Creating a forest on our kitchen table

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This is the post we’ve been leading up to the last couple of days — our forest diorama! When Rashmie of Mommy Labs invited us to participate in her Forest Fiesta to celebrate World Environment Day, I couldn’t say no. It seemed especially appropriate for her to host this virtual event as she lives in Delhi, India, this year’s physical host of World Environment Day. Each participant was do a forest-related art or craft with their children.

I asked Maia if she wanted to participate (yes!) and what she wanted to do.

Her first idea was to draw bare trees “all across the room” and glue leaves on them. But she lost interest and abandoned that project. A week later I asked again, and this time she decided to build a forest on the table.

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We used our homemade playdough as stands to hold leaves, flowers, and branches collected from the garden (much as we did with our playdough volcano).

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Here’s one of the euphorbia “trees” with lavender and hydrangea trees in the background.

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And here’s a stand of heuchera blossom trees, pine trees, and azaleas. There’s a lot of diversity in this forest!

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Maia added a family picnicking in one corner, some horses at a pond (“they’re wild horses”) in another corner, and various other animals scattered around.

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Finally, she decided that the forest needed a sun, fish, butterflies, birds, worms, and logs so she drew them on paper and either cut them out herself or asked for help cutting while she drew.

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The sun was attached to the window with tape and the birds and butterflies were hung from the ceiling with yarn.

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And here’s the panoramic view. The river (a scarf from her dress up box) is populated with paper fish. The mountains in the background are stuffed (like this fish).

I love how she pulled together so many ideas and techniques to create this. My role was mostly as facilitator (hanging birds from the ceiling, helping to cut out the butterflies, finding books at the library, etc) and also a bit as cheerleader, but she really ran the show. I’m starting to realize how much she is growing up!

P.S. If we were to do this again, I’d choose a less central location so it could stay up longer. Trying to seat four for dinner around the toddler table was not ideal. We finally cleared the diorama off on day three.

Learning About the Rainforests Series

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  1. says

    I love her forest, the liveliness of it and the colours. And that bird is just super cute! :)
    Pari too used play dough to display her coffee beans and pine cones etc in the nature collage that she made.
    Maia, you and Pari will make lovely friends together! I am going to show this to her… :)
    Thank you Jean for your participation..

  2. says

    What a fab idea! I love the trees. I know what you mean about centrally located “sets” (that is what my daughter calls them). B loves to play with water animals – so she sets up 5 or 6 bowls (or oceans/rivers/lakes) around out kitchen sink. I am very happy she can now do it outside. Maybe I shouldn’t show her this post. It may generate too many ideas to run around in her head.

  3. says

    That is a fantastic idea!! And the flying birds from the ceiling are super cute :)
    And from the variety of trees in her forest I see you have a wonderful garden too:)
    We made an indoor forest too but with dirt as base, play dough seems a better/ cleaner option to do it inside.
    Thanks for inspiring as always.

  4. Amber says

    My daughter (3.5 yr) saw me looking at this post this morning. She immediately wanted to try it herself. She had so much fun picking the plants and making them into a forest then arranging her animals within it. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. says

    Facilitator is my favorite role. :) I very much enjoy seeing what kids (& people in general) can create when given the time, space, and assistance they need, but no artificially imposed limits. Maia, your forest is absolutely wonderful!

  6. Rachel says

    super fun!!!!
    btw, we just read Afternoon on the Amazon (magic tree house)… in case you haven’t read that one yet together; it’s a fun read.

  7. says

    What a great way to pull in techniques you have done in the past. I love the thought that went into every piece of her forest. BRAVO!

  8. says

    Love the mixed media and the concept of a diorama. We’re always looking for ways to incorporate outdoor elements into clay projects with our students so we’ll give this a try. Using the clay as an easy base for every kind of tree is simple but so clever. Great photos!

  9. says

    That was great – I loved the playmobil people – my daughter makes worlds like that all the time. I posted on our Facebook page.

  10. says

    Jean, a great storybook comes to mind: The Forest by Claire Nivola. It’s perfect for Maia’s age, not so much for the really little tots. Beautiful artwork and does a great job of addressing the theme of facing our fears, but told in a very gentle way.
    Congrats to Maia on a job well-done!

  11. says

    This wonderful activity brought about a very peaceful hour in our house, which is practically a miracle! Lovely fun, thanks for the idea.

  12. Esther says

    Just now came across this and absolutely love it! It is beautiful and I know my children will LOVE doing this. Thank you for the inspiration.