured pieces on top.
 

Step 3 – Secure

Wrap the floral wire around the wreath form to provide a starting place and hold everything together.
Then, place your first small bunch of greenery on the wreath.
Wrap the floral wire around the stems to secure the evergreens to the wreath.
 

Step 4 – Bunch and Repeat

Make a new bunch of evergreens, layering each bunch over the stem ends of the previous one.
Each time, wrap the floral wire around the stems to secure it.
The bushy ends of the bunches will cover the stem ends and the floral wire so that always is hidden!
 

Step 5 – Back to the Beginning

Once you work your way around the wreath form and reach the first bunch, it’s time to secure the last bunch of evergreens.
To do this, gently lift your first bunch and slip in the stem ends of the last bunch underneath.
Wrap the last bunch with floral wire to secure it.
 

Step 6 – Loop

Once the final bunch of evergreens has been secured, make a loop with the floral wire so you can hang the wreath.
Cut the wire and attach the loose end to wreath form.
 

Step 7 – Embellish (optional)

If you have extra decorations, like winter berries or jingle bells for example, attach them with floral wire to the wreath. 
Alternatively, gluing toothpicks to your decorations allows you to easily poke into and place decorations wherever you wish!
 

Step 8 – Hang and Display!

Your wreath is finished!
Hang and display it and enjoy the winter fragrance and beauty!

 

Turkey Bookmarks

 
The start of Winter is a great time to curl up with a good book, especially since the month of December is “Read a New Book Month!”
An important part of reading a book is having a nice bookmark to save your place and remind you to read.
For this week’s activity, we will make a turkey bookmark for our young and young-at-heart readers!
 
 
Materials:
  • Construction paper (various colors)
  • Scissors
  • Water-based glue
  • Colored Pencils
  • Wiggly eyes (optional)
 
 

Step 1 – Squares

Cut a square from a piece of brown construction paper. 
The square should be approximately 6 inches by 6 inches, however, because it is a corner bookmark making your square larger or smaller won’t impact the bookmark’s function.
 
 

Step 2 – Triangle

Fold your square into a triangle. Place your folded triangle so that the point faces away from you and the long folded edge is closest. 
 

Step 3 – Fold the Point

Take the top sheet of the triangle and fold it so the tip touches the base. 
Crease this fold.
 

Step 4 – Fold Corners

Starting on the right corner, fold it upwards to meet the top point of the triangle.
You should have a fold matching the bottom interior triangle. Crease, then unfold.
Repeat this with the left corner.
 

Step 5 – Tuck

Tuck both bottom corners into the pocket you made in step three.
You have completed the basic corner bookmark form! 
 

Step 6 – Feathers

Cut out small feathers for your turkey and glue them to the back of the bookmark. The backside is the part without the opening.
 

Step 7 – Turkey Face

Cut out a small beak and wattle (a wattle is the red part that hangs from the necks of turkeys) and glue them to the front of the bookmark.
Glue wiggly eyes or draw the eyes if you prefer.
 

Step 8 – Color

Use colored pencils or crayons and add some additional color or designs to the turkey.
Get creative and have fun!
 
 

Step 9 – READ!

Pick out a new book this month and enjoy! Use your turkey bookmark to gobble up pages and to remind you to keep reading!

 

 

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!