CREATIVE FAMILY FUN: Set up a nature discovery nook

By Donna Erickson

By using flat rocks and pebbles, anyone can craftily make a turtle. (Donna Erickson)

Set aside a space on your kitchen counter or a table in your family room to showcase your kids’ summer nature collectibles. Their own museum of natural wonders can be enjoyed by friends and family who come to your home. And when they do, the kids can tell them where they found the treasure, what it’s called and something interesting that captured their imagination. Best of all, this collection zone will be a constant reminder of the time you spent together discovering the mysteries and beauty of the world we live in.

Add collected finds this fall and, for fun, classify and label them with small strips of index cards (date the excursion and describe the item), just like in museums. For example: “This nest fell off the oak tree in the backyard on a windy day. I found it behind the garbage can. I discovered yarn in the nest. I think the yarn came from the bird feeder that was hanging from our swing set last year.” For such an item, encourage your child to find a book about nests or research them online. Find out what kind of bird made the nest and learn the likely color of the eggs that were in the nest at one time.

If your family traveled to new places this past summer, or if you plan to take weekend trips this fall, the items can also be displayed in attractive ways on the table. If you have collected sand from different beaches, for example, layer it in a clean, clear recycled jar. It’s fun to see the range of colors and types of sand from beach to beach. And, it’s a unique way to recall a trip to Clearwater Beach, Florida, in 2021 or Santa Monica, California, in 2022.

For indoor rainy-day fun, use some of the sticks and stones for crafting. Here are two ideas:

— Flat rocks aren’t just for skipping across the surface of a lake. Make a turtle! Choose a flat oval stone for the body, and glue small ones underneath, stretching out to the sides to make four feet and a tail, with a larger stone for a head. Add two pebbles for eyes.

— Make a twig vase with a recycled tin can. Use shears to cut similar-width branches, an inch or so longer than the height of the can. Place two large rubber bands around the outside of the can, one near the top and one near the bottom. Insert branches side by side, as if building a twig fence around the can. Wind twine or raffia over the rubber bands to cover them, and then knot.


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© 2022 Donna Erickson

Distributed by King Features Synd.

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