While my children love nature, their enthusiasm for outdoor activities definitely calms with the arrival of fall and winter’s rainy and chilly days. This time of year, getting my girls outside is a priority. I want them to learn to appreciate nature and make their own fun in the great outdoors no matter the season, weather, or temperature. Maybe most importantly though, time spent outside together offers my family an opportunity to meaningfully connect outside of the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Simply being outside is important for the emotional and physical health of children. Getting children in the habit of finding fun outdoors provides benefits to every part of their being: intellect, body, and spirit. For me, it’s important to instill in my children the value of respect for the natural world. Appreciating the seasons and their purpose, the beauty of even the smallest plant, and the freedom and wonder of the outdoors are lessons I know that time spent outside will teach my children. It is my hope that through their explorations and play they will find a love for nature that inspires a fierce desire to protect it.
Most importantly, I relish the chance to spend one-on-one time with my kiddos, giving them my absolute and undivided attention; something all children need from their parents and can be difficult to do in our modern, technology-driven world. These two outdoor activities give me a fun excuse to get my family outside, get creative, share some nature love, and reconnect.
This project involves taking a walk around your yard, a park, or any other natural area. It’s kind of a scavenger hunt, where you look for small natural “accessories” to add to your sticky-tape bracelet. The practical goal of this activity is to have your bracelet filled up with sticks, flower petals, leaves, seeds, feathers, grass, and any other natural treasures you find along your way. The true goal of the experience, however, is to slow down and enjoy time in nature with your children. You might also find a few new natural delights along the way!
Take a piece of tape 5-8 inches long (use your child’s wrist as a guide here) and wrap it around your child’s wrist, sticky side out. I would encourage you to not give too many guidelines to your children. Simply explaining the basic idea of and let your child lead the way. Don’t be afraid to decorate a bracelet of your own. Parents can have fun too!
The basic idea of the fairy house is exactly what you may think: to create a home for fairies! Preferably a home that caters to every need your child feels a fairy might have (eating, sleeping, wing washing, you know, the essentials). There are a staggering number of ways to create a fairy house. Some people get intricate and complicated by using glue guns, store bought supplies, and even blueprints. But since the power of child-directed play is real and necessary for their healthy development, we keep fairy house building materials pretty simple. Items found easily in nature or little-used goods from around our house are all we use. When we are out and about, my daughters and I keep our eyes open for special things to bring home and add to our fairy house. A leaf, a special flower, or a branch that would provide support for a new room. Any natural object can provide inspiration!
When thinking about your fairy house, consider your end-goal. Is the purpose to provide an open-ended, creative activity for your child, or to create something Pinterest-worthy? Letting go of your own fairy house vision can be challenging, I relate! However, allowing your children to direct their own play and creativity will benefit them and your relationship more than any picture-perfect fairy house ever could. There is also something very liberating about detaching from an end-product idea and just digging in and enjoying the creative process.
One of the best parts of the fairy house is that it is an ongoing project. The fairy house is never really done. There are always new rooms to create and new nature discoveries to add. This means it is an activity your children can come back to again and again. For inspiration, check out this fairy house Pinterest page with 1000 ideas and examples!