Toddler Crafts Inspired by Nature

Fun ways to get little ones in touch with nature

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The outdoors is the perfect place for toddlers. Exploring nature allows your little one to use all his senses as he gets to know his world. A walk in the yard let's him feel of the wind, hear the sound of the birds, take in the colors of a butterfly, enjoy the smell of growing flowers, and (if you're lucky) even taste of a fresh strawberry from your own backyard garden.

When your walk is done or it's time to go in, you can take the wonder of nature indoors with you.

Enjoy some craft projects and activities with a wild theme. Try these toddler friendly ideas that let you get in touch with the outdoors even when the weather keeps you from stepping out or when your little one is ready for some creative fun.

Birds

Browse the craft store for some fluffy (clean) feathers in vibrant colors. Stop by the pet store for a small bit of bird seed. Clean out some egg shells for the morning's hard-boiled egg breakfast. Gather a few twigs. Finally, collect glue, basic drawing supplies and construction paper, and you have everything you need to help your budding ornithologist to create a 3D bird scene. Outline a bird silhouette. Then let your toddler glue the feathered wing, build a twig bird nest with eggs, and add some seeds.

Leaf rubbings

This classic craft is usually saved for fall projects when you can talk to your little one about the changing colors of the trees, but leaf rubbing is really a fun art activity anytime of the year.

Begin by taking your toddler on a long walk and collect a variety of leaves -- discussing the variations in size and shade. At home, place the leaves under white paper and use the long edge of a crayon to gently rub the paper until an imprint of the leaf on your paper.

Bug business

Even children who run away from real bugs seem to have a special place in their heart for cute bugs.

Bug inspired crafts are a great activity to accompany a buggy book like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Miss Spider, or Diary of a Worm. Cut out one shell of an egg carton and let your child color it like a fancy bug, adding chenille stem antennae . You can also use old cardboard paper towel tubes to build a worm or caterpillar. Pick up cardboard bowls and you can use them as the body of a bowl ladybug.

Floral window art

Turn those old, broken crayons into beautiful artwork for your window. First, shave pits of wax crayon. Then, take pictures of beautiful flowers (or go exploring for lovely samples) to inspire your young artist. Spread out clear wax paper to be your canvass. Help your child layout the bright crayon shavings into the shapes of those flowers (or flowers of her own imagination). Lay another sheet of clear wax paper over the final design. Place a towel or heat safe fabric over the wax paper and, using an everyday clothes iron, apply high heat to the fabric. The crayons will melt and leave a beautiful stained glass art effect between the wax paper, letting you decorate your home windows with a bright and unique floral display.

Wild clay design

During one of your outdoor adventures, be sure to bring home a wide collection of "stuff" from the great outdoors -- rocks, shells, sticks, or other solid material that can be pressed into clay or playdough. Create impressions of the different items in the clay and let it dry and solidify to create a simple sculpture.

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