There’s an inspiring quote by Theodore Roosevelt that goes: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” These words are never truer than when children are given the freedom to play in nature (and as the champion of America’s National Parks, Mr. Roosevelt certainly knew what he was talking about!). If you ever stop and watch little ones for a moment, you’ll notice that they intuitively follow these instructions.
As parents, we often believe that children need all of the latest toys and gadgets to keep their minds stimulated, but really, it’s the simple things that go the distance when it comes to imaginative play. We recently hosted a play date at a local park and set up both of our camo tent sets for the elementary school-aged children to enjoy. Between the tents and the open space under the pine trees, the kids felt right at home!
When they weren’t running around excitedly or darting in and out of the tents with their friends, the children also had a blast collecting nature items and then bringing them over to the mat for a little crafting.
Using colorful acrylic paint, a variety of different-sized paintbrushes, and all of the pinecones, rocks, and sticks that they could find, the kids loved pausing for a moment to exercise their creativity.
This type of craft offers the perfect opportunity to start a conversation about nature, including:
- the types of natural items collected and where they came from
- what role these items play in nature
- observations about color, texture, and size
What are your child’s favorite ways to enjoy nature?