As we walked this past weekend, I was reminded of all the fun a boy can have with things he collects in the woods.
Papa J always shakes his head when we walk because he doesn't understand why Doodle Bug is always putting rocks in his pockets, picking dandelions, or hunting out fallen tree branches. My partner is a video game guy. He's known for dragging extension cords out the window just so he can still have his computer and surround sound while he's forced to sit outside. He's just now (in his 20s) beginning to appreciate being outdoors without something electric in hand. He'll understand the rocks one day.
One of our favorite guests to taking camping is Sonja. She's a crone lady who wears leopard-print everything and so much jewelry that she jingles when she walks. She wanders the creek shores and gravel paths gathering pebbles all day long. She then sits by the fire at night with a bottle of glue and assembles her pebbles into fantastic creatures... turtles, coiled snakes, foxes. They are small yet magnificent. Mama Stacey doesn't have the patience for that, but in our house we do like to paint.
After collecting as many "cool" rocks as your child desires, have them scrub them clean. Lay them in the sun to dry. Give them brushes and acrylic paints and see what happens. If they need a spark to get their creativity going, try these:
|Owls, by Lori-Lee Thomas|
[img source: Belle Isle Art]
|Leaves and Curls|
[img source: Little Elephants]
|Inspirational Messages by Chrissie Grace|
[img source: In His Grace]
Funky shaped short sticks, long wispy twigs, thick fallen branches. Magnets for kids, am I right? Totem poles, swords, walking sticks, wands, wizarding staffs... that's what they really are.
We paint these too, although the stick must be relatively dry and clean to turn out well. Check out this awesome totem sticks for inspiration.
|Painting totem poles by Donni & Teddy|
[img source: Magic Onion]
[img source: Creative Jewish Mom]
Wands and scepters are fun to make too. To make them, decorate sticks or branches with string, random beads, sequins, ribbon, sea shells, leather cord, wrapped crystals... anything you can find that will tie or stick really.
|Faerie Wand by Heather Fontenot|
[img source: Rhythm of the Home]
|Or try these wands witha few more standard ingredients.|
[img source: Paint Cut Paste]
Long, thick branches can br transformed into walking sticks in much the same manner. Wrapping portions with colorful yarn or embroidery floss is fun. Older children may even enjoy carving runes or images into the branch. Help your tween use a wood burner. [Remember that it's best not to varnish or otherwise seal a walking stick until it has been dry, or "aged" for a year.]
|Walking Stick by Meredith|
[img source: Heather Sanders]
If they have a flair for Native American symbols, your child could make a stick (walking or otherwise) which tells a story. Use the images below or make up your own!
These projects are fun to repeat each year when the weather is nice. Your family may enjoy making this part of your summer solstice celebration.
By the way, here's a nice little article on how to take a woodsy-walk with an infant: "Take a Hike with Baby" at Green Parent (UK).