The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to explore the great outdoors and use nature to create holiday decorations. Using items found in the outdoor environment is the ideal way to support your child's academic learning and incorporate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) principles. Materials found in nature support a child's exploration and understanding of various scientific concepts such as the life cycle of a plant. An evergreen wreath is the perfect activity for children to complete at home. Children from the age of 2 to the age of 10 can easily complete this holiday craft.
Start the activity off by talking about the various holiday decorations and Christmas trees you see in the community. Tell your child that today he or she will create their own wreath using materials found in nature. Go for a walk in an area where there are pine, spruce or fir trees. If these types of trees do not grow in your community, choose a location where there are green leaves from trees or bushes that your child can use. Collect leaves and some of the fallen needles along with pine cones.
As you collect the leaves or needles, ask your child several open ended questions such as:
- Why are some of the needles brown while others are green?
- What colors represent the holiday season?
- What items in nature could you use to decorate your home for the holidays and why?
Asking open ended questions gives children an opportunity to express their thoughts and think creatively.
Collect your materials then have your child create their wreath by cutting the center out of a white paper plate. Next, color the plate green and glue the leaves and pine needles on the plate. Add any additional materials you may have collected on your walk such as red berries, acorns, small pebbles or rocks, and pine cones. You can even paint the pebbles or rocks red or blue to represent holiday colors.
For more information about activities using natural materials - check out these sites:
Nature Rocks- has a fun video of youngsters talking about eco-friendly materials for holiday decorations.
Pinterest - has lots of great ideas for using natural materials
Happy Holidays and Happy Explorations!
Article by: Dr. Nicole Thomas-Jackson, Director of Curriculum and Training, Rainbow Station