Posts tagged ‘fall colors’

September 27, 2013

Weekend Nature Challenge: Pressing Flowers and Leaves

by Melissa Harding

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The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is getting plumper,
The rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.

– Emily Dickinson

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September is a beautiful month – not quite summer, not quite fall.  Flowers are still growing, tomatoes are still on the vine and the sun is still warm enough to bask in, yet leaves are already falling, apples are ready to pick and everything seems to be flavored with cinnamon. This in-between month is a wonderful time to be outside. It is also a very colorful time, even more vibrant than summer; yellow goldenrod, purple blazing star and the red maples are everywhere! Formerly green trees are suddenly a rainbow of colors and even the sides of the road are bright and cheerful. However, while these colors are short-lived, they are also easy to preserve. This is a great time of year for collecting and pressing flowers and leaves.

This weekend, we challenge you and your family to a fall treasure hunt. More specifically, a collecting hunt for flowers and leaves. Find the brightest colors that you can and pick them to take home and preserve. This challenge combines two activities that kids love – outside treasure hunts and smooshing things together. Spend some time scouring the ground, roadside, bushes and trees for a rainbow of plants. While you’re at it, keep your eyes peeled for grasshoppers, groundhogs and other critters who may be out and about. When you get home, press your treasures in a phone book or a flower press; for a faster pressing time, put a heavy object like a dictionary or an iron on top of your press. Check every week until they are your desired crispiness and then use them to decorate your home, make art or just to observe!

Take the next few days to explore the your neighborhood for colorful plants. What did you notice about the plants that you found? Did you find any cool critters or other things of note? Tell us in the comments below.

The above photo was taken by Melissa Harding.

October 19, 2012

Home Connections: Nature Weaving

by Melissa Harding

As the foggy mornings and frost advisories have finally confirmed, it is indeed autumn. Even if you have been hoping summer would return, there is at least one great reason to embrace the new season: autumn colors. There is no more beautiful time of the year than the oranges, yellows, reds, and browns of fall; trees are dropping jewel-toned leaves, goldenrod and blazing star cover the roadsides with yellow and purple, and milkweed is sending soft, floating seeds into the air. There are many fun ways to capitalize on this gorgeous display of nature, especially with your children. One way to get them outside and practicing their observation skills is to create a nature weaving.

Nature weavings consist of two parts: the loom and the weaving material. A loom is just something that supports the weaving materials and provides a structure to weave on. It can be made out of cardboard, sticks from the backyard, a wooden frame, or anything else you can think of. The easiest material to use is a cereal box.

How to make a cerealbox loom (Source)
You will need:  front side of a cereal box, twine or yarn, scissors, craft glue

1. Cut your cereal box just a little larger than the size of the weaving you want to make. Cut a row of slits in the top and bottom ends, making each slit one-fourth to one-half inch apart.

2. Tie a knot in your string, slip the knot into one of the slits to anchor it, then run the string to the slit on the opposite side.

3. Slip the string behind the cardboard to the next slit on the same side, bring it through, then run it across the board again. Keep going until the whole piece of cardboard is strung like a guitar.

Now that you have your loom strung, you are ready to look for materials! Materials to weave inside the loom are anything you can find outside: leaves, sticks, grasses, flowers, feathers, tree bark, pine needles, and feathers, to name a few. Nature weaving is a great activity to do with children of all ages; while the act of weaving can be difficult for young children, they can still put their findings into the loom any which way and create something beautiful. Most importantly, these materials can be found outside on a nature walk.

A nature walk during autumn can be an incredibly sensory experience, from the earthy smell of damp ground to the beautiful colors and the sounds of falling leaves. Evidence of animals gathering for the winter is everywhere and the wet ground means that you will most likely find their tracks. All of this is great to observe with magnifying glasses and, even better, a place to take your nature journals. Encourage your child to note what is different about the changing season and to use his or her senses to explore your surroundings while you gather objects.

Assembling your weaving is as easy as ‘over and under’. Your loom provides you with all of the strips going one direction; all you need to do is to weave your found objects in the other direction. Weaving moves objects alternately over and under the pre-strung strips of material. If your child has trouble with this, he or she can still put objects into the loom; just give him or her a bit of help to make sure that the materials in the weaving are secure.

Want to embellish your weaving? Try adding bits of ribbon, colored string or yarn, pipecleaners, fabric or other colored craft materials around your found items. You can also yarn or ribbon to create a loop and hang your creations on a door or window. Nothing will help you usher in the new season like a beautiful nature weaving!

For more resources about weaving with children, try these websites:
Scholastic Books (this website also has great book ideas related to weaving)
Let the Children Play (both natural and non-natural weaving activities)
Michelle Made Me (weaving paper plate suns)

Do your children enjoy making any other crafts using natural objects? Share them in the comments below.

The above images were taken by Christie Lawry and Amanda Joy.

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