Friendly Forest festivities report

For the last two weekends I have been volunteering at the Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium for the center's annual Halloween event, Friendly Forest.

The property is decked with Halloween decorations as the center welcomes younger visitors and their families to trick or treat and spend the day doing eco-crafts and playing Halloween themed games.

Armed with two volunteers, I helped kids create butterfly mosaics using craft foam. The activity was fast, fun and simple...all the makings of a perfect take-away craft.

Here are examples of some of the butterflies that came out of the project, but were sadly left behind. The robot in the bottom left hand corner was created on the fly after receiving a few protests from boys who apparently believe that butterflies are for girls. (Don't tell that to all the male Lepidopterists out there!)

Our craft tables were packed throughout the day and we went through over 300 butterfly templates.

Butterfly mosaics craft table
Butterfly mosaics craft table
Butterfly mosaics craft table
Butterfly mosaics craft table
There center's Junior Naturalists and a venomous snake expert were on hand with live animals throughout the day.

Here is the center's little alligator Spaz visiting with some kids as they completed butterflies at my table.

Kids visiting with Spaz, an American Alligator

I was captivated by Spaz's eye. A fine example of Mother Nature's art!

Spaz - American Alligator
Later in the day my son and Melinda, Calusa's Wildlife Director, fed the center's large American Alligators raw chicken in front of visitors. Feeding time is always a bit hit and a chance to remind visitors NOT to feed wild animals, especially ones that have giant teeth.

You can see the large male alligator, Al, in the center of the photo. I wasn't able to get closer to him, for obvious reasons. 

One of the most interesting aspects of volunteering with the kids was watching how they approached mosaicing. All of them had little to no experience with mosaic art and I was amazed at how each one seemed to have their own individual style.

Many of the styles mimicked the approaches of  "real life" mosaic artists that I know.

There were a bunch of kids that used triangle tiles to fill in the design...

And there were lots of kids that stacked the foam tiles to create a pattern...

It was refreshing to see creative thinking that was not tainted by education or adult instruction. They hadn't read any of the how-to books and therefore didn't know that they were doing it "wrong". So strange (and unfortunate) how kids brilliant ideas are squashed by those that "know better".

I've made myself a promise to not teach the creativity out of any of the kids that take my mosaic classes. No rules = right.

1 comment:

  1. how cool! looks like a really fun time!


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