Our Sweetgum Wreath is a fun kids craft for Valentine’s Day. These pods are all over the woods and we’re always looking for more sweet gum ball crafts to make!
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This past Election Day, my sister and I decided to take advantage of our kids having the day off. We knew it was going to be a chilly day, but we also knew it was going to be bright and sunny – perfect park weather. Together we bundled up three of our four combined children and we made our way to Grandma’s house. Once we were sure that Grandma was also appropriately bundled, we headed over to a large local state park.
My sister and I talked our mom’s ears off (one ear for each of us), and we watched the kids as they threw sticks in the lake and swung on the swings. Everyone was happy to be in the cold fresh air, enjoying the sunshine. We started to walk towards the woods and soon found ourselves slipping and stepping on what the kids were calling “spikey pokey pinecones.” As the kids asked us what they were, the adults just looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders.
We had no idea what they were, or where they came from; outer space?
Our kids insisted that we gather up as many as we could and my sister and I found ourselves stuffing our pockets full of the crazy looking burrs. When we got home that afternoon, I decided to find out if the all-knowing Google could tell me what they were. The last thing I wanted was for these crazy things to hatch in the middle of the night, leaving me with a house full of creepy bugs.
Turns out they were the fruit of the American Sweetgum tree (Liquidambar styraciflua). And, these sweet gum balls go by many other names like “burr balls,” “gum balls,” “space bugs,” “monkey balls,” “bommyknockers,” or “sticker balls.” All of those were accurate descriptions of the bizarre little orbs of spikes. As I stared at the large pile of bommyknockers on my kitchen table, I knew we were going to have to turn them into a craft.
A prickly, spiky, wild little Valentine’s Day craft. A Sweetgum Wreath!
Step 1: Take your kids outside and visit a local park or preserve. Have them gather anything they find interesting, pinecones, burrs, sticks and/or twigs.
Step 2: Have them draw a heart on a piece of cardboard and cut out. Measure 1 inch in around the heart, creating a smaller heart on the inside. Cut the smaller heart out, creating a heart wreath.
Step 3: Depending on their age, help them glue the materials to the cardboard using a glue gun. If they are young, glue the materials for them or use a strong bonding glue like Gorilla Glue.
Step 4: Glue a piece of twine to each of the top humps of the heart. Our sticker balls were a bit heavy, gluing the twine at the two tops prevented it from folding in on itself.
Do you love making nature crafts like this Sweetgum Wreath with your kids? Then check out some more of our fun nature activities: