We’re so lucky to live in Southern California where most days are sunny and beautiful, granted we’re having one of the worst droughts in history, but that’s a story for another blog. Here, take a look at this beautiful art we created from cactus wood, wire and beads. I’ve often walked into Reggio style classrooms and seen this kind of wood as the basis for mobiles and sculptures. It always struck me as so beautiful, so when I saw a few pieces of cactus wood for sale at the Long Beach Flea Market, I went for it. It was the end of the day so I got this long piece for 5 dollars, originally she wanted 15. Score. I love mixing art materials with nature and this beading activity is no exception.
I set up the cactus wood on our art table in the playhouse next to a shell filled with wooden beads. I had prepared some cut up pieces of thick wire and started poking them through the wood. Gigi quickly joined in. We did the beading together at first and then she just took over. The most interesting part was when she discovered she could fit the beads into the crevices of the wood. She loved that part! It was like they were hiding. Now, I’m aware that most people don’t have old cactus wood laying around their house. Please don’t dismiss this activity. You could easily substitute it with cardboard and poke some holes in it or styrofoam, or even a pile of large rocks. Anything that has little crevices to put the wire would work great.
An activity like this is beneficial in many ways. It develops fine motor skills and hand eye coordination. It introduces new vocabulary; cactus, wood, wire, nature, shells etc. It encourages decision making; Where should I put this bead? Do I want to create a pattern? What pattern do I want to create? Do these beads fit in the holes? Do all the beads fit in the holes? Also, it shows that objects found in nature are important and can have more than one purpose. Open ended art with interesting materials helps to build confidence and my personal favorite, outside the box thinking. Try it! You’ll like it.
Nature is often an inspiration in our learning and creating. If you like this idea I invite you to check out this nature wall idea that my kids loved.