One of the best projects we did in Nature Camp last week was “Pounding Flowers,” a project from the book A Little Bit of Dirt: 55+ Science and Art Activities To Reconnect Children with Nature by Asia Citro (Woodinville, Wash.: Innovation Press, 2015), pp. 72-73. The idea is to collect several different flowers, arrange them on a piece of watercolor paper, cover them with paper towels, and pound the heck out of the flowers so that they release their juices which are then absorbed by the watercolor paper.
Our campers, who were ages 6-7, particularly enjoyed pounding the flowers with rubber mallets. So did we adults: the feel of the impact of the rubber mallet on a hard concrete floor was satisfying in itself, and the addition of the flowers sandwiched between towels and watercolor paper was even better.
(Photo courtesy of Ecojustice Camp; parents provided a media release for this child.)
But I was not entirely satisfied with this project myself. The paper towels did not work very well; they tended to shred under heavy pounding, and the flowers tended to shift under them. So tonight I tried something different. I collected some flowers; arranged them on a piece of watercolor paper on a smooth concrete surface; then instead of paper towels I laid another piece of watercolor paper over the arrangement, and pressed gently down.
This worked extremely well. It was even more satisfying to pound on, because the top piece of watercolor paper didn’t shred, and it didn’t shift much. When I was done, I got two pieces of pounding art, mirror images of one another. And, best of all, this process yielded more detail of the flowers: I got distinct outlines of the petals or pistils in some cases.
This was a very fun process art project to begin with, and by sandwiching the flowers between two pieces of watercolor paper it got even better.