Autumn, to me, is all about harvest. We are still gathering apples and processing them, but it is also a rich time for collecting craft materials. The children love to help. It doesn’t take much to encourage them to go outside and collect seeds and leaves.
We are lucky that so many different trees grow in our garden. Planted decades before we moved here, they are mature enough to provide all sorts of interesting natural craft materials. We love our oak tree. It is one of my favourite places to sit and spend time. This year, it’s acorns seem bigger than ever, but maybe I say that every year.
The children are fascinated by the acorn galls. A few of these magically appear on the nature table each year.
One tree that we don’t have in the garden is a sycamore. There are one or two down our lane. As we walk home from school, the children scoop up handfuls of the seeds to bring home. A few are thrown up to see who can make them spiral down to the ground again. Some end up in pots of earth, while others are added to the craft materials. This week they made dragonflies, using the seeds.
The sticks were picked up from the hedgerow. I love the knobbly stick. It gives it a real dragon look. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you’ll know that we do like our dragon (and here) and dragonfly (and here) crafts.
In between all the gathering, there is plenty of time to play outside. The archery kit, that TF had for his birthday, is still a big hit. Even a bit of drizzle will not put them off missing their turn. Their aim and the distance, that they can fire the arrows, is improving. I wasn’t sure how well the bow and arrows would last, but the children have certainly put it through its paces and it is still going strong. I’m waiting for the subtle hints for a more substantial set.
In the meantime, with all the natural craft materials that they have gathered, I think we will be busy creating a few masterpieces in the weeks to come.
(Just in case you are wondering, despite the title of this post, nothing was actually hunted. The arrows have little plungers on the end. Purely for play and never to be pointed at anyone. Ever.)
Bearing in mind that I
like love to make things and I take every opportunity to encourage others to have a go too, you’ll probably understand why I really enjoy going in to school to help with crafting sessions. I’ve volunteered to do a halloween activity with the youngest class. One aspect that I have learnt is that preparation is everything. A run-through with my own children is a definite must.
This weekend we tried out three different halloween themed craft activities. I’m glad we did. One was a flop, one suited a different age group and the last was perfect. ( I feel like the Three Bears!)
Starting with the middle activity. I wanted to use egg cartons for this craft, as I have lots to use and that makes it easy for school. With some clever cutting and sticking, we managed to make a cup shape out of the cartons and a circle for the base. The children painted them and drew a jack-o-lantern face.
Next they stuck tissue paper leaves on to the base, to make it look like a leaf pile. In the garden we found beech nut cases or cupules. They make the most perfect miniature hedgehogs. The children glued gold coloured seed beads for the eyes and used big blobs of glue to stick the hedgehogs on top of the leaf piles.
For the final touch, we used thin elastic to hinge the cup to the base. Our pumpkin hedgehog houses were complete. At first glance, they look like pumpkins.
Open them up and they reveal a little hedgehog inside.
Now for the flop. This did not go down well as it involved lots and lots of glue. I should have known better than to try this out on the child that eloquently communicates her loathing of everything papier mache related.
It looks good, but I did have to finish it. There is an insect caught inside the web, which is fun, but I shall not be taking this activity into school. Not all children like glue on their fingers.
Final project is the one I will take into school. Thanks to Pinterest, I found an egg carton bat. We love bats, especially as we hand reared a baby bat this spring. Mention a bat and the usual reaction at school is vampire. Hmm. I wanted to take it from a different angle.
We made the bats roughly along the same lines as shown. I discouraged the children from adding fangs, pointing out that the only time we ever saw our bat’s fangs was when he was yawning. Did they want to make a sleepy, bored bat? Maybe not. We opted for blue sequin eyes which would sparkle in the dark. Once they were dry, thin elastic was threaded through the top, so the bats could be hung up and bounced.
We added a moth to the elastic. This summer, we have loved watching the bats swoop around the garden catching anything small that flutters. I wanted my children to remember these evening experiences. The moth is a pipecleaner with colourful fleece for fast flapping wings. The bat and moth can slide up and down the thread. Lots of moths were caught by our egg carton bats. So good to have another chance to talk about the food chain.
By the end of the weekend, I had found the right halloween project, recycled some egg cartons, had lively discussions about food chains and added another pin to my “Done and Dusted” board. Oh, and my children had fun too. Hey, that’s not bad.
When we first moved to our house, there was a reasonable population of hedgehogs in the garden. I remember going out, one night, and hearing the strangest growling/grinding noise at my feet. Turned out I was been challenged by a hedgehog. Probably along the lines of “This is my garden and what are you doing in it.” In the autumn especially, we were bound to come across at least one in the garden at night. We liked them. Then a few years after moving here, we realised that they had gone. A whole year without a sighting. We checked with the neighbours and they reported the same. The hedgehogs had gone.
I would like to think my garden is fairly wildlife friendly. At the time all our surrounding neighbours were organic gardeners and loved our prickly night time visitors. Around the same time, we all noticed more badger activity. Somewhere, deep down in my memory, I remember hearing that badgers and hedgehogs don’t mix. Whatever the cause of their disappearance, I miss the little critters and their slug eating ways.
Tuesday is TF’s and my craft day and, even though it is half term, I still wanted it to be his special time. I chose a craft that would interest them all. It gave the girls enough time to put as much detail into it, but TF could move from one step to the next, without really noticing what the others were doing. First we read One Winter’s Day. It is about a hedgehog whose home is blown away. On the way to badger’s house, out of kindness, he gives various animals his hat, scarf and mittens. Bit early for winter, but we have been discussing hibernation as the bats have taken to their winter homes. Plus it was wet and windy today. (My least favourite weather. Wet or windy is OK, I just don’t like them combined)
First we used chalk to draw the scenery on black construction paper. Next I put a box of leaves and other nature finds on the table, with pots of glue. TF decided that he didn’t want to stick leaves. The last time he had stood outside, in the dark, we had watched fireworks. He was enormously taken by the display, so his heart was set on replicating “shooting star rockets” in his picture. Out came the glitter. The girls could not resist the glitter so added movement and stars to their pictures. Last stage was to cut out a hedgehog and stick wool on for its prickles.
I find it interesting that all the hedgehogs face the same way, except one. I gave no guidance on the direction. The only left hander faced the hedgehog the other way round.
For me, the sign of a good crafting session is when at least one of them wants to do it all again tomorrow. Exactly the same? No, can we include flowers next time!