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Does your child like to stuff rocks in their pockets at the park or carry sticks around in the woods? If so this project is perfect for your little collector. If that’s not a habit of your child/children then these Diptych Nature Collages give you a great excuse to take a hike in the woods, go for a walk on the beach, or scavenge your neighborhood park for interesting nature items. If you don’t have time to get out and about you can probably find amazing things right outside your front door. This is a wonderful opportunity to get low to the ground, explore your surroundings and get creative with what nature provides.
Materials List:

  • 2 cardboard pieces roughly the same size (if you don’t want to do a dyptich you can stick with one)
  • nature items collected in your yard, a park, at the beach, or on a walk in your neighborhood (we used cedar rose cones, drift wood, dried seaweed, bark chips, Eucalyptus pods, sticks, red tree berries, dried leaves and corn)
  • white glue
  • paint (we used metallic activity paint from Discount School Supplies)
  • brushes
  • tin foil
  • trays or cookie sheet

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I set up a buffet of boxes with sorted nature items and invited each student to choose items that spoke to them. Each child had a collection tray to hold their items.
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Several of my classes are a blend of ages that range from three to nine years old. Students four years and older were given the opportunity to try a Cool Shot glue gun. My toddlers and any older students not interested in the glue gun used white school glue.
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I have to say I have mixed feelings about the Cool Shot. For safety reasons it’s wonderful. It maintains a lower heat than a low-temp glue gun and the metal tips is almost completely covered. When the glue comes out it’s not too hot so there is very little chance of getting burnt. However because it’s operating at such a low temperature it takes a very firm squeeze which is difficult for little hands. You also have to work quickly because the glue is already on it’s way to drying. Even with the challenges of working this tool I had many students excited to use the glue gun. We found it was best to work in tandem with their caregiver to figure out the right angle for larger objects and add new glue sticks.
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Since we were working with 3-D objects with textured surface area I asked all my white glue users to squeeze their hearts out. Kids love to squeeze glue so they were thrilled by this invitation to be liberal with the glue.
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Since it was the smallest item and good for filling in or sprinkling on top and young children get lost in the sensory experience I offered the corn last.
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You will notice that I use tin foil under the cardboard and on top of the tray. The tin foil captures any overflowing glue and is easier to peel off when the glue is finally dry than paper.
Painting was the final step. We used an amazing set of Metallic Paint from Discount School Supplies. Some students enjoyed painting the cardboard background, some painted the nature items in the foreground, some a little of both. Parents were very skeptical about painting on top of wet glue and shifting objects but at the end all the items found homeostasis and the dried product was stunning!

AutumnNatureCollage8In the current art world ‘diptych’ refers to a finished piece made out of two panels. A three panel piece would by called a Triptych. I value incorporating fine art elements, concepts, and techniques into my projects even when they air on craft.

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I love these finished Diptych Nature Collages!

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The piece below was made by a two year old and has a special hidden surprise, can you see it? YES, the paintbrush! I loved how the paintbrush was truly part of the  final composition so we sacrificed it and left it as part of the art.
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