Last night, while walking with Hazel, my 2.5 year old daughter, my heart skipped a beat when she yelled “Ooo… a PORKY PINE!” As I frantically scanned the path, I was relieved to discover that she was pointing to PINE CONES!
As a mother, OF COURSE I’d take a bullet for my daughter, but a porcupine’s quill… I plead the fifth!
Her discovery reminded me of a fun craft we made last fall and I thought it was time to revisit it now that she has a better grasp of animals and body part placement.
1. COLLECT: Going on a “PORKY PINE” hunt! This was Hazel’s favorite part of the activity. Fortunately, we live next door to a Christmas tree farm, so we had a lot of success on our hunt. Big ones, little ones, decaying ones (“it’s OK Mama, I wash it in the sink!”), we filled a bag and headed back home.
2. READ: We took a short break to enjoy a snack and a read one of her favorite books: How Do You Hug a Porcupine by Laurie Isop.
3. CREATE: Any supplies in your house will do!
I covered the table with newspaper and collected materials that I thought would be useful. There’s such a fine balance between letting the kids be creative and giving them too much direction. I wanted the end result to LOOK like a porcupine, but I wanted her to own the process. Also, since I planned to use hot glue, I had to really listen and watch as SHE DESIGNED her porcupine (as opposed to telling her what to choose and where to put it).
First I gave her a piece of brown foam board to be the ground and slathered the bottom (she chose which side) of the pine cone in hot glue to attach. Next, since using scissors is a skill I’d been wanting to introduce, I gave her strips of green construction paper, showed her how to snip, and let her loose. After she had cut a few strips, I folded them and showed her how we would glue them to the bottom of the foam board so our porcupines would have some grass to hide in. She chose the placement and folded them, then I glued the bottom half to the foam board.
Now, the PORCUPINE:
After looking at pictures in the book (or you could look at Google images), she decided that the pointy end would be the head. From the tray of materials, she choose 2 googly eyes and showed me where to glue them (after patiently explaining that I could not glue them over HER eyes). Next she wanted a nose… purple and yellow… OK!
We also made a ROCK CRITTER which is a great variation if pinecones are not available. Hazel figured out that the broken pine cone pieces looked POINTY, like a porcupine, so we glued them on. Pieces of cut-up fuzzy sticks (pipe cleaners) or toothpicks would look great too!
Age 1-3: For the younger kids, pinecones and rocks are wonderful tactile experiences. Encourage your youngster to feel all the pieces. Use words like “rough, smooth, pointy, fragile, heavy, light”to teach new vocabulary.
School Age: If possible, plan a visit to a coniferous forest to teach the difference between CONIFEROUS trees (cone bearing) and DECIDUOUS trees (lose their leaves seasonally). Also, examine the differences in the pine cones you find. With a little research, you may be able to identify which pine cones came from which trees!
Also – these could be easily made into holiday ornaments by adding a string for hanging!