Thank you for visiting the home blog of Caliso Learning, a natural science-based business celebrating the beauty and ecology of our natural environments. Our goal is to connect you and your family with nature--actually, we want you to fall in LOVE with nature!

Here you will find nature-inspired articles and posts, family activities, personal stories, resources, and more--all with the goal to connect you with the benefits of nature for family fun and inspiration! Please enjoy and let us know what you like :) Follow us on Facebook for even more resources, more frequently!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sun Painting

 A great project to try for celebrating the beginning of summer is sun painting. You can usually find sun painting kits, sun-sensitive papers & paints online or in nature, craft, and educational catalogs and stores. But for this post we went “old school,” simply using dark construction paper (avoiding fade resistent/archival papers).

Do you recognize any of
the objects we used?
By experimenting with junk drawer items along with objects found in nature and in my son’s toy box, we enjoyed an easy, mess-free activity. Creative play emerges when you begin to arrange your items in patterns, themes, radial designs, or if you decide to cut out paper snowflakes or other designs to lay atop the dark paper.
  • Dark colored construction paper
  • Natural objects (leaves, twigs, pine cones, and so on) or household objects (scissors, keys, combs, and so on)
Easy-peezy directions:
  • Place paper outside in direct sunlight
  • Arrange objects on paper in random order, patterns, a mandala-inspired design, etc.
  • Leave objects in place for a couple of hours (make sure paper remains in sun during that time!)
  • Remove objects and admire your sun painting creation!
  • The flatter the object lays, the crisper the image it will leave behind.
  • Use small rocks or other weighted items to hold objects flat or in place, but watch for any shadow they might create in your design.
Enjoy collecting your objects and experimenting with their layout. This is a great “background” activity to add to a summer day. My son took his afternoon nap during the couple of hours needed for our images to appear nicely. You can do this project in between seeing a movie, enjoying some pool time, taking a hike or bike ride while you wait for your sun painting.

Happy Summer Solstice!

For a "how-to" sun painting with colorful sun-sensitive paints, please see this link.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Floating Mandalas

This weekend our family enjoyed a fun day at one of our favorite local preserves, Whitewater Preserve. I manned an ongoing workshop for their 2nd Annul Water Celebration event, where participants created beautiful floating mandalas made with natural items. Using stems, sticks, leaves, petals, and blossoms visitors arranged these colorful plant elements in a variety of patterns and designs to create their own, wonderful floating mandalas. Our youngest participant was 3 only years old! Mandala creators of all ages enjoyed this relaxing activity throughout the day.

A traditional mandala is an ancient circular design which typically represents the universe. It can also be a symbolic expression to connect with the "self." For our mandalas, we were hoping participants would connect with their creative self through nature.

This is a perfect summertime activity to try at home! All you need is a bowl of water, small dish towel, plant clippers or scissors, and some plant material from your yard like: flowers (to keep whole or for petals), leaves, sticks, seed pods, lightweight bark, etc. Anything natural that you discover will float! Experiment with different ways to use your materials, some of our participants ripped up petals into tiny pieces of "floral confetti" that added a delicate touch to their designs. Sticks were used in many different ways to add visual lines, accents, floral rafts, bridges, barriers and more in many designs. Even your tiniest mandala creator will be able to create something pleasing to the eye, not to mention have a great time playing with these treasures in the water!

Here are the mandalas created throughout the day (click photos for larger images):