Celebrate Valentine’s day as a family by luring the kids outdoors with a fun and creative event. Create with Nature, a bi-monthly Presidio program, invites San Francisco kids to drop in with their family and create art with natural materials. In a world where kids play in so many structured activities, it’s great to see them thrive in a free-spirit environment. From fairy houses to small huts to miniature villages or mystic shapes, these nature sculptures reflect the amazing imagination and skills of kids in nature–away from tech gadgets. If you want some inspiration before going, check out Andy Goldsworthy: Rivers and Tides.

Started in 2010, Create with Nature is the brainchild of Berkeley-based nature sculptor Zach Pine and Presidio Education manager Damien Raffa (who created the popular questing series Urbia – featured on the Red Tricycle here). Both teamed up together to recycle material from the Presidio’s Composting and Regeneration program, turning cuttings and trimmings from landscape maintenance, forestry and habitat restoration projects into natural art “supplies.” As a result, all material is Presidio-sourced and kids get to build their dream project with Monterey Pine cones, Monterey Cypress “tree pizza” rounds, Mexican fan palm fronds, seasonal flowers and cypress bark cuttings.

At the end of each four hour program, all compostable material is returned to the Regeneration Yard where it is turned into a planting medium for future park projects. Kids who are born movers and organizers can even help sort out materials and can return to the compost yard in a big truck.

At the end of the day, kiss your nature creation goodbye and leave–knowing that time spent together in nature  is one of the best ways to say “I love you” to your child. As Jesse Jackson said, children need your presence more than your presents.

Create with Nature series. FREE. Presidio location varies; RSVP to (415) 561-4449 or draffa@presidiotrust.gov. Next date: Saturday, February 12, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Rob Hill Campground. Bring a picnic lunch or snack.

—Laure Latham