Nature Crafting With Kids

How to Deepen Childrens' Relationship with Nature Through Crafts
The Barringer kids showing off their mushroom crafts next to their KZ Durango Gold fifth wheel.

Growing up, I traveled the States with my family in our RV and many of my childhood memories were formed with the sights, sounds, and textures of being outdoors.

I have fond memories of crafting alongside my mom with the natural materials we found outside. And today, I get to pass the torch to my children and the adventure continues. 

RVing with my growing family allows me to relive my childhood—crafting memories that will hopefully hold a special place in their hearts as well. So, I’m going to share some of my favorite ways to infuse nature into their crafts while we are on the road together making memories as a family. 

Respectful Exploration: Nature's Classroom 

Before heading out on our nature walks, I always pack a backpack with snacks and reusable water bottles. I also make sure the backpack is big enough for their precious finds. 

I emphasize responsible collection with my kids: Taking only what they find lying loose on the ground. 

Flowers usually stay untouched, since their purpose is in attracting essential pollinators like bees. 

I explain the delicate balance of nature, where every element plays a vital role. While it is not required, I use this as part of our homeschool experience. 

Occasionally, especially at campgrounds,  if a flower has already fallen victim to the mower's path, it might find a new life as part of a whimsical crown. 

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The Freedom of Exploration: Unstructured Joy

The pace of our hikes is leisurely, allowing time for exploration and discovery. We may stop by a little stream, climb a fallen tree, or simply sit with the wildflowers. 

These moments of unhurried connection with nature are invaluable to me, and my family. 

When we return to the RV, the collected treasures find a new purpose. I feel that crafting with them extends the sense of wonder we experience outdoors. It's a way to preserve a bit of the magic and translate the fleeting experience of the hike into a tangible reminder for them. 

Bibi Barringer and her kids bonding on a walk outside.

Stocking the Craft Box: Tools for Imagination

Space is always at a premium in an RV, but a well-stocked craft box is a must for us.

These materials are a good base for creating. The real magic lies in letting the children's imaginations take center stage. I offer guidance and supervision, especially with younger children as needed, but the focus is on open-ended exploration. 

Sometimes, I join in the fun, crafting alongside them and rediscovering the joy of creation through their innocent eyes. It is so much fun! 

Essential Craft Items I Keep On Hand

  • Scissors (adult-supervised for the younger kids)
  • Glue (school glue for paper and felt, hot glue for sturdier natural materials)
  • Colored pencils and felt-tip pens
  • Crafting paper in various colors and textures
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Brushes, watercolors, and a selection of acrylic paints
  • Egg cartons and empty paper rolls

Here are a couple of our current favorite crafts that utilize natural materials: 

  1. Dandelion Lion

    Materials: Dandelions, colored crafting paper, black and brown felt-tip pens, glue 

    Instructions: Cut a round face out of the colored crafting paper and draw your lion's face. Use the yellow flowering part of the dandelions to glue the lion's mane onto the outside edge of the lion's face. 

    One of the Barringer kids showing off her dande-lion craft next to her KZ Durango Gold fifth wheel.

  2. Nature Mushrooms

    Materials: 1-2 egg cartons, sticks, acrylic paint, brushes, hot glue gun, scissors 

    Instructions: Cut the egg cartons into 12 pieces to be used as the mushroom caps. Paint them in your favorite colors. After they are dried, add some white dots if desired. Paint the sticks white. Once everything is dry, use the hot glue gun to attach the mushroom stem to the cap. 

    There's no right or wrong way to approach nature crafts. It's about the process, not the picture-perfect results. The focus is on the joy of exploration, the connection with nature, and the quality time spent together. 

    The Barringer kids showing off their mushroom crafts next to their KZ Durango Gold fifth wheel.

Beyond Crafting: Nature’s Playground

 Nature crafting is just one way to engage with the natural world. We also use our outdoor adventures as opportunities for sensory exploration. We might collect smooth stones and arrange them by size and texture. We might sit and listen to the birds sing, identifying different calls if we can. We might smell the fragrant pine needles or wildflowers in bloom.  

Benefits Beyond the Craft: Lifelong Lessons 

The benefits of nature crafting extend far beyond the finished product. Here are some of the valuable lessons I hope my children glean from these experiences: 

  • Resourcefulness: Learning to utilize readily available materials fosters creativity and problem-solving skills. 
  • Respect for Nature: The responsible collection and appreciation for the delicate balance of the ecosystem instills environmental consciousness.
  • Fine Motor Skills Development: Learning to manipulate crafting materials like twigs, leaves, and glue strengthens hand-eye coordination and dexterity. 
  • Imaginative Play: Letting them explore in an unstructured way and open-ended crafting fuel my child's imagination and encourage them to think outside the box. 
  • Bonding: Sharing the joy of discovering and creating strengthens the bond I have with my children and gives them lasting memories. 

The beauty of nature crafting lies in its simplicity and accessibility. I don’t feel like we need fancy supplies or a dedicated craft space. On warm and sunny days we craft on the picnic table most campgrounds supply. 

Additional Tips for Nature Crafting Adventures: 

  • Research local flora and fauna: A basic understanding of the local ecosystem can help guide responsible collection practices. 
  • Incorporate seasonal elements: We use fall leaves, pinecones, and acorns in autumn. Winter walks might yield interesting twigs and even ice formations we can use. 
  • Safety first: Be mindful of potential hazards like thorns, insects, certain plants, or uneven terrain. 
  • Make it a learning experience: Use nature walks as opportunities to identify different plants, trees, and animals. 

Nature crafting isn't about achieving perfection. It's about creating memories and finding a deep connection with the natural world.  

Bibi Barringer

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