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Nature's Art Box: From t-shirts to twig baskets, 65 cool projects for crafty kids to make with natural materials you can find anywhere Paperback – June 3, 2003
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From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8-Martin contends that nature provides us with an abundance of art supplies and she invites readers to make use of these bounties in these 65 projects. She classifies the activities according to the material required: vines, twigs, cones, and moss; gourds, pods, husks, and seeds; clay, stones, sand, and shells; paints, inks, and dyes; flowers and leaves; and stamps, stencils, molds, and seals. Each chapter includes information about historical and ethnic uses for the natural substances. Activities are rated by level of difficulty; all have easy-to-follow instructions. Projects range from baskets, picture frames, wreaths, necklaces, and gift wrap to body paint, amulet bags, and painted stones; from a chess set to shell buttons to an okra pod canoe and people. The projects display a respect for nature and art, and a simple, subtle beauty; they are not the cutesy, stylized projects described in so many contemporary books. Line drawings accompany the numbered steps and charming ink-and-watercolor pictures illustrate the completed projects. Some general crafting techniques are explained. The helpful appendix offers charts on the availability of various materials and their uses and gift suggestions. Bobbe Needham's Ecology Crafts for Kids (Sterling, 1998), which encourages the use of natural craft materials as well as recycled man-made materials, complements this title. Martin's unusual volume will be a great resource for crafters of all ages and abilities.
Lynda Ritterman, Atco Elementary School, Waterford, NJ
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“…if you want to use nature to nurture your child’s creativity, then “Art Box” provides hours of activities.” – New York Daily News
"...you'll learn a little about conservation and a lot about art basics..." – Dallas Morning News
Run right out and get Nature’s Art Box…this is a fun book that will get kids outdoors…” – San Diego Union Tribune
"Nature's Art Box takes nature crafts to a more creative level." – Knight Ridder
“The beauty of Nature’s Art Box is that it entertains as well as educates. “ – Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
“Youngsters will see nature through the eyes of an artist and learn how to be stewards of the Earth.” – Indianapolis Star
“…the author encourages kids to see artistic potential in a handful of twigs, pinecones and more.” – Publishers Weekly
"The projects display a respect for nature and art, and a simple, subtle beauty...Martin's unusual volume will be a great resource for crafters of all ages and abilities." – School Library Journal
“…the book emphasizes seeing the world as an artist’s palate, there are also lessons on being kind to nature and how to collect items.” – St. Paul Pioneer Press
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for making wreaths from natural items. She loves to spend time outside collecting items, making things and drawing.
This book is full of useful information, and I enjoyed it also!
I would recommend this book for anyone who is looking for a gift for a young explorer who is craft oriented.
The chapters (or Parts, as she labels them) are actually separated by material.
Part One is an overview of using nature for art.
Part Two: Vines, Twigs, Cones and Moss
Part Three: Gourds, Pods, Husks and Seeds
Part Four: Clay, Stones, Sand and Shells
Part Five: Paints, Inks and Dyes
Part Six: Flowers and Leaves
Part Seven: Stamps, Stencils, Molds and Seals
Appendix: Nature Skills, Suggested Reading, Gift Suggestions
My children are older, ages 8 and 12, and don't need as much oversight with the crafts as younger children might. When I brought this book home, they immediately seized on it and ran outside to our (mostly) clay-filled soil, following the directions to the letter for making their own modeling clay right from the soil itself. After the clay was the right consistency, they made beads for necklaces, coil-built pots and animal fetishes as described in the book. We then painted the dried items using the authors recipe for paint made from flowers, rocks and soil. All in all, they worked diligently for two weeks on these projects. We all found it fascinating to discover how much we could create using things right outside our back door.
I hope you are able to generate the same excitement with your own children, classroom or other social group using this book. Generally speaking, I only write reviews for books that have touched off either an emotional response or a high level of enthusiasm either in myself or my kids. This was definitely one of those books.
The kids and I love to put the book in our wagon and walk around our property collecting sticks, leaves, flowers and any other treasures we want to create with! So many of the projects can be made with items from your own backyard, but sometimes we supplement with $1 store items too. They have rocks, shells, moss and more at our local store for $1. It helps to have loose part available in the winter when the ground is covered in snow! Laying out this book with a container of loose parts is a perfect combination for a creation area. The kids take pieces of ideas from what they see and make it their own!
Some of the projects are a little much for me, like the amulet bag for example. I do appreciate however, that such projects are marked challenging so I know what I am getting into if we choose to attempt it. Purchase a low temperature hot glue gun, add some materials from a nature walk and just leave it out for the kids to do their own thing. Don't try to follow all of the projects ideas step by step or you will end up disappointed that yours doesn't look as perfect as the photo. Use the book for inspiration and as a guide and you really can't go wrong. Oh and the nature skills guide in the back is also an excellent resource!