The festival season at Weaver’s Orchard ended with a bang this Saturday as costumed kids enjoyed explosions of candy from the candy cannon. The fantastic fall finale on October 31 was just as fantastic as anticipated, with music, jugglers, train rides, face painting and lots of other activities. But now that these events are over till next year, you may be looking for other activities to do with your children.
If your kids turn a cold shoulder to the great outdoors on crisp fall days, a scavenger hunt, leading into fun fall crafts, is a good way to get them up and running.
To start this activity, show the children the pictures of animals made with objects from nature:
Then put on your jackets, grab some bags, and scour your yard, neighborhood or local park for treasures Nature has discarded. Give each child a list like this one and see how many things they can put in their bags.
- Several kinds of acorns
- Different sized pinecones
- Small hemlock cones
- Sweet gum tree balls
- Hard berries (such as dogwood)
- Wild grape vines
- Small sticks (very small!)
- Pieces of bark or wood
These woodland creatures can be made entirely of materials found outside, or you can add some of the following items:
- Mixed nuts in shells
- Pipe cleaners
- Small pieces of felt or construction paper
- Wiggly eyes
- Beads or small buttons
- Cinnamon sticks
- Fine point permanent marking pen for making eyes or other markings
- Paint markers or acrylic paint if you want to add color
- Thick white craft glue (Can be applied with a craft stick or toothpick)
- A hot glue gun may be required when extra holding power is needed (This should be handled by an adult of course)
- Table covering (Old plastic tablecloth or newspapers)
- Wax paper or aluminum foil (for each child’s workspace, so the glue does not stick to their work surface)
How to make them:
Have the children scavenge for materials outside, then come in and cover your kitchen table to protect it from dripping glue. Then let the giggles and excitement begin, as they copy the creatures pictured or design their own.
For the creatures pictured, you will need the following:
Deer: Thin pine cone for body, smaller pine cone for head, cinnamon sticks or small sticks for legs, small branched sticks for antlers, pieces of pine cone for ears, dogwood berry or pom-pom for nose, wiggly eyes.
Rabbit: Walnut body, acorn head (with cap), felt or pine cone ears, pom pom tail or hemlock cone painted white, dots for eyes (made with marker)
Mouse: One large acorn for body, one smaller acorn for head, pieces of pinecone or felt for ears and feet, curly grapevine tail. Add eyes with a marker or use tiny beads.
Owl: Pinecone body, acorn tops with wiggly eyes inside for eyes, felt wings and feet—or use leaves for wings and branched sticks for feet
On a day that calls for inside activities, try creating creatures with fruit. With a little imagination, just about any combination can take on a life of its own. All you need are several kinds of fruit, toothpicks and a knife or scissors to shape ears, wings, etc.
For the animals pictured, you’ll need a whole grain waffle, several pears, an apple, carrots, red and green grapes, celery, and a couple of kiwis. For eyes, you can use raisins, cloves, black beans or chocolate chips. Bosc pears work nicely for these animal crafts, because they’re not as juicy as other kinds, and are easy to carve. For the snail, you’ll need to “glue” the shell onto the celery with peanut butter. All of the produce is available at Weaver’s right now!
Turkey: Two pears (for body and wings); carrots for feet and a beak, green and red grapes on toothpicks for tail; grapes for eyes, with whole cloves at the center. Making pear turkeys could be a great way to keep kids entertained on Thanksgiving Day while they wait for the real turkey to roast!
Mouse: Kiwi for fuzzy body, pieces of pear for ears and the tail, toothpicks for whiskers, a piece of grape for a nose, carrots for feet and black beans for eyes. (You could also use raisin pieces or small chocolate chips for eyes.)
Owl: Whole grain waffle for body, slices of kiwi for eyes; wings, feet and eyebrows carved from a Bosc pear. His beak is a piece of apple.
Snail: Body and shell are a celery stick and with a slice of apple “glued” on with peanut butter. Half a grape for his head, a couple of celery curls for “antennae” (which are actually called tentacles) and pieces of raisin for eyes (which are actually on the ends of the tentacles—but that’s not quite so cute!)
These Ideas Are Kid-Tested!
The last time my grandchildren came to visit, they immediately noticed the woodland creatures sitting on my counter. Four-year-old Paisley asked if I’d made them, and wanted to know if she could make some too. So we went out to look for more acorns and pinecones, and I found some wiggly eyes in my craft collection. They chose the components and I did the gluing, but they enjoyed watching the creatures come to life. The creatures are a little fragile, so they really make better decorations than toys, but they had a good time bringing the little animals to life in their imaginations.
Next time they visit, we’ll create some edible animals. Paisley’s favorite question these days is: “Can we do a project?” Since she and her younger brother Aspen both love fruit and love to make things, this project is sure to be a hit!