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Nature crafting with the kids

How about we slow things down?

In collaboration with Frédérique Naud, content manager at Sépaq.

Being in contact with nature, contemplating and absorbing it, is undoubtedly one of the best ways to fight boredom. In these times of seclusion, each day seems a little bit like the last, and you may be needing ideas for entertaining the kids.

Don't panic, we're coming to the rescue! Today we're sharing an idea for a fun craft activity to do with children that will get them to dive into the moment, to observe and marvel at their surroundings, and to slow down just a bit.

An activity that combines a breath of fresh air and a healthy dose of creativity… and you don't even have to go far - you stay right at home!

The idea is to make pieces out of salt dough, using elements from nature to make decorative ornaments or simply for the pleasure of creating as a family. So, let's get going!

Jacinthe Hall | © Sépaq

Start with the treasure hunt... in your very own backyard!

While respecting the rules of social distancing, why not head out in search of treasures in your backyard or flowerbeds? With the arrival of spring and the melting of the snow, there are lots of treasures to be found. You can gather leaves, twigs, fir, and cedar branches, pots and pans, small stones, in short everything that inspires you.

Take the opportunity to take a deep breath and listen to the crooning birds, who are also beginning to look forward to summer.

Settle in quietly with a hot drink

Back inside after the harvest, put your treasures in a big dictionary to flatten them and take the opportunity to brew up a good hot chocolate (or café au lait for parents) before starting the artwork. Enjoy that delicious hot beverage with the kids while peacefully preparing the ingredients for the famous salt dough.

Sarah Bernard | © Sépaq
Sarah Bernard | © Sépaq
Sarah Bernard | © Sépaq
Sarah Bernard | © Sépaq

Time to tackle the salt dough

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup of salt
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 ½ cup of water

Mix salt and flour in a bowl and add about ¼ cup of water at a time. The kids can mix it all together with their hands or with a wooden spoon.

Time for the artists!

We then make discs that are about the same size, about five centimetres in diameter, according to your taste. You can also create funny shapes or animals. Let your creativity and the artist in you emerge.

Then all that remains is to integrate the elements of nature into the dough. Simply gently push the leaves or other twigs into the salt dough and press lightly with a pencil or the handle of a wooden spoon on the contours of the leaf. Be careful not to press too hard. You don't want to pierce the dough!

Once the artworks are created, bake them in the oven for three hours at 100°F on a baking sheet covered with baking paper or until the dough is dry. They can also be left to air-dry for two or three days, turning them over every day.

A few little tricks

  • If you want to colour the dough, you can add a little food colouring to the water.
  • While you're having fun shaping the dough, wet your hands for easier handling... it's less sticky too!
  • You can also use cookie cutters to make your shapes.
  • Remember to make a small hole in the top of your piece before baking if you want to hang it with a string.
  • Once baked, you can also paint the imprint of the leaf of your piece, instead of leaving it in the salt dough, and create an herbarium in a notebook with your harvest. Be careful not to bake the piece with the leaf in the dough, as the leaf here is only used to leave its imprint.
Sarah Bernard | © Sépaq
Jacinthe Hall | © Sépaq

What’s an herbarium?

An herbarium is a book or notebook in which to place tree leaves, flowers, roots, and herbs, called specimens.

One specimen is usually placed on each page along with its name, the date, and the place of harvesting. Any observations you wish to make (what the plant is used for, its particularities, its odour, its colour, etc.) can also be written down.

It's like a collection of dried plants, and it makes crafting a collection into a playful learning activity.

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So, to your crafts everyone and don't forget, the important thing is to have fun, relax, and spend quality time with your family. Treat yourself to this pleasure and you’ll see that creating helps to free the spirit!  

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