First, a disclaimer: I am not “crafty.” Artistic, yes, but not crafty. I am absolutely positive there are more creative and capable moms out there who could take these crafts to a much higher level. Please feel free to post your ideas (with pictures!) in the comments! No competition here, just sharing the love!
Now that the disclaimer is taken care of…
There just aren’t enough hours in the day around the holidays. I’m all into killing a couple of proverbial birds with one stone, so here goes:
Nature study tends die off in our household about mid-November. Not that we don’t enjoy getting out of doors — we do — but honestly, there is just too much to do! Between the Christmas programs, extra music to learn, seasonal activities, and keeping up with Saxon math (ugh!), the shorter winter days are just not conducive to adding in that extra nature assignment.
In October, as our Adventurer group was collecting leaves for the tree award, it occurred to me that collecting natural materials from the out-of-doors wasn’t a tall assignment, and then we could make Christmas (or other holiday) crafts on colder, icky days in December.
Subjects you can cover with this assignment:
- Nature Study/Natural Science: Identify those pine and birch trees as you collect needles and bark!
- History: The Phoenicians were expert dye-makers. What dyes can you make from food or natural materials you have around? How is the process different from in ancient times? What items did the ancients use — or what items were used just a mere 200 years ago? How are paints or dyes for textiles made today?
- Handicrafts: Charlotte Mason, an educator in the late 19th century, advocated for practical projects that children could make and use (or give away) as an essential part of education. (You might even be able to get some Adventurer awards taken care of with these crafts!)
- Art: Art history might even be a subject to cover during this time. Perhaps one of your cards is inspired by an impressionist artist, or you are interested in artists who use a particular medium or style. These would be excellent, delight-directed unit study or extracurricular research projects.
Pinterest and internet searches are obvious places to look for ideas, but you might even try collecting items in your yard or along a nature path first, and then brainstorming for ways to use the items.
We concentrated on making Christmas cards using birch bark, pine needles, natural (homemade) dyes, and leaves. I purchased some blank cards with envelopes and a few pieces of scrapbook paper to add to our collected items. We also used ink pads, stamps, twine, and embossing powder to embellish the cards. This was really my first attempt at card-making, so my kids and I were experimenting together!
Starting list of items to collect:
- Grasses, weeds, pine needles, bark, sticks from lilies, acorns
- Pressed flowers from spring, summer, and fall
- Pressed leaves
- Bird nests
- Snake skins
- Dried lavender and other herbs
Ideas for handicrafts using natural materials:
- Candle holders (Arrange materials around a glass votive.)
- Shadow boxes (Arrange items and then tack them in; label them if you wish.)
- Decorative baskets (Hot glue natural materials to the outside of a basket to “spruce” it up, literally.)
- Art pieces (Include a special feather or grass in a painting for a 3D effect.)
- Cards or gift tags
Enjoy your completed projects at home or give them away as handmade gifts! Happy holidays!