Rachael of Tiddler’s Toolbox shares five nature art ideas for young children. Paint with mud, print with leaves, create a nature weaving or petal playdough!
Updated March 2022
Our natural environment can provide us with the majority of the tools to teach and entertain our little ones, we just need to be resourceful and understand how to use it.
Today, I’m going to share with you five of my favorite ways to use nature with art and hopefully inspire you to use the great outdoors a little more.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- You DO NOT have to purchase any fancy rocks, bark, flowers etc to include nature in your play. I honestly have a larger stash of natural resources than purchased resources for my little ones. Get them involved and go on a nature hunt together. I promise you, they will love it.
- You don’t always have to plan your activity, but you can use your environment for inspiration. Fallen petals or even an old bouquet can provide so many learning experiences. Weeds are also one of my firm favorites. It’s amazing how many ideas I have for dandelion petals and leaves!
Nature Art Ideas
1. Mud Prints
This one is completely free and super easy to set up. I simply collected a range of stems with either leaves or flowers at the end to act as my paintbrush. You could get a little more creative if you wanted to and tie bunches of rosemary leaves onto the end of a stick, but in reality, we don’t always have time for that.
Use either paint, or as featured here, mud paint, and your little ones will have a blast creating prints, marks, shapes or pictures with each natural brush.
I was a little brave and brought this activity indoors, but it is easy to get your little ones to paint straight onto the patio, shed or even a fence.
Recipe for Mud Paint:
- 1 part soil (any type will do)
- 1 part water
- 1 part PVA glue (do not add if you want the mud paint to wash off)
2. Leaf Prints
Have you ever thought about how beautiful a leaf could look? Well we explored this during our leaf printing activity.
We collected a variety of leaves from the garden, painted the backs of them and printed them onto plain paper.
Less paint is more in this case, especially if you want to showcase all of the amazing veins running through the leaves.
This is also easily adapted for the older children– I suggest talking about why leaves have veins and their importance. This time, we simply observed the different shapes the leaves created.
3. Petal Playdough
Is homemade playdough your thing? I must make a batch every couple of weeks simply because I love how I can adapt it to suit our interests.
Recently our garden was covered in pink petals that had sadly fallen due to some heavy rain. But fear not, I was out there collecting as many as I could!
There are a few ways that you can incorporate petals into your dough:
- Blitz the petals up with one cup of hot water to change the color of the water to create a natural dye.
- Tear the petals and add them to a plain batch of playdough.
- Do both!
I have used so many natural materials within my playdough recipe in the past, from grass cuttings, to turmeric, to lavender, to sand and so on.
The recipe that I always use is as follows.
Mix together and knead:
- 1 cup of flour (any flour)
- 1 teaspoon of cream of tarter
- 1/3 cup of salt
- 1 tablespoon of oil (any oil)
- 1 cup of freshly boiled water
Generally, if I add in an additional dry ingredient for example cocoa powder, I will add it in with the flour to create the one cup required.
Pro tips: If I am adding petals or leaves, I don’t normally have to adapt the recipe, I will just knead it in at the end. And if I add in a liquid, depending on the amount, I may add less water.
4. Leaf insects
We had so much fun with this one and spoke a lot about the different parts of a butterfly. My kids collected two larger leaves and two smaller leaves for the butterfly’s wings. Then we needed to find something to represent its body, head and antennae.
We used PVA glue to stick each body part to a piece of card and left it to dry for at least an hour.
There are so many possible variations with this activity. Why not adapt it to your little one’s interests? My dinosaur crazy little boy would love to create a brontosaurus.
5. Fine motor nature weave
Choose your shape then draw and cut it out of an old piece of cardboard or recycled cereal box.
I tied elastic bands around our little hedgehog, but string would work just fine.
Fine motor activities are great for developing and strengthening those smaller finger movements which will help your little ones when they are ready to start writing.
I hope that I provided you with some simple, easy and relatively cheap (if not free) nature based art ideas to try with your children.
More Nature Art for Kids
- 5 Nature Play Ideas for Toddlers & Preschoolers
- Nature Walk for Kids (+ FREE Scavenger Hunt)
- Nature Art for Kids
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