I recently posted about using shadow boxes to make little collages of your kids’ collections.  The 6 year old made one with shells he collected on a trip to Hawaii.  The other day, the 3 year old collected a bunch of stuff from the yard, and we made a nature shadow box:

Two views of the shadow box with the nature collection

What’s great about these little projects is that they allow your child to keep the random stuff they’ve collected without cluttering up your space.  I can’t tell you how many rocks, sticks, pine cones, and other odds and ends I’ve had floating around the house until I figured out a way to corral them.

While we were outside, the 3 year old decided that he wanted to paint a pine cone.  And I thought, “What a fabulous idea!”  We spent some time collecting a bunch of pine cones and then determined which of them would look best painted.

And then we set to painting!  It was a great activity that was part nature, part creative indoor endeavor (although you could paint outside and then avoid the indoor mess, too).

getting to work

We just used simple acrylic paints that you can get at any craft store.  I bought these for about 79¢ each at Michaels.  We also bought glitter paint, but decided to hold off on this project.  You could also buy shakeable glitter and dust it on before the paint dries.

painting the pine cone

The final result was a fantastic improvement on nature.  And a nice little craft to keep in the 3 year old’s room, and he had a great time both collecting and painting.

the final oeuvre

Incidentally, a follow up  to the shadow box project: you can also use your collections to make a cute little frame.  The 3 year old made this one at preschool:

another idea for making a craft out of a collection

It would be adorable with a super cute photo from the outing or the trip on which the keepsakes were collected.



Leave a Comment

  • January 10, 2010, 5:32 pm Eva

    Fun crafts! You’re so creative. Painting pine cones reminded me of making pine cone bird feeders (pine cone, peanut butter, bird seed, etc.) when I was a kid.

  • January 11, 2010, 9:24 am Becky

    That is great! I love the shadowbox idea too. I have guiltily thrown away many “treasures” in my days, endless rocks and leaves.

  • January 11, 2010, 1:27 pm Debi

    We love painting stuff from nature, too, especially rocks. Another way to capture the treasures without keeping the stuff is to create a nature journal — the kids can draw and label pictures of the items they like in a special notebook & leave the items themselves outside! :)