Hammer time with nature

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Leaves and flowers are great tools for further play and exploration with Little Feet. You can do lots with them and there are lots of teaching opportunities that can go along side that fun. Children have an insane amount of energy. Little Feet A is a runner. She can run and run and run for miles if she had an option and makes it look so easy, she takes after her Daddy in respect (definitely not me!). With this in mind sometimes it is fun to be able to channel this energy into an activity. 

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Using a wooden toy hammer from her tool set and a rolling pin from the play doh we created prints of leaves and flowers by first rolling the leaves onto paper and then hammering them. The impact transfers the leaf pattern and green pigment onto the paper and leaves a sort of shadow of the colour and the anatomy. A little like flower pressing but without actually having to keep them.

What you will need:

  • Leaves

  • Flowers

  • Wooden hammer

  • Rolling pin

  • Kitchen roll

  • White paper

  • Mashing tape (optional)

Instructions:

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  1. Collect from different shaped leaves and different coloured flowers. Try and pick leaves that have an obvious pattern on it's underside as it is these ones that will come out the best. Make sure the leaves are fresh and not ones on the ground. We need as much 'juice' in them as possible. By that I mean water as this will help the transference to paper a bit better. Equally they don't want be soaking after rainfall as that will soak your paper.

  2. Place your paper on the floor or a surface you don't mind getting a battering. Place your leaf or flower directly onto the paper and place a piece of kitchen roll on top of the item, making sure it is all covered. If you think you make need a little bit of masking tape to tape the kitchen roll and paper together to help it not move then put a little at each corner of the kitchen roll.

  3. With your rolling pin first, starting at the bottom, roll up and down over the leaf with a firm pressure a few times. These will squash the stem part and help flatten the leaf.

  4. Put the rolling pin to one side and now use the hammer, hammering all over the leaf. Make sure to make and effort around the edges of the leaf as this will help define the shape of your imprint.

  5. At this point, gently lift the kitchen roll up to see how the imprint is going. If you are happy with it, then take the roll off and discard it. If you are missing some of the imprint on the paper then keep hammering, concentrating on the parts that are missing.

Note: Bare in mind that flowers will not need as much banging as a leaf. If you over do the hammering you will lose the shape of your imprint. Experiment with a few flowers to find the right technique you need for an effective result. 

BBC bitesize have some great educational videos about plants and flowers that can accompany this activity. 

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Garden Loom Weaving

Garden Loom Weaving is a great ongoing, interactive, creative piece to have in your garden. All you need is rope and scissors, the rest can be gathered from nature. Once it is up, you’ll find your Little Feet, going back to refill it again and again in the days to come.

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Autumn Nut-tree Display

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Another Autumn craft for you all! It’s no secret this time of year is one of our favourites. All the things nature produce are great for doing crafts and celebrating a new season. We love picking conkers and acorns and do it at least twice a week when they are in season. As a result, we have a lot of produce. I mean A LOT. So I like to experiment doing crafts with the Little Feet. I think this one is pretty successful if I don’t say so myself! And both Little Feet A (4 years) and B (23 months) really enjoyed getting involved. They were involved from start to finish; from collecting and picking them to it’s completion. Coupled with the fact they really enjoyed the process means it was definitely a successful craft.

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Interior magazines are full of Autumn decor and ideas of how to decorate your houses. Though I couldn’t live without colour in my house, I equally am a really big fan of the nature decor. So using items from the current season to decorate. So in Autumn and Winter there are pinecones every where as well as conkers and acorns, in Winter for Christmas our house is full of dried oranges, cinnamon sticks, holly branches and berries, you name.

So this Autumn ‘nut’ tree display is going to become a favourite to do every year with the girls. In fact, I think next year will do a few different sizes too.

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What you will need:

Instructions:

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  1. Take a bag or bucket and go foraging for conkers and acorns. You will need quite a few of each!

  2. Pierce all your conkers with your toothpicks. Snap some toothpicks in half and use them - these will be needed for the top of the cone as it is not very wide. Otherwise the long toothpicks will go straight out the other side of the oasis.

  3. When you think you have enough conkers and acorns pierced, put them on a plate and show your Little Feet what they need to do. Show them how they need gentle hands so not to break the oasis. The acorns are good for filling up the top, narrow part of the cone as they are smaller and lighter in weight. They are also good for filling in gaps that conkers may have missed.

  4. Once they have finished, or their attention has started to wander let them run off. Now is the Big Feet’s turn. You may find there are large gaps, or pieces that might need to be readjusted. Fill in any gaps and it is up to you whether you adjust any of them. The aim is to try and cover all the oasis so that you can’t see it.

  5. Now you can display it on a window sill, or perhaps as part of a mantle piece display or even a centrepiece display for the table.

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Fact: Did you know that if you line your windowsills with conkers it detracts spiders from coming in the the house?!

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We are going to keep ours for as long as we can and see if it can last until Christmas. We’ll let you know if it lasts that long!