Collect. Make. Explore. Connecting Our Children to the Natural World Through Nature Art, Outdoor Explorations, and a Natural Lifestyle. Jessica Wascak
Collect. Make. Explore. Connecting Our Children to the Natural World Through Nature Art, Outdoor Explorations, and a Natur...
CONTENTS Acknowledgments 1 Introduction 3 2 Greet the Day 4-5 3 Set the Day In Motion 6 4 Collectors 7-19 5 Makers 20-38 6 Explorers 39-50 7 Building a Bridge 51-61 8 It’s the Little Things 62-76 9 Turn Towards the Sun 77-78 About the Author 79 10 i 2
CONTENTS Acknowledgments 1  Introduction  3  2  Greet the Day  4-5  3  Set the Day In Motion  6  4  Collectors  7-19  5  M...
Collect. Make. Explore. INTRODUCTION Let me take you on a journey into the natural world. Don’t be fooled ~ we are not hiking through mountains, trekking across deserts, or sailing the high seas. In fact, most of our adventures actually play out in and around my Midwestern suburban home. Even though my young children and I rarely stray far you will be amazed by all of the magic and beauty we have discovered, sometimes right in our own backyard. This visual field guide is a sweet collection of nature art and explorations documented through the eyes of a Parent, who also happens to have the heart of an Artist. I use the basic concepts of collecting, making, and exploring to connect myself and my children to the great outdoors. This book will give you the confidence and inspiration to begin your own journey or give you a renewed sense of optimism and a shift in perception if you are already well on your way. Read on to view simple yet beautiful ways to create a more natural lifestyle for you and your family. “Somewhere something incredible is waiting to be known.” - Carl Sagan And chances are you’ve probably already been there but just forgot to open your eyes. So let’s get started and explore what we thought we already knew, again for the first time… 3
Collect. Make. Explore.  INTRODUCTION Let me take you on a journey into the natural world. Don   t be fooled   we are not ...
Jessica Wascak SET THE DAY IN MOTION Collect. Make. Explore. These concepts are at the heart of this book. Collecting can be defined as the act of gathering things from different places and bringing them together. Making involves transforming material(s) into something new. While Exploring implies experiencing something in a detailed way in order to learn more about it. The seemingly separate objects and experiences that our children collect from the natural world are in fact all pieces to the same puzzle. Once brought together they can be read as a greater whole and form a bigger picture of the world around them. If we encourage creative studies and allow the materials they collect to become products of their imagination then the learning continues as they insert themselves into the puzzle. Their creations will highlight a new way of seeing that is unique to their particular vision and this will in turn give them confidence to build their own perspective. And last but not least, if we seek out outdoor adventures, then we will tap into our children’s natural curiosity and sense of wonder for the great unknown. This sets them on the course of being open to new experiences instead of retreating in fear. Their independent discoveries will encourage them to always question and seek out answers. And most importantly instead of racing towards a destination it will help them understand the magic that can be found within the journey. Collectors. Makers. Explorers. Action words that will act as your guide. Don’t just think about what you could do – do it, and set the day in motion. 4
Jessica Wascak  SET THE DAY IN MOTION Collect. Make. Explore. These concepts are at the heart of this book. Collecting can...
Collect. Make. Explore. COLLECTORS 5
Collect. Make. Explore.  COLLECTORS  5
Jessica Wascak “And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” - Unknown Children are natural collectors. They can find endless treasures on a trip to the park, a walk around the block, or in their own back yards. When my brother was young, much to the dismay of my dad, he would gather every stick (large or small) from the neighborhood and bring them back home, amassing a huge pile outside our back door. Gathering these sticks spelled endless possibilities to him, as they were raw materials for forts, bridges, hiking sticks, and more. Now I smile as my own son always has a rock in his pocket and my daughter toddles along stopping every two seconds to bend down and pick up a leaf from the ground. They roll these objects around in their little hands and smile from ear to ear at what they have discovered. As an Artist who is endlessly fascinated by natural details myself, I am constantly leading my children on guided and independent activities involving the environment. I find that collecting things, as it comes so naturally to them anyways, is a great place to start. The experience of gathering materials and the resulting process of examination and transformation are the focus of the images on the pages ahead. 6
Jessica Wascak          And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.    - Unknown  Children are natural col...
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Collect. Make. Explore.    7
Jessica Wascak The focus, the determination, the sheer fascination that children get from interacting with their environment is amazing. There is something so pure about this tactile experience. They are curious so let them explore. Yes, we watch and keep them out of harms way, especially at a young age. But giving them the freedom to get their hands dirty and make their own discoveries helps them understand their relationship with this earth and their role in taking care of it. 8
Jessica Wascak     The focus, the determination, the sheer fascination that children get from interacting with their envir...
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Collect. Make. Explore.    9
Jessica Wascak Many times the random objects that are picked up off the ground are examined for a moment and then tossed aside. Occasionally, we will gather objects and lay them out for a closer look. Sometimes the objects sit on the porch steps for a few weeks, or get put into a basket for the season, or in my grandfather’s old tool box for keeping them safe. We talk about the various colors, shapes, and textures that we collect and how one object compares to the next. They are often used for lining up, stacking, or burying in the sand and dirt. We can never get enough of these treasures. As the mother of a little boy, the use of a hammer is endless fun, so we got creative one day and decided to see what was inside these rocks. Using a cloth to protect us from flying pieces, we smashed the rocks apart to examine them from the inside out. Oh what fun! We looked for “fossils”, sparkles, and hidden lines and colors. We watched and smiled as each quick swing of the hammer changed our solid chunks of stone into beautiful glistening bits of rock dust. On this brisk Fall day we couldn’t stay out long but luckily this particular venture only took a few minutes to spark our imaginations. 10
Jessica Wascak     Many times the random objects that are picked up off the ground are examined for a moment and then toss...
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Collect. Make. Explore.    11
Jessica Wascak 12
Jessica Wascak    12