If you’ve spent the chilly winter days holed up inside crafting, there’s no need to put your favourite pastime aside now. Fuel your passion for crafts and enjoy the outdoors at the same time with these simple, nature-inspired activities for families.
Make a pine cone bird feeder
Welcome your feathered friends with this easy bird feeder even a small child can help create. Knot a long piece of twine or yarn around a large pine cone and tie the ends together to make a loop. Now for the fun part – have your little ones smear peanut butter all over the pine cone, getting it right into the grooves. Things are going to get messy – you may want to work outdoors! Pour bird seed onto a paper plate and roll the pine cone in the seeds until it is fully covered. Tie your bird feeder to a tree and enjoy watching the birds visit. You can substitute a large pretzel or a rice cake for the pine cone if you prefer.
Create plant markers
On your next nature walk, bring along a sturdy bucket for each child. Have the kids gather smooth stones in various shapes and sizes. Back at home, fill the buckets with water and provide the kids with scrub brushes or old toothbrushes so they can go to town cleaning their stones. Lay the stones out on a towel to dry. Have the kids paint the stones with non-toxic acrylic paint. (Acrylic paint can stain clothing, so wear old clothes or smocks.) Consult pictures of your burgeoning vegetables or herbs so the kids can paint the stones to match. They could use orange for carrots, green for peas, yellow for squash or red for tomatoes. If you like, use a contrasting paint colour or permanent marker to write the name of the plant. For added fun, have the kids create ladybugs, bees, turtles and frogs with any remaining stones.
Personalize your plant pots
There are few activities more fascinating to a child than planting a seed and watching it grow. Whether flower, herb or vegetable, why not give your little ones ownership over a few potted plants this season? Make the process even more fun by first designing personalized plant pots. Decorate terracotta pots using store-bought stamps and acrylic paint. If time is on your side, create your own stamps from a potato using cookie cutters. If your little artists prefer working freehand, provide an assortment of brushes. Encourage the kids to personalize their pots with their names or the names of the plants.
Create a spring mobile
On your next foray into the meadow, park or woods, gather small items such as leaves, twigs, flowers and pine cones. For each spring mobile, find one main branch in a size of your choice. Cut a long piece of twine to act as the hanger. Tie the ends of the twine to the two ends of the branch. Tie various smaller lengths of twine to each found object and knot them onto the main branch in a row. The kids will enjoy creating their own unique mobiles and choosing a spot to hang them. For variety, your little ones could paint their main branch a different colour. Or create a round mobile by using an embroidery hoop in place of the branch. You could also tie two dowels together to make an X shape or hang painted rocks from your mobile.
For a more impromptu spring activity, take a walk and encourage your kids to discuss all of the things they see – colours, animals and plants. Once home, have them create spring-inspired finger or brush paintings. Or provide your little ones with an age-appropriate camera to document spring’s beauty. Print some of the images and create a collage on poster paper. However you choose to spend the bountiful days of spring with your little ones, you’re sure to enjoy the feeling of harmony that nature brings!
Joann MacDonald is the mother of two feisty children and a naughty beagle mix named Jolene. Joann holds an MA in journalism and has been a writer for almost two decades. She writes about vegan cooking and life as a mom over at womaninreallife.com.