by Reece Wells
GUESTS TO STEAMBOAT come for the winters but stay for the summers. Opportunities for outdoor recreation abound but what about the creative child looking to find a home in the wilderness? As a parent or grandparent, how do you get kids outside exploring and creating in nature? Yampatika, a non-profit organization inspiring environmental stewardship through education, has a few suggestions for turning the Yampa Valley into an artist’s paradise.
ZERO WASTE PAINT BRUSHES
Let children explore their artistic side by creating their very own nature paint brush! This is a great activity for close to home or on a hike. Look for sticks, leaves, pieces of grass, pine needles, flowers, pinecones, seed pods, or any other natural found object to create the paintbrush bristles. Tie on the natural found objects to various sticks with string or a rubber band.
Once the paintbrush has been created, dip the bristles into some paint, and voila! Explore how different materials make different kinds of brushstrokes. See how many different materials work!
CAN YOU BUILD LIKE A BIRD?
Birds are great architects. Their dwellings are complex structures. For inspiration for nest building, walk around the neighborhood or visit one of Steamboat’s hiking trails and look for bird nests. If you find one, be sure to observe quietly from a distance! See if you can figure out what it is made out of. Make observations about the shape, size, and location.
How do birds build these incredible homes? They don’t even have hands! They use their beaks to gather and collect materials, and their beaks, feet, and even their bellies to create the nest. This process might take a few days or weeks to build. To test out your own nest making skills, collect items in nature like long grasses, twigs, and a bit of mud and try to build a nest! Be patient. Birds have been doing this a long time but it is brand new to you. Start with a few pieces and experiment with how dried mud can hold grasses and twigs together. Remember, birds don’t build a nest in a single day. By building nests we can better understand how incredible birds are and what works of art