Creative Ideas for Children: Clay Lizards at Franklin Park Conservatory

Creative pursuits that also involve learning about the natural world are a fun way to introduce children to biology, horticulture, and natural history.

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus, Ohio announced on Thursday, April 27, the construction of the Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden. Scheduled to open in May of 2018, the garden will feature fourteen interactive garden experiences highlighting elements of Ohio’s landscape. Jim King, Senior Vice President, Investor Relations & Corporate Affairs & Chief Communications Officer, Scotts Miracle-Gro, addressed investors and community members at the groundbreaking. He mentioned Richard Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, and said that the Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden will provide nature exploration experiences to visiting children and their families.

In keeping with the Children’s Garden mission, FPC educators provided nature-themed activities for children while their parents enjoyed a reception following the groundbreaking event. After mingling a bit, I naturally headed for the children’s area to check out the arts and crafts.

One station provided patterns, clay, buttons, and beads for children to form into lizard sculptures. The lizard outline is printed on heavy paper and laminated. Waxed paper is taped over the laminated pattern, and children form the lizard shape by following the outline beneath as they press clay onto the waxed paper. When the lizard shapes are complete, the young artists decorate their creations as desired by pushing buttons and beads into the clay. I made a sample. The FPC educators used Crayola Air-Dry Clay,  but any non-toxic modeling clay or dough would work. I found my lizard to be quite fragile after drying, but a little white glue yielded easy repairs. This project would go well with lessons about creatures that live in woods and gardens. Do you know a youngster who would enjoy this fun and educational craft?

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