You can, of course, suggest any available material that would be appropriate. When a child becomes interested in these particular constructions he will start observing plants that bear seeds and pods that he can use, and may want to grow some of them another year.
A variation of the usual winter dried arrangement is a highly decorative art-form known to flower arrangers as "landscape arrangements." These are not bouquets, but are built to suggest, rather dreamily, some little bit of natural landscape. They are designed on a flattish or shallow base. Pieces of slate or flagstone, flat rocks, or crosscut slices of wood are frequently used. But a copper tray, a very shallow bowl or even a pie tin may be used.
For material, these constructions lean heavily on woodsy things that a child can bring home without fear of infringing on plant-picking prohibitions. Old fallen pieces of limbs in interesting shapes, gnarled and weathered roots, moss-covered branches, twigs of rugged formation and pieces of bark are invaluable accessories. So are the half-moon fungi that grow on certain trees. Pine cones, mosses, lichens, lichen-covered rocks, odd-shaped and colored stones of all kinds, sand in various colors, and all sorts of seed pods and grasses will be found useful.
Pictures of landscape arrangements are to be found in magazines from time to time, and in many books on flower arrangement. Show the children pictures if you can, before they collect their material, so they will know what to look for. But with no more of a hint than is given in the following paragraphs, many a child will be a competent improviser.
A plan for representing or interpreting an idea of some kind is necessary for a starting point. It may be a sort of stage setting, or an imaginative way of illustrating a favorite song or story. It could be a dreamed-up foreign scene, or just a suitable background for some little figure around which the youngster wants to build his landscape.
Accessories are always used with these arrangements. Adults often use prized objets dart. The child can be less serious and resort to some of the many readily obtainable and inexpensive little pottery figures of birds, animals or people. Small toys and dolls can be charming in the proper setting. Even personally executed soap-sculptures can be effective.
In addition to materials picked up in the woods during summer outings the youngster can use many seed pods gathered later in the season. Everlastings and other dryable plant material from his own garden may also fit in the picture.
One delightfully ethereal dried seedhead that few people suspect can be preserved is the dandelion puffball.