Nature Curtain Activity for Kids
What is a nature curtain? A living, community creation designed to celebrate the wonders that abound in a shared space.
How did we start making them? We needed to an activity to captivate a mixed age group.
Entertaining a group of kids of varying ages can feel intimidating. Such was our challenge one weekend away with friends, our collective broods ranging from 1 to 8 years old. But, as it turned out, all we had to do was stretch a long piece of twine between two trees, then give each kid their own piece of twine and the invitation to add treasures to it (e.g. sticks, flowers, greens, rocks, etc).
Throughout the weekend, kids collected, selected and arranged objects, decorating the strands of twine that, once hung from the long stretch, became a "nature curtain." The 1-year-old? She had a blast playing with (and taste testing) the rocks at the base of the curtain while watching her elders create.
As the weekend went on, the curtain remained a focal point of play, morphing into a stage for plays and talent shows and then, eventually a demolition site. Since that time in the mountains, this Tinkergarten community has made thousands and thousands of nature curtain, each unique, each stunning, and each an inspiration!
Hang an empty curtain.
To start a curtain, string up one long piece of twine between two trees or along a wall. Next, cut plenty of 2-yard pieces of twine and tie them to the long piece.
To help them hang down, tie one heavy object (e.g. stick or rock) to the bottom end of each piece.
To add treasures (e.g. leaves, flowers, rocks, sticks, grasses), just un-twist a section of twine, tuck an object between the threads, then release to let it tighten back up again. Model this once or twice for kids ages 4 and up, and they should be able to do it on their own. Ask kids under 3 or 4 if they'd like to add them themselves or team up with you to attach objects.
Want a quick demo? Watch this 1 minute video
Once kids see how to add treasures, they can continue to collect, arrange and add them to the strands of the nature curtain.
Spark even more senses
Add things that clang and bang or colorful strands of ribbon, yarn or fabric to to add new textures and sounds to your curtain...and to celebrate the breeze!
Model new ideas
If you make your own strand alongside the kids, you can provide a model for how to thoughtfully arrange items without interfering with kids' independent work and expression.
Want to add some math? Make a pattern by varying the colors, textures or order of treasures you add to your strand.
Perhaps the most important things to model are any curiosity, gratitude and joy you feel as you slow down to sense each treasure.
Add wishes or thanks
Use pieces of sturdy paper (e.g. card stock or recycled cardboard) and markers or crayons to write or draw things that you love, feel grateful for or wish for the world. These ideas add even more beauty and meaning to your curtain.
Admire and share
Once the curtain is made, take time to admire it and honor the unique choices and designs that each child contributed. Somehow, nature curtains all end up looking beautiful when all is said and done.
A living thing
Keep the curtain up as long as you can. Keep adding to it. Watch to see how it changes over time. Run through it. Pretend it is the gateway to a magical world of imagination. Savor it all!
Why is this activity great for kids?
Martha Stewart has nothing on Mother Nature. Truly, nature redecorates for her guests each day, changing up colors, objects and textures. But, busy as we are, it’s easy to miss nature’s unparalleled sense of design. A nature curtain allows you to find and look more closely at nature's amazing objects and sense the magic.
For kids ages 18 months to about 5 or 6, making a nature curtain also supports the development of three universal patterns of playful learning experts know as behavioral schema
: connecting; trajectory;
A nature curtain can also be the jumping off point for rich imaginative play
. Make a curtain, and you can turn a small corner of the outdoors into a fort, a stage, a fairy house or even a doorway into a magical world.
Finally, a nature curtain is, by design, something humans of different ages and abilities can do to slow down and find wonder in the natural spaces we share. What could be better than that?!