Activity Time: The Nature Crafts For Kids Book

This series of posts highlights fun, unique activities for kids of all ages

Photo credit: Janko Ferlič / Unsplash

It’s strange how, during the pandemic, I’ve been mad at nature, yet have also drawn her more closely. I can’t help myself but feel angry toward the omnipotent force that sometimes I maybe take for granted. Perhaps I feel betrayed. What have I ever done to nature? Well, plenty, just by being alive in the world in the time that I am. How many Happy Meals (cups of coffee, etc) did I eat out of styrofoam containers, as a kid and as even an adult? Countless. Maybe I didn’t know then what I know now about how badly it has affected our planet. Plus, every child hurts their parent(s) in some ways, intentionally or otherwise. It’s just the way things go, even if it’s simply, naturally, when they leave the nest.

As a species, we’ve had it coming for awhile, so I can’t be that angry at nature for sending a vile and aggressive virus out at us to have to be sunk by or swim through. In fact, I forgave her fairly quickly, when I learned that the very same force that was trying to kill us, was also simultaneously offering me my only chance at experiencing the world right now. What an odd twist it was to the story when I learned that being outside was one of the safer places to be during Covid-19, besides cowering inside the home. It is that drive to be close to and in nature now that even inspired my family to create our nature-themed series of video shorts.

I’m writing this sporadic Activity Time series of posts in the hopes that you might like the activities I’ve found to try with my family. Please share yours with me, too, because heaven knows we all need to find more ways than ever to keep these kids busy and entertained, for their sanity and for ours.

I found the book, Nature Crafts For Kids in a pile somewhere for a quarter, or maybe for free. This is where I find all my best books — “somewhere”, and that’s the price I pay for all my greatest reads — a quarter, or maybe nothing. This lovely book, subtitled, “50 Fantastic Things To Make With Mother Nature’s Help” was written by Gwen Diehn and Terry Krautwurst. It was published in 1992 for Discovery Toys, Inc. by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

I accept that I am half-hippie. I own Birkenstocks. Please don’t kill the messenger, just love this book with me, because it’s so sweet.

Gwen is an artist whose work has been exhibited in a compelling assortment of museums, including the National Museum of Women In The Arts. She has written and co-written a collection of art-related titles, including Science Crafts For Kids, The Complete Decorated Journal, Making Books That Fly, Fold, Wrap, Hide, Pop Up, Twist And Turn, Geology Crafts For Kids, and many more. She has studied art at Notre Dame, among other locations, and taught at college and in other art courses. She has a blog which was recently updated (May 2020) with photos of her current and past art in its varied mediums.

Terry Krautwurst, whose additional book titles include Night Science For Kids: Exploring The World After Dark, The Mother Earth News; Almanac of Family Play (it’s dated 1983 but still looks awesome), and his slew of books co-written with Gwen and other writers, is also familiar with and interested in the children / arts / sciences themes when it comes to writing. (He also appears to have compiled a massive project consisting of the stories of soldiers originally from the Genessee County, NY area who died in service during WWI, which he researched while trying to learn about his own grandfather’s experiences during that war.)

Nature Crafts For Kids is divided up into four sections, one representing each season, and starting with Spring. The activities range from on intimidating (make a birdfeeder out of cement and a garbage pail lid as a mold) to sweet and simple (flatten flowers to glue to paper — one I can totally get behind, and did).

Dried flowers activity, courtesy Nature Crafts For Kids

In the Summer section, I’m looking forward to exploring herb dolls and weaving my own beach basket. Other activities for the season include leaf prints, mushroom spore prints and a bug box. Fall (Autumn) offers leaf stained glass, homemade paper, corn husk flowers, among others. Winter suggests using a homemade night dial to find Cassiopeia and making something referred to as a “Gee Haw Whimmy Diddle” (also known as a ouija windmill), which is a wooden toy (the whimmy diddle) that joins folklore and physics. It is made from two sticks that, when rubbed, spins to the right (gee) and spins to the left (haw). The “gee” and the “haw” come from the idea that the user yells out “Gee!” to make it spin right and “Haw!” to make it spin left, which are commands that were shouted out to oxen on the farm back in the day to get them to move properly down the crop rows, but is thought to have roots as far back as ancient China.

Nature Crafts For Kids book cover, courtesy

The book is a gem, brimming with countless, wonderful nature-themed activities and factoids, and as an added bonus, can be easily purchased online in a number of places, along with all of Gwen’s many other children’s activity books. (Sure, they’re just for kids, wink-wink!) Not sure if she gets a cut or not on the sales, but I hope and think so. Nature Crafts For Kids is $6.

If you get this book or try any of these activities, please share them with me.

I write about life with 1 husband, 1 kid, 1 cat, at times funny. Bylines: New Yorker, The NY Times, The Atlantic, McSweeney’s.

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