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Have fun in the outdoors with our favorite nature-themed crafts:

Bug Vacuum

Bugs are fun to watch, but not everyone likes to pick them up. Here's a handy tool, called a pooter, that lets you vacuum the critters into a collection jar without hurting them.

What you'll need

  • Clear jar with a tight lid
  • 2 feet of flexible plastic tubing, about 1/4 inch diameter, available at hardware stores and aquarium shops. (Plastic tubing works best, but you may substitute 2 flexible drinking straws.)
  • Small square of gauze, panty hose or cheesecloth
  • Rubber band
  • Hot glue or other sealant

What to Do

  1. Make two holes in the lid of the jar. The holes should be just big enough to fit the tubing.
  2. Cover one end of the tubing with gauze and fasten with a rubber band. Cut the tubing in half.
  3. Insert the tubes into the lid so that the gauze-covered end goes inside the jar. Use hot glue or other sealant to fill in around the holes.
  4. To use the vacuum, suck on the tube that is covered with gauze.
  5. Place the open end of the other tube close to an insect. As you suck, the insect will be drawn into the jar. (The gauze will keep it from going up the other tube and into your mouth! You may wish to mark the tube that you suck on by wrapping a rubber band around it.)
  6. Once you have caught some bugs, study them with a magnifying glass before releasing them back into the wild.

Adapted from Ranger Rick® magazine.

Firefly Fun

Imagine a perfect summer evening. Dewy grass tickles your bare feet. Stars twinkle overhead, and flashing fireflies are everywhere, lighting up the trees and grass like Christmas! Look for them while on your campout:

Watch the Light Show. Look for males flashing as they fly and females twinkling in one place. See if you can figure out their flash patterns. Are they all one species or several different ones?

Talk Back. Using a small flashlight, try imitating the patterns you see. If you flash the male's pattern, a female may flash back. Try the female's response; you may lure a male right to your fingertips!

Catch and Release. For a close-up look, catch a few fireflies in a jar. Check them out and then let them go, of course.

Be Firefly-Friendly. Make your backyard a good habitat for fireflies:

  • Turn off bright outdoor lights, which "drown out" fireflies' messages
  • Avoid lawn chemicals
  • Plant trees, shrubs, and grasses to provide places for the beetles to rest and hide
  • Then sit back and enjoy the light show!

By Kate Hofmann
Adapted from Ranger Rick® magazine.

Pine Cone Bird Feeder

Pinecone craftSupplies:

  • Pine cone
  • Paper plate
  • Butter knife
  • Smooth peanut butter
  • Birdseed
  • Ribbon or yarn
  • Scissors


  1. Cut a long length of yarn or ribbon to use to hang the bird feeder.
  2. Tie the ribbon in a knot around the pine cone near the top (about 3 sections down).
  3. Tie a knot in the end of the ribbon.
  4. Use the knife to get a large clump of peanut butter on the paper plate.
  5. Use the knife to spread peanut butter inside the pine cone and around the edges.
  6. Sprinkle the birdseed over the pine cone.
  7. Roll the pine cone in the birdseed that collected on the plate.
  8. Hang the bird feeder on the tree.
  9. Enjoy watching the birds eat their treat!

Pet Rocks


  • Rocks or pebbles (cleaned)
  • Glue gun
  • Paint
  • Brushes
  • Eyes, pipe cleaners, ribbon, markers, yarn, etc.
  • Acrylic varnish or other shiny finish (optional)


  1. Using a few rocks and pebbles, make an animal shape. Be creative!
  2. Glue the rocks together and cool.
  3. Paint the rocks. Let them dry.
  4. Add eyes and other features using markers. Apply the acrylic varnish if you want a shiny finish.
  5. Glue on eyes, pipe cleaners, ribbons, yarn, etc.

Rock Necklace

Use a rock collected from a special place or during a special outing.


  • Rock
  • #20 Hemp
  • Low Temp Glue Gun or white glue


  1. Cut a 1 yard piece of hemp.
  2. Attach to the back of the rock with a glue gun.
  3. Wrap hemp several times around rock, securing as necessary with glue.
  4. Tie ends together to form a necklace.

Rustic Stick Frame


  • 12 Sticks
  • Low Temp Glue Gun or white glue
  • Twine


  1. Gather sticks from your backyard or a walk in the woods. Look for straight sticks from 1/4" to 1/2" thick.
  2. Strip off any leaves or branches and break 6 of the sticks to 11" length. Break the other 6 to 9" length.
  3. Arrange the sticks to form your picture frame using a glue gun to tack the sticks in place. Wrap the four corners with twine and glue the ends in place on the back. 
  4. Trim your photo to fit. Glue to back of frame at corners. Cut and glue a 6" piece of twine to the back of photo for hanging.



  • Plastic 2 liter soda bottle with cap
  • Very sharp scissors or craft knife
  • Dirt or potting soil
  • Seeds
  • Water
  • Permanent black marker


  1. Remove the label from the bottle. Discard label. Save cap!
  2. Wash and rinse out the bottle and cap.
  3. Cut the bottle close to the bottom. I found a "line" about at the end of the label and cut there. You can cut it higher if you wish.
  4. Lightly place dirt or potting soil in the base.
  5. Plant a few seeds in the dirt.
  6. Lightly water.
  7. Put the cap on the bottle.
  8. Cover the base with the top of the bottle. You will have to fiddle with it a bit to fit back inside the base.
  9. Place in a sunny spot and watch for your seeds to grow.
  10. When the plants are ready, repot them or plant them in your garden.
  11. Enjoy!

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