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Exploring Nature: Outdoors Inspired Projects for Young Explorers

6 projects that will excite your little ones to play outside and explore this summer

Take a deep breath in and feel that sunshine on your face. Summer is knocking on the door and this time of year comes with children having more time to play outside. The trick is having some structure and making connections and extensions to that outdoor play. These crafts and projects are great way to get kids thinking and talking about the amazing things they are experiencing when they get to go outside. 

1. Mermaid Tails for Little Swimmers

We all know that swimming is one of the most exciting parts of summer. Kids get to splash around, use their imaginations and also get some incredible exercise. My own little ones love to pretend to be mermaids and sea creatures. To start out the summer, get together some construction paper with all of our kids favorite colors. You will also need your MARK 5 Die Cutting Machine. The die cuts you will need for this project are Mermaid Tail Die Cut and the Circles 1 inch Die Cut. Cut out a tail for each of the kids as well as massive amounts of circles with different colors. Have each child use a glue stick to start attaching circles to the tail nearest the fins in fun and colorful patterns, like the image you see here. In the end they will create a unique mermaid tale that they can use for a bookmark or they could attach the tail to a piece of paper and then draw the top half of the mermaid body.

2. Sprout with the Flowers 

Nature is vibrant and alive in the summer time. These fun paper straw tulips would be a great way to get kids pumped for a nature walk or making flower wreaths. For this craft you will need construction paper, straws, glue, a single hole puncher as well as the Flowers & Leaves #4 Die Cut and the Accordion Fold #3. You will also need your MARK 5 Die Cutting Machine to cut out these different flowers and leaves. Take the time to cut out flowers as you would like for your littles to make. Use the accordion fold to create creases in the tulips. Hold all of the creased parts in one tight strip and use your hole punch to cut one circle down the middle of the flower. Then insert the straw through the petals. You will also want to cut out leaves and glue them to the straw. You can turn these into a bouquet or have your kids collect flowers on a nature walk and they can glue or attach them to these paper flowers.  

3. Leaf Creatures 

This is a super creative way to let kids' imaginations run wild. You will need to use your  MARK 5 Die Cutting Machine to cut out leaves using the Leaves #4 Die Cut. The options for this activity are really endless. Are you taking a trip to the zoo? Have your child create images of what animals they hope to see. Going camping or swimming at the lake? Allow your child a chance to create an image of the setting for that adventure and what animals or people they might see. At the end of a fun day or outdoor play, have your kids write a story about their activities and have them add pictures using these leaf creatures. This is something you could give free reign to try and imagine and create their own stories, worlds and pictures. By pre-cutting these leaves out in large amounts you can pull them out at any time this summer to as a way to give them time to create so you can also get a few things done around the house as well. 

4. Summer Fun Memories

These adorable little squirrel creations are an awesome way to keep track of the fun things you do throughout the summer. One suggestion I would give is to have many of these squirrels pre-cut at the beginning of the season so you can pull them out after any fun outings you go on. This is also a craft your kids could spend time watercolor painting and preparing early on in the summer. You will need to use your MARK 5 Die Cutting Machine to cut out both parts of the Squirrels and Acorn Die Cut. Have your children paint the squirrels or use markers and stickers to decorate them if that is more your style. Then you can glue or staple the acorns to the squirrel. These acorns are important because this is where kids will write what activities they got to do over the summer. If you have older children or kids who love to write you could have them write a short story about what they enjoyed about the activity or what the details of the adventure were. They could write this part over the painting of the squirrel.  

5. Butterflies Galore 

Summertime means butterflies fluttering about collecting and spreading pollen to help create a more beautiful world. Children look at butterflies with an almost magical glimmer. These toilet paper roll butterflies are an adorable way to connect their indoor creativity to their outdoor experiences.  You will need the MARK 5 Die Cutting Machine, toilet paper rolls, construction paper, and googly eyes. You can also use the TP Roll-Animal Die Cut’ or give yourself a chance to make lots of different types of animals using the Craft Activities Set Die Cut- you can use the same concept but you can have your kids create other animals they see over the summer. After a day of playing in the sun, go inside and give kids the calming task of creating a butterfly they may have seen that day or have them create their vision of the most beautiful butterfly. 

6. Leaping into Summer Fun 

These fun frogs are a fun craft for kids to create and you can extend this in many different ways. This is another activity that will require you to use your MARK 5 Die Cutting Machine. You will also need to use the Hearts #3 Die Cut. You will also want to have different shades of green construction paper and some red paper for the tongue. A fun element is to use googly eyes to help make the face more animated. Glue the different heart shapes together using this image for reference and draw on the mouth and nose to complete the frog. My favorite way of extending this activity is to allow your kids the opportunity to research frogs and then they can write the new facts they learn about frogs to the light green belly. They can then string these frog facts together and you can hang them up wherever it works best in your home.   

7. Don’t Be Crabby Be Happy

Another summer creature that would be fun to create would be these bright crabs. Go to an aquarium, watch an informative show about sea creatures or crustaceans, or visit a beach and you will likely hear some fun facts about these crawling creatures. For this craft you will need paper plates, your MARK 5 Die Cutting Machine, as well as the Plate Buddy-Crab Die Cut. Cut the plates in half, have your children paint or color the plate red and then use the cut our crab pieces and glue them to make these animals. Adding these crabs to a large piece of poster board or paper will allow a vivid way for  your kids to create an entire seascape, they will just need to add other water elements to the drawing. 

These 6 activities are just a few ways to bring outdoor fun to life through crafting and creativity. These summers are some of the most memorable times you will have together with your kids. Making memories through activity and imagination will be something you can hold on to for a lifetime.   



Written by Amy Pinegar.