Leaf Printing

Using simple materials and the limitless imagination of boys, you will discover many ways to save the glories of nature for future reference.  Have everyone try the different methods and have plenty of color choices on hand.  When papers are kept the same size, each boy's collection is easily made into a flipbook.


Waxed Paper Keepers

Place some brown paper on a flat surface.  Place a leaf between two pieces of waxed paper and lay this three-piece assembly on the brown paper.  Cover with another piece of brown paper.  Press with an iron at low temperature, which will seal the edges of the waxed paper together.  This is an especially effective way to keep the colored leaves of fall.

Carbon Paper Prints

Place a piece of carbon paper, carbon facing up, on newspaper and place a leaf, vein side down, on the carbon paper.  Cover with another piece of newspaper and press for a minute or two with a warm iron.  Carefully lift the leaf and place it on a clean sheet of paper, vein side down.  Press the leaf again with a warm iron.  The leaf pattern has been transferred to the clean paper.


Inkpad Printing

Place a leaf, vein side down, on a stamp pad.  Cover it with a small piece of newspaper and rub with your fingers.  Remove the leaf and place it, inked side down, on a clean sheet of paper.  Put a clean square of newspaper over the top and rub.


Paint Printing

Brush a small amount of quick-drying acrylic paint onto a scrap of paper as large as the leaf and proceed as you would with an inkpad printing.  Try using several paint colors for a multi-colored print.

Crayon Rubbings

Lay a leaf on the table with the vein side up.  Put a clean sheet of paper over it.  Hold the leaf in place with one hand while coloring back and forth with the side of crayon until the shape of the leaf print is clearly visible.  This can become quite an art project if the shapes are designed in a nice, balanced manner.  Vary the color of the crayons.


Bark Rubbings

You can repeat the Crayon Rubbings process on tree bark.  This time take the paper and crayon to the tree.  Place the paper against the bark and color back and forth.  Try beech, pine, oak, ironwood, etc.  Compare the results, and discuss how bark can be an identifying characteristic.


Hanging Planter

You'll need a quart size detergent bottle, a larger plastic bottle, spray paint, potting soil and small nursery plants.  Cut two openings on the large faces of the detergent bottle.  They should be about 4 1/2" high and start 2 1/2" from the bottom.  Cut a 5" x 11" strip of plastic from the larger plastic bottle to serve as the roof.  Cut a hole in the center of this strip - no larger than the spout of the detergent bottle.  Place this roof over the spout, then twist the cap on.  Spray paint this.  When dry, add potting soil and plant small nursery plants inside.  Tie a string around the neck of the bottle and hang the planter


Pressed Flower Card

You'll need heavy paper, glue, tweezers, pressed flowers, felt tips and a ruler.  Collect flowers from your yard, park, forest, roadside or neighborhood.  Make sure you only take a few and never take a flower if there is only one in the ground.  Flowers that are small and delicate work best because they press flat.  Some of the prettiest ones are wildflower weeds!  Once you collect your flowers, press them between heavy books (like old phone books or catalogs).  Be sure to give the flowers a few days to press and dry out.  Cut out and design cards from the heavy paper.  Look at poetry books to get ideas of what to write inside.  When you are ready to glue the flowers to the card, put glue on the card where the flower will go.  Then use a tweezers to pick up and place the flowers on the card.  Put a clean cloth over the top and delicately press the flower down.  Continue adding flowers until you like the design.  You can make quite a few cards in one sitting.  (Note: You can also glue pressed flowers to candles and glass vases and coat them with a clear acrylic.)


You can make your own potpourri from items gathered in nature, including flower petals, seeds, herb roots, and berries or cones.  Start with flowers that are in full bloom or are very dry.  Always select flowers with a strong, rich scent, like roses, carnations, honeysuckle, lavender, lilies and some fruit tree blossoms (like orange blossoms or mock orange).  Remove flower petals and put the items on a screen to dry.  Put the screen on top of a box to improve the air circulation.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and set in a dark, dry place to air dry for a few days.  To complete the potpourri, crush the items gathered and place them in an airtight container.  Experiment with different mixtures until you have one you like.

Sticks and Stones

Collect interesting rocks and sticks.  Wash the stones thoroughly and let them dry.  Paint a picture on your stones and cover them with a coat of clear acrylic spray to protect them.  If desired, add hair, yarn, pom poms, etc.  Use epoxy cement to glue the stones to each other or to sticks.

Quick Quicksand

Take a large yogurt or cottage cheese container or bottom of a quart milk jug and cut a half-inch hole in the side near the bottom.  Cut eight half-inch slits radiating from the hole, like the spokes of a bicycle wheel.  Push a garden hose into the hole, then seal the edges around the hose as best you can with duct or wide plastic tape.  Fill the container with sand, not quite to the top -- do not pack or tamp down.  Put a rock or small, heavy toy on top of the sand and turn on the spigot so the water trickles into the container (test beforehand to determine how much of a turn of your faucet handle produces a trickle).  The sand will rise slightly as the water seeps between the grains, weakening its ability to support the toy. In other words ... quicksand!



Learn about rainbows.  Have the Cubs use water color paints to make a rainbow on white construction paper or cut out "C" shaped sections of colored construction paper.  Make sure each "C" shape fits snuggly to the next.  Then show them how a prism or a diffraction grating lens can be used to break up white light into colored light.  Discuss which color bends the most (violet).  Find out what happens when light passes through two prisms.


Rock Peepers

When studying nature, be on the lookout for unusual pieces of wood with holes in them.  Then find smooth pebbles small enough to fit into the hole.  Wash the pebbles thoroughly then paint a face on them.  Glue the pebbles into the hole, peeping out and varnish or shellac the wood.  If the hole is completely through the wood, you can decorate both the front and back.


Kitchen Bird Feeder

Dried grapefruit rinds or half coconut shells make perfect bird feeders.  Hang them from a porch or branch with string.

Leaf Wreath

Cut out the center of a paper plate.  Paint the plate with tempera on both sides and let it dry. Have the Cubs take a hike to collect leaves of different sizes, shapes and colors.  When the plate is dry, the Cubs can glue the leaves on in an interesting pattern or arrangement.  You might want to add little colored beads or buttons or small rocks in spots.  Glue on a paper clip to the back so the wreath can be hung.


Straw Blown Painting

Can you see the wind?  Maybe not, but you can see evidence of the wind.  Cover your workspace with newspaper.  Tape the corners of a clean piece of drawing paper in the center.  Place one color of water-diluted poster paint on the paper and using the straw and your own powerful lungs, blow the paint around on the paper.  Before it dries, add another color and blow it around.  Let some paint overlap or blend.  Try different blowing techniques: from the center or from the corner.


Bug Trap

You'll need one clean empty tuna can and bits of meat, fish or canned pet food for each boy.  Dig a hole just large enough for the can to fit into it up to its rim (rim even with ground surface).  Add small bits of food inside the can.  Insects will tumble into this trap and will not be able to get out.  These insects may be used to feed pets you may have that eat bugs.  Insects can also be used as bait on a fishing trip, or Cubs may use this trap to catch insects for a bug collection.

Lightning Bug Catcher

Materials: jar with a lid, hammer, nails

Punch holes in the lid using the hammer and nails.  When it gets dark outside, look for

lightning bugs and catch them in your jar.  Put the lid on the jar and watch them glow!  Have fun!  Then let the lightning bugs go after a while, and you can catch some new ones the next night!

Have the group pair off. On signal, each person is to look his partner in the eye and start buzzing.  Continue until one laughs or has to take a breath.  Each winner finds another winner until one person is the "Champion Bee."


Make A Creature Cage

Supplies: 2 empty (washed) tuna cans, Wire Screen, Scissors

Remove lids and labels from tuna cans. Make sure there are no sharp edges, then wash the cans thoroughly. Wire screen cuts easily with scissors. Cut a length of wire screen about 6 inches wide and long enough to go around the inside of the can, plus an inch. Ben the screen into a tube to fit the inside size of the cans. Fasten the screen in that shape by first stripping a few wire strands from the outside overlap edge and bending the exposed row of wire prongs inward. Then fit the prongs through the inside screen, bending the prongs over and shut. Fit the cans over each end of the screen tube to complete the bug proof CREATURE CAGE.


Log Pencil Holder

The most interesting pencil holders can be made from a section of a log.  Make sure you use only dry "downed" wood.  Don't cut a living branch for this craft.  Leave the bark on for texture.  The log can be angle cut for the top or straight cut.  The bottom has to be straight cut.  Hammer in a nail partially in different spots on the topside of the holder.  Remove the nail and make additional starter holes, space about one inch apart.  If you have a hand drill, the boys can then drill into the nail hole to make the pencil holes.  If not, an adult will have to use a power drill or drill press to make the holes.  The boys need to sand the top and the bottom cut edges.  Then glue on a piece of felt cut to the size of the bottom of the holder to prevent scratches on the furniture.


Four Seasons Tree

Find four similar sized branches with plenty of smaller branches on them.  Make one for each season.  Decorate with construction paper: new leaves, grown leaves, colored leaves, no leaves, bugs, snowflakes, etc.  Mix some plaster of Paris into a small pot or cup and insert the branches.

Take a Nature Hike

A Cub Scout hike is a walk with a purpose and the purpose of a nature hike is to take the time to look at what's always been there.  Be sure the boys are properly clothed and have suitable footwear.  Use the buddy system when hiking so you always finish your hike with the same number of boys you started with!  Some ideas for nature hikes include:

1)      Puddle Hike - No!  Don't jump into the puddle.  Look IN the puddle to see what you can find!

2)      Baby Hike - See how many babies you can find in nature.  Remember, plants have babies too!

3)      Homes Hike - Look for all the different homes in nature - webs, nests, dens, etc.

4)      Color Hike - See how many colors you can find in nature.  Is there an animal or a plant that prefers one color?

5)      Smell Hike - Stop and "smell the roses" as you hike.  Be careful though if you have any Cubs with allergies or asthma.

6)      Bark Hike - Stop to study, touch, feel and smell the bark on different types of trees.  You might even make bark rubbings to take home with you.

7)      Cloud Hike - Give each Cub a trash bag and hike to an open area.  Lay down on your trash bags and watch the clouds.  Then pick up litter on your way home

8)      Craft Hike - Collect items from nature to be used in craft projects.  Remember not to cause harm to living things though.  Take only that which is already given up by living things.

9)      Scavenger Hike - Provide the Cubs with a list of things to find or see.  Be sure you know the hike area well before making your list.

10)  Stop, Look and Listen Hike: Hike 5 minutes, then stop and discuss all that you've seen and heard.  Make at least five different stops.

11)  Penny Hike: When you come to an intersection or diverting paths, flip a penny to see which way to go.  Heads, go to the right, tails go to the left.

12)  Treasure Hike: Lay out a trail ahead of time and place a treasure at the end.


Cub Hunt

How many items can you find in your schoolyard or neighborhood?

1.      Find something wet

2.      Look for something that is moving fast.

3.      Find something green.

4.      Find something that has branches but no leaves.

5.      Find something hard.

6.      Find something brown.

7.      Look for something orange.

8.      Find something that floats.

9.      Find something pointy.

10.  Look for something with cracks.

11.  Listen for something noisy.

12.  Find something with a strong smell.

13.  Find something a deer could eat.

14.  Look for something a bird could eat.

15.  Find something with thorns.

16.  Find something slippery.

17.  Look for something soft.

18.  Find something new.

19.  Find a plant with leaves.

20.  Find something put here by people.

21.  Find something cold.

22.  Find something tall.

23.  Find something short.

24.  Find something hot.

How many items did you discover?

Did some things you find fit into more than one category?

What was your favorite thing you found today?



Making Every Hike Fun!

1.   Revel in nature.  Stop to point out interesting flowers, mushrooms, trees, clouds.  Enjoy water by tossing in pebbles, floating sticks and leaves.  Play in sand or snow or mud.  Watch frogs hop, squirrels scuttle, insects crawl, and deer stand still.

2.   Teach some geological and natural history.  Did Indians once hunt these woods?  Was the land beneath your feet once hot lava?  Did a glacier mold this valley?

3.   Answer their questions.  Why is the sky blue?  Are there Indians still here?  Will the mountain erupt like a volcano?

4.   Play games that keep you moving.  On slight inclines, play Runaway Train by running wildly to the bottom of the hill.  Continue playing by pretending your whole den is part of a train (or other vehicle).  Make the sounds and motions appropriate to that type of locomotion.

5.    Tell stories.  The adults can tell stories that are true or make up events.  Then ask the boys to help out and make their own story.

6.    Sing songs.  Take turns choosing and leading the songs.

7.    Play animals. Pick an animal and have the boys tell everything they know about it.  Then let them be that animal for a spell.

8.   Provide snacks and water.  Before you start, be sure each boy has a bottle of fresh water and a bag of some good hiking snack.


Nature Neckerchief Slides

Hot glue a pipe-cleaner ring to the backside of a 2" diameter slice of branch.  Or drill 2 holes in the slice and thread the pipe cleaner through to make the loop.  Then do one of the following:

·        Glue pieces of twigs, nuts, and pebbles to the front side.

·        Press flowers or leaves and glue to the wood.

·        Sand smooth and draw animal tracks on the slide.

·        Use a rubber stamp on the cut and sanded side, then use colored pencils to add detail.

·        Make a pattern (like a mosaic) of different seeds, corn, beans, dandelion fluff, etc.. Draw the pattern on, then apply glue to one section at a time. Sprinkle with one kind of seeds. After each section is covered, then use the next kind of seed.


Leaf Print Bandana

Materials: white bandanas or squares of white cotton material, an assortment of fresh leaves and flowers, and a rubber mallet.

Take a hike and collect fallen leaves that are still relatively fresh.  Place waxed paper under your bandana and then place a leaf or flower between the bandana and the waxed paper.  Use a rubber mallet to pound on the leaves until the color from the leaf or flower comes through the material.   Continue this way with other leaves and flowers until the entire bandana is covered.  The bandanas will be washable, but don’t use Clorox or a strong detergent when washing it.


Bird Call

Take a piece of close grained hardwood, a dowel rod from the hardwood store will do fine, about two inches long. You will also need a 'chunky' eye screw purchased at the same hardware store. Drill a hole slightly smaller than the screw threads, in the end of the block, and turn the screw eye into it. Unscrew the eye, put some powdered resin ) purchase a pitcher's resin bag at the sports store) in the hole. As you twist the screw eye back and forth in the hole, very slowly, you will make a chirp-chirp or trill in loud.
With practice, this simple device will produce an astounding variety of bird noises. If you wish, paint or decorate the bird call with marking pen designs or your own initials or other means of identification.

Friendship Stick

It is exciting to learn about animals, birds, insects, flowers, trees, soil, weather, water, and stars. Nature is everywhere all the time; in cities, in the woods, and in the fields, in the winter, spring, summer and fall. Nature is not confined by time and place, it is everywhere. The following craft idea will help you, the Cub Scout Leader, explore nature with your den.
The friendship stick is made of green wood and is a symbol of friendship. It is curved to fit the curve of the earth, symbolizing that friendship can grow just as the trees in the forest grow. The green circle at the bottom is for Faith in God and one another. It is the first ring on the stick because it is the basis of a happy, meaningful life.

The next four circles represent the races of the world-red, yellow white and black. They stand close together indicating that all people are equal. Every person is capable of being a loyal friend.
The green of Hope is above the races. This is the hope of the future-that everywhere people will try to overcome any difference of opinion and human failing.
Thus the four races are bound by faith and hope, the path leading toward a central goal signifying the attachment of this unity.
The Cross and Star of David are symbols of the way for all races to come together and work for world peace.
The smiling face is the result of Friendship based on Faith, Hope and Unity. To be greeted by the smiling face of a friend is one of the greatest joys which can be experienced.
The face is crowned with green of the forest, symbolizing the wonderful outdoors, and the friendships developed therein.
A friendship stick must be carved by the giver. It shows time, thought and effort.
Prepare a friendship stick for each boy in the den. When you present the sticks, read the symbolism to them.
Then furnish each boy with a green stick, uncarved, and ask him to carve his own story in the stick. He can paint the symbols which he feel are appropriate to the story. When he is finished, he can show his stick to the den and tell what the symbols represent.


Adopt A Tree Project

Make friends with a tree. This is a long-term activity and can be an individual or den project.
Select a tree that appeals to you. It should be near your home so there can be daily contact, finding out what is going on in, under, and around the tree. Select more than one tree to compare the action in each type of tree.
With notebook in hand, visit the adopted tree.
Describe the tree as it is right now, today.
Look at its physical characteristics (size, leaf shape, bark color and other features).
Look to see whether it is alive. How can you tell?
Look to see if it appears to be asleep (dormant) or awake. How can you tell?
Listen to find out if it makes any sounds.
Smell to find out whether it has an odor. Do different parts of the tree smell different - like bark, new leaves? Does it have a different smell at a different time of the year?
Think about how the tree got where it is and how new trees might come to join it.
Think about what other living things might need this tree for survival.
Think about what things the tree might need for its own survival.
Warning: Do not taste any part of the tree
Repeat visits throughout the year and compare observations.
Look to see how the tree has changed.
Look to see what ways the tree remains the same
Think and talk about what the tree might look like the next time you visit
Are there any animals calling your tree "home?"
Have you seen any bird nests?
Did the leaves turn colors before falling
Have you shared your tree with a friend?
Write a poem about your tree. Sketch a picture.
Keep your notebook and come back to the tree in years to come. It will be hard to say farewell.


Rain Gauge

Materials: Plastic medicine bottle, permanent marker, ruler (I have also seen these made with skinny olive jars)
Directions: Mark off regular intervals onto the medicine bottle using the ruler and indicate each with a mark of permanent marker. Place outside where it won't be knocked over. After each rain, see how much rainwater filled the gauge.

Seedling Necklace 

Supplies: Small clear plastic pill bottles or Clear 35 mm film containers Lids for containers Cotton balls Seeds Water Yarn and scissors 
  Directions: 1. Moisten the cotton ball thoroughly then squeeze the excess moisture out. Put the wet cotton inside the bottle. Slip two or three seeds between the cotton and the wall of the bottle. Put on the lid. 2. Tie a piece of yarn around the lid then tie the two ends together to form a necklace. 3. Wear your necklace until the seeds have sprouted. Then, plant them in a flowerpot or in your garden.     


Puzzle Tree

Supplies: Yellow and brown construction paper 
Old jigsaw pieces 
Scissors and glue 
  Directions: 1. Cut a tree shape from the brown construction paper. Glue the tree on the yellow paper. 2. Glue the puzzle pieces on the tree for leaves. If your puzzle pieces have lots of red, orange, and brown colors on them you can make an autumn tree and glue some of the pieces at the base of the tree, to make leaves on the 
ground. Pink pieces mixed with light green pieces make pretty spring trees. Green pieces are just right for a summer tree. Why not make all three to show the different trees during the changing seasons.   Hint: If your puzzle pieces are not the right color for the tree just turn them over and paint them the color you want. 


Sock Cactus

Supplies: Old white socks Toothpicks Sand Rubber band Glue Green poster paint or green spray paint Large detergent bottle cap, hair spray cap, or similar can top 
  Directions: 1. Cut the foot off of a sock just after the heel. Stuff the part of the sock you cut off into the foot to make the cactus. You may need to put in part of another sock or pillow stuffing to make it full enough. Close the sock with a rubber band. Trim off some of the extra sock if you need to, but be sure to leave about 3 in. for “planting” the cactus. 
2. Paint the cactus green and let it dry. 3. Break several toothpicks in half, dip them in glue, and pole them into the cactus to make the spines. Let the glue dry. 
4. To plant the cactus, mix glue into the sand so that it moistens it completely. Use enough sand to almost fill the cap. Stand the cactus in the cap and pack the sand into the cap around the cactus. Let the sand and glue dry overnight.   


Hairy Harry 

Supplies: Old panty hose or knee-highs 
Potting soil 
Grass seed 
Wiggle eyes 
Red paint marker 
Small black pom pom 
Lo-temp hot glue gun 
Rubber band 
Small flowerpot 
  Directions: 1. If using panty hose cut off the foot end so that it is about a six inches long. 2. Carefully place a scant teaspoon of grass seed in the tip end of the hose. Place enough potting soil on top of the seed so that you form a 3 to 4 inch ball. Secure the loose end of the panty hose with a rubber band. 3. Hot glue the wiggle eyes below the seeds. Hot glue the pom pom in place for a nose and use the marker to draw a mouth. 4. Hot glue the soil filled panty hose ball to the flowerpot, seed side up. 5. Water and keep moist and in a few days “Harry” will grow “hair”.   


Compass Tie Slide

Toy Compass 
10" Suede Cord 
Low Temp. Hot Glue Gun 
3 Pony Beads 
4" Pipe Cleaner 
1. Hot glue suede cord all around compass. Leave both ends hanging from the compass. Cut ends into a point to make stringing pony beads easier. Slide both ends into one pony bead and push it all the way to the compass. String one pony bead onto each end. Tie knot to secure. Trim. 2. Hot glue a 4" piece of pipe cleaner on to back of compass to twist into a neckerchief slide.


Sea in a Jar

A baby food jar turned upside down, filled with blue water (food coloring) and oil (like the lava lamps), and with the glittery confetti cut in shapes that you can buy now. Paint the lids and then use silicone around the threads of the jar and on the lid so the liquid won't leak. You can also paint or paste small fish shapes on the outside of the jars.



For a clear view of life underwater, make a simple waterscope. Us a quart-size clean, plastic detergent bottle that has two flat sides. Cut off the bottom with a knife. Then slice off the top and notch out a triangle along the top edge that will fit comfortably over the bridge of the nose. Paint the inside surface black. Then slip a bag of medium-weight clear plastic over the bottom of the scope. Pull the plastic taut until it is smooth, and fasten it with rubber bands.   

To use it, the Cub Scout fits the waterscope over his forehead and nose and puts the plastic window underwater. There will be plenty to see.


Seashell Mobile

Supplies -

• Shells or other finds, String, 2 pieces of dowel rod, about 1 foot length,  Glue

 1. Use string to make dowels into an 'X' shape.

2. Glue shells onto several different lengths of string.

3. Let dry about a day.

4. Tie string with shells to dowel rods at all four corners and some between.

5. Hang somewhere you, your friends, & neighbors can all see it and enjoy it. It will also give you a chance to tell everyone about your adventures in collecting your treasures.


Water Life at Night

To see below the surface of a pond or stream at night, put a lighted flashlight in a watertight jar. (A large instant-coffee jar is good.) You might need to add a stone or two in the jar to make it sink. Screw the top on tightly and tie a cord around the neck of the jar. Lower it into the water.


Natural Sand Art


• Supplies - construction paper, glue,  sand

• Give each child a piece of construction paper, and allow them to draw a picture or write words with the glue. Make sure that they do not put globs of glue in any one spot.

• Before the glue dries take the picture over to dry sand and with your hand pour sand onto the glue.

• Let it sit for a few minutes and then shake off the excess sand.

• Let it dry flat for about a half an hour depending on how much glue was used.

 This can also be done with colored sand, but, for those on a budget, regular sand works just as well.


Edible Fire

Use frosting to assemble the following items into an edible fire:

            Large cookie = base               Peanut M&Ms = rock ring

            Potato sticks = kindling           Pretzel sticks = logs

            Candy corn = fire                    Tootsie rolls = fuel wood

            Granola = dirt                          Small cups = water buckets



Sprout Tree

Cut a tree trunk shape from brown felt and a rounded leafy shape from cotton (such as that found in pill bottles).  Lay the shapes on a plate to form a tree.  Water the cotton wool then sprinkle some seeds on top.  Water the seeds every day and watch for the seeds to start growing!


Leaf Bookmark

Cut clear contact paper 7" x 4".  Before removing the backing paper, fold the sheet firmly so it is 2" wide.  Arrange frilly leaves (clover, wild strawberry or small ferns).  Peel off the protective paper, lay the leaves in your chose arrangement on one half of the contact sheet.  Then fold over the other half.  Punch a hole at the top and string gold cord, narrow ribbon or yarn through the hole.  Pressing with a low temperature iron (cloth between iron & contact paper) will eliminate air bubbles around the leaves and five a nice edge or crease