It's fall. The season when loose parts from nature are literally falling at our feet. Acorns, leaves, sticks...a bounty of building blocks for a creative eye. Help your child get in the habit of noticing nature's gifts by heading out on a loose parts gathering session. Then, take it all inside, and let them work their magic as they create fantasy creatures and, even a diorama for the creatures to live in. This is a super easy and fun activity that kids of any age can do. The critters created below were made by an 11-year-old.
Head outside together and go on the hunt for some amazing natural loose parts. Tell your child to keep their eyes and mind open as they search around. It shouldn't take long before they find pinecones, acorns, leaves, evergreen needles, sticks, stones, cattails, flowers, blades of grass, seed pods, etc, etc, etc! Make sure to bring a suitable bag for keeping all of the treasures safe.
Once your child is back inside, they should organize their find into piles and get thinking. Ask them what creatures they can imagine from these various parts and pieces. They could be replicas of real creatures like deer, birds, porcupine or mice. Or fantasy creatures like fairies, gnomes of elves. Whatever they see is perfect! You can check out Instagram for some great ideas too.
Depending on the age of your child, you may need to be involved in the next step: assembly. We use a glue gun as it the simplest and most effective way to hold natural parts together. If using a glue gun, be sure to teach your child about the danger of touching the hot tip of the glue gun as well as the hot glue.
Once your child has finished making their creature creations, admire them together and talk about what your child was inspired by.
Your child may want to give their nature creatures a home by creating a diorama. A diorama is a model representing a scene with three-dimensional figures, either in miniature or as a large-scale museum exhibit. Here are a few more sophisticated examples from museums.
To make his or her diorama, your child can use leftover loose parts or gather some additional parts such as sticks for trees or moss for the ground. You can also bring in some air-drying clay so they can make other creatures to add to the scene. They should think about the scene that their critters would fit in best. Help them secure the creatures and background with the glue gun and admire!