Arts and Crafts in the park (1)

Aug 23, 2023 | Kids' activities, Thoughts about the park

Cara Kliman shares ideas on keeping your kids entertained in the remaining days of summer, or the next half-term or indeed any weekend.

Now we are in the thick of the summer holidays, I am scraping the bottom of the barrel for things to do with the kids. I decide to be cunning; the kids love arts and crafts and they love Heaton Moor Park. Let’s do arts and crafts activities inspired by the park. Brilliant idea! I’m the Stephen Hawkings of parenting!

However, I don’t feel like such a parenting genius when I realise that aside from making a collage out of leaves, I don’t have any clue what we can do.

‘Oh no! Not another collage made of leaves,’ Alice and Zoe cry when I brandish some A3 pieces of paper, prit sticks, and a bag of leaves.

Out of desperation I turn to my friend Stephanie, who’s an art teacher, for help.

‘Golden Rule Number One,’ Stephanie says, ‘Don’t try and get them to make a collage out of leaves, they’ll have been doing that since nursery and they’ll be sick to death of it. You’ll probably put them off nature-based arts and crafts for life.’

I make a ‘what do you take me for?’ noise, and feel glad this isn’t Zoom call, otherwise she’d be able to see the green pile and the box of print sticks on the shelf behind me.

Stephanie comes to my rescue with some great suggestions, which I try out with Alice and Zoe in the park.

They’re all a great success, in fact, we’ve done each one several times. Here’s one idea:

Treehouses for animals

Stephanie instructed us to each take a sketch pad to the park, along with a pack of felt tip pens or colour pencils.

Both girls had to choose their favourite tree. Alice had recently been learning the concept of ranking with her Maths teacher, and for the next 20 minutes we get bogged down with ranking all the trees around the four-leaf clover field according to how much we liked them.

Eventually, exasperated, I shouted: ‘We’re all doing that one.’ The kids looked at me like I was a maniac, but were happy to comply.

In our sketch pads each of us had to draw the chosen tree, but turn it into a home for a family of woodland animals. Stephanie suggested owls, mice or squirrels.

‘I’m doing jumbo snails,’ Alice said.

‘I’m doing the PJ Masks,’* Zoe said.

At this point it was Week Three of the summer holidays so of course I just went with it.

Stephanie had told me: ‘Get the kids to draw a picture of the tree, adding bedrooms in the trunk and branches for each member of their family of animals, plus other things the family might have in their treehouse; slides, balconies, a barbecue area, or whatever your child likes. It’s a great chance for them to use their imaginations.’

When Alice and ZoZo were finished, I held up their lovely drawings so they could see what the other one had created.

‘I’m not sure that the PJ Masks are going to like living alongside the jumbo snails in there,’ Alice said, pointing to our designated tree.

I’m sure they’ll make it work,’ I said.

* PJ Masks, for those who may not know, is a very thoughtful group of young superheroes who fight crime at night so it won’t ruin people’s days.