NATURE STUDY

12/03/2015

We felt a natural progression from last weeks flower shop activities towards exploring a full-on nature study theme. With spring just around the corner this seemed like the perfect time to start discussing seasons and exploring the natural world with some real hands on experience.

 

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I wanted to create a nature table feel to the shelves this week. So I displayed some vintage reference books picked up from our local charity shops, which have already provided loads of inspiration and amusement plus some beautiful spring bulbs we’ve been collecting. Bou has taken a real interest in caring for the plants, enjoying both watering and watching them bloom. Also its nice to have a place to showcase and display all of her artwork completed over the week so she can be reminded of what she’s achieved and what we’ve learnt!

 

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Here’s what our first week of nature-inspired activity trays looked like…

 

We kicked off by experimenting with painting techniques using natural materials. This one was really easy to prepare – just some poster paints and a bunch of cheap and cheerfull carnations as they have nice big petals making them perfect for dipping into our paint pots. The stalks also came in handy as an extra painting tool which has inspired me to get even more creative when it comes to sourcing more unusual brushes etc. Bou was really absorbed with this activity and much more so than painting with ordinary tools where I often find her interest and concentration can be somewhat lacking. Just another reminder that providing new techniques, materials and experiences keep the subject fresh and fun!

 

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We did further flower exploration, this time using some picture cards I made using a free PDF printable downloaded HERE. These were perfect for matching and identifying all the different varieties of flora and fauna. To make the cards I printed the sheet then cut out each picture gluing down onto a corresponding piece of card. To instigate the activity, I laid out the cards in a pile next to their plastic counterparts – we used fake flowers for longevity but fresh flowers would also be a lovely alternative. Bou matched up the flowers to the cards as I taught her all the names and we had some general chat about each flower. By the second go on this activity she had already memorised the lot.

 

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We also moved onto exploring insects this week and as butterflies often symbolise the start of spring I thought what better way to celebrate the coming season than with some butterfly themed crafts. I drew out a series of symmetrical shapes onto some paper, then cut out and folded in half to create a crease down the middle. Once they were all ready to go, I gave Bou some paint tubes so she could directly squeeze paint onto one half of each of the paper wings. Then we folded the butterfly in half, pressing the paper down to transfer the paint onto the opposite side of the wing. Finally open out the paper to reveal like magic – a beautiful symmetrical butterfly! This activity went on for days and I think we made upwards of 30 of these before this trick got old. We also did some experiments with puffy paints and collage using some shop-bought foam shaped butterflies too.

 

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Playdoh has also been a big hit this week, so I used it as a jumping off point to start discussing  insect homes and habitats. I had a small selection of creepy crawlie plastic toys I’ve been collecting which I placed in a pot, alongside some Playdoh and a magnifying glass. We rolled the dough out into little balls and then made bug impressions or fossils as we called them. As Bou inspected them with the magnifying glass we also chatted about what they looked like – naming the different body parts and of course what kind of habitat each of the bugs might live in. A couple of the bugs were so realistic looking that Bou was initially a bit squeamish at first but soon got over it and was inspecting the rubbery toy cockroaches and spiders with an air of interest and confidence. Result!

 

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Next we made Playdoh flowers using cookie cutters, lolly pop sticks and beads. We spent a lot of time doing this activity as kneading and rolling dough is an awesome sensory activity and my little one particularly enjoys this kind of play. Working with dough and cutters is one of her all-time favourite things to do so I couldn’t think of a better way to finish up the week. We used a selection of plastic pony beads I had stashed away in my craft haul to decorate the flowers. Bou loved this as the beads are still too small for threading but she finds them irresistible and is always asking if she can play with them. This idea presented itself as a safe and easy opportunity for her to explore a much-coveted material in purposeful play. Everyone’s a winner!

 

 

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There is still so much to do and discover when it comes to observing and exploring the natural environment so we’re going to carry on the theme for the next couple of weeks. Plus we’ll also be doing some spring planting to create our own indoor garden to teach plant care as well as add in a little bit of science action. Once the weather improves I’m gonna organise a nature walk / scavenger hunt and prepare a little explorer bag complete with binoculars, magnifying glass, notebook pens and everything else a little nature explorer will need… so watch this space!

 

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Hey! I’m Jazz Domino Holly – author, designer and mamma to daughter and mini-muse, Bouidca (age 5). Here you'll find us blogging and sharing all our favourite things in kids, fashion and lifestyle. Join us as we document our days, more ›

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