Little Picassos

How you can turn your little treasure hunter into a scientist!

Ben loves being outside. So much that he smuggles as many pieces of the outdoors inside. I empty his pockets (and stroller) at the front door and find rocks, leaves, and sticks. Some of the little treasures are so interesting, but I’m not about to keep a bunch of leaves.

Or am I?

This activity counts on a bit of mama leg work, but will make for a cool sensory and discovery object for your Little Picasso (or Little Scientist) to enjoy. Science discovery can start by creating your very own slide specimen — toddler size.

Activity: Treasure Traps

– Natural treasures (Leaves, flowers, small sticks and pebbles)
– Popsicle sticks
– Hot glue or white glue
– Clear acetate ( I got a box from Staples)
– String
– Markers
– Scissors
– Sharpie marker

All Set? Time to get to steppin’!

Step 1.
Adventure Time

On your next outdoor adventure bring a small basket or bag for your Little Picasso to collect treasures in. Leafs, flowers, twigs, and pebbles — all shapes and sizes. These specimens will soon be showcased, for hours of discovery and play!

Step 2.
Size them up
When you get home, lay your clear acetate sheets flat. Use Popsicle sticks to make shapes. The shapes should be roughly the same size as (or larger than) the treasures. Carefully outline your shapes using a Sharpie. Squares and triangles work well!

Step 3.
Double up
Once you have outlined your shapes, set your Popsicle sticks aside. Take a second sheet of acetate and lay it on top of the outlined sheet. Trace your shapes again on the fresh sheet. Cut them out. You will end up with two of each shape.

Step 4.
Trap the treasure
Take your acetate shapes and lay them all out, pairing them up. Place one or more leaf, flower or twig on one piece of the acetate — leaving it’s pair free. Carefully, add a boarder of glue around the outside of the acetate, leaving the leaf in its desired spot. And then place the second piece of acetate on top of the glued one.

Step 5.
Popsicle boarder time!
Grab those Popsicle sticks! Carefully glue them around your acetate shape, creating a window for that treasure. Once you have completed one side, turn it over and do the same on the other. Both sizes should have a Popsicle shape border.

Step 6.
Fancy it up
Now is the time you can bring your Little Picasso to table. Invite them to colour the Popsicle sticks with markers, or cover them with stickers. Add a string and hang them in a window, it will act as a light box. Point out the different things you see in the leaf or flower.

Your new Treasure Traps can lead to all sorts of activities. Invite your Little Picasso to draw their leaf on a piece of paper by looking at their treasure for reference.  Or you can create a series of Treasure Traps for a counting game. Over time you will be able to watch the leaf or flower age, encourage your Little Scientist to ask questions!

Happy Creating!

Have you had a chance to check out The Very Hangry Toddler or Fun with Stamps?

I’m Char, Mike’s wife and Ben’s mama. We live in the east end and love long walks on the beach with our spunky wiener dog Sammie. My weeks often straddle a fine line as a stay-at-home mama, while hustling as an arts educator and freelance content writer/ illustrator. If you’re looking for me, I’ll be under the pile of laundry with my toddler, prepping materials for my next art workshop.

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