Creativity Tool #1: Nature *
Most kids love being outside. I don’t need to convince anyone how great and important it is for children to spend time outdoors. Neither would I give an advice on how to use nature to “teach” science to young kids. I would love, though, to share, with parents some creative ideas that use children’s experiences with nature to inspire creativity.
Looking at Nature, Listening to Nature
Every time I go outdoors, I’m amazed at all the shapes and colors one can spy in nature. And children are great at noticing and imagining things. So, share your observations: “I think this twig looks like…” Or: “This rock reminds me off… What do you think?” You can even make up a story. “Once upon a time there lived two brothers acorns…” Or: “In a big hollow tree there once lived…”
Let them continue. The story doesn’t have to be long. It doesn’t even have to make sense. It should just be about noticing and imagining. You can start your story with questions: who do you think might live in this tree? How come the leaf has a hole shaped like heart?
The same way you can encourage your child to listen to nature. What is this sound? How does wind sound? Or singing birds? Or buzzing bee? Ask your child to make sounds like the ones you two discovered in nature. Most importantly, have fun looking, listening, and discovering!
Treasure Hunts and Other Activities
I bet you and your children done many wonderful treasure hunts. They are especially fun in a fall. Here are some activities to do with natural “treasures”.
- Play pretend kitchen. Take out toy cooking set or real plastic containers and spoons and let your little ones cook some delicious meals for their favorite toy characters. Have you ever tasted acorn soup? How about some pebble muffins? Let their imagination run wild as long as they are not tasting the dishes themselves!
- Build a house for a fairy (alternatively, any small animal, bug, or imaginary character). Use the twigs, leaves, pebbles, etc. to build a small house. No warries if the house has unconventional shape or doesn’t seem to last.
- Play an ice cream shop. Make paper cones with old magazine pages and let your kids pretend to “scoop” the ice cream (pine cones, pebbles, acorns, etc.)
- Bring your natural treasures home for making crafts. You can also show your kid how to press and preserve leaves and wild flowers.
There are so many wonderful crafts you can make with your child with natural materials. Here are some of the ideas I made with my students. Feel free to try making them: we had fun, and your child might enjoy making them too!
Great Books for Kids and Adults
Here are some of my favorite books that inspire creativity with nature.
- Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert (for children)
- Sounds of Nature: World of Birds by Robert Frank Hunter (for children)
- Sounds of Nature: World of Forests by Robert Frank Hunter (for children)
Make Connections With Fine Art and Classical Music
There are so many great paintings depicting nature. Make sure to show them to your child. Good quality reproductions could be found either in books or online. Here are just a few ideas.
- Landscapes by Van Gough, Monet, Shishkin, Friedrich, and so many more artists.
- Paintings of flowers and leaves by Georgia O’Keeffe.
- Photographs of architecture by Antoni Gaudi.
- Some kids books to consider: Matisses’ Garden by Samantha Friedman, Katie’s Picture Show by by James Mayhew, My Name Is Georgia by Jeanette Winter, and Building on Nature by Rachel Victoria Rodriguez.
Listen to the classical music for sounds in nature. Here are some ideas:
- Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
- Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee
- Strauss’ An Alpine Symphony
- Some books with music: Little Creatures: An Introduction to Classical Music by Ana Gerhard, Listen to the Birds: An Introduction to Classical Music by Ana Gerhard, The Story Orchestra: Four Seasons in One Day by Jessica Courtney-Tickle.
* Click here for my other CREATIVITY TOOLS
For creativity classes inspired by nature and fine art check out the following classes. Click on each image to see a short movie.