I don't know about you but a couple of weeks into the summer holidays I start to run out of ideas of things to do. It's easy to get carried away at the start of summer with trips to the beach, theme parks. farm parks or zoos but there are also times when you just want to stay at home and still need activities to keep everyone entertained.
Fortunately, nature has a lot to offer! Part of the OWL project ethos is to use our senses to notice things, so here are 5 easy sensory craft activities that are low/no budget and can be achieved in your own garden or local environment.
Harvesting and drying lavender
Using the sense of smell
Snip off long stems, ideally those with unopened flowers as these keep their scent for longer (this also ensures there are flowers left behind for the pollinators). Tie the stems in bunches using string or wool and hang them around your house to dry. You can also dry the stems spread out on some paper. After a couple of weeks the lavender can be stripped from the stems. Not only is this a lovely sensory activity as lavender smells divine but you will also be able to make lavender bags or sachets with the dries lavender and these make a lovely Christmas present - sorry to mention the C word!
Collecting and pressing flowers
Using the sense of sight
You could combine this with a colour hunt, collecting single leaves and flowers in all colours of the rainbow. You will need to place the flowers and leaves between two sheets of absorbent paper (something like coffee filters or thick paper towels work well) and place this under a heavy book for two to three weeks. Alternatively, place the flowers and leaves between two sheets of absorbent paper and iron without steam on a low heat for 15-30 seconds. Once completely dry they can be used for paper crafts or used to decorate glass jar lanterns.
Using the sense of touch
Hapa-zome printing involves placing leaves or flowers between two pieces of fabric, card or paper and bashing them with a something flat to release the natural dyes. This works best with plants that are fresh and vibrant and is less successful with shiny evergreen leaves. Feeling the textures of the collected materials is a great way to find out whether they are suitable for hapa-zome. You will need a flat solid surface and a mallet or hammer, flat piece of wood or stone to bash with. This is a great activity to release any pent up tension or anxiety! I usually use cotton fabric in a light colour but you could experiment to see what works the best, If you cut the fabric into triangles it could be made into garden bunting. You can find a great tutorial here: Hapa Zome, with Wildly Curious - YouTube
Making and using natural paints
Using the sense of taste
There are so many fruits, berries and flowers available during the summer months that can be used to make natural paints. All you need to do is extract the natural colours from whatever you are using by crushing, chopping or blending. You can add a little water for a watercolour paint. Natural dyes can stain clothing so it is a good idea to wear an apron when making and using the paints. Children often love the paint making and mixing more than using them and this is not surprising as it is very therapeutic. If you choose edible fruits and berries such as blackberries or blackcurrants you could split the mixture and use half as a paint and drink the rest - just be sure to closely supervise the picking.
Creating natural wind chimes
Using the sense of hearing
This is a great way to use some of the objects you children love to collect when they are out and about - shells, sticks, pebbles, pinecones are all excellent natural objects to add to windchimes. There is no right or wrong way to make wind chimes but the easiest way is to tie natural objects to sticks with string or wool. You could also add in recycled materials like bottle tops or ring pulls - the only limit is your imagination!
Have a lovely week everyone :)