Short lengths of elder are ideal for jewelry making as the central pith is easily removed with a skewer or tent peg. Children can peel off the bark (use pen knives for older children, potato peelers for younger ones), then thread and decorate them.
Fairly large pieces of clay for each child (needs to be fairly easy to knead and mould – play dough or bread dough might be easier for younger children). Bag for each child to collect natural materials. Hand washing facilities!
1 hour (depending on length of walk) including gathering materials, making model and looking at the finished creatures. Extension activities like Story telling could make this longer.
Introduce the activity by talking about and searching for the variety of minibeasts found in the woods. It could be linked to teaching about habitats.
Explain that they are going to make models of giant minbeasts. They can choose to make minibeasts like those they have just found – or perhaps to imagining an extinct giant minibeast that might have lived in the woods along time ago. Imagine a minibeast Jurassic Park!
If the children are familiar with their site let them explore it, and gather natural materials that could be used with the clay to make their creature. Give them some examples of the sort of materials that could be useful such as nuts for eyes, moss for hair and encourage them to dig in the leaf litter to find suitable materials.
Encourage them to find a suitable location where they can settle their model as it is made – on a tree branch, in a hollow, on a stone so that the others can find them. Each child can make their own model or they may prefer to work in small groups. They could make different stages in the life cycle of one creature or a whole family of them.
Then walk through the woods together spotting all the strange creatures. Are they camouflaged? Encourage each child to tell something of their creature’s story – its name, where it comes from etc.
They may enjoy making ‘mini-shelters’ for their minibeasts using natural materials found close by. Discuss what minibeasts might need to survive in the woodland, by day and night.
An alternative to making the giant minibeasts is to make goblins using a stick for the body and making the head from clay or dough which is then decorated with natural materials to make features, hair etc. They look very effective hung in the trees.
Simple but striking ‘Tree spirits’ can be made from clay. Mould the clay into a flat face shape in the palm of the hand and gouge out the features with twigs or fingers to make simple faces that can be stuck onto the trees.