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Try These Two Beautiful Nature Inspired Art Activities for Kids

by Lia Salza Goldstein
April 5, 2019

These two nature inspired art projects explore ways for kids to observe and create with nature. The art activities include observational drawing of flowers and clay leaf printing. Projects and post by Lia Salza Goldstein of Little Loft Studios.

Nature inspired art – observational flower drawing for kids

“Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

Flowers for observational drawing and nature inspired art project

When I set up our after school program, I thought the ¾ mile walk from our local elementary school to our studio would be way too long. Would five year old legs be up for that walk after a long school day? What would we do when it rained? When it snowed? Would it take too much time away from the art?

Now in its third year, the walk has turned into an essential part of our program. Our kindergarten to fourth graders eagerly set off on foot from the school playground. We walk along a zig zag of tree-lined streets to our studio on the main street of a close-knit neighborhood, just on the edge of Washington, DC.

Children walking from school on nature walk

Nature Observation for Kids

We gather bright leaves in the fall and bring them back to the studio for leaf rubbings and gel prints. And we collect acorn tops left behind by busy squirrels and add glitter paint for fairy teacups.

We notice incremental changes in the weather. Sometimes it rains. Hard. We get to the studio soaked and giggling, rain boots and soggy socks in a pile by the door, but eyes shining.

Kids notice the first frost, and months later, the first tiny bursts of crocus and tulip shoots announcing spring.

One week there were cicadas everywhere. We heard them buzzing as we collected their discarded exoskeletons from tree trunks. Back at the studio, we looked at their translucent shells under a magnifying glass and painted them with watercolors.

“Can we use this for a project, Ms. Lia?” I hear this question daily as children find treasures along the way. A feather, a rock for painting, a perfect stick for a mobile. And they know I can’t resist a good pinecone!

The world is a treasure trove of unusual shapes, delicate colors, hidden shimmer.

Not only does nature inspire projects once we get to the studio, it also teaches kids a key skill of being an artist — and a mindful human: observation.

They notice their surroundings. The children look carefully. They see beauty in everyday objects. They take the time to see.

Child drawing flower for nature inspired art activity

2 Nature Inspired Art Activities for Kids

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Nature inspired art for kids – Clay leaf impressions and glitter painted leaves

Project 1: Leaf Impressions

Leaves, paper and pastels laid out for nature inspired art project

1. Gather leaves

Begin by having the kids collect leaves that they find beautiful. We bring them back to the studio to flatten and dry them. The leaves should still have enough moisture so that they don’t crack.

Child creating leaf impression with leaf in clay

2. Create leaf impression in clay

Then, roll out air dry clay and make an impression of the leaf. You do this by pressing the leaf onto the clay. Cut around it with a clay tool or butter knife.

Nature inspired art – painted leaf impressions in clay

3. Paint leaf impression

Finally, allow the clay to dry overnight and paint with tempera or acrylic paint.

The finished projects make nice nature-inspired dishes for rings, coins, or more outdoor tiny finds!

Pink flower with drawing of flowers for nature inspired art activity

Project 2: Flower Study

Flowers for observational drawing and nature inspired art project

1. Gather flowers

First, have the children find a flower to bring back to the studio.

Child observational drawing for nature inspired art project

2. Observe & draw parts of the flower

Next, look carefully at each part. Then, using pencil, draw the flower with attention to shapes, segments, patterns and color.

Child painting for nature inspired art project

3. Paint or color drawing

Lastly, fill in the drawing with colored pencil or watercolor.

And be sure to read Daniel Finds a Poem, by Micha Archer, a great book to go along with this project. 

I hope you try these nature inspired art projects for kids!

About the Author

Lia of Little Loft Studio

Lia Salza Goldstein is co-founder and owner of Little Loft Studios in Takoma Park, MD, at the edge of Washington DC.

A graduate of Wesleyan University, she worked as a teacher and reading tutor before studying child development at Harvard Graduate School of Education.

While raising her own young children, she opened Little Loft with art teacher Keira Havner in 2012. Their combined vision resulted in a beautiful space for children to play and create, and a gathering spot for neighborhood families. She lives in Takoma Park MD with her husband and three children.

Little Loft offers art classes for children as young as two, an after school art program for children in grades K-5, a sewing club for ages 9-12, and school day off camps including winter, spring and summer camps. Visit our website or follow us on Instagram.

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