Back before we had kids, Eric and I camped regularly—and spontaneously. We’d throw the tent, sleeping bags and a cooler in our 1985 Volvo station wagon and head into the woods. These days, camping with kids requires a bit more preparation—including figuring out some kids activities that will keep them happy in the camp site. Since the girls love art so much, it made sense to come up with some camping crafts so they could create in nature.
We haven’t gone camping with the kids yet this year, but we camped for Father’s Day last year—and the girls loved doing this camping craft. They did it one morning when they needed a little out-of-the-sun quiet time after hiking, sprinting around the campground, making friends and walking over hot coals. (Just kidding! We’re waiting until they’re at least 6 to walk on the camp fire.)
Camping crafts like this nature collage are a wonderful way to incorporate art into your family camping this summer. Read more
One thing being a mother of two kids teaches me—repeatedly—is that just because they’re both mine doesn’t mean they’re the same. Or even similar. For example, Peeper could paint, glue, color and craft forever. Kiwi, on the other hand, will eat paint for a moment then splatter it everywhere before getting down from her chair, leaving a trail of purple and orange in her wake.
So the other day during Kiwi’s nap, I suggested Peeper and I do a craft together. We opted for something new and different—after all, when you have so few uninterrupted opportunities to do a kids craft project, you want to make it count! So we brought all our upcycled supplies onto the deck and made egg carton faces in the rare Oregon springtime sun.
When I was a freshman in college, I learned how to knit from another gal in my dorm. A whole bunch of us would pile onto one of our teeny-tiny beds in the University of Oregon’s notoriously dungeon-like dorm rooms, and together we’d knit one, purl one for hours—instead of studying (or binge drinking!). I gave the resulting scarf to my sister for Christmas. I was so excited for her to open it. When she did, she oohed, held it up—and burst into laughter. The thing was enormous, more of a shawl than a scarf, and hilariously wonky.
I’ve gotten much better at knitting since then, though these days most of my yarn projects are of the arts and crafts kind, not the follow-an-intricate-sweater-pattern variety. That’s ok, though! Yarn is good for more than just cable-knit caps. These 10 easy yarn projects for kids are super fun anytime, no matter if it’s sunny or sweater weather.
When I was little, I walked with my dad across the University of Oregon campus just before school started. I held his hand as we meandered under the centuries-old trees and kicked the crackling fallen leaves. I often stooped to pick up acorns and chestnuts.
I’d find them in my pocket all fall and winter long—little treasures squirreled away.
Even now I can’t resist picking them up. I run my thumb over the smooth shell like a worry stone and remember those crisp autumn walks with my dad.
The other day, on one of those cold but bright fall mornings, my girls and I took a walk. It was just chilly enough for me to be grateful for the
furnace baby strapped to my chest, and Peeper stopped every few steps to investigate something or other while Finn waited impatiently.
We approached a chestnut tree and the mess of nuts, shells and leaves surrounding it. Squirrels scolded us overhead while Peeper picked up a handful of chestnuts and talked about how pokey the burst-open shells were.
We brought a bunch home and started a “special project,” as she has taken to calling her art endeavors. We incorporated the treasures into our fall art crafting—take a look and you and your little may love painting with chestnuts, too!
Peeper loves her some animals, and birds are no exception. I once called a bird that landed on the telephone wire a blue jay; she corrected me: “No, Mama, that’s a stellar jay.” (#schooledbyatoddler)
In a book she adores that has photos of pretty much every animal on the planet, she points to the birds with silly names and giggles uncontrollably as I recite them: plain chachalaca, hoopoe and the blue-crowned motmot.
And she has loved some of our recent projects to help our neighborhood’s resident birds.
We were inspired to learn how kids can help birds by a recent suggested service project from Giving Families, a monthly mail subscription that sends kids ideas to help others. It included instructions on how to help birds build nests, making a cozy home for all those chirping chicks that will be hatching this spring.
Peeper didn’t want to stop there. If your kids want to help birds, too, here are a few super-easy, way quick ideas to support our feathered friends. Read more