Tuesday

Nature Walk: Autumn Leaf Masks

Today I welcome Helen from Craft Ideas for Kids to the blog. She has a ton of awesome craft ideas for you and your kids. Many of which can be done outdoors. Please head over and check out her site. 

Autumn is easily my favorite season: the splendor of color, the crisp air and the fun of crunchy leaves. When Mae invited me to write a guest post for Mommy Loves Trees, I couldn't wait to ditch the pom-poms and glitz and take my family on a woodland excursion to collect natural crafting materials, such as leaves, twigs, pine cones and anything else that sparked my kids imaginations. 
Nature Walk: Autumn Leaf Masks
Whilst out, we stumbled across a gorgeous wooden play hut, which became our pixie hollow and the inspiration for our Autumn Leaf Masks. My little lovely imagined herself as a woodland fairy, eagerly filling her pockets with leaves and sticks. We really did have so much fun exploring and couldn't wait to transform our “collections” into something magical.
Nature Walk: Autumn Leaf Masks

Autumn Leaf Masks: Materials

A range of natural materials – leaves/twigs etc
Cardboard or/and Paper Plate
PVA glue
Masking or ordinary sticky tape

Autumn Leaf Masks: How-to


Step 1

Display your natural materials.

To create a base for the leaf masks, draw a figure of eight onto a piece of cardboard (we recycled a cereal box) and simply cut it out.
Nature Walk: Autumn Leaf Masks

Step 2

Here's the really fun bit!

Begin sticking the leaves directly onto the cardboard, building up the design using a range of colors and layering. 

To layer the leaves, I recommend using masking tape to secure the larger leaves.
Nature Walk: Autumn Leaf Masks


Nature Walk: Autumn Leaf Masks

 Step 3

Using tape, secure a stick onto the back of the mask.
Nature Walk: Autumn Leaf Masks


Now it's playtime! Our Autumn Leaf Masks created hours of family fun, exploration and open-ended play opportunities, with my little lovely switching between being a fairy, a flower, an owl and a lion!

I hope you've enjoyed our nature craft and for more crafty ideas, pay Craft Ideas for Kids a visit.

Monday

Kiwibop Postcard Pals: Discover your world one postcard at a time.

Kiwibop Postcards and Pals are a fun and inexpensive way to introduce your kids the the many wonders of our world and beyond. But they do much more than that, Kiwibop is working to make a difference by bringing smiles to kids who have a life threatening disease or illness. But before I go on about Kiwibop, here is a little story from my life and how simple acts of kindness can make a difference.

My senior year of high school my youngest sister was diagnosed with ALL, Acute Lymphocyte Leukemia. The changes to our family life were drastic. My senior year turned into taxi service for my younger siblings while my mom was at the hospital with my sister or at home looking after her. But despite the hardships, my sister's cancer brought to our family closer, it helped us realize how much we loved each other and the importance of our relationships.

Besides learning to lean on each other, there were many organization and people who gave of their time and money to assist our family. We were the recipients of many acts of kindness that brought us moments of joy and relief during an extremely stressful time in our lives. Never forget the power of simple acts of kindness during times of trial, or anytime in life really.

Kiwibop Postcards use a portion of paid memberships to offer complimentary memberships to kids with life threatening diseases or injuries. You can even refer a kid on their website.

So who are the Kiwibop Postcard Pals? The Pals are six different characters that introduce your kids to new discoveries in nature, science, travel and space topics every month on a simple but beautiful postcard. Each membership includes four postcards per month and a one-time introductory package.
Kiwibop Postcard Pals: Discover your world one postcard at a time.

Each Pal is an expert in a different area: zoology, space, nature, micro discoveries, travel and the ocean. Each postcard is from a different character and highlights are new discovery in their area of expertise. I have already found new places to add to our dream vacation list.

The Kiwibop website also offers Fact Explorer; which gives you and your kids more ideas for exploring the information on the postcards.

There are 3 different options for memberships and all cost under $4 a month. A seriously good deal. Plus you are helping those in need.

Bonus Use: I have started carrying these with me to use as non-electronic entertainment for my kids when we are traveling, at lessons or running errands. They take up a lot less space than an iPad or hand help gaming system and have given me opportunity to answer questions my kids ask as they look at the cards. They haven't gotten board so far because we get four new ones every month.
Kiwibop Postcard Pals: Discover your world one postcard at a time.

Follow along for more inspiration and ideas for exploring the outdoors as a family. 


Disclosure: I received my first 4 postcards free of charge to facilitate this review but all opinions are my own. 

Tuesday

5 Simple Fall Activities: No Extra Equipment Required

This is the second post in my No Extra Equipment Required series; a series that highlights outdoor activities that don't require any extra equipment. I am challenging myself to get creative and help my kids develop their creativity and imaginations. 

I am so excited fall is here. I know some of you are lucky enough to already be enjoying the seasonal changes. We had 75 degree weather this morning and it was such a relief.  I love fall for lots of reasons: the trees, pumpkins, campfires, sweaters and apples. But really fall is the perfect season for just being outdoors and enjoying cooler weather. So I rounded up my favorite activities for enjoying the outdoors that require no extra equipment.
5 Simple Fall Activities: No Extra Equipment Required
  • Play in the leaves or create a leaf maze. Love art projects using leaves? I just did a huge round up with 20 awesome projects using fall leaves. You can also check out my Outdoor Activities for Kids Pinterest board (link at bottom of post) for more inspiration. 
    5 Simple Fall Activities: No Extra Equipment Required
  • Break out the camera and capture the beauty with these awesome tips for taking photos in the fall
  • Campfire - Even if you can't go camping, look for parks with day use areas. There are many that have fire pits. The cooler weather is the perfect time for enjoying marshmallows and hot chocolate around a fire. 
  • Hike and play the Leaf Match game - Pick up a leaf from the ground and find which tree it came from. It might not be as easy as as you think with all the changing colors. And seriously, there isn't a better time to be hiking.
  • Create a new tradition and just GET OUTDOORS! We go apple picking every year but this year we don't live near any orchards. So I am going to make homemade apple cider and some pumpkin muffins and have a breakfast picnic with my kids at our favorite park. 
Bonus: Don't forget about the trees. Check out this post for ideas on exploring and learning about why trees loose their leaves in the fall.

Outdoor activities don't have to be complicated; what is important is that you are outdoors as a family enjoying nature and each other.

What are your favorite fall outdoor activities?

Don't forget about the huge Giveaway I am participating in. I would love to see one of my readers win some cash. 

Follow Mae @ Mommy Loves Trees's board Kids - Outdoor Activities on Pinterest.


Mud Mud Marvellous Mud - Outdoor Play Party

Friday

Nature Walk: 20 Art Projects Using Fall Leaves + Giveaway

Fall is my favorite season; mainly because of the changing color of the leaves and the cooler weather. It is the perfect opportunity to get outdoors. With the abundance of leaves falling from the trees, I have rounded up
Nature Walk: 20 Art Projects Using Fall Leaves + Giveaway

Bonus: The best way I have found to preserve leaves is covering them in Mod Podge. Just paint on a thin coat using a paint brush and let them dry on a piece of wax paper or tin foil. 

Now for the GIVEAWAY. It is a good one!


Win one of FOUR $500 cash prizes directly in your paypal account! This giveaway is open internationally. You must be 18+ years old to enter. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. Winners will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. Please see detailed terms and conditions below the giveaway for more info.


a Rafflecopter giveaway




Thursday

7 DIY Costume Ideas for Nature Lovers

Halloween is such a fun time of year but can be stressful for us a parents. Lot so pressure to find or make the perfect costumes for our kids. And most costumes are expensive or complicated to make. So I have rounded up 7 nature-themed costumes that don't require a sewing machine and that use simple materials you can find around your house or at least at Walmart.
7 DIY Costume Ideas for Nature Lovers


Tree w/ Owl Costume

This is such an easy costume to make. You could even use it as an adult costume.

Materials


Brown or grey shirt
1 Copy of Pattern
Brown Felt
Orange Felt
White Felt
Black Felt
Hot Glue and Gun (or fabric glue)
Head Band
Pipe Cleaners
Leaves (real or fake) - If using real, coat leaves in Mod Podge.
My leaves have lasted a week and a half so far. 

Directions


  1. Print and cut out pattern
  2. Trace pattern onto corresponding colors of felt and cut out. 
  3. Hot glue owl together starting with the eyes, then beak, wings and feet. Just make it match the picture. I found it easiest of assemble the owl then lift and glue, piece by piece. 
  4. Hot glue owl towards the bottom of the black oval. 
  5. Cut pipe cleaners in half. You may not have to do this if your pipe cleaners are short, mine were really long. 
  6. Hot glue leaves to ends of the pipe cleaners. 
  7. Wind leaf pipe cleaners around head band. 
  8. Glue or fabric tape black oval with owl onto shirt. 
  9. Ready to go. Put it on and have a wonderful Halloween.  

Tree Hugger

Wear normal clothes and carry around/hug a log, tree or wood grained pillow (Care2).
OR hug your cute kid dressed as a tree!
Here are a couple options for log, tree and wood grained pillows.

The Lorax

This is such a cute costume from O My Blonde Family. You can always make this no sew by using purchased orange cap and clothes. 7 DIY Costume Ideas for Nature Lovers

Robin Hood

Come on, he lived in the forest. What is more tree related than that? I made this from felt. You could use glue instead of a sewing machine.
7 DIY Costume Ideas for Nature Lovers

Woodland Fairy

No Sew Owl Costume

7 DIY Costume Ideas for Nature Lovers

Monarch Butterfly

7 DIY Costume Ideas for Nature Lovers

Above all, just let your kids have fun and be creative. How awesome is a Darth Vader woodland fairy!
7 DIY Costume Ideas for Nature Lovers
Source
Here are a few other great ideas -
12 eco-themed halloween costumes from Mother Nature Network
10 more nature themed costumes from The Natural Capital

Please feel free to add your nature or outdoor themed costume ideas.

My Pinterventures

Monday

Apple Picking - Add Adventure Without Adding Cost.

Apple picking is my favorite fall activity. We use to pick apples with our best friends as kids, then spend the rest of the day canning and making apple cider. Nowadays, picking apples can be quite an event. I love all the other activities that can be available at apple orchards, hay rides and such, but the costs can add up fast. So I rounded up a few activities that will make your next apple picking trip an adventure without adding any extra costs.
Apple Picking: Adding Adventure Without Adding Cost.
  • Involve friends. Almost any activity is better with friends. 
  • Take advantage of what's free. One of the orchards we picked at couple years ago had these fun picture boards. I have been to farms that included corn mazes. Sometimes there are some really good deals out there. 
    Apple Picking: Adding Adventure Without Adding Cost.
    My son loved these free picture boards. He was just a little too short. 
  • Go for a monster (bug) hunt - Do you see different types of bugs than what you see in your backyard? Can you find any bugs eating the apples? 
    Apple Picking: Adding Adventure Without Adding Cost.
    My son is always fascinated by bugs. 
  • Have a picking race. See who can pick the most apples in the shortest period of time. Being careful not to bruise the apples of course. This was fun even with just my son and I. 
  • Make a campfire treat that the kids can be involved in. These baked apples look amazing and simple to make. There is never a better time to enjoy a campfire than the fall. If you don't have a fireplace, check local state parks for day-use areas. 
I have taken my kids apple picking the past 2 years. But this year I can't find an orchard near us. I have only been able find peach orchards. Since I can't pick apples I have decided to buy apples from the store and resurrect my childhood tradition of making apple cider. I am going to try this recipe. I wish we were picking apples, but enjoying cider will have to do for now. Maybe we will get some doughnuts and have a breakfast picnic.

What is your favorite fall activity?

Follow along for more inspiration and ideas on getting outdoors as a family. 



Mud Mud Marvellous Mud - Outdoor Play Party
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Wednesday

Tales from the Trail: Yosemite National Park

In the end I was glad all the campsites were filled because we were forced to camp in Mammoth Lakes, which turned out to be a dream destination in and of itself. Some detours lead to much better trails.

It started as a dream to visit the Yosemite National Park. One problem, it was my first time planning a camping trip to a popular national park and, as you can probably guess, by the time I finalized travel plans all of the campgrounds in Yosemite were booked.

After a little online research I found an area that met all my needs for visiting Yosemite NP: within driving distance of Yosemite NP, decent campgrounds, and it fit my travel route. So I booked the campsite not realizing this area was a vacation in and of itself.

The area we ended up staying in was Mammoth Lakes, CA, which is located on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. I did a little research before our trip and knew there were some awesome outdoor activities in the area but I had no idea what was in store for us.
Not only is Mammoth Lakes near Devil’s Post Pile National Monument and the Ansel Adams Wilderness but the mountain views around town were breathtaking. Mammoth Lakes is also a ski resort but, as it was the summer, the traffic was light and the town was relatively quite. The drive to Yosemite took almost an hour but the views were awesome and there was not much traffic. Plus we had a chance to see the less traveled areas of Yosemite.
After arriving in Yosemite I realized how glad I was the campgrounds were full. The park was so busy it would have made the camping trip a lot less enjoyable for me. Our campsite in Mammoth Lakes was perfect. Sometimes taking the road less traveled just fits the bill.

Disclaimer: We visited in July a few years ago, so I am not sure if Mammoth Lakes, CA is still relatively quiet during the summer. Even if it is not, I highly recommend a visit. We camped at a Forest Service campground, which typically don't have many amenities. There may be more options.  

Follow along for more inspiration and ideas on getting outdoors as a family. 

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