Thursday, November 15, 2012

Arts & Crafts Thursday: Nature Sculptures

I know you've missed them... so here is a great seasonal craft you can do, integrating things from your own yard, from My SweetArts (see end of post for information about their upcoming Little Elves workshop).

Our kids, our own and in class, absolutely love making 3-D sculptures. Building open-ended structures allows toddlers and preschoolers develop language skills by talking about the different materials they are working with and encourage fine motor manipulation.

This fall, we collected materials found right outside our door – fresh colorful leaves, pinecones, pine needles and acorns. We created a base of salt dough for the kids to build their own abstract art pieces.

To add some color, we gave them all glitter shakers to create unique designs with holiday flair.
Salt Dough base
• 1 cup of flour
• ¾ cup of salt
• ½ cup of water
• 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar (suggested for dough elasticity, but not essential)
• 1 teaspoon of cooking oil (suggested for easier dough kneading, but not essential)

Sculpture embellishments
• Pinecones
• Acorn caps
• Pine needles
• Sticks
• Leaves (choose fresh, colorful leaves for full impact)
• Glitter
• Cookie sheet

Salt Dough Recipe
Mix ingredients well, kneading the dough for 10 minutes. If the mixture is too sticky, add flour. If the mixture is too dry add a bit of water. Please note that the dough should be stiff (not runny or soft).

Sculpture process
Form a base for the sculpture. You can choose any shape or size. For class, we went with a round base ½ inch thick. The more surface area you provide your kids, the larger their canvas.

Take a nature walk and collect fun fall materials like acorn caps, leaves, pine needles and pinecones. Once you have fashioned the salt dough base, have your kids place their nature items in the dough base. To minimize mess, place the salt dough base on a paper plate and place inside a cookie sheet. Kids will explore different textures and the different impressions they leave in the dough. When they are all done with the natural materials, hand over the glitter and see their sculptures transform into holiday pieces of art. Again, the cookie sheet is great to minimize the glitter mess at home.

Once complete, set out the sculpture to dry. The dough will dry fully in a week’s time. If you would like to seal the color of the leaves and glitter, try adding a layer of modge podge or clear sealer.

For some musical fun, try this fun, catchy original song from Michelle Schooff.

Nature Walk
(sung to the tune of Jingle Bells)

Nature walk, nature walk,
go on a nature walk
Pinecones, needles, sticks and leaves
acorn caps all about
Make some salt dough while at home
now let the art work start
Place them on, one by one
and the glitter looks the part

My SweetArts is a new kind of enrichment class that uniquely combines music and art/sensory exploration for infants, toddlers, and families. All classes are conveniently held at University Mall, Chapel Hill.

Come join My SweetArts for
Little Elves Workshop
December 8, 10, 15, 17
Help fill stockings with keepsake crafts
for loved ones and sing your holiday favorites!

All ages welcomed.
Purchase class block or sign up for classes a la carte.
Reserve now to guarantee a spot. Limited space available.
Go here to sign up:

Find out more:
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