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Four Elementary Outdoor Crafts Perfect for Summer Camp

written by: Pamela Martin • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 7/7/2015

Take advantage of being outside to create some fun and functional nature crafts, along with one-of-a-kind T-shirts and a woven treasure pouch. These craft ideas are great for summer camp.

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    Collection Bag

    Start by creating a tote that campers can use to collect treasures for other projects.

    Things You Need

    • Wooden picture frames with 4x6 or 5x7 openings
    • Pushpins
    • Old socks
    • Scissors
    • Crochet hook (optional)
    • Crewel needles
    • Yarn

    Give each camper a frame and push pins.

    Push the pins into the frame, going all the way around the opening. Set the pins as close together as possible. If campers have trouble getting the pins to go into the wood, make pilot holes with a finishing nail and hammer.

    Cut the socks to make 1/2-inch loops.

    Hook the loops onto the pins, stretching them from top to bottom on the frame.

    Weave more strips through the ones on the pins, going over and under alternately, from left to right. Hook the loop ends on the pins. Continue until every pin has loops on it. It may be easier to use a large crochet hook or a hook made from a recycled wire clothes hanger.

    At one corner, take the second loop off the pin and pull it through the corner loop. Pull the third loop through the second, the fourth through the third and continue all the way around the loom.

    Make a second woven mat.

    Stack the mats together and use the yarn to whipstitch them together.

    Attach a carbineer clip to the open loops for attaching the pouch to a belt loop or braid several strands of yarn to make a strap to go over the camper’s body. Stitch it to the pouch.

    Encourage campers to collect seeds, leaves, small twigs and other natural “treasures" and keep them in the collecting bags until needed for other projects.

    Tip: You can also buy weaving strips at craft stores.

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    Balloon Head Balls

    Give campers a chance to combine creativity with play when they make balloon head balls for juggling or playing catch.

    Things You Need

    • Balloons
    • Funnels
    • Spoons
    • Flour
    • Paint, stickers and other decorating embellishments

    Place the stem of the funnel in the neck of the balloon. If you do not have a funnel, let campers work in pairs, as one holds a paper cone in the balloon while the other fills it. They can then switch tasks.

    Spoon flour into the balloon until it is full, leaving just enough of the balloon to tie it into a knot.

    Use markers, paint or other embellishments to make faces or other designs on the “heads." Because they squish into odd shapes, campers can create silly looks for their balloon folks.

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    Faux Batik Tees

    Create the look of batik without the muss and fuss of melted wax.Secretary Kerry Meets Russian President Putin at APEC (10145595975) 

    Things You Need

    • Flour
    • Water
    • T-shirts
    • Pencils or dressmakers’ marking pens
    • Paintbrushes
    • Cold-water fabric dye

    Mix flour and water to make a paste thin enough to spread with a paintbrush.

    Give each camper a prewashed T-shirt and have him or her draw a picture or design on the front. “Disappearing ink" dressmakers’ pens are great for this.

    Apply the flour paste onto the design, covering any areas that are to remain uncolored. Allow the paste to dry overnight.

    Mix the dye according to the package directions. Brush the paint over the design with a larger brush. Allow it to dry completely.

    Rinse the shirt in cold water and hang it to dry. The flour paste will wash out, leaving a print similar to those created with wax-masked batik processes.

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    Nature’s Bounty

    Encourage campers to use the nature objects they have collected to make collages, hangings and note cards.

    Things You Need

    • Seeds, leaves, twigs and other treasures
    • Kitchen twine or yarn
    • Craft glue or low-heat glue guns
    • Card stock

    Wall Hangings

    Glue rocks, leaves, shells, cones or seeds to pieces of twine cut to different lengths. Allow the glue to dry thoroughly. For heavier items, you may need to use craft cement or jewelers’ glue.

    Tie the nature strands to a larger stick or piece of driftwood, spacing them across the length of the wood.

    Tie an 8-inch piece of twine to each end of the stick and pull them up above the other strands. Tie them in an overhand knot to make a way to hang the nature art.

    Expand the fun by tying four larger sticks together to make the base of a mobile, then hanging the strands around the square. Add some small bells to the ends of the nature strands to make a windchime.

    Note Cards

    Cut the card stock in half and fold it to make blank note cards.

    Arrange seeds, flower petals, leaves and other found objects on the front to make collages. Glue them in place.

    Extend this arts and craft idea by leaving the card flat and using them as the covers for camp discovery journals. Punch holes along one edge and stitch them together, with writing paper inside, using yarn or leather thongs. Encourage campers to add other items they find during summer camp and to record their experiences to make a souvenir memory book.

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