Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Holidaze: 15 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day!

In honor of Earth Day (this Monday, April 22nd), we thought it would be fun to round up our favorite "greenish" arts, crafts and local activities to share as celebration ideas. How are we going to celebrate? Well, I just asked mom to put together an Earth Day bath (like our Valentines one), so that should be interesting. And we're hoping for some nice weather to get out, stretch our legs and gather more natural materials for a little project we've got in the works. What are YOU going to do?

No plans? Well, try one of these on for size ...

1.  Go for a "hike." We use the term "hike" loosely because we really go more on walks, with lots of snacks. A few of our local favorites are Potomac Overlook Park, Patuxent Research Center, Riverbend Park, Winkler Botanical Preserve and Theodore Roosevelt Island. The Natural Capitol blog is also a good resource for "getting outside, inside the beltway."

2.  Check out a nature center. Some of these places are a tad depressing, but several offer cool opportunities to see local animals and a nice spot to chill if it's hot out (and usually BATHROOMS). The first three hiking spots mentioned above all have nature centers (Patuxent is probably the most impressive), but we also like Long Branch Nature Center and, although we haven't been to the actual nature center yet, we hear Watkins Regional Park has a good one too (we heart everything else that place has to offer as well).

3.  Explore other great outdoor spots. While these aren't nature centers and don't really offer what we consider real hiking, they'll still get you enjoying the great outdoors. Our top spots include the National Arboretum (really almost qualifies as hiking by our standards), Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens (get there early before it gets too hot), Brookside Gardens, Mount Vernon, and River Farm (which has a really great children's garden).

4.  Play Nature I-Spy. Our attempt to play this locally in our 'hood spawned a slightly different version of Urban I-Spy (which you can download), but either way it gets you out and about looking for nature.

5.  Upcycle an old milk or juice container into a bird feeder. We loved making these and watching the birds fend off the goods from squirrels. For the record, I would not F with a city bird.

6.  Make jeweled acorn caps. No idea why we were able to find so many of these recently, but if we could, we're sure you could too. In case you missed it this week, you can find our "tutorial" here.

7. If the weather is warm, use an old plastic bottle to make a fun sprinkler. All you need is an old bottle, a hose and some duct tape. If that's not a recipe for a good time, I don't know what is.

8. Use natural stamps to make great modern prints. We've gone the citrus route, stamped onions, and made cute apple prints too. The options are endless.

9. Get yourself some photosensitive paper and make nature prints. Half the fun is looking for good natural objects to use and the prints develop quickly, which is good for impatient artists. You can check out how we made ours, but we've also heard that simply using dark construction paper will work too (although it takes longer).

10. Don't throw out your art scraps! Use them for collaging on cardboard (so don't throw out all those boxes either!). You can see our favorite collage materials here.

11. If you're lucky enough to be near a beach, collect some shells for painting. Watercolors are our favorite thing to use (but not washable watercolors, which don't stay great). On our trip to the eastern shore last year, we painted about a million and a half oyster shells.

12. Experiment with science! We've been conducting all kinds of experiments (click here), including many that use simple things you've got around the house.

13. Use recycled cardboard for marble painting. We've used old paper towel rolls for this in the past, but we've also seen people use cardboard boxes to make neat modern art prints.

14. Save your egg cartons and spin up a beautiful set of cardboard flowers (also handy for Mother's Day, which is right around the corner). I mean, you don't really use your salad spinner for making salad, do you? See how we made ours.

15. Roll a rainbow. When you're done making marble prints, use that paper towel roll again and make a colorful rainbow. You can see ours here.

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