Part 5: Winter Nature Art
The new year continues to present unique changes and challenges for families. Resilience, or the capacity to cope with adversity and stress, remains an essential life skill that can help children face ongoing uncertainty, manage their emotions, and recover from setbacks. Luckily, as we’ve seen throughout our Building Resiliency series, resilience is a skill that can be nurtured and developed through practice and play!
This week’s resiliency building activity is Winter Nature Art.
Take a walk in the snowy outdoors and you will find endless open-ended art materials. On your family’s next nature walk through your local neighbourhood, park, or backyard, keep an eye out for natural objects you can use to create art. Fallen cedar, pine needles, pine cones, and winter berries are all sensory-rich materials that can be used for this purpose. Help promote your children’s investigative and observational skills by encouraging them to look for objects of different shapes, colours, and textures.
Allow your children to freely and imaginatively decide which items to collect and how these items will be used. Children may wish to stay outside and build snowmen-like sculptures. Others may prefer to bring their objects home and recreate nature scenes on paper. Many items can be traced or used to create art rubbings. Objects can be combined with household materials, like paint, food colouring, or play dough. The opportunities for self-expression are endless!
Honoring children’s vision and voice throughout this open-ended activity helps build their resiliency.
Tips for Play
Use Different Materials. Don’t limit yourselves to the items listed above. You can collect anything from leaves and pine needles to rocks and mud!
Voice Your Thoughts. While on your nature walk, engage your children in conversation by communicating your own thought process. Why are you selecting certain items and not others? What natural materials can you see, hear, or smell? What kind of art can you make with the materials you collect?
Embrace Individuality. Let your children’s individual interests guide them. While the art opportunities are endless, some children may take a scientific approach by examining, comparing, and recording their nature findings in a journal or sketchbook.
Listen Intently. Ask your child what they are creating and actively listen to their answers. All children, young and old, need to have their feelings and thoughts affirmed by caring adults.
Investigate and Examine. Encourage your child to use their sense of sight, touch, and smell as they examine their materials. This will help develop their sensory awareness and observational skills.
Encourage Experimentation. Testing ideas and overcoming obstacles helps build resiliency. Encourage your child to hypothesize and problem-solve throughout this activity.
Be Respectful of Nature. Talk to your children about being mindful of living things in nature. Do not disturb nests or dreys, and only collect materials that have already fallen on the ground.
Nature and Resiliency
Spending time in nature can help reduce anxiety in children by connecting them to the outside world. Combining play and art with a stress-reducer like nature amplifies all of their positive effects. This activity is designed to help children feel grounded and present while encouraging them to practice communicating their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. This influential experience can foster children’s sense of competency and creativity, both of which are protective factors that build resiliency.
Jessie Collins, OCT
Education Specialist, London Children’s Museum
Teacher Candidate and AFE Placement Student, Western University