Monday, May 9, 2011

Nature Fun for Kids: Create the Box, then Think Outside It

Last week at Nature Club, I taught the kids the how to fold a square piece of paper into a little box. We counted the number of triangles, squares, quadrilaterals, rectangles, and trapezoids each time we did another step of the process. Before we opened up our origami boxes, I had them color the edges, pointing out the ones that would show once we completed all of the proper folds.
I was about 11 or 12 when I first learned how to fold this origami box, and it’s the one thing I remember how to fold without looking at instructions. I knew the exercise would be a hit since the boys in Nature Club had often begun folding any leftover pieces of paper to make airplanes, some which were much more aerodynamically sound than others.

After we opened up and did the final folds on our 3” X 3” boxes, I asked them to imagine what sort of things from nature could fit into the box they’d made. They named a number of different insects, arachnids, and such, then I asked them what they might find on our school campus from nature, that wasn’t still living, that would fit into their boxes. They came up with a number of things before we set out on our nature walk to see what we could find to put in our boxes.
All of us had fun selecting fallen flower petals, leaves, the tops of acorns, mini red berries, little sticks, nibbled on pine cones, pieces of bark, rocks, half-eaten tree nuts, and such to put in our little boxes. When we returned, we dumped our things out and examined what each person had found, then I had them draw and color some of the sundry treasures they’d found. It was so enjoyable, that I decided to do the same thing with my French Club on Thursday, only we talked about the colors, items, shapes and names of things in nature in French.
Lord, thank you for the gift of children, who so often help us to slow down and recognize the beauty, delicate details, and wonder in the world around us. Please increase our ability to see Your handprints on everything and in everyone. Amen.
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