• Nature,  Outdoor,  Summer

    Creating Fairy Homes at the Beach

    With the Autumn fast approaching, we’ve been busy making the most of the last of the warm summer weather to spend time getting creative on the beach again. It’s always fun to make sandcastles, but this time we decided to create miniature fairy-sized homes instead, using only the materials we could find available to hand. Instead of using full sized buckets to make the buildings, we used plastic cups and bottle lids (I found the clear ones were the best as you could see the sand through the sides).   First we created a miniature village or castle with conical shell roofs…   Then we created a miniature scene with…

  • Nature,  Outdoor

    Arty Activities at the Beach

    The seaside is a wonderful place for creative activities of all kinds, whether it be games, imaginary play or art. My own favourite activity is scavenging – I find it a physical impossibility to go for a walk along the beach without coming home with a collection of stones, shells, sea-glass and driftwood. All beautiful and inspiring materials that I can’t resist, and always think I will create something with. The collection grows ever larger now we live close by and the opportunities for collecting are greater! I first wrote about Beach Art a few years ago, including various ideas for artistic activities, but my younger son has now developed his own…

  • spring-picture
    Nature,  Outdoor,  Projects,  Seasonal

    Land Art in the Spring

    With all the fine weather we’ve been having recently, I’ve been keen to spend more time outdoors with the kids, so following on from my earlier seasonal posts on a natural theme, I thought I would complete the series by taking a look at some land art for the Spring.  This is the time when there are lots of flowers and plants available to inject some colour into your artwork and the weather is also better, so spending some time outdoors creating artwork is much more tempting. As with my other land art posts, this is a cheap activity which requires absolutely no materials whatsoever other than what is available…

  • Features,  Outdoor

    Treasures of the Sea

    We’ve just got back from having a few days by the seaside.  We were staying with a friend who has recently moved to live by the sea, and when I say by the sea, I mean within 100 yards of the beach, so it was a fantastic opportunity to spend lots of time there.     I especially liked being able to bob back and forth as the whim took us. The wide expanse of beach was largely sandy, with patches of pebbles, and occasional shells, driftwood, seaglass and other less identifiable objects.  While the kids played in the sand, I ended up spending a lot of time with my…

  • Nature,  Outdoor,  Projects,  Seasonal,  Winter

    Ice Lanterns

    For the last of my ‘icy’ posts I thought I would include the ice lantern which we made over Christmas.  Ice lanterns and ice bowls have been around for quite a while, and it seems the lanterns are even ‘traditional’ in some parts of the world.  A few years ago I even had a commercially made, star-shaped mould for making one, until it unaccountably got distorted so that it was impossible to remove the ice, and had to be binned. Nowadays with freezers, you can make these at any season of the year, using whatever natural materials are available: flowers in  the spring and summer, colourful autumn leaves, or in…

  • Features,  Nature,  Outdoor,  Seasonal,  Winter

    Icy Artwork

    Following on from my summer and autumn posts about Land Art, it seemed appropriate to continue with a post about Winter Land Art. This is the time to create those snow sculptures – to go beyond the usual snowmen, and create snow castles and palaces, snow animals, or even abstract forms. Or how about some ice installations. Those beautiful cold clear winter days when the sun glitters on the frost, and turns ice into diamonds, and red berries stand out like drops of blood, are particularly inspirational, and if you and the kids are wrapped up warm they provide the perfect opportunity to get out there and be creative. I…

  • Autumn-Leaf-Suncatcher
    Autumn,  Nature,  Outdoor,  Projects,  Seasonal

    Last of the Autumn Leaves

    They say the Autumn colours have been better than ever this year.  I live in an area with lots of tree-lined avenues, and the sight of the gorgeous colours, particularly when the sun is on them, has found me collecting stacks of leaves with the kids.  Having got them all home I then had to decide what we were going to do with them all, so here’s what we did with some of them.  You do need a laminator for these activities I’m afraid, but if you don’t have one, they’re not expensive and come in very useful for all kinds of things – not to mention art and craft…

  • Nature,  Outdoor,  Techniques

    Experimenting with Sun Prints

    For this post I decided to have a go at Sun Prints with the kids.  The proper name for these is Cyanotypes, and it is a technique first developed in the early days of photography by Sir John Herschel in 1842.  In fact they are the original ‘blue-prints’. They’re really simple to do if you buy the prepared paper, and the effect is almost ‘magical’ for children.  They are particularly effective using leaves, flowers, plants, feathers etc., but you can use cut out shapes, or any flat household objects which will leave a distinctive silhouette.  I love the resulting ethereal, almost ghostly quality that you get with them.  It’s a…

  • Nature,  Outdoor,  Projects,  Summer

    Beach Art

    There’s no reason for kids to stop being creative if you go away on holiday.  Even if you stay at home the (hopefully) long sunny summer days, and extra time that the summer holidays bring, provide the perfect opportunity to experiment with a bit of land art. Land art is the name given to the practice of creating artwork outdoors using only the natural materials you find around you. For me, land art not only comes from the landscape but also forms part of it, so is never intrusive.  At its best, it is both influenced by and gives something back to its environment in a never-ending virtuous circle.  It…