Monday, June 4, 2018

Make it At Home Monday: Rainbow Nature Journal

Hooray, hooray, it's finally today! The first "official" day of our Sprout Scouts Playcamp. I'll bet you think I had a million and two things planned out for today to kick off our amazing summer. You probably think I executed them all exquisitely in a graceful dance that resemble some freakish crossbreed between June Cleaver and Teacher Tom. Actually, no. Not even close. With all of the planning I have done for our Sprout Scouts Playcamp (insert shameless plug to join our Facebook group and share in our activities this summer), I really felt strongly that we all (myself included) need a week to ease into this whole being at home together thing. S has very mixed feelings about school ending. He is "nervous" about not having school (it's like we're related or something!), he misses his school friends and he wants things to be the same--including the routine of having "Morning Work."

All things we can deal with here! This morning, both boys sat at the little table (thank you, Tatty, for helping with this while I eased into the morning with some coffee and oatmeal) and played with playdough using our favorite garden playdough mats from Picklebums. Playdough is an activity that can easily captivate their attention for a whole morning, but today everyone was excited to pack up and head to our local Botanical Gardens. It's the kind of place I drool over. I have been quoted (accurately) in a preschool graduation speech as referring to it as "my perfect classroom." Yes, I would live there if we could but we shall have to settle for visiting as often as possible this summer (and all year round).

On my way out the door, I grabbed a book to bring along, Lois Ehlert's Planting a Rainbow, partly because I love this book, partly because it fit in my purse. We rarely need any take-along activities on our visits to the botanical gardens, but this was a good backup just in case, and both boys loved hearing it as we ate our picnic lunch.

While we were there, S and Y both tried their hands at some art under their giant tree house. Today's activity was watercolor painting at some makeshift easels. This reminded me of how much I have been dreaming of having an outdoor easel. I asked my husband if he could kind of DIY one for us this summer--even showed him a Pinterest photo--and he kind of chuckled the way he did when I asked for a wine bottle rack to store all of my sensory bottles... Nonetheless, as we all left the gardens somewhat reluctantly but sufficiently tuckered out, I had plans to figure out how to construct something in our own yard for outdoor painting and I also remembered this cute little project I did with S as a young toddler based on Planting a Rainbow. 

Well, a great miracle happened here and no one took an accidental car nap on the way home! Both boys fell asleep and I investigated the front and backyard contemplating ways to create an easel space. Ok, maybe my husband is right and we don't need any more junk really cool stuff loitering around our play garden and keeping our pop up greenhouse company... But then I remembered our door is magnetic. Our door is magnetic! Introducing the easiest, most portable outdoor easel ever, a magnetic bulldog clip!
Such a fine line between genius and madness, huh? The boys are eager to get back outside (especially S) and play in our own garden. I've set a couple of easel stations and some watercolors out for us and when we're done, cleanup is easy peasey lemon squeezy!

But I promised you a post about making your own Rainbow Nature Journal, not one about my excessive excitement with magnetic vertical surfaces...

One of the most exciting features in Lois Ehlert's Planting a Rainbow is the second half of the book that opens up ladder style into a rainbow of colorful blooms, ready to be picked and displayed. I love the idea of presenting both boys with a nature journal to begin our summer together, and I decided creating a couple of small, portable rainbow ladder books would be a great way to do that! I've done this on a larger scale before with S (pictured above) and they can be created in a number of ways. For the smaller versions I made today, I cut six sheets of cardstock in rainbow colors in half (width-wise). Next, I set each page overlapping the next with about an inch of border. Once they were all aligned, I folded the booklet in half. I hole punched about an inch inward from either end on the crease and tied a length of twine through the middle to bind the book. I glued the edge of each page down on the "cover" side and the first, red edge down in the center. The larger book (above) was made in a different way--rather than folding in half, the fold was made about 1/4 of the way in to create larger page space inside. Tape and glue were used to bind it rather than twine. You can do either method! How will you use it? Here's a few ideas...

  • Use some double sided tape and take a color scavenger hunt outdoors. Collect colorful petals, leaves and blooms that can be stuck onto each matching page of your journal.
  • Using old magazines or seed catalogs, cut out pictures of colorful plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables to glue onto each page.
  • Take and print photos of things in nature to glue onto each page.
  • Use stickers of colorful items found in nature to stick to each page.
Or come up with your own great idea! And don't forget to share it...

Happy Playing!

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