Smelting and melting…

Last week we embarked on two Wild Days Out with a difference, exploring autumn and the changing seasons through alchemy and art. In particular, we had a go at smelting pewter with the older children and wax with the younger ones, pouring the molten metal and wax into molds made out play-doh which we had pressed natural finds such as acorns, sycamore seeds and pine cones in to. The results were fantastic!

On both days we began with a forage in search of natural treasures, gathering up firewood on the way.

We found time to pop into Ivy North Hide and Harry made a note of all the birds we were spotting in the hide diary.

After collecting lots of different seeds and leaves, we headed into willow wood and laid the fire. We used play-doh to make a mold of our natural finds then sat it on the edge of the fire surround. Once the pewter shot had melted we carefully poured it over the mold then left it to cool before popping it out of the mould and into a bucket of water to finish cooling off and be cleaned of any last play-doh residue.

The pewter creations, once wiped clean looked fantastic and the children were all thrilled with the results. The acorns in their cups and pine cones worked particularly well:

With the younger children, we swapped the pewter for wax, melting it in a pan over the fire before decanting it using the spoons into their molds:

Wax objects in their play doh moulds

Wax objects cooling off in thir play-doh molds

The wax objects came out just as well, but the play-doh was a bit harder to peel off from the blackberries and pine cones!

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Wax pine cone and blackberry, needing a little more cleaning to remove the play-doh…

Whilst we out experimenting, we did some leaf bashing, Toby made a rush boat, went in search of minibeasts and generally embraced just how muddy the clay pit and the area in general had become…

We had two great days, I’m not sure who enjoyed experimenting with pewter and wax the most, us or them, but they were all very happy with their creations and keen to make more! We will definitely do it again…

Oh Christmas Tree!

On Monday our Wildlife Tots got into the festive spirit, making willow wreaths and decorating them with natural treasures collected on the reserve. We began with our usual indoor craft activity, creating hand and finger painted reindeer and indulging our inner sparkle, decorating simple willow stars with glitter. It was messy!

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It was then time to head off to the woodland, in search of the smallest Christmas Tree, gathering natural items such as seed heads, bracken, leaves and birch twigs as we went which would be used to decorate our willow wreaths.

On arriving at the woodland log circle we embarked on a brightly coloured bauble hunt to decorate our tiny tree with, and the Tots were very good at hanging them on. With the baubles, a star on top and some lights our tree looked much happier!

Usually we visit the woodland in the summer, when the nettles are taller than the Tots and surround us, so Douglas couldn’t resist exploring and having a peak over the bank to see just what was on the other side. Now is the right time of year to take a look!

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We then set about making simple hoop shapes out of willow, binding our natural treasures to them with wool and ribbon to turn them into fabulous festive wreaths:

Here are just a few of our finished creations, they did a grand job!

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Thank you Wildlife Tots for another lovely day!