We know this is a trying time for people around the world. Who isn’t stressed or affected by the ramifications of COVID-19, social distancing, park and school closure, and everything else happening? After many requests for “at-home” ideas, we compiled a list with seven educational crafts to do on your patio, in your backyard, etc.
We hope this offers a bit of help, hope, and inspiration for at-home learning. Whether you’re a new homeschooling parent juggling a sudden shift in your routine, or you’re someone who has taught children for years, we hope these educational crafts offer helpful and hands-on activities for you and all involved. Check out our previous article for additional ideas too!
The ideas here range from nature art to science to theatre and cover a range of ages for the whole family.
Craft #1: Make Beautiful Sunprints
If you’re looking for a nature craft for ages 6 and up, this Original Sunprint Kit might be the one. It’s easy to use and a beautiful way to invite learners of all ages to start thinking about the power of the sun.
With sun-sensitive paper, this kit leaves beautiful photo-like impressions. You can make this into a full lesson or activity by first taking time to explore local areas and gather natural objects. Ferns, flowers, and leaves work great!
Once you place those natural objects under an acrylic cover (provided), just leave everything exposed to the sunlight and watch what unfolds. Each kit contains twelve 4″ x 4″ sheets, and we also offer refills.
Craft #2: Owl Pellet Discovery
If you have a kid who is hungry for more science, or wants to think and act like a scientist, then this is a great kit.
What are owl pellets and are they clean to dissect?? In short, owl pellets are regurgitated bits from an owl’s diet, and yes—the owl pellets in this kit are sterilized and safe to dissect!
After an owl eats its prey, its stomach cannot digest the fur, bones, teeth, feathers, etc. Even insect shells form into a tight pellet, of sorts, and are spat up! Kids have a great time investigating the mystery that this kit happens. What did this owl eat? Why are some bones more common than others?
Great educational extension: Once all the bones are sorted, count up the variety of bones, and numbers of each. Then, make a bar graph with the total bone counts. What shows up the most in your study?
If you find a lot of rodent bones, a great follow-up discussion is to dig into an owl’s role as a predator.
These questions include how do owls help stabilize rodent populations? What would a meadow without owls look like? Should we re-introduce certain species of owls to their native habitat? Why or why not?
Craft #3: Earth Clay Face Painting
These are hard times. Why not uplift spirits by having a few face painting sessions? You could even put on a play—with face paint of course, for the actors. Kids love the chance to be creative and express themselves.
A lot of face paints have chemicals in them, but this clay and mineral-based paint is safe, organic, and washes off easily with soap and water. The main ingredients in this paint are organic castor seed oil, natural clay elements, and shea butter.
This kit contains six 11-gram jars of red, yellow, green, blue, black, and white face paint. It also comes with three paint applicators. You can order refills too, underneath the main product description.
Great extension: If looking for an eco-play to put on, why not read The Lorax and assign characters? You’ll need someone to play the Lorax, of course, as well as a Once-ler.
Craft #4: Fishprinting Fun!
These kits delve into the ancient Japanese art of Gyotaku and are a wonderful way to combine art and science. If you haven’t heard of fish printing, check out our complete guide to fish printing. It’s a free resource that can help get anyone started.
Fun fact: did you know that there is an entire society dedicated to promoting many kinds of nature printing, including fish printing? Here is the link to The Nature Printing Society. It’s very inspiring to see all the art and science that this craft enables.
Craft #5: Animal Casting Kit
Giraffes, butterflies, dinosaurs, fossils, penguins—we have lots of varieties! These easy-to-use kits are especially great for ages 8 and up, and someone who doesn’t mind getting their hands a little messy.
Each kit contains a reusable mold tray, PerfectCast® replica material, paints, paint brush, educational booklet, and instructions.
You can see the variety we offer here, as well as a kit of the basic casting compound mix, if you want to make more!
Craft #6: Young Explorer Pack
Lots of parks and open spaces are closed as part of safety regulations during this time. For those who do have access to “around the block” walks or backyard nature discoveries, this pack offers a variety of options for children ages 5 to 7. Please review your local safety advisories before heading outside!
This Young Explorer pack features the books One Small Square: Backyard and Take-Along Guide to Caterpillars, Bugs and Butterflies. It also includes our Nature Circles card deck, a 3x folding pocket magnifier, one large & one small lucite bug box, and two Petri dishes in Ziploc bags.
While not a “patio craft,” this backpack can help change the “at-home” routine and provide some guidance for parents with young learners. For older kids and learners with specific interests, check out our page featuring all of our field packs.
Craft #7: Create a Poet-tree!
If you have a spare wall and kids needing an art outlet, this is a great kit. This giant Four Seasons Poet Tree is laminated, which makes it great for long-term use. With 32 shapes for each season, this tree can change to reflect your entire year.
The unfolded tree measures 4’ x 7’.
Fun fact: April is National Poetry Month. Why not start each day with a poem for everyone “at-home” and offer an afternoon poetry prompt each day.
Possible extension: Did you know that math and poetry share a lot in common? Besides people fearing them?? We explore their beautiful integration (and lesson ideas) in this article as part of our STEM series.
We want to pause to say thank you—for taking the time to read this article, for “hanging in there” best you can, and for believing in the power of nature-based education and connection. We appreciate you taking the time to read this article too!
As an independent, small business, Acorn Naturalists is committed to connecting people to nature, curiosity, and knowledge. We want to empower people of all backgrounds to take learning outside, connect with nature, and care for it.
Thank you for helping us support this mission for a world with an enriched connection to science, nature, and each other.