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Intergenerational Crafting – Pomanders

Think Yuletide decorations from nature and handcrafted gifts to welcome the New Year, then gather family and friends, adults and children alike, around a table, sip hot cider, and make pomanders. These clove-studded fruits, dating from medieval times, came to Europe from the Middle East.

Traditionally the surface of the fruit is tightly covered in cloves, and once dry, the pomanders last for years. That said, I have seen contemporary arrangements using partially clove studded oranges and even grapefruits. These are short-lived but attractive variations on an ancient craft.

You can use apples, lemons, limes, oranges, even tangerines if the skin is smooth and thin. Select small fruit, and inspect to insure it’s intact, with no bruises or nicks. Use a sturdy toothpick, a bamboo skewer, a large embroidery needle or a thin knitting needle to punch holes in the fruit and insert a whole clove in each hole. As you go along, you can weave metallic thread among the cloves or use narrow ribbon or braid to embellish the pomander, either inserting the cloves through the ribbon or placing cloves along the edges. Tie a bow at the top or make a loop for hanging, if you like.

For best results, plan to finish what you start before moving on to something else. I speak from experience. Last year I started a lemon, divided its surface vertically into quarters with an open weave gold braid and filled in the spaces with cloves. Next I added a row of cloves between the original rows. That’s when I ran out of time and set the project aside, not realizing the fruit would begin to dry and harden immediately, making coming back later and adding more cloves out of the question. The exposed skin turned brown as the lemon dried but my first pomander remains fragrant and firm after a year.

 PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play


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Physical Activity Enhances Creativity

Recently I read that research shows physical activity enhances creativity. That’s yet another reason for getting up and getting moving. The arrival of autumn with its cooler, crisp, sunny days invites us to get outdoors and be physically active. Rain gutters need cleaning. Falling leaves need raking. Summer gardens need tilling and mulching. If you live in a place with mild winter tepmeratures, now’s the time for planting a winter garden. All these activities get our bodies moving and our creative juices flowing.

Taking a walk is my favorite year round outdoor activity, and autumn my favorite season for walking. After the high heat of summer, the cooler, crisp air is invigorating, and I cannot resist its invitation to come out, walk around, and take notice of all the changes the season brings. For one, I have to walk earlier. Since the autumnal equinox, our hours of darkness have increased, and soon “falling back” will find us shrouded in darkness even earlier in the day.

For another, trees are taking on their fall colors and leaves beginning to fall. I like the sights and sounds of these transitions~ the reds, oranges, and yellows brightening the leaves on the trees and the crunching of fallen ones underfoot. This is the perfect season for taking walks and spending time with our children celebrating the season through creative use of natural materials.

Grab a pail and take a walk. Gather interesting objects along the way: acorns, nuts, leaves, bark, sticks~anything that captures your attention and imagination. Afterwards use what you found to be creative. Glue, trace, rub, paint.

For rubbings, use a variety of different leaves and an array of bright colors. Place a leaf on a smooth tabletop and cover it with a sheet of thin paper. Take a crayon and rub the paper. Do this with a leaf from each species. This activity provides an opportunity to talk about similarities and differences, not only among the leaves but among the trees themselves~their bark, their height and girth. Naming the leaves and labeling the rubbings enhances the experience and may lead to a trip to the library to learn more.

For more nature inspired seasonal crafts, stay tuned. We’ll be sharing more ideas in the weeks ahead. We’re always eager to hear from our readers, and invite you to share “recipes” and pictures of your favorite seasonal creative activities for children.

PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play