Nature Weaving Craft and Solar Oven S’mores

pin_it_button-7605746Welcome campers and parents! My girls and I are thrilled to have you visit us during “Let’s Go Camping” week of Summer Fun Camp 2013. I was a Girl Scout through my entire childhood and Miss Juju became a Daisy scout this past year, which makes traditional camping crafts a favorite around our house. Today we are going to share a fun nature weaving craft and a classic camping activity with a twist. Let’s get started on the nature loom!

To begin, collect sticks for your loom. 1/4 to 3/4 inch diameter sticks will work well for this craft. The length will depend on the size and shape of the loom you plan to make.

natureweavingcraft15-5445340 Lash the sticks together with yarn to create the base of your loom. natureweavingcraft6-7621657 Pull tight as you wrap the yarn in a criss-cross fashion around the two sticks, then tie it off at the back. natureweavingcraft7-5366416 Make the loom any size or shape you want…. you can make a rectangle natureweavingcraft8-3986246 or maybe a triangle….  you can get really crazy and make a trapezoid or even a hexagon! natureweavingcraft9-4825794 Tie a piece of yarn around one of the corners and begin wrapping it around the loom. natureweavingcraft10-4031257 Wrapping it around the stick twice will help keep the yarn taught and prevent it from sliding on the sticks. natureweavingcraft11-8796242 Tie the yarn off on one of the corners when you reach the other side of the loom. natureweavingcraft13-1399366 Get creative with your loom.  Use colorful yarn or ribbon, string beads along the yarn as you wrap it, or paint the sticks with a fun design! natureweavingcraft14-1449450 Time to decorate your loom!  Go on a nature walk in your backyard, neighborhood, or the park.  Collect interesting grasses, flowers, leaves, seed pods, nuts, and pieces of bark that you find on the ground.  If you are lucky, you may even find a feather.  Just make sure you have permission before taking anything from another person’s yard or the park. natureweavingcraft5-2394626 Weave your treasures through the strings of the loom.  You can make a pattern or go will-nilly, it’s up to you. natureweavingcraft4-7824396 natureweavingcraft3-3174957 All done!  These nature looms look especially pretty when displayed in a window. And you can redecorate them anytime you please…. imagine how beautiful they will look weaved with colorful autumn leaves.     natureweavingcraft2-3403248 On to today’s activity…..

No campout is complete until you roast marshmallows over the fire and enjoy some of those ooey-gooey yummy s’mores.  But most likely your parents are not going to let you build a campfire in the backyard.  So what’s the next best thing?  Make those s’mores using the power of the sun!

solarovensmores-9696093pin_it_button-7605746 Find a cardboard box that opens from one of its smaller sides.  A large cereal box is a great size and shape.  You also need aluminum foil, saran wrap, black duct tape, a piece of black construction paper, and scissors. And of course, marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate. Create a reflector by laying the box on one of it’s largest sides and cutting a flap.  Make three cuts, approximately 1 inch from the edge of the box, as shown in the photos below.     solarovensmores4-5128247 solarovensmores5-5901843 Wrap the inside of the reflector flap with aluminum foil and use a few pieces of tape to secure it on the back.

What’s the reflector for?    It aims the sunlight into the cooker when the sun is not directly overhead.  By angling the flap just right, sunlight reflects off the aluminium foil and onto the food.

solarovensmores6-6017317 solarovensmores7-7825969 Cover the opening you just cut with saran wrap and secure it with tape.  It helps to tape down one of the sides first, stretch the saran wrap tightly across the opening and then tape it on the other side.

What does the saran wrap do?  The clear film allows sunlight to pass through  the opening, but traps the heat inside, similar to a greenhouse.

solarovensmores8-9406136 Now cover the entire box with black duct tape.

Why do we use black duct tape?  First of all, the duct tape gives an additional layer of insulation that prevents heat from escaping the box.   Secondly, a black surface is very effective at turning light into heat because it absorbs more light than other colors.  If you ever sat on a black swing on a sunny day, then you’ve definitely experienced this.  Oh boy do those things get hot!

solarovensmores10-9783225 solarovensmores11-2609288 Line the bottom of the cooker with a piece of black construction paper (remember black = more heat).  Slide in your s’more and place the cooker on a flat surface in a sunny location.   Adjust the reflector to get the most sunlight hitting your s’more.  If the reflector won’t stay in place, try propping it up with a stick from your yard. Cooking time will depend on outdoor temperature, cloud cover, and the sun’s position in the sky.  We made our s’mores on a clear, 80 °F day with the sun directly overhead. It only took 10 minutes to melt the chocolate and soften the marshmallow. The temperature inside the cooker was about 100 °F when we pulled the s’mores out! {I goofed a little when we made our s’mores… bonus points to the camper who can tell me what I should have done differently!} solarovensmores3-4515385 Time to eat!  Careful, your s’more may be very hot and we don’t want any campers to burn their mouths. Mmmmmm, delicious!

Thank you for stopping by today!  We hope you had fun and would love to see photos of your nature looms and messy s’more faces on the Summer Fun Camp facebook page.