A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

Back To Nature: A craft project for kids

I have been looking for fun activities that are free for my kids. Houston has a lot to offer kids, and in future posts, I will list some places that have some free time events to keep kids busy. I was thinking that there should be a good way to have my kids enjoy some of the nature around the Houston area, so I created an activity for them.

I was inspired by a “passport” that I found when cleaning my desk. This was from a few years back, and I am sure that they still have this, but while at the Arboretum, the had a brochure that the kids could obtain stamps from different locations around our area. I thought that maybe I could turn this into a craft project though. The kids could collect some item from different parks that we could press. We can then make a Houston nature picture from the pressings.

A press is easy to make. You could just use phone books and newspaper. Place the flower, leaf, or your find between sheets of newspaper, and then leave them in between the phone books for several days. I made a fancier version with some boards, bolts, and wing nuts. I drilled holes through each corner of two boards (drill the boards at the same time to align the holes). Use the bolts to press the boards together. I let the kids paint it to decorate it, so it built up the excitement for using it.

Now we are going to travel around the area to collect foliage and such for our press. It makes going to the various parks and natural areas around town fun. There are quite a lot of these spots; you just have to look a little.



  jenross wrote @

I am not from the Houston area but love your project. Just this morning I was blogging about the fun of being outdoors and appreciating nature with kids. A few months ago I took 2 of my kids (7 and 3 yrs) to a bird sanctuary and nature walk. I never realized this place existed until someone mentioned it – but it was so close to where we live. It was amazing to watch my son put out his hand and patiently wait for the birds to come. And when they did, his eyes lit up and he was so proud. Doing things like this gets the kids outdoors and lets them develop a real appreciation of nature. We also take the kids down to the water at low tide –they get to see all sorts of marine life. We go for local hikes –we call them adventures in the woods – and they have a blast watching for squirrels and birds. Being outside and learning about nature can be a lot of fun with kids – of any age!!

  frankschulteladbeck wrote @

Thanks Jen. You have a nice site there.

I forgot to mention some kid friendly nature areas in the city in the post, so here I go:

The Japanese Garden inside Hermann Park
The Arboretum and Memorial Park (particularly the Arboretum, which is just next to Memorial Park)
The Park around the George Observatory (If you have a chance, go to the George Ranch next door. Take a stroll through different homes in Texas History, while being in a working ranch. There is a fee for the ranch)
The San Jancinto Battleground is letting more areas of the park go wild, so you can see what the conditions where like during the battle
Up in Spring you will find the Mercer Arboretum (this arboretum is a collection of different plants from around the world, instead of an area left as it would be naturally(the park with play equipment is free, but there is a charge for the arboretum)
One Sunday a month the Bayou Bend Collection is free thanks to KUHF- a lot of fun for kids and adults, but check out the gardens
Going south to Alvin you will find bee keepers and winemakers, but stop at Froberg Farms to pick your own vegetables. You just have to pay for the produce.
Moving further south, spend some time at the state park on Galveston Island. The Park faces the coast, and it is a good look at the natural state of the island.

That covers north, south, east, and west. I try to stick with mainly free areas that offer something more to the little ones. Once the kids are into it, take some day trips to the state parks just outside of the city. I love the parks with a historic bent, like Washington-on-the-Brazos, Texas’ first capitol.

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