Friday, March 30, 2012

Bring the Outdoors in: Nature collage

Looking for a way to enjoy and capture the color and beauty found in early spring?  Then this fun, simple activity will be a perfect experience for you and your children.  Not many materials are needed.

Clear contact paper (as a side note, this is not as easily found as I was anticipating.  When looking for clear contact paper, do not go to your local grocery store, drug store or Staples as I attempted.  After 5 miserable failed attempts, I finally found the apparently illusive contact paper at Home Depot of all places), items from nature: grass, flowers, leaves..., string or ribbon, a hole punch, and a basket to collect your nature items.

While outdoors with your children offer them a basket and often all you'll need to do is take a step back and watch.  Children are natural collectors of beautiful, natural items and will make quick work of finding things to place in their baskets.

I was inspired to write about this by my 17 month old daughter.  Upon arriving home recently, she climbed out of the car and immediately bee-lined for the lawn where she quickly plucked a tiny acorn lid from the grass.  She was amazed by this beautiful item and insisted on bringing it indoors.  This moment reminded me of the many nature collages I have made over the years with the preschool aged students in my class.

Once their baskets are full, this is where the clear contact paper comes in.  You may now begin placing the natural items directly onto the contact paper.  Flat items work best for this.  Izzy's little acorn cap would be a bit challenging to use in this application.

If you are working with young toddlers as I was here, they will not only enjoy sticking items to the contact paper, but will want some time to simply enjoy the tactile experience of the paper itself!

Now that you have filled one piece of contact paper with your beautiful things, you can either place a new piece of contact paper on top to sandwich the items in between, or you could simply fold the paper in half as I did here.

This project is so open ended you can make any size collage you would like.

Once your collage is complete, there are a variety of applications for it.  If you made a small collage, punch a hole in the top, put a piece of string through and instant book mark!
These nature collages also make lovely window hangings.  They truly are a sight to see when the sun shines through.  Be creative and use your imagination (2 things young children are great at).  The variety and beauty found in nature will provide brilliant works of art.

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