The other week-end the weather was so gorgeous there was no excuse for not getting outside and into nature. On the Saturday it was a bit chillier, but a Peregrine Falcon payed us a visit beckoning us to come outside. My sons were thrilled to see the Peregrine Falcon so close, as it had visited that week before in our backyard but further away. Good thing too, as it was eating a sparrow on the back fence, not something I want to see up close (bloody awful, literally).
We watched in awe as this beautiful and strong bird went about its business.
We acknowledged together that though we felt bad for the bird it was eating, we knew that it was all part of the cycle of life.
I looked up Peregrine Falcon and found this “It has been suggested that rescuing the peregrine from extinction has been one of mankind’s greatest environmental success stories.” How wonderful that this powerful and fast-flying bird sometimes referred to as the “cheetah of the sky” visited us that weekend. It was a reminder of the marvel of nature’s strength and ability to survive and then thrive.
On the Sunday when the weather was milder, we went for a bike ride in the valley and stopped to make some nature art . I have included some fast forward videos here to inspire.
There is no right or wrong way of doing this. As long as you are respectful of nature, living plants, and possible habitats for small inhabitants, then how it looks is up to you.
A few weeks ago my kids agreed to try some doodle art inspired by artist Traci Bautista . We never really got to the doodle part, but the boys had fun with the layers that they created using found stencils. It was a fun art activity to do with the kids.
You could have each family member do their own then piece them together in a collage, you can frame them side by side or if you are brave like me have your kids work on the same one together. Be prepared for disagreements. Think of it as an opportunity for learning.
There is no wrong way of doing this activity. Below are just some suggestions and ideas of what can happen. Encourage spontaneity and above all FUN!
- paint brushes
- apron, smock or old clothing to wear
- old tooth brushes (optional)
- sponges (optional)
- brayer (optional)
- Objects to us as stencils such as feathers, netting, doilies, popsicle sticks tooth picks, pennies anything goes as long as you’re okay with getting paint on it.
- Things to add texture: large brush, sponges old tooth brushes
- Spray bottles filled with single colour and some water
Choose a medium to large size paper. Choose about 3 colours that everyone feels goes well together. Have some white paint to lighten the colours adding to the layering effect. Not sure about mixing colours? Check this link out: mixing colours.
Here is what you will generally be doing to create your painting:
Place items on the paper and spray paints lightly over the area you want to make an imprint of. Remove the “stencil”. Allow paint to dry between layers or before putting another stencil on. Any object you place down and spray paint on will leave a negative of the object when it is removed, giving a stencil effect. The first ones will leave white outlines, but as you add more layers of stencils and paint the painting will have more textures.
Place object on paper, spray one paint colour at a time allowing it to dry before adding another colour. This is to avoid making the colours muddy or brown.
Use a brayer or sponge to put paint on a plastic letter stencil for a neat print.
Press this down on the paper, being careful not to shift it and smudge it.
Use a styrofoam tray for a wide pallet for use with wide brushes and brayers (paint rollers).
Be careful not to put too much paint on your brush or it will get under the stencil.
Rather than dragging the paint brush on the doilies or other stencils, dab the brush into the holes gently to leave a print.
Be sure to hold down the stencil as you apply the paint.
Be sure to praise team work!
You’re done when you decide!
The other day I came across a post on prayer flags which lead to my finding out about a prayer flag project. I liked the idea of letting our intentions for the world sway in the breeze, releasing it for all to witness.
For the Winter Solstice our family did a releasing ceremony where each of us wrote down what we wanted to let go of from the past year as we move into the next. For New Years I wanted the focus to be on the positive, sending out our wishes our intentions not just for ourselves but for the world. I wanted my boys to remember that they have the power to change the world, I wanted them to feel this by putting an action to their wishes and hopes for the world. And so we made prayer flags.
I explained to them that prayer flags are a way of putting your hopes for the world in a visual format, to share with others. I explained that they could have their prayer flag be about anything they wanted to wish for to happen in the world to make it a better place.
Immediately my eldest had an idea and began to work on his, while my youngest was doubtful that he would be able to express his on a flag. I talked him through his ideas asking him of what pictures he thought of when he thought of his wish for the world. This helped him. Below is a step by step Tutorial of how you can make a prayer flag with your family.
Here’s how you can make prayer flags with your family:
Gather your materials:
- a rectangular piece of cloth approximately 5″ x 11″ ( 3 of the 11″ will be folded over for a string to go through). We used old cloth napkins that I had and cut them to size.
- permanent markers, acrylic paints – the tackier (thick) paint works best, or fabric crayons
- flat Styrofoam tray that sometimes comes with produce (if you are doing a print like we did)
- pencil for drawing then etching (if you are making a print)
- glue gun or sewing needle and thread to make the fold that the string will go through.
Explain to your children what a prayer flag is: Keep it simple for younger children such as “a prayer flag is a way to share with the world your hope for something good you want to happen in the world”. For older children you may want to explain the origins of the prayer flag such as is done on the Creativity in Motion blog by Art Therapist Gretchen Miller. You don’t have to hold any particular religious beliefs to use prayer flags, it’s all about sending out your positive intentions for the world.
Have your children choose one focus, one positive thing that they would like to happen in the world. Have them focus on what they want rather than what they don’t want to happen in the world. So for example when my youngest spoke of his concern for climate change and the polar bears, and penguins having little ice to stay on, he visualized a picture of polar bears with a lot of ice, and penguins with lots of ice. In the end he chose to draw only the penguins.
Prepare the cloth by ironing it flat if there are wrinkles.
Fold over 1 1/2″ of the cloth & sew or glue down just the outer edge so that a sting can fit through it. Becareful of little fin gers the glue guns can get quite hot. Tip: there are low heat glue guns that are less hot but you have to work quicker.
Now have your child draw picture symbolizing their wish for the world:
They can do this several ways, free hand on the square with fabric crayons , or permanent markers or for a print have them emboss it into into the styrofoam.
Cut the edges off of the styrofoam tray so that it will be flat.
For younger children or to avoid disappointment with their picture, have your child draw it on paper the same size as your flag first and then either trace it from this drawing or have them copy it by etching it in.
To make a print its easiest to use one colour though you can try more than one. The etched in parts will not show paint when you make the print.
Flip and press evenly into the fabric. You can test your home made stamp on paper to see how it looks.
Make sure that if they want to write any words in the styrofoam tray that they write them backwards so that in a mirror you could read it (we forgot to do this).
Another way to make a print is to paint the picture on a piece of paper and press the paper onto the fabric, the trick is to use thicker acrylic paint and make the print before the paint dries (do not wet the brush or it waters the paint down too much for transferring the print). You can always add more paint, and draw or write with with permanent marker any additional embellishments after adding the print.
Once the flags are done and dry, put a string through the flags (a safety pin attached to a string and pushed through works well) and hang outside where it can blow in the wind, spreading your intentions for the world.
We would love to see what other families are making. If you like, you can post your family prayer flag photos on the Offbeatfamily Prayer Flag Flicker Group.
Eighteen years ago, I worked in an agency that helped children who had social and emotional difficulties stemming from their “learning disabilities” (L.D.). At that time I had the opportunity to work with a group of boys who were identified as being “gifted L.D.”. They were an amazing bunch of boys. They had high I.Q. scores in certain areas of their abilities and deficits in the areas specific to their L.D. (which usually translated to being extremely sophisticated with their words on one hand yet socially ackward on the other). Read the rest of this entry »
A while back my husband and I decided to structure in some special time with the kids because of our work schedule and feeling we did not have a lot of time together as a family. While we had tried family game night where we play a board game (usually one that is cooperative rather than competitive) it just wasn’t as fun for the adults as when we were kids. Read the rest of this entry »