Playing with Play Dough in Nature

Playing with Play dough in Nature - It's nice to take it ouside

I don’t need to tell you how versatile play dough is. Most parents have experienced using it as a child and then let their children have the same chance to mold it and squeeze it through their fingers too. Have you taken play dough out in nature though?

I hadn’t thought about taking play dough outside until my youngest asked me to help her make a mushroom. Rather than making it at the table, we went into the bush (conveniently behind our house) and created many different items we could see in nature.

First, we looked around and made things we could already see, then we made things that we knew were in nature but we couldn’t see.  It was nice to watch them make what they were connected to in the forest.

Tips to gain the most from playing with play dough in nature:

  • Study nature before creating your items with play dough.
  • Discuss the pieces from nature they replicate and where it fits in the forest.
  • Talk about camouflage and why some things in nature camouflage and some don’t. Play dough mushrooms
  • Once your child has made a play dough nature piece, place it in a location where it would be found e.g. fungi on a tree trunk and mushrooms on the forest floor

Play dough and Nature  Playdough idea

  • Make living and non living items you’d find in a forest.
  • Press flat pieces of play dough on to bark to get rough textures on your play dough
  • Don’t forget to make play dough animals too

Playing outside with Playdough

Play dough items you can make from nature:

  • rocks
  • leaves
  • trees
  • mushrooms
  • animals
  • fungi
  • creepers
  • staghorns
  • flowers
  • seed pods
  • moss

Don’t forget to take your play dough back with you. If left behind  it can damage the surrounding plants due to the high salt content.

I hope I’ve inspired you to take your play dough outside today. It’s just another way to play and learn with that time-less molding material!

More fun ways to play with play dough

Tips to get you running alone in nature

Safety when running in the bush

I’ve never actively maintained an exercise routine, so after four months of running at least three days a week, I’m feeling good. Problem is, I run on a treadmill and I’m getting bored (no matter how much I love the Outlander series).

This is what I see when I run. Do I want to see this when I run? Not really.

Running alone in bush - Keep Safe

I want to see this when I run!

Ways to go running safely

I think it’s so important for us, as parents and individuals, that we go out in nature too. Not only is it great for us but you’re modeling healthy practices and enjoyment in nature for your children.

Excuses have always held me back. They started before I even got on the treadmill.

  • I don’t have enough time because I work, blog and take care of the kids
  • I can’t exercise with the kids around
  • I’m always so tired

Thankfully I’ve pushed through those excuses. I get up at 5am when the kids are asleep, I run on my treadmill and am a lot less tired because I’m healthier.

After four months of running on the treadmill though, I’m bored. I looked out at the bush walk behind my house and knew that’s where I’d prefer to be.  I want to spend at least one day a week running outside, in nature.

Running in Nature

Again, the excuses crept back in:

  • The kids are home, I can’t go out to run.
  • It’s dangerous to go running alone, especially in the bush.
  • It’s so much easier to just get on the treadmill.

I need to push through these excuses too. Here’s how I’m convincing myself.

Kids are home

Yes, they are at home, but there is at least one day a week that their Daddy is home at the same time in the morning, so I must go then!

It’s easier

Really, the treadmill isn’t easier. I just think it is.  By the time I set up the treadmill, I’d be out the back gate and running through the trees. That’s not a valid excuse.

It’s dangerous

This is what’s really holding me back. It’s not the bush I’m worried about, it’s the human predators.  Although this is a valid excuse, the likelihood of me being attacked is pretty low. There’s got to be many ways I can reduce my risk of being in danger while running in the bush (not all are always feasible though).

– Take a friend

– Ride a bike instead

– Take a phone

– Take a loud alarm (affliate link)

-Don’t use earphones

– Stay alert

I think even having a few of those tools to reduce my risk makes me feel safer and more confident to run on my own. I don’t want to feel scared and nervous running in the bush. I want to feel rejuvenated, powerful and at one with the earth.

Guess when my first bush running session is—tomorrow!

Do you have any other helpful tips to make me feel less fearful and nervous? Is there any more advice you’d give me to stop me from chickening out?

DIY Feather Hair Extension Accessory

DIY Feather Hair AccessoryAt the markets, we’ve seen feathers being added to the hair of people from all ages, both male and female. They are becoming a really popular hair accessory. They look so perfectly earthy I couldn’t wait to try it on my three girls. All were very willing to let me experiment thankfully!

Did you know that adding feathers to your hair is not only really easy to do but it’s quite inexpensive if you do it yourself?! You only need a few tools and about ten minutes of your time. Yep, it’s that easy!

You can see how we secured the feathers to the hair in the tutorial below.

What you need to add Feathers to your Hair

  • Feathers. You’re looking for a couple of long, thin feathers for your hair.
  • Pliers
  • Crimp tubes
  • Beading needleAdding Feather to Hair Tutorial

I bought most of the materials from a local craft shop. I used feathers from one of the girl’s old hair pieces for the twins and I used real emu feathers (from our molting emu at work) for Miss Possum’s hair. To make it easier, you can always just buy this similar Feather Hair Kit with Natural Feathers (affiliate links).

How to attach feathers to your hair

Before starting, think about how obvious you’d like the feather to be displayed in the hair. Miss Possum goes to school, so I wanted her feathers to be quite subtle.  To make the feather stand out, place it near the top of the mid part of the hair, or at the front, near the fringe (bangs).  If you’d like a more subtle look, place the feather an inch below the natural part line in the hair.

  1. Thread some hair through the beading needle. I used a comb to sweep up a small pinch of hair. You’ll need enough hair to go through the crimp but have some space left for two feathers to be added. How to add a Feather to your child's hair
  2. Slide the crimp onto the beading needle and thread it all the way through bringing the hair with it. The hair should now be through the crimp. Adding a Feather to your Hair How to
  3. Now, thread the base of the feather through the crimp. Try to keep the crimp close to the scalp while you’re doing this step.DIY Hair Feather
  4. Place the pliers over the crimp and squeeze the crimp tightly. Gently test the crimp, if it’s still loose, try to squeeze it harder. This worked really well for ours but one just wouldn’t stay. If it’s not tightening, warm the pliers up with a hair dryer and try to squeeze it one more time. Be very careful not to touch the scalp when you’re doing this. This worked perfectly and it was super secure after that.

Hair Feather for Kids

So far our feather hair extension accessories have lasted over two weeks, through swimming, spas, hair washing and brushing and even blow drying! The girls love them and check every morning too see if they are still attached.

The subtle look was perfect for Miss Possum’s hair and I was a little more bold with Miss Platypus and Panda’s hair. I love that you can play around with it yourself.

To remove them, just use a small metal cutter to cut the crimp.

Subtle Hair Feathers How to

 

I didn’t think adding a feather extension to the hair would be that easy but it really was. I know we’ll be experimenting with different feathers now and I’ll be adding some to my hair as soon as  I get some more emu feathers!

Would you wear feathers in your hair?

Simple Spider Craft Idea

Spider Craft Idea We like spiders, we don’t even mind them in our house. Only the other day I had to remind Miss Panda that, yes we like spiders but that doesn’t mean we should touch them. A momentary lapse of spider love on her part. She really does like them that much.

Due to the popularity of this eight legged creature with my children and the fact that it is almost Halloween, I suggested we make a spider craft. I knew it would only receive positive responses.

What you’ll need for this Spider Craft

Yep, that’s it. I love activities that you can do without having to go and collect items from the shops.

How to make the spider

1.   Preparing the spider for your children to paint takes less than 5 minutes. Prepare the glue gun.  Glue four stick on one side of the rock and four on the other side of the rock. I did one layer of glue underneath, stuck on the sticks and then went over the top of the sticks with the glue gun.  To my surprise, they stuck really well.

Spider Nature Craft

2.   Once the glue is cool, put it in front of your child and let them paint it.

3.    Once it’s painted, add the eyes to the wet paint. We used our googly eye nature replacement (see how to make them here).

Spider Craft for Preschoolers

4.   Let your spider sit out in the sun to dry. The rocks heat up quite a bit so be careful when you try to move them. If the glue has warmed up too much a leg might fall off.

5.   Display them somewhere around your house. We added them as a display near our front door. A perfect little creepy crawly display right before Halloween.

Here’s how ours turned out.

The deadly red-backed spider!

Red Back Spider craft

Spider Craft for kids

Spider Craft

Halloween Spider DIsplay

We’ve already had a few neighbors comment on our spider craft sitting at the front door. Most don’t like spiders like we do, so they weren’t as enthusiastic about them as we were.  We love them and know that most people visiting for Halloween will love them too!

Do you like spiders?

Beautiful Newborn Baby Hampers (Giveaway)

Beautiful Baby HampersI have some exciting news, I’m going to be a first time Aunt in just over a month! And like any soon-to-be Aunty, I am super excited!

So, when Amy from Living Organic Co approached me asking if I would like to review one of her baby hampers I jumped at the chance. I couldn’t help but spoil the child before it’s even graced the world yet. It’s just the kind of Aunty I am!

I’m doubly excited because Amy has also been generous enough to give you a chance to win one of her hampers too (open to Australian citizens only, sorry).

As soon as the hamper arrived, I was impressed by the beautiful presentation of the hamper and it’s environmentally friendly packaging.  I had to take a peek at the contents inside. Not only are the products natural and organic but I used many of these baby products on my little ones during their bath and bed time rituals so I know they are excellent quality.

Organic Baby Hampers

I have to mention the broccoli plush toy too.  Nothing like an Aunt wanting what’s best for their niece or nephew (it’s a surprise) like encouraging them to love their vegetables!

Mum to be gifts

When I gave my Sister in Law the Hamper at her baby shower last week, she was thrilled with the contents of the package. She adored the little broccoli plush as much as I did too. She felt quite spoilt!

Natural Baby Hampers

In this time-poor world we live in, it’s nice not to have to think about or find the best gift for someone special when it’s already prepared for you. I love that the hampers are ready to be delivered into the hands of the celebrated person.

The hampers at Living Organic Co aim to help us live more naturally and are focused on assisting wellness of mind, body and spirit. They don’t just provide hampers for babies either, I was really interested in this Modern Day Hippie Hamper too.

Now it’s time to try and win one yourselves. All you need to do is like Living Organic Co on Facebook and answer the question in the comment section (see below to complete your entry).

Win a Living Organic Co

Baby Love Hamper!

Living Organic LogoOrganic Baby Hamper

CONGRATULATIONS FLIC O’FLYNN!

You were chosen as the winner of the above hamper.

*I was given a hamper to review (to spoil my soon-to-be-born Niece or Nephew) in exchange for this sponsored post.

Barbie Outfits – DIY Paper Dress Up Printable

Barbie Outfits - DIY Paper Dress Up Printable (Free!)This Barbie Dress up Printable can be used in a variety of ways. It can be covered with material, yarn, feathers or other craft materials but all my girls wanted to do today was cover it with nature.

Colouring with nature has almost become a series here on Mother Natured. We’ve coloured Animal Templates and made our own Nature Superhero Masks in very similar ways. I’m certainly influencing my children with a love of nature!

Of course, you don’t have to make the Barbie outfits like we did, you can use them however you like. I would encourage you to try it with nature at least once though. No matter how young your child is, if they are old enough to glue objects onto paper, it’s going to look spectacular!

What you’ll need to make the Paper Barbie Outfit

  • Barbie Doll
  • Printable (below)
  • Nature (we used flowers, cut grass, sand and leaves)
  • Glue
  • Paper clips

Barbie Doll Paper Dress Up Printable

Barbie Paper Dress Up Printable FREE

1.   Print out the Paper Barbie Outfits and cut them out.

2.   Collect nature with your children.

3.   Set up the table with everything your children need to decorate their dresses and then let them get creative.

Barbie Outfit Ideas

Barbie clothes Dress Ups4.   If you’re using the hoop skirt, cut the displayed slits so that the skirt will sit nicely when you dress the Barbie.

5.    Use the paper clips to secure the paper outfit onto the Barbie. Alternatively, you can glue the tabs to secure it also . Your children will probably require some assistance with this step. My girls couldn’t even wait until the glue was dry!

Babrie dress ups

6.   Although the nature outfits will last a couple of days,  I would suggest taking photos of your child’s Barbie doll dress up creations. If you’re using some other material, it probably will last longer. You could make a whole wardrobe filled with clothes for Barbie!

Barbie Dressed up Nature styleIt was wonderful dressing up the Barbie dolls with their outfits. They looked so, so lovely. In addition, and perhaps I’ll make a follow up printable for this but I think adding fairy wings would top it off! Either way, my girls adore their Nature Barbie Dolls and I hope you do too!

How would you use the Paper Barbie Outfits?

More Easy Barbie Outfit Ideas

Make a Bat Wing Costume using an Umbrella

No-sew Bat Costume using an Umbrella

Do you need a bat costume before Halloween but can’t sew? Perhaps you need to dress up as a bat for another occasion? These glorious membranous bat wings are cheap, look great and no-sew, so they are perfect for your costume-themed dress up party.

I wrote this Bat Wing Umbrella Costume Tutorial last year. There are step by step images too.

You can tell Miss Possum had a lot of fun pretending to be a bat.  She liked it so much, she wants to go dressed as a bat again this year too. No doubt I’ll be making three (two more for three year old twins).

Click here to see how to make it

(Mother Natured used to be named Wildlife Fun 4 Kids)

Bat Costume for Children

Bat Costume kids

These bat wings would be a perfect way to recycle a broken black (or multicoloured) umbrella too!

More Halloween Activities

What are you dressing up as this Halloween?

Common Craft Materials you can replace with Nature

Craft Materials you can replace with NatureIf you haven’t noticed, I’ve been going all nature craft crazy lately and there’s plenty of reasons why you should too. Here are the benefits of changing your common craft materials to nature:

  • It’s free. Most craft materials are expensive, whist getting nature craft is free!
  • It’s easily available. You don’t have to go anywhere to get them, only outside.
  • It’s creative. There really are so many things you can make with nature. See our nature craft category.
  • It’s Eco friendly. Your nature craft will biodegrade much faster than the synthetic material in craft items.
  • It’s good for your kids. There is a school of thought that believes it is vital, both to the well being of our children and to raising the conservationists of the future, that children interact with nature.

I’m not suggesting you change all your craft to nature but ease it in there. You may be surprised with how beautiful it looks and how much fun your kids will have playing with it.

Replace with nature

Paper

Rather than painting or drawing on paper, make nature your canvas. Paint on leaves, bark, rocks and more!

Use Nature as your canvas

Popsicle sticks

Sticks work just as well and are so much more textured. You can also get them in an variety of sizes and shapes!

Nature Craft Materials

Pipe cleaners

It took me a while  to think of an alternative to this one. Some sticks can be flexible so this is something I’m going to try in future. Can you think of another alternative to a pipe cleaner?

Beads

We’ve been using gumnuts in quite a lot of our craft lately. We made this beautiful Gumnut Bracelet and I’ve seen one made using acorns too. They make a great alternative to plastic beads.

An alternative to Beads

Paint

We use acrylic paint in most of our craft but it you want to go even more natural, why not make your paint using rocks, mud or crushing up flowers and mixing them with a little bit of water!

Glitter

One of the most popular posts on Mother Natured is our Nature’s Glitter. Instead of using little shards of plastic to decorate your craft you can use nature instead. See how we made ours here.

Pink Glitter

Dye

Dying with nature products is another area I’d like to explore with my children in future. I’d like to try natural dyes using left over fruit and vegetables.

Ribbons

There’s not quite a perfect nature product that works just like a ribbon but long grass or lomandra leaves look lovely as ribbons on presents! We’ve also used grass and lomandra leaves for a threading activities too.

Nature Craft replacements

Stickers

Well, items from nature may not be sticky on the back but you only have to add a little bit of glue and you have nature stickers. They’ll be easier to get off the walls too!

Paint brushes

These are the most beautiful paint brushes ever and the texture created from them is just spectacular. We love painting with flowers and different items in nature.

Nature Paint Brushes

Googly Eyes 

It took me a while to think of an alternative for googly eyes but I found an answer. All I needed was a spotty leaf and a hole punch. Easy!

Googly Eye Alternative

Buttons

Make our own wooden buttons by cutting up small branches and drilling two holes in each slice. So pretty!

Nature crafting

Sequins

Our replacement for sequins are hole punched leaves. We’ve made a pretty bracelet out of star hole punched leaves. It’s stunning!

Nature Craft items

Pom poms

We made nature pom poms last week.  They are easy to make and so much prettier than regular pom poms.

Pom poms

 A few things to be mindful of whilst collecting Nature:

  • Ensure you’re collecting nature that’s safe for you and your family. If your child gets asthma or hay fever, best not to collect nature’s glitter, for example, and perhaps it’s best not to pick those berries for crafts if you’re not sure what they are.
  • Please be mindful of the environment you take your nature from. It’s not environmentally friendly if you’re killing a plant or tree in the process. Try to reduce as much impact to the environment as possible.
  • Try to be safe while collecting. We’ve haven’t any problems whilst collecting nature but you should always be mindful of creature’s that may be near you when you’re collecting. We never see any but we always do a quick snake safety refresher before we go collecting.

We adore nature craft and creating this list alone as inspired to me to get even more creative with the kids. I can’t wait to use those googly eyes in a craft with them. They will love adding them in our craft box.

How have you included nature in your crafting? Do you have another nature alternative you can add?

Five Ways to Appreciate your Pet on World Animal Day

World Animal DayWe just came back from a camping holiday and we couldn’t wait to see our pets. We’d really missed them.

You’d think I would have heaps of pets considering I’ve posted about snails, mealwormscrickets, worms and fish.  I haven’t really posted about our dogs yet though and they are important family members.  I’m not ashamed to say that Sam and Caddy, our Maltese cross Silky Terriers were our children before our children came along.

So, with World Animal Day right around the corner on October 4th, and the fact that we’ve missed them a bundle, here are few ways we are appreciating our pets.

1. Take them for a walk.

If your pet is mobile, take them for a walk. Most dogs (and some cats and guinea pigs) love going for a little stroll outside. You may not be able to take some pets for a walk though, so give their enclosure some new furnishings instead.

Walking in bush with dogs

2. Draw pet portraits.

Sketch some beautiful pet portraits. Miss Possum and I spent some time sketching our animals yesterday . It’s a relaxing experience that allows you to take notice of the wonderful little adaptations your pet has on their body to help them live.  We talked about body coverings, eyes, gills, noses and scales.  This is a perfect activity if you have pet fish too.

Appreciating your Pet on World Animal Day

Pet Portraits Kids

3. Give them enrichment.

In a wildlife park we regularly stimulate our animals to keep them from getting bored by scattering their food, placing different smells around their enclosures and more.  We do this for our dogs too (I’ll have to write a post on this) but this time we enriched their life by giving them an extra special treat inside a recycled cardboard box.

pet treats

4. Play with them.

Play with your pet, brush their hair or just letting them sit on your lap. There’s nothing more our dogs love than some undivided attention. Of course, if your pet doesn’t really want attention at that moment, wait until they do.

Best you don’t play with your fish but I’ve heard they don’t mind if you chat their ear off either.

Pet pampering

5.  Give them a present.

It’s World Animal Day after all, why not pamper them?  A new bed,  a toy that the kids no longer want or a special treat? I think most pets love presents. I know my cheeky puppies do!

Our Puppy dogs

I’m sure there are many more ways you could spoil them. How do you appreciate your pet?

World Animal Day

See more wonderful ways to celebrate World Animal Day.

There’s a count down!

DIY Nature Pom Poms

DIY Nature Pom Poms

We made nature pom poms today. I’m not sure why, I think it was because I wanted to see if it was possible. Plus, if it worked, I knew they’d look  great and they did!

Make Nature Pom Poms:

  • Long grass
  • Cardboard
  • Fishing line
  • String
  • Scissors

I can tell you that lomandras or anything thicker and less flexible than grass won’t work. Why, you ask? Well, I tried and it failed miserably. Grass was much easier to weave and like wool yarn it was easier to manipulate into a pom pom.

Our first activity was collecting some long green grass.

Collecting grass for craft

You don’t really need to print a pom pom template for this craft.  All you need to do is put two pieces of cardboard on top of each other, (we recycled a cereal box for our cardboard) then cut out a circle and cut another circle out of the middle of that circle. See the image below.  Easy!

Grass craft activity

Next, hold onto the end of the grass while you wrap the grass strand through the hole and around the outside circle and through the hole again. Keep threading it over and over until there’s no more grass strand left. Do the same thing with more grass strands.  The more grass you wrap around the cardboard the thicker the pom pom will become.

Nature Craft

Once you can’t wrap anymore grass through the hole, get your scissors in between the two cardboard pieces and cut around it, cutting the grass wrapped there (see image below). Now it’s time to squish the grass back towards the cardboard. In between the two pieces of cardboard, wrap and tie the fishing line around the grass.

Grass Pom Pom

Take the cardboard pieces off and squish the grass again and give the pom pom a little trim if there’s a few uneven areas. Tie a bit of string onto the fishing line and viola nature pom poms!
DIY pom pom
Have you made pom poms using material other than wool yarn?