Nature-Inspired Crafts for Kids

Whether you gather supplies in your neighborhood or at the crafts store, your kids will love bringing the outdoors inside with these easy natural crafts projects featuring supplies found in nature.

Everything in this slideshow

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Photograph by Tim MacKay

Your child can transform a photograph into an all-natural work of art.

1. Take a full-body photo of your child in front of a fairly plain background.
2. Print out the photo as large as you can. Ours is 8 1/2 by 11 inches.
3. With your child, collect natural items from your yard, such as bark, leaves, twigs, and flowers.
4. Arrange the objects on the photo. There's no need to glue them.
5. Take a photo of the new, collaged image and frame it.

Originally published in the August 2013 issue of FamilyFun

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Idea And Photograph By Aleacia Hitchcock Of Dillydaliart.Com

Trunk Show

You can brighten your yard with this temporary art project that highlights (but doesn't harm) a favorite tree. First soak sidewalk chalk in water for a couple of hours to soften it, then go outside and choose a tree that's looking a little drab -- the smoother the bark, the better. Rub the chalk on the trunk to give it a coat of color. Smooth out the chalk and blend the hues with a large paintbrush and water.

Originally published in the March 2013 issue of FamilyFun

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Photograph by Doug Merriam

Birdseed Café

This simple nature project lets you give feathered friends a treat, even during cold months. From corrugated cardboard, cut a large star with a circle inside. Poke a hole and add a loop of twine for hanging. Spread peanut butter on both sides of the star. Working over a rimmed baking sheet, coat the star with birdseed.

Blog We Love: Our feeder was inspired by an idea on Cami Elias's blog, Full Circle (ourhouse.typepad.com). Her family used this technique to make the word welcome.

Originally published in the February 2013 issue of FamilyFun

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Ed Judice

Dragon-twigs

The propeller-shaped seeds from maple trees form the wings of these delicate dragonflies. For each, place four maple seeds on your work surface with their ends meeting as shown above. Add a drop of tacky glue to each end, then rest a 4-inch twig on top. Let the glue dry. (A hot glue gun can be used instead, if an adult helps.) Turn over the dragonfly and add a line of glitter glue to the edge of each wing. Attach two small glass bead eyes with glue.

Idea by Shanti Nordholt

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Ed Judice

Tiny Museum

Your child can use this bell jar, made from a 2-liter soda bottle, to protect fragile nature finds and delicate sculptures. Start by cutting the top 6 inches or so from a clear 2-liter plastic bottle. Clean any glue or printing from the bottle using Goo Gone or a similar product. Remove the cap and cover it with bakeable polymer clay, forming the clay into a decorative knob. Bake the knob, with the cap, according to the clay package's instructions. Let it cool, then place it onto the bottle. Use a cork trivet as a base, if you like.

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Jay Wilde

Pinecone Birds

Believe it or not, these adorable google-eyed creatures were once ordinary pinecones. Who knew nature could be so much fun?

Make It: Glue google eyes onto small pom-poms and let them dry. Help your kids fold chenille stems into legs and feet and glue them onto the pinecone. Cut out a triangular beak from orange or yellow foam. Glue on the eyes and the beak; let the creature dry completely before beginning a fun game of make-believe with your kids.

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Scott Little

Twig Raft

Create a playtime raft that really floats with just a few natural twigs from your own backyard.

Make It: Have your kids search your backyard for twigs. Use outdoor trimmers to cut the twigs to the same size. Using jute or hemp cord, weave the ends of the twigs on both sides to tie them together. Attach a twig in an upright position for the mast. Cut a sail from colorful felt. Fold the felt in half, punch a hole in the middle, and slide it over the mast.

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Twig Raft

What You'll Need:

Twigs, twine, felt, scissors or hole punch, hot glue gun, outdoor trimmers (optional)

Make It:

1. Have your kids search your backyard for twigs of similar size. Or use outdoor trimmers to cut twigs to the same size.
2. Parents should handle the hot glue gun when gluing the twigs side-by-side together to make a raft. Attach a twig in an upright position for the mast.
3. Cut a sail from colorful felt. Fold the felt in half, cut two slits or punch two holes, and slide it over the mast. Then use twine to wrap the twigs on both sides for decoration.

Copyright ? 2011 Meredith Corporation.

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Francis Janisch

Forest Frame

Fashion frames for snapshots using sticks, glue, and twine.

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Francis Janisch

Forest Floor Decor

Make this stand from paper-covered soup cans and wood rounds ($5 to $9 each). Then, accent your table with freebies from your yard: flowers, twigs, and rocks!

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Scott Little

Bug-Collector Bottle

This creative craft doubles as a fun science project when it becomes an indoor habitat for your child's favorite insect friends.

Make It: Rinse a plastic bottle and let it dry. Draw a rectangle on one side of the bottle and cut it out with a knife. Cut wire screen to cover the opening (but don't attach it yet). Trim a colorful piece of foam to fit around the screen. Let your child fill the bottle with sticks, rocks, and other objects to make a habitat for his bug collection. Use glue to attach the screen and frame over the opening. Twist off the lid to let the bugs into their new home.

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Jay Wilde

Strawberry Necklace

Transform a natural walnut into a darling strawberry necklace that will dress up any outfit.

Make It: Paint a walnut red or pink and let it dry. Cut out a top for the strawberry from light green and dark green felt, as shown. Glue the felt pieces together; let dry. Fold the pieces in half and punch a hole in the middle. Unfold and glue to the top of the walnut, leaving the area around the holes free of glue. Thread a ribbon, chain, or piece of string through the holes to create a fashion-ready necklace.

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Jay Wilde

Seed Art

Your kids can spend hours creating fun designs and interesting patterns with dyed pumpkin seeds and popcorn kernels. The artistic possibilities are endless.

Make It: To make dye, mix white vinegar, food coloring, and water (experiment with the amounts of each to suit your child's desired look). Place pumpkin seeds and popcorn kernels in the dye. Let them soak 4-6 hours before straining and drying overnight. Let your kids have fun sorting and organizing the seeds into imaginative shapes and gluing them onto paper, foam, or canvas.

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Jay Wilde

Rock Mushrooms

Let your child decorate your garden, potted plants, or windowsill with easy-to-make rock mushrooms that won't wilt in the summer sun.

Make It: Search your backyard or a neighborhood park for smooth rocks, choosing ones with flat surfaces so the mushrooms can stand upright. Have your child paint some rocks red (for the tops) and some white (for the stems). Add white dots to the red tops using paint or stickers. Glue the pieces together with liquid glue.

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Rock Mushrooms

Kids can collect and paint rocks to make these magical garden markers.

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Jay Wilde

Vacation Jar

Treasure a family vacation forever by capturing it in a simple glass jar.

Make It: Let your children collect sand, pebbles, shells, and other pieces of nature while on vacation. Place them inside a glass jar, layering as you go. Write the destination on a tag and attach it to the jar. Use as a mantelpiece decoration or centerpiece display and remember your special trip forever.

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Jay Wilde

Cute Nut Bird

Your kids will go nuts for this cute little bird made from just a few nuts and some colorful foam.

Make It: Glue various natural or store-bought nuts together to form a bird's body and head and let dry completely. Cut wings, a beak, and feet from colored foam and attach to the bird. Add google eyes to finish.

Originally published in the November 2012 issue of FamilyFun

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