Ladybug loves collecting items outside; leaves, rocks, sticks, etc. Nature based scavenger hunts are one of her favorite activities! Autumn brought the opportunity to gather acorns. Fall came quickly in TN this year and many of the acorns had already developed beyond their “prime” and started to separate from their caps. Ladybug had a blast filling her bucket with acorns and acorn caps. She was fascinated by the acorn caps and thought they looked like little hats. I think they look like little brown flowers. She spent almost twenty minutes – an eternity for my two year old – moving acorns in and out of acorn caps. Watching her move acorns from one acorn cap to another, inspired me to create an acorn wreathe with her help!
The craft itself allowed for lots of “toddler” help:
- collecting acorns and acorn caps
- sorting acorns and acorn caps
- soaking and washing the acorns
- transferring acorns to a baking pan
- placing acorns inside acorn caps
- Acorn caps
- Styrofoam wreath or disc
- Hot Glue Gun
***You will need access to a sink, bowl, colander, baking sheet (preferably with a lip), and an oven.
Step 1: Collect acorns and acorn caps. When in a pinch your husband’s upside down ball cap will work wonderfully as a container!
Step 2: Have your toddler sort acorns from acorn hats. If you collect like we do, you may also need to remove some sticks, leaf parts, and a variety of other unidentified park particles.
Cleaning the acorns, removing those that are damaged or have holes, and baking them helps eliminate having acorns containing insect larvae from making it into your craft.
Step 3: Soak/wash the acorns in a big bowl of water. Ladybug was all over filling the bowl with water and moving them around. Hello sensory fun!
Step 5: Place the acorns on a baking sheet (use one with a lip to keep them from rolling off!) and bake the acorns at ~200 degrees Fahrenheit for 1.5-2 hours. Leaving the oven door open slightly will help the moisture escape the acorns.
At our house we coincided this less than exciting part of the project with nap time. Notice the toddler costume change in the following pictures 😉
Step 6: Remove the acorns and allow them to cool. Have your toddler gather the cooled acorns back up into another container. Please note that baking acorns this way may darken any light colored acorns and turn any green ones brown.
Step 7: Use a hot glue gun to attach acorn caps to the Styrofoam disc or wreath. I decided to build the wreath around the feet of our Mary statue for our celebration table. I used a Styrofoam disc and cut out a section to fit around the statue. The disc was flat as opposed to rounded like many of the wreaths and thus, I was able to more securely attach the acorn hats. I found that placing the statue on a small can helped me reach the lower portions of the wreath.
Step 8: Have your toddler place acorns inside the acorn caps to complete the craft. I placed a dab of hot glue inside each cap and then had her place the acorn. We saved some acorns and acorn caps for her to play with independent of the finished craft.
We placed our finished acorn wreath on our Celebration Table!
This was our first “real” craft together and she has taken such pride in the finished product. She shows it off to Daddy and GramB all the time. She has also started asking to do “more crafting with Mama,” which brings so much joy to this Mama’s heart!
What was the first craft you did with your toddler?