Quarantine has been a tough learning curve for most families as schedules have changed, routines have been interrupted and the world has become a different place. Preschoolers, in particular, have had to adjust to the “new normal” as many of their social interactions and playdates were put on hold. However, there’s one thing quarantine hasn’t taken away, and that is your child’s sense of adventure and creativity. This post explains it this way: “As we move to an ever-more virtual world, feeling trapped in our living quarters, we are craving a return to nature and its benefits.”
The benefits of nature include:
- A wider sense of exploration and discovery
- Fresh air and sunshine – vital to health and wellbeing
- Physical activity and less screen time
Here at Children’s Discovery Center, we follow “The Seven Principles of Early Childhood Classroom Design: Nature Inspires Beauty, Color Generates Interest, Furnishings Define Space, Texture Adds Depth, Displays Enhance Environment, Elements Heighten Ambiance and Focal Points Attract Attention.”
Not only do we design our classrooms around these seven principles, we use the great outdoors to enhance the learning experience. After all, children love being outside. Their internal desire for exploration draws them towards wide-open spaces, trees to climb, and objects they can collect. Both parents and teachers have a wonderful opportunity during quarantine to take kids on outdoor adventures and incorporate items found in nature to craft and create.
Here are 3 nature-based preschool crafts kids can make during quarantine:
- Pinecone Imprints
- Gather pinecones of various sizes.
- Form modeling clay (or play dough) into 1” thick round patties.
- Use the wide end of the pinecone to make an imprint in the clay.
- Try various sizes and different thicknesses to create assorted textures and patterns.
- Let the clay air dry, or bake according to package directions.
*Variation: Form baking clay into small round circles and poke a hole at the top to make pinecone imprint ornaments. Once imprints are dry, allow children to paint, decorate, and hang them with a sturdy ribbon.
- Rain Gauge Soda Bottles
- Cut any size soda bottle 1/3 of the way from the top, separating it into 2 halves.
- Show children how to invert the top portion of the bottle and insert it into the bottom half.
- Use rulers and sharpies to mark inches on the side of the bottle.
- Set bottles outside to collect rain.
- Have kids measure the rain they’ve collected.
*Variation: Instead of using inches to measure the rain, use bright stickers to line the side of the bottle. For fun, have children pour all the rain they’ve collected into one large rain gauge.
- Super Easy Stone Maze
- Collect small stones (at least 12 per child).
- Show children how to create a maze by lining up their stones parallel to one another in any direction they like.
- Use various objects to roll through the mazes, such as matchbox cars or balls.
*Variation: Have kids work together to form one large maze with all of their stones put together. Take turns walking through the maze, or, try hopping, skipping, or jumping!
While COVID-19 may have brought about many changes to our habits and routines, there are still plenty of opportunities to take part in hands-on learning at home.